By H. E. Remus
The trip was exhausting. When we got back last night, I was glad to sleep in a real bed on a real space station, instead of in a tiny bunk below three other people in a hallway room. I never thought I would be so grateful for our tiny apartment on the ORB. Especially when I was a girl, when we left Earth.
Cue 7:30am, when my little brother comes in to wake me up.
“Time to get up.” He whispers in my ear, his pre-teenage voice on the edge of puberty. I can tell he is about to pull back the covers and make it cold so I’ll wake up. He doesn’t know I am already awake.
I sit up quickly, and shout in a loud voice, “Good morning!” Emphasis on the morning. He jumps clean out of his skin, and I start laughing. Not a bad way to start the day.
He’s glaring at me, his brows tucked down over his eyes with annoyance. He’s crossed his arms. “That’s not funny.” He says. “You scared me.”
I laugh again. “I didn’t mean to.” I hop out of bed to throw a sweatshirt over my t-shirt. It’s cold in space, but not as cold as it was on the spaceship. Even if we are still on the ORB. I sigh with that thought, and say, “Let’s go get breakfast.” Harrison is a recent teenager. He’s still unimpressed, because when you’re 14, nothing is funny.
When you’re the older sibling, you have more fun teasing. “Come on.” I urge him from the doorway, but he’s still bent on glaring at me. “All right, suit yourself.” I shrug and I am off to the kitchen where Dad is making breakfast.
“Coffee?” Asks my mother, sitting at the breakfast table reading the news on her tab. She points to the pot on the table. My two little sisters, 16 year old twins, are looking at a comic-book together across the table. The synthetic kitchen floor is cold on my feet. Steam rises from the carafe on the table. I can smell the thick darkness of liquid caffeine. My stomach rumbles.
“God, Minni,” Says Mara, the blonde twin, “Eat something before you implode.” She loves to tease.
“Tell Dad to hurry then.” I grin, and take my seat and pour my coffee and reach for the powdered creamer. “Feels good to be home.” I say as I stir my creamer in. It doesn’t have the same swirl as real Earth half-and-half.
“Home?” Mom looks up from her tab and raises an eyebrow. “I thought it was a piece of crap and you wanted to go back to Earth?” It’s my turn to act like a sullen teenager. My mood drops, hard.
“Mom…” Kara, the brunette twin, looks up from the paper comic-book. “Don’t talk about that.”
“I’ll talk to my daughter about her harsh words any time I would like.” Mom says back, and all I can think is, Great, here we go. “Min?” She looks over at me. I stare back, uninterested in answering her stupid questions. “Minni?” She says again, “You called this home, I want to hear why. It sounds like you’ve improved your attitude, which is good.”
“I haven’t improved anything.” I snap back. Dad keeps his back turned. He won’t engage in these arguments I get into with Mom.
“Duh.” Mara chimes in, our eyes meeting. Mine spell murder and hers, mischief.
“I still wish we were back on Earth, I still wish we didn’t have to move to fucking space-” An audible gasp hits the whole room at the F word. “-because Dad needed some stupid job working for something he doesn’t even care about. We had an entire house. I had my own room. Now we are cramped into a tiny 900-square-foot apartment with six people! It’s stupid. But you know what’s more stupid? Riding in a space ship for a week just to go see some dumb gas planet gardens.”
At this point I’ve stood up to give my speech, and everyone stares in shock while I ramble on about my hatred for space. “That’s a shit vacation if I ever heard of one.” (Here my mother furrows her brows and I know I am in for it.) “How about a visit to Earth? Where there are people I actually want to see?” Even Dad has turned around and is watching me with sadness in his eyