Sunday, December 7, 2014

#49 Safer on the Moon

It was crazy, I knew, to feel safer on the moon.

I stepped off the shuttle into the metal tang of filtered air and took a deep breath of relief. There was something snug about the glass dome above me, something that made me feel more secure than the open skies of Earth.

Once you’ve lived on the moon, Earth never quite feels like home again.

I could see the earth low on the horizon, nearly full, the one spot of color in a black-and-white landscape, like a huge blue jewel against a scattering of diamond chips on a velvet night. It had been nice to be away for a while. I’d enjoyed being able to walk for miles without coming to a wall. Everything down there seemed so huge. It was a wonder to walk through a store and see how many things, how many different things I could buy, and for so cheap! I would laugh at the price of apples. I’d bought a whole bag of them for my daughter. She missed apples, living here on the moon.

I rolled my suitcases to the checkpoint. This was part of why I felt safe on the moon. All the luggage would be thoroughly scanned, no weapons allowed. Here on the moon there were only about five thousand people at any time, half of them tourists and half of them residents, and none of them would have a gun. Ever. Crime was almost unheard of. Getting to the moon was so expensive, there was no way to steal enough out here to make it worth it.

But that was not enough reason to really feel safe. I knew that the vaccum of death was right outside the walls, all the time. And if, for some reason, the supply ships stopped coming, we’d all starve pretty quick. Of course we grew some of our own food, but it was only on an experimental basis. Someday the colony might be self-sustaining, but for now it cost more for us to produce our own food than to ship it up. Habitable space was at a premium here on the moon, and we needed it for people, not for crops.

Still, I felt a sense of relief being here again, far more than any worry about the isolation. All around me I heard dozens of languages in the chatter. The faces of the people in all different colors and forms, like a garden of humanity. Men and women from all nations of the world came here, not just the tourists, but the scientists, the students, even the artists who came and lived here for the inspiration, for the unique perspective it gave them on the universe. The average IQ of residents on the moon was 130. It suited me.

I stepped into the scanning booth, and could see my husband and daughter waving at me from the other side. In just a moment I’d be with them, opening my suitcase to show them the treasures I’d brought from Earth below. Spices, picture books, new clothes for Abby, and of course the apples.

A buzzer sounded and a red light came on. The security guard in her blue gloves spoke over the intercom. “I’m sorry, Dr. Clay, your immune system is too high for me to let you through quarantine. You can either wait in isolation here until it resolves, or you can take the shuttle back to Earth.”

I knew that if it turned out to be something serious, there’d be far better medical care on Earth, but my family was here. The moon was my home. Even if, by some remote chance, I was going to die, I wanted it to be here.

Staring at the faces of my family, I said, “I’ll stay.”

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