verkaro.com

Blogs and tales by Warren R. Smith

Xmas on Mars

How Sarah and David signed up for the Mars colony mission.

It was a letter-sized envelope. "Go on," said Sarah. "Open it. Be warned, it’s more an adventure than a gift." She whispered. "It might get us killed." Sitting on the floor beside David, she resumed untangling a mound of Christmas lights. "Go on, open."

David pulled two applications from the envelope. With a glance at the heading, he squinted. "You want us to join the Mars colony mission?"

"It’s all you talk about."

"YOU want to go to the Mars colony?"

"Yeah, I mean, why not?"

"For starters, there’s a vetting process involved for essential qualities like aptitude, usefulness, dependability—​compatibility. It’s a one-way trip. That kind of stuff."

"Imagine watching a sandstorm by the window, listening to a Bach concerto." Sarah said, "Who isn’t geek enough to want that?"

"What about your cat?"

"Ooh, my kitty," Sarah frowned. "I didn’t think. Well, we’ll just print off another application, huh."

David focused on the Christmas lights.

"You’re not enthused," said Sarah."

"Who packed this box of holiday seaweed? We’ll never finish."

"Pretend we’re on Mars, saving Christmas."

"Let’s not. Tell you what?" David stood up and reached for his jacket. "How about if I go to our neighborhood big box store and buy us some tangle-free lights? I’ll grab some wine and pizza too."

"This will sort out just fine, you’ll see." Sarah struck a gloomy note, "You sure don’t want to go to Mars all of a sudden."

"Oh, no, please," David sat again. The mound looked more like a Christmas organism now with stinging tendrils reaching. "Look, I’m untangling lights just to make you happy. And after this, you and I are packing for the sunny beaches of Mars."

"You can stop," she said. "I never missed your sarcasm."

This made both of them shut up for a minute.

"Can you just dream with me a bit?" asked Sarah.

"We’re not space mission material."

David, fidgeting with a cord end, plugged it into another. Something came over him. He connected two more cords, then three, four…​

"What are you doing?"

He got to his knees, connecting more ends. "We’re going to Mars."

Sarah didn’t quite understand, but she helped anyway. Digging, they matched ends, working joyously, madly. Once finished, David closed the window blinds. Sarah stretched the plug-end to the wall.

"Wait, wait for it!" David turned off the room lights.

With a spark, the half-untangled pile of lights winked to electric life. Reds and yellows, greens, whites, and blues mingled in a Christmas tangle. Then, twinkling began.

"Looks nice," said Sarah.

"Not quite done." David twisted the pile, lending the radiating lengths of cord a swirl, frozen in time.

"Oh!" Sarah breathed.

They were standing, floating together, over a mass of stars, a distant galaxy.

"And if you ask me," David kneeled, touching one tiny pink globe in the midst. "I am pretty sure we’re right here."

Sarah moved closer. "I can see us."

END