The moisture from the damp grass soaks through my shirt and onto my back. I shiver as the cold seeps in but otherwise I stay perfectly still.
My eyes are open, and I strain to keep them like that for as long as possible, not wanting to miss something when I blink. It may seem silly, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others lying on the grass and watching with me, all doing the same thing.
This is the last time we will ever be here. The last time we will see this in real life and not on a screen.
A tear leaks out of my right eye and runs down the side of my face. I have to blink, and I do so rapidly until the dryness disappears and I can open my eyes again.
Earth rotates in front of me, it’s motion almost imperceptibly slow from this distance. Gingerly, almost not wanting to do it, I lift up my arm and hold out my thumb.
I place it over the Earth and the only home humans have ever known disappears.
There’s a sob from my right.
I lower my hand and put it on the ground. I reach out until I find the hand of the person who sobbed. We clasp fingers.
I don’t know who they are. I don’t turn my head to look, and I doubt they do. But we hold out hands together as tight as we can.
It becomes a focal point for me. My awareness drawn away from my self and into the hand being held. I choke back a sob and feel the hand squeeze.
But it’s not enough.
The sob rises from my throat and bursts from my mouth. I try to clamp down on it. I try to suffocate it and cover the bottomless pit that has opened up inside of me. But I can’t.
The dam breaks.
The river flows and I weep. The suspended sapphire that is Earth distorts and blurs through the film of tears that streak down the sides of my face.
It isn’t only me. I can feel the sobs of the person next to me through their hand. Each time the pain racks their body their hand clenches and I squeeze as tight as I can. For their benefit or mine, I cannot tell.
Something brushes my other arm.
The small fingers of a child. I hadn’t realised one so precious was next to me. It isn’t enough of a reason to unlock my eyes from Earth, but I reach out, exploring, hoping to find them.
Their hand finds mine first and they grab on with small fingers. They clutch tightly around two of mine, their hand too small to be held properly, I do my best not to squeeze too hard and hurt them.
We’re the last ship to leave. We’re the closest to Earth. A planet that we will never see again. The scene is probably the same on the other ships. Everyone who can be laid out in what has commonly been referred to as the ‘park’. An area of grass with some trees and benches. A place of greenery meant to mirror the planet we left and stop us from going insane on our journey.
I don’t think it’s going to work. We’re leaving our home. Our planet.
Five generational ships.
I will die aboard. The person to my right will die aboard.
The child to my left will die and so will their children and their children.
There’s no end in sight.
No one knows if Proxima will have a planet for us. It’s a guess. A last-ditch effort to keep us alive.
But in my heart I know this is it.
Humanity will die on these ships.
The species will end, and the five tombs will drift for eternity amongst the stars.
So, I’m going to lay here and stare at Earth for as long as I can. Through tears and anger and regret.
I’m going to watch until our planet becomes nothing more than another shining dot against the vast canvas of space.
And when that happens, I’ll get up, and I’ll try to live with what we’ve made.