She released me from her grasp and returned to her
seat behind her desk. “Now Jamie, I am going to overlook this incident just
this once, but you must promise me that you won’t leave school grounds again
without clearance from me or a faculty member.” She folded her hands on the
desk in front of her. “Can you do that for me?”
“Yes, Ms. Wood,” I said. I would have promised to
give her my kidney if it would have gotten me out of her office any faster.
She smiled, though mercifully without showing any teeth this time.
It’s hard to hear that your mother abandoned you
because you were a boy. If it’s hard to hear, it’s hard to know how to
start this story too. In that way, at least, I could sympathize with my mother.
Because they are a society of women,
it’s hard to keep their numbers from dwindling, though their lifespans are
longer than the average mortal. That’s why once a year, a handful of Amazons
volunteer to leave their home and go out into the world of men in order to… well, do what comes naturally.
“Did you hear Kate Bush is coming out with a new
album this year?” Sarah asks, almost before he lands in the seat beside her.
Sarah is obsessed with the singer.
“Please,” he says. “It’s only been six years since Aerial. I bet that one won’t drop until
2014 at the earliest."
Sarah gets a triumphant look on her face and out comes her smartphone. If there's ever a question about something or an argument that needs settling, she consults Google on her phone. Jamie calls it the Oracle. Now she's showing him a page in the browser.
Jamie squints at the tiny screen and says, “Whatever. Remember when Kate Bush News was saying
every two months, ‘Announcement Imminent’?”
they were right eventually, weren’t they?”
like saying ‘it’s gonna rain’ every day. Sooner or later you’ll be right.”
were right about Beth Ditto,” she says. “And Lady Gaga’s new album release
never heard of Beth Ditto, and he’s kind of over Gaga, at least for now. "I'll believe it when I see it," he says.
Jamie wouldn't mind continuing the debate, but he's starting to get nervous.
He waves his hand dismissively, only realizing at the end that the
gesture is, well, a little fey. Someone behind him giggles, and he
knows she’s laughing at him, at his hand, at the only pathetic gay in the
village. Sarah whips her head around and fixes
the guilty party with a look of such pure hate that even Jamie shivers a
He’s nervous because now they’re on the straightaway leading up to
school and there are no turns from here. And he knows eventually, at some point during the day, he’ll run into Billy.
If his grandmother hadn’t died, if she hadn’t left
him everything, Dan would never have left Earth. He wouldn’t be on a train
racing at five hundred kilometers per hour across the Tharsis Planitia from the
spaceport toward New Berlin. He stared out the observation gallery at the
rust-colored landscape and wondered why his grandmother ever moved here in the
His memory of the woman was indistinct, like an
out-of-focus picture. He was ten when she’d left Earth, and what he remembered the most were his parents’ protests at her departure.
“That’s not what I meant,” she said, “and you know
it. Why are you going at all? Isn’t the farm enough?”
His grandmother had also left Dan her Terran assets,
which consisted primarily of a farm in upstate New York and a lot of old texts on terraforming.
“That’s not the point,” Dan said. His mother had
come to his apartment while he was packing, ostensibly to get instructions on
looking after his cat while he was away, but she had spent little time since
her arrival on the finer points of Darwin’s care and feeding.
“So what is the point?” she
“As soon as I figure out, I’ll let
you know. But I don’t think I’ll find the answer here.”
His mother shook her head. “I wish your gran had
never heard the word terraforming.”
Regardless, she had, and here he was.
Dan had been prepared to be disappointed by Olympus
Mons. He’d read about it, along with the other notable landmarks on Mars, how it was so big that the curvature of the planet made it impossible to get a sense of the sheer scale of the peak.