Out Of Orbit


When I was seven, my father and I would spend nights on the roof searching for the different constellations. I absolutely adored space and like my father, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. My father was an astronaut who died in a space shuttle disaster just nine months ago. Ever since then, my life has turned monochrome. At school, I shut everyone out, causing them to leave, one by one. Back at home, my mother’s life turned into a ceaseless cycle of work. She barely acknowledges me and stays in the office till late everyday. Adjusting to live in an almost silent world led me to be alone in my head; my whirlpool thoughts.

Today is another day without him… another day without anyone. When I reach school, I shut my eyes and rest my head on the table to try to relax but the resounding chatter from students keeps echoing through my mind. When I open my eyes, I find my best friend, Lux peering down at me. Her golden hair is pinned up with a sparkly green hair clip, the same colour as her eyes. “Tara? You okay?” she asks, a worried frown evident on her flawless face.

I take a deep breath and bite my lip, “Leave me alone. Please.” 

“Hey, if there’s anything you want to talk about, I’m here for you, alright?” Lux assures me, her worried expression not leaving her face. I sigh inwardly and rest my head on my table. Why’s she trying so hard? It’s not like anything is going to change… Father is gone and he’ll never come back.

The lunch bell rings and I collect a tray from the cafeteria before heading to my new-found deserted spot, behind the school building. Seated on the floor against the red brick wall is Lux. I wonder, ‘Should I leave or should I go to her?’ Before I can make a decision, Lux spots me. A smile grows on her face and she calls me to sit next to her. We sit against the wall, slowly eating our food. Lux chatters endlessly while I listen, unsure of what to do. However much Lux is trying, something is missing. Something we used to have, something we’ll never get back.


“Wanna come over to my place?” Lux asks for the millionth time. School just ended and after a day of having Lux follow me around, I’m exhausted. I shake my head and wave her goodbye. Thankfully, her house is in the opposite direction from mine and I’ll get to walk home in peace. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Lux. I’m just afraid. Afraid that if I let her in, she will leave me one day, just like what Father did. I can’t put another piece of my already-broken heart on the line. Because if it’s taken away from me, I might just lose what’s left of myself.

When I reach home, I head straight to my room and collapse into the comfort of my bed. I can’t remember the last time I felt this tired. My stomach growls at me, but I’m unable to summon up the energy to move. It feels as though weights are attached to my limbs. My mind is quiet as I drift in and out of consciousness.

When I awake, the house is still silent. It’s 10pm and Mother isn’t home. Walking down the hallway towards the kitchen, the dusty walls call out to me. I remember when they used to have pictures, not a trace remains. I can almost hear the faint echoing of voices that used to fill the hallways. Mine, Father’s, Mother’s and Lux’s. I enter the kitchen to check if Mother left a note earlier this morning; nothing as per usual. What did I expect? My eyes fall on the fridge. I remember how we used to leave messages on the fridge with the multi coloured alphabet magnets. I purse my lips and open the fridge.

As I slap a spoonful of peanut butter onto the last slice of bread, I scan the bare kitchen for a post-it note and a pen. Luckily, there is one on the countertop next to me. I shove the bread into my mouth and scribble a quick note to my mother telling her that we have no more food. Chances are, she won’t read it. Even if she does, she wouldn’t go and buy the groceries. I sigh inwardly. If she doesn’t get them, I have to use what’s left of my own money to buy food.

Nine months ago, I would never have imagined that this would happen, nine months ago, everything was different. Who knew that in nine months, my entire life could fall apart.


As I open my notebook to try to revise, my mind is awake. I wonder why Lux can’t just leave me alone. Maybe to her, nine months is too long to grieve but some people need more time than others. Why can’t she understand that? 

Father was our sun, keeping us in his orbit. He drove our experiences, aspirations and so much more, giving us light and hope. We trusted him and he left. He said he’d come back safe, but he didn’t. He didn’t come back at all. He left us alone in the dark as we spiralled out of orbit unsure of what to do, living life on repeat.

I don’t want to experience losing someone so important again. I’m scared to let someone in, fearful that if they leave, I’ll be sucked into a black hole, torn apart and compressed into a microscopic ball; as good as nothing.

Although I’m afraid, some part of me longs to be understood, for someone to help me gather my broken pieces and put me back together. I want to be able to be happy again. I believe that Father is one with the stars, that he is watching over me from above. I want to be able to move on; not to forget, but to remember him and continue living. But I need a new sun, someone who will pull everything back together keeping me in their orbit, obstructing me from being swallowed up by a black hole. 

