Linenger's Letters to his Son

March 20, 1997
All alone in a dark room"

Dear John:

Heard you've been restless at night. Keeping Mommy up every two hours or so. Maybe you just want some company--being all alone in that dark room can be a bit frightening for a little guy. Or a big guy.

Last night it got really, really, really dark in my room--module Spektr. Lost all power. I've been in dark places before, but this was un-earthly dark. Darker than any dark I've ever seen. Dark is not even the proper word for it.

And silent. So silent. Until then, I hadn't really realized that you are constantly hearing some background ventilator/machinery noise all the time. The silence was unfamiliar; even a bit surprising. For a moment I thought, "what is that (I don't hear...)?" Once recognized, it was a very soothing, pleasant silence. Sounded nice.

Of course, I couldn't hang out in the quiet room. No ventilators working means no air circulation. Warm air doesn't rise in space (which way is up?); there is no natural convection. No wind, no breeze; without the ventilators, only stillness.

Because of that fact, you always pick a place to sleep where you can feel some air movement near your head. If you don't, you'll end up within a self-generated carbon dioxide "bubble", wake up panting with air hunger, and more likely than not--with a headache. By the way, that's the reason why I sleep upside down on the wall; in that particular place the ventilation is better near the floor--so I want my head there.

So John, close your eyes and sleep. The peace, quiet, level of darkness; comfort of your crib, fresh air, and secure feeling of being at home all make for a good night's sleep. Mommy and I will be watching over you. Rest well and grow healthy.


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