Taped to the balcony’s sliding glass door is a slightly bent manila envelope. On it is Sharpie’d “HI MAR’I, IT’S FROM KYLE!!!” on the surface. Inside is a USB drive in the shape of a cassette-tape, as well as a note, also scrawled in Sharpie:
Hey welcome home I heard you liked sleep so I made you a sleepytime mixtape. Tracks include:
- Heavy rainfall (25:30)
- Stormy ocean (21:00)
- Sand ocean of Oone9 (36:22)
- Star shower from the Ta-Gan moon of Ufi (24:14)
- Happy people in the next room (20:32)
- Summertime backyard (40:10)
- Campfire at night (21:45)
- Slyggian rhythm breathing (33:30)
- A full dryer (18:15)
- Ipkin mud weeds on a windy day (34:31)
Feel better and see you soon
Mar’i doesn’t bother with the tracks recorded on-planet, skipping instead to the ones with exotic names and terrible translations — English script can’t capture some of the sounds here, not in the vastness of alien tongues. She flicks through the off-planet files, changing the song after every few seconds of sound, sampling each one before she settles on the star shower.
Poppy trills in what can only be some warm and distant recognition of the sound, curling up on Mar’i’s chest when the woman stretches out on the couch and closes her eyes. They both sense that feeling, deep down, of how empty everything feels in this apartment, in this city, on this continent. Neither of them, for better or worse, can quite remember what gravity feels like when it’s oceans away, so it’s easier to imagine meteors crashing towards a moon that is always calling for them.
Mar’i awakens several hours later once the tracks have stopped and the apartment has resumed its haunting silence. She reaches over, drowsily, and searches without looking for her phone. Once she finds it, she drags it over, the LCD screen sending a beam of blue light across the now-pitch black apartment, framing her body on the wall.
[TXT; to Kyle] Good sleeping mix, man
[TXT] Thank you, seriously
[TXT] Also thanks for visiting me! It was sweet of you and Zee to stay with me. Kind of unexpected, but sweet! Did you guys tell me you were going to spend the night or something? I may have been just too doped up to remember tbth