Space Opera... hmmm... Well, I hope this isn't too serious for us on this theme for May the Fourth Be With You - and you see, Chuck set the theme, and I've never really understood space operas. I hope this one is okay. And, yeah, I channeled a bit of David Bowie here too.
“Well, what do you think?” my little brother asked.
“Do you think there’s life on Mars?” he laughed.
“Dunno, little bro.” I linked my hands behind my head as we laid out on the back lawn looking up at the stars in our pyjamas, “I guess we’ll have to just imagine it for now.”
He looked over at me, “But it’d be fun to get up there in space ships, to zoom around like in ‘Star Wars’, right? Like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo?”
Laughing, I sat up looking at him, my back wet from the dew on the grass, “Yeah, I guess. But it’s late now, and we better get in. Mum and Dad would hate it if they come and check on us and find us gone from out beds.”
“Aaw, do we have to?” he groaned thumping his feet on the ground, “I wanna stay for longer.”
“The last time we did that, we both caught a cold.” I held out my hand to him, “And Mum cracked it at us.”
Brian sat up and grabbed my hand, “I guess so.”
I walked him back to his bedroom, sneaking past our parents’ room, and tucked him back into bed, “Now, don’t worry, we’ll do that again when there’s a lunar eclipse – won’t that be fun?”
He rolled onto his side away from me, “I s’pose.”
The moment I stepped out into the hall, closing his door quietly, I found Dad standing there, “And what were you two doing out of bed?”
I was going to lie, but knew Dad had a built-in bullshit detector nobody could get past, “Well, Brian wanted to see the meteor shower.”
He smiled, “Of course he did. You’re a good big sister, but I have to talk to you. Come downstairs and we’ll chat.”
I sat there at the dining room table where Mum had set down a cup of tea in front of me, but I didn’t touch it as Dad told me that they had been offered a transfer to another company.
“I don’t expect you to leave the home, but I’m going and you can see me – your mother is going to stay here to look after you and Brian.” He reached across the table and touched my arm, “I’ll be a Captain – it’s a great thing.”
“But Dad, how long will you be gone?” I asked, moving my now cold cup of tea out of the way, “I don’t understand how you can just leave.”
He exchanged puzzled looks with Mum, “I’m don’t understand why you wouldn’t be thrilled with this news, Lana. You’re at the academy, you know how hard it is there; the expectations.”
“But Brian is only seven years old, will he remember you?”
“You see, honey, she understands completely how this works.” Mum soothed, “Lana knows you might be away for a long time.”
Dad ran a hand over his stubbled face, his fatigue showing from not sleeping all that well, “I was hoping to do this for the family. We need the money.”
“How long are you going to be gone for?”
“My contract is for a year, but I can see if the family can come along.” He said.
Mum crumbled into tears, “And then we lose the house?”
He smiled, “Not necessarily. We could get the house moved to the final destination.”
I stared at him: “Which is?”
“Mars.” He smiled, “Look over the past thirty years, they’ve improved the atmosphere, made sure it grows everything we need and people are moving their houses there all the time. So, why not us?”
Mum stood, walking to the window, “Will it look the same as here? I mean out there.” She pointed out into the darkness of the night.
He walked over to his wife, rubbing her shoulders: “There’s suburbs where they’re taking houses – with proper blocks of land with them, plants and all – to Mars. I’ve been assured it’s safe.”
She looked from him to me, then back, “Okay, then let’s do it.”
Dad looked around at me, “You okay with this?”
“What about the academy?”
“They’ve got one there too. You won’t miss a single class.” He picked up the phone and called a number, “Hank, we have better news than expected. Yep... the whole house and land to Mars. When can we have a transporter?” he grinned: “Before dawn? Great! So, we’ll be there by sunrise. This is wonderful.” Dad walked around to the front door and opened it as a group of people walked through to the kitchen and waited until Dad finished the phone call.
One of them, an older man, said looking around, “Thought you had a son.”
“Yeah, Brian’s upstairs in bed.” I said, “Best you leave him there.”
He nodded, “We’ll cover his bed over with a hyper-sleep cover-all – as we will all do with your beds. And then, it’ll begin.”
“Well, I’ll get to bed and you guys can begin on me first. My folks have papers to sign.” I smiled.
I woke to my alarm and pushed back the covers. Looking outside, I saw there was something different about where I was compared to where I went to sleep last night.
“Lana! Lana!” Brian’s voice screamed from the room next door, “Look outside, there’s a dust storm!” he came racing into my room, forgetting to knock (but I could forgive him this once), “Look! Look!” he pointed out my window.
“Brian, hey stop.” I walked over to him, “That’s not a dust storm. That’s the sunrise.”
He sat in my big over-stuffed reading chair next to my window, staring out there at the dawning day, “What do you mean?”
Sitting in the bay window, I glanced outside, then back at him, “Do you remember when you asked about whether there’d be life on Mars?”