The great red eye of Jupiter glared from the mouth of the cave as if Zeus were staring through a glass at Cal. Eighteen months and Jupiter's gaze still captured her as if she were Io herself enveloped in clouds. For minutes she stared back and then her trance broke and she continued on into the mine of Jupiter's moon.
"Dusty, you there?" She called into the comm of her blue atmospheric suit. Crackling static was her only response. She stopped and called again. Nothing. She turned, considering returning to the station, and finally continued on not wanting to sacrifice the mining hours on her shift.
She followed the maze of lights through the craggy cave until it came to her dig. Dusty was not here but she knew where he was. In his bunk, drunk again. She couldn't blame him. Getting drunk seemed to be the only thing worth while in this God-forsaken place.
She laughed. God? "God's not here." she muttered. "Just ole mythic Zeus." She said thinking of enormous Jupiter outside. "At least he's here." She shook off her rambling and started to work.
Cal's comm line crackled again but this time the static was broken up by a voice. "Hey.....I....just said......talk?"
Cal transmitted back. "My comm's acting up."
She heard moon rocks rolling behind her. She turned and saw another suit walking through the cave to her dig.
She turned on her suit's external speaker and called out. "Dusty?"
The figure moved closer and then did the same. "No, I'm Jones." He wiped dust from his suit's visor and she saw his face. He was young, but older than her.
She glared at him queerly.
"It's ok. I heard you on the comm."
She hadn't realized she had been talking out loud. She felt her face flush with embarrassment.
"Don't know what you mean." She turned away from him and picked up her gear.
He put his hand on her shoulder, stepping closer. "God hasn't abandoned you."
She opened her mouth to speak, to deny what he had heard again, but then stopped and looked down. A moment passed and she felt her lost emotions sweep over her like a river. Finally, she looked up.
"I don't feel him." She said shaking her head. "I used to. But when I came here.....I lost him. I used to feel his love and was in awe of his grace." She paused and her lips clinched as she squelched her tears. She looked at him again, sneering. "But now I'm here. And he is not. The only awe I have now is for a god long since dead that sits outside with his red thundering eye." She pulled away from Jones with a hard twist.
"Another victory for Zeus, huh?"
She turned back quickly. "What?"
"This moon, Io. In myth, Io worshipped Hera, but was seduced into betraying her by Zeus."
CAl felt outrage pour over her and she stepped towards him menacingly. “Just shut your …you just…“ She faltered and stepped back as she felt the thunder of her retaliation trail off and his words stuck home. Then, she understood.
"I turned my back on God." She whispered.
At once, she felt shame sweep over her and the once squelched emotions erupted as she cupped her visor that blocked her hands from catching her tears. Jones went to her and put his hands on her shoulders.
"God loves you. He will never leave you. You could travel to the end of the universe and he would be there. He's here. He made me hear you."
Her hands moved slowly down her visor and she looked up, confused. "What?"
"Your comm module. I saw it on your back. It's busted, almost falling off. But somehow, before it died, I was able to hear your words come through. Tell me God isn't working here right now. It sure as heck wasn't that big gas blowhard outside."
Cal laughed as the tears continued to poor from her face. "No, I guess it wasn't."
Jones smiled and his hands fell back to his side. She looked up at him and smiled back.
"Thank you, Jones. Thank you for reminding me."
"I'll pray with you, if you like."
She smiled and clasped his hands in hers. They knelt slowly in the mine. For a moment they simply looked at each other with warm smiles. Then they closed their eyes and prayed.
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