I remember that when everyone left me, Lux was there. No matter how much I pushed her away, she stayed. It’s a risk I have to decide for myself. Will Lux ever leave me or push me away? Am I able to trust her like before and let her pull me into her orbit? I don’t know… all I know is that I’m afraid.


Today is the first day of spring. Leaves are returning to the bare branches of the trees. School just ended and I got paired up with Lux for a project which we settled on going to my place to work on. 

When we reach my house, I notice that Mother’s work shoes are still in the cabinet. Did she not go to work today? I push the thought out of my head. She’s been working non-stop for the past nine months. There’s no way she’d suddenly stop today. Pushing the front door open, I make out the words “space” and “disaster” coming from the TV which switches off almost immediately. Why’s she watching that again? Anger bubbles inside of me. Just before Mother buried herself in work, she was glued to the television, rewatching the news about the space shuttle disaster. At that time, I lashed out my anger at her. It was the fight that cut off all our communication. As Lux and I head to my room, Mother greets us in the hallway. 

“Oh Tara, I see that you brought Lux. Hi girls!” Mother forces a weak smile. Her grey-streaked hair is a mess and mascara is smudged on her cheeks. Eyes red, eyebags hang underneath. I can feel her gaze on me, full of pity and hopelessness. Why did you have to leave me? You’re physically here but not mentally. I needed you and you left me too… 

“Hi Amaya! We have a project and decided to do it here. Sorry, we didn’t know you’d be home.” Lux grins sheepishly.

“It’s fine. Come whenever you want.” Mother nods at her.

“Mom,” I interrupt, “Did you read my note?”

“I was thinking about going to the supermarket later…” she whispers, staring at the ground. I can feel rage rising in my chest. Lux notices how my fists clench as she cuts in, “Why not go together after we finish our work? We’ll do it now!”

Lux pulls me towards my room, leaving Mother dazed, alone in the hallway. Closing the door, she sighs, “Tara, please don’t. Both of you are having a hard time, scolding her won’t fix anything. She’s like you–” 

“I’m not like her! She’s neglecting me! I’m not doing anything!” I thunder.

“You’re both broken, in need of healing. You’re alike and nothing can change until you change,” Lux says. This is how she always is, direct and real. It’s not what I want to hear, but it’s the truth.


“Tara, we should get this! Your father’s ones were the best!” Lux exclaims, waving a box of cake mix in the air. I shake my head; making them would be too painful. I don’t want to remake those memories. They’re all I have left of Father. Lux ignores me, dumping the box into the trolley and racing down the aisle. 

“Tara… you should move on…” Mother’s hushed voice echoes from next to me.

“You’re one to talk! You were watching the same video again!” I snap at her.

“Tara please… I’m trying…” Mother pleads.

“Mom… you left me. You left me when I needed you the most. Father didn’t have a choice but you did! And you… you chose to leave.” My voice cracks. Tears fill my eyes as emotions from the past nine months come flooding through the cracks of my broken heart, “I lost Father then I lost you, the two most important people in my life. Now I’m afraid that Lux will leave me too.” 

“Tara I’m sorry… You’re right. I should have been there for you. I promise I’ll try again,” Mother says, engulfing me in a hug. I bury my face in her stomach, just like before. We’re scared. But we’re trying.


The sun is setting as we open the door, plastic bags hanging from our arms.

“Lux, you should stay over… I’ll tell your mom for you,” Mother suggests, a small smile stretching across her face. 

Lux nods fervently, “We should have a movie night like we used to! We’ll go get ready!” Lux grabs my shoulders as she steers me to my room, slamming the door shut in the meantime.

“Lux… I’m scared,” I confess. 

Lux smiles softly as she switches off the lights in my room. On the ceiling above us, glow in the dark stickers twinkle turquoise. Out of all the planets and constellations, only one is missing – the sun. I remember finding it lying on the floor on the day Father passed. Since then, it’s been lying in my cupboard. 

“I’m afraid that you’ll leave me, like Mother and Father. When Father left, everything was distorted. Time was moving so fast and I was stuck. Stuck in the past. I don’t wanna lose my memories, don’t wanna replace them. I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.” As the words tumble out of my mouth, for once, I feel at peace. Everything is still. Still but not lonely.

“You do know what to do. You made up with your mom, that’s the first step. Life’s full of wonders, we won’t know what’ll happen next. But what I do know is that both your mom and I will be here guiding you on your journey,” Lux says as she stands on top of my bed, pasting the glow-in-the-dark sun onto the middle of my ceiling – my solar system. Now, I’m – we’re complete.

Sophie Ang Jia Shuen (Class of 2025) finds writing cathartic. She often is in her own world which revolves mainly around her dog, photography and fictional stories. She finds people hard to understand, but somehow still ends up creating stories based on people she knows.