The World According to Anna by Jostein Gaarder, pages 181-182
She is sitting in a spaceship with the Arab boy. They have won an international award recognizing their efforts on the planet’s behalf. The prize is twelve orbits of the earth.
There are just the two of them in the tiny cabin. They don’t need to worry about anything technical: the shuttle is steered and controlled by computers; all they have to do is sit back and enjoy the trip.
They look down on their planet. Both of them have seen photos from the Apollo mission more than a hundred years ago. The globe is unrecognizable now. It is much more obscured by clouds and storms. This tallies with their experience on the ground. The planet that looked like a bluish-green marble now has more in common with a colorless ball of wool.
Despite all the clouds, it is still a spectacular feeling to be in space, and they can still glimpse some green, brown, and blue patches between the cloud systems. That’s Africa, and there’s India, China and Japan . . .
What surprises her most is the silence. All she can hear is her friend’s breathing. She thinks she can also hear his heart beating. Or is it hers?
The boy is looking at her and smiling.