By Emily Gu
I forgot this existed. I guess I had shoved it in my bag, mistaking it for an interesting book. Guess I’ll write anyway.
It has currently been 2 years, 8 months and 20 days since I arrived on Mars. Going to space, especially a planet, was always my dream, but honestly, it’s pretty shabby here. The trip here was somewhat fun at first, but then really boring as soon as I realized I was about to spend 3 days in this cramped rocket ship. My roommates on the ship were nice enough, although they were as boring as cardboard when it came to making conversation.
Finally we got to Mars. When they said they discovered life and stuff, I had expected it to be full of alien plant life and strange animals. But no, it’s as dead as it looked some years ago, which should’ve been expected, really. What did I expect, that as soon as life was found here, it would burst with it? Most likely the alien life forms were all in hiding. Not like I got to spend much time outside, since the oxygen tanks literally last, like, a few minutes. Ok, more like 30 minutes, but it feels like 30 seconds. At least the space suits have improved, or so they say. Still feels awfully bulky and heavy, but they assured me it was worse before.
Most of my life now is just sitting in the room they provided me. The colony on Mars looks okay, although the food tastes like dirt with a worse texture. The only things that taste even a bit like home are the vegetables, which are freshly grown in a humid greenhouse about 5 minutes away. Yet those also tasted like they were harvested several days ago, not just then.
“Hey, Ava!” My little sister called as I stepped out of my room.
“Hey yourself, Mia.” I replied, ruffling her hair.
“I miss our parents,” she said. “Why didn’t they come with us?”
Mia had come on a different ship then mine. I was surprised she was old enough to come, but the organization running the Mars colony had lowered their age restriction to twelve.
“You know why. They were busy with work.”
In truth, they probably just didn’t want to come, really. This place was miserable and they surely knew that already from signing us up to participate in this program.
She gave me a look that asked, “Do you really believe that?” I didn’t, but really, believing that was easier than recognizing the fact that our mom and dad didn’t care for us that much.
“Well,” she said with faked cheerfulness. “We better not be late for breakfast!”
I sighed. Like I mentioned above, the food here sucked. “Do we really need to?”
“Come on sis, or else they’ll send those weird people to go fetch us,” Mia pulled my arm and led me to the cafeteria. Today, they were serving a glob of what might’ve been meat at some point, a small serving of the weird, freeze-dried ice cream, and some celery sticks.
The only good thing about breakfast, lunch, and dinner is that we don’t have assigned seating. Well, we kind of do, but some of the people supposed to make sure we’re following the rules mostly just play games on their phones and ignore us. The others who always stare blankly at everyone also do literally nothing. I’m pretty sure they’re robots at this point. I sit with Mia as we try to enjoy our food. If this even counts as food.
“Attention, all junior astronauts,” a voice from a speaker blares out. They all call us “junior astronauts” even though we don’t even do much astronaut stuff. This is just summer camp, but with worse food, you stay here for 3 years, and in space. “Today is Friday, meaning all of you get to step outside for a bit and explore Mars! Remember to stay with your assigned adults, and remember to wear your suits properly!” The voice then reminds us how to wear a suit, as if we hadn’t heard the rules for the last million Fridays. “Double check that everything is correct, then you may go outside! Stay within 100 yards of the airlock, please!”
There are quite a few people who cheer, including my sister. “Come on!”
“This is boring,” I grumble, but I’m forced to follow her. They say this like it’s fun, and optional, except it’s neither. We have to go outside, take notes on a notepad that we cannot let fly away, and then go back.
We put on our frighteningly yellow spacesuits and step out of the airlock. I do have to say this, though: the view from here was truly quite amazing, with stars everywhere. Mia pointed to something and said something I couldn’t hear. At first, I thought it was just another star, but this one looked blueish. Right, that was the earth. I squinted at it and struggled to describe it on my notepad. The low gravity and bulky suit was not helping. I finally wrote “The Earth is small. Very blue.” This may sound terrible, and it was, but the people “grading” our notes really didn’t care.
I skipped around, kicking random Mars pebbles. Low gravity was still pretty fun though. Before I knew it, a radio in our spacesuits said “Time is up, please return now.” I headed back towards the airlock, but noticed Mia looking intently at something. I wanted to tell her to get moving, but realized she was looking at an animal. Excited, I bounded over. It seemed to be a strange martian spider, rust red with abnormally long legs. My sister had disturbed it while it was under a rock. I grinned at her, then motioned to get over to the airlock. She seemed to understand and came with me. We entered and the door closed behind us. The airlock filled with, well, air, and the other door parallel to the one leading outside opened.
My legs ached from standing with so much extra weight. I took off the spacesuit and stretched a bit. “I’m going to go to sleep.” I told my sister.
“What? You’ve been up for like, 3 hours!” she exclaimed.
“I’m tired and we don’t have any activities today. I’ll wake up for lunch. Bye.” I went to my room before she could protest any further.
Writing is also pretty boring. Now my hands hurt. Well, I’m stopping now because the rest of the day was as uneventful as the “morning” was. We do have days on Mars, but inside the colony, they just make the time up.
Ava Lee, signing off, at least for now.