Moonburns are much worse than sunburns, thought the Astrographer apprentice. He tore a bandage and wrapped the fabric around his throbbing hand. Dressing his wound was a temporary solution, loose and hasty, but his poor medical skills would have to do. He had samples to return.
The balloon craft bounced as he stepped aboard. Once secure, he piloted away from the bright satellite until the moon was eclipsed. He pulled the levies and adjusted the sandbags; navigation proved difficult with only one good hand. At long last, the unmistakable green and pink dirigible was in sight.
It only took a moment to dock and collect his equipment. He carried the samples with him. Elation filled his body from the tips of his fingers to his baby toes. By the time he pushed into her study, he barely noticed the itchy heat in his hand.
Bookshelves bursting with oddities lined the walls. A globe sat spinning perpetually in the corner. Orion’s favourite feature was the ceiling, painted with magnificent constellations. In the centre of the eclectic room stood famed Star Gazer and Astrographer, Dr. Edith Vanhaut. She poured over star charts; the maps spread across several piles of messy research papers. She read while twirling her fingers around an escaped strand of her moonbeam hair.
Dr. Vanhaut looked up as Orion walked in carrying his samples. Her eyes twinkled; the smile that spread across her face made him blush.
“You’re back!” Her long skirts flew around her ankles as she rushed to meet him. “And you were successful! Good show, Orion. Well done!”
The celestial scientist was halfway through the vials, when she noticed his hand. She took the box. Then told him to sit in her armchair. He did so; a small nebula rotated in the fireplace next to him.
With practiced hands, Dr. Vanhaut examined his burns. She was only his senior by a century or so, but he felt like a juvenile orange dwarf beside her. “Moon burn?” She made a small ‘tsk’ sound with her tongue.
Orion nodded. He tried not to wince as she removed his hasty bandage.
She turned back to the cluttered desk. “I have just the thing.” Orion rather enjoyed watching her go; he admired the curve of her backside despite the irritable pain in his hand.
When Dr. Vanhaut returned, she brought a small jar of amber liquid. She uncorked the bottle. A viscous substance ribboned out as she poured a small amount onto Orion’s hand. The sting subsided.
“A poultice made from earthly ingredients, something called aloe vera and honey, with just a pinch of stardust.”
“Dr—” Orion began. She sighed.
“I’ve told you to call me Edith.” She tidied up the medical supplies. “Aren’t we friends?”
He hesitated, then cleared his throat. “Edith?”
He might have imagined the faint rose colour on her cheeks—she turned away too fast—but he could hear the smile in her voice when she responded. “It was my pleasure.”
Original writing prompt found at Deep Water Prompts on Tumblr.