The thunder of the jets died away, the sound drifting wistfully off into the hills. The leaves that swirled in the air returned to the ground slowly, reluctantly.
The rocket had gone.
Aron Myers realized that he was looking at nothing. He noticed that his face was frozen into a meaningless smile. He let the smile slowly dissolve as he turned to look at his wife.
She was a small woman, and he realized for the first time how fragile she was. Her piquant face, framed by long brown, flowing hair, was an attractive jewel when set on the plush cushion of civilization. Now her face, set in god-forsaken wilderness, metamorphosed into the frightened mask of a small animal.
They were alone.
Two human beings alone on this wild, lonely planet. Aron's mind suddenly snapped from that frame of reference—his subjective view of their position—to the scale of galaxies. It was a big planet to them, but it was a marble in the galaxy that man had discovered and claimed, and was now fighting with himself to retain. This aggregate of millions of pebbles was wracked with the violence of war, where marbles were more expendable than the microbes that dwelt on them.
The two walked hand in hand away from the meadow where the ship had been. The feeble wind snuffled at the scraps of paper and trash, the relics of man's passing.