Waiting for a scan into the Health & Leisure deck, Varde pulls on her blue unitard sleeves. Beneath it, her skin feels too small, but the instructions state attire is obligatory.
“Eleventh door on the left,” the receptionist says.
Varde’s eyes quest in the other direction and search for another glimpse of the happy family: a couple sandwiching a child, swinging the young boy with dimples like Benjamin had, five, maybe six Earth years old, in between them. It’s no use, she gives up; they’re lost to the crowds of holidaymakers and off duty star-sailors. She now only hears the reverberation of Benjamin’s laughter, feels its tight squeeze on her heart.
“Your treatment commences in three minutes.”
“Sure,” Varde replies, her voice reedy, unsure. “Thanks.”
The eleventh door opens on her approach. Hydraulic magnets hiss, the noise dissipates, becomes lost between the whir and flick of wheels. Inside the padded box room are seven others in blue skinsuits, all taking in the blurred bucolic projections on the walls and ceiling, all already in their spots, cycling, disinterested in her arrival, self-absorbed.