In “Ash Shades,” two women survive the destruction of their landing site by taking shelter in their ship. They emerge to find a local sentient species salvaging burned seeds and must navigate communication barriers to learn what happened to the rest of their crew.
It’s 7,400 words, just shy of a novelette, and the perfect length to enjoy on your shorter (passenger — please don’t read & drive) commute.
The February 2019 issue of Misfit Stories contains many other writers’ works, so you could have your commute and laundromat reading taken care of for at least the first decad of February. It’s $4.99 for a bunch of good stories, and at the link, you can pick your ebook retailer of choice.
Content warnings (highlight to see; I can’t speak for the other stories because I haven’t read them yet): Grief, death, fire, corpses, and first contact.
Conlangers, you may enjoy the linguist thrown out of her subdiscipline comfort zone.
Readers who grew up in polytheistic traditions, while the short story is not religious, it does center polytheist characters in scifi, which is still a representation issue. For everyone else, the final scene contains elements that are not consistent with traditional praxis in either’s religion. It’s a landing site disaster, so neither is prepared for proper protocol.