Coming Home Again

Entry by: QueenC

18th August 2017
Dream Trip
Trent cursed. He hated the dust here. Now it was all over the entry to their ‘keep breathing’ tube set. But they were all past worrying about running out of air. The technology was good. The air in Clover Module was brilliant. Of course, it had taken Claire up to a year of panic attacks to believe it. ‘Trent just explain to me’, she would plead ‘don’t go inwards! assume I don’t know anything! and then walk me through how we are not going to run out of air’. His conclusion in the ‘settle days’ of stage one onboard the Inter Mars transport was that she had lied on her personality tests. Now he saw that if it weren’t for her none of them would relate.
Trent himself loved to spend hours on his own with the nearby rover. She was his real pal. In the early days, he kept Jubilation dust free and assisted with positioning her to search for signs of life as we know it and if they were feeling desperate for life as we did not know it.
Today, as he cleaned her down he could still taste last night’s rocket stew. Adnan the other Clover Module member kept their hydroponic plants galley flourishing. ‘Eat vegan and your spirit will be clean’ he would chant. The truth was none of them were religious but here they often had to dig deep into their spiritual reserves to colour the grey of losing sight of—her. Earth that is…. their ever-fixed point. They had not had a working satellite now for one year. And so, when Earth’s star and moon passed out of view depression would take hold in all the modules. It was during this time they would use a ritual to battle profound feelings of home loss. Adnan had come up with the idea. He would pull out a photo of a candle, they would lay hydroponic plants near it and chant ‘Gaia Gaia come back into our eyes let your star be enough to purge us of our longing for return help us let you go….’ To fill their earth emptied beings, for several days after the ritual, they would celebrate something Mars – a longer ray of sunlight, the end of a dust storm or the discovery of an exciting ridge.
Trent wiped the rover’s timers in the ever-stronger sunlight and was surprised to see them working. So, half of the 687-day Martian year had now passed. The current serene day to day in their group had emerged half a year ago and was therefore deep. They had adapted to the idea of never coming home again.
From behind him Trent could see the shadow of someone waving. It was Claire. As he walked towards her and back to Clover Module he sensed her excitement. Inside, the household was gathered around the communicator.
‘Satellite back?’ he asked
“yeah we’re still trying to work out ...’
‘Can only be one thing- a space ship has docked and fixed it'.
‘There’s a message coming through now’. They stood and waited for the 22-minute lag.
After a long briefing in part from the United Nations they found out that the security council saw their one-way mission to Mars as an injustice. A Mars ascent vehicle was on its way following breakthroughs during deep space tests. It would transport them to the earth-bound space ship for a one-year journey back home. As Claire started to clap and say how she had always had her suspicions about the fairness of the one-way deal Trent kicked several chairs over. 'Not coming home again' he yelled ' was the supreme sacrifice made by couples who had divorced for it, children who had lost a parent for it. It was at the core of the near suicidal but lofty goal of colonising Mars in record time. For being remembered in 1000 year’s time. And now an ascent vehicle was coming to take them home again and destroy the dream....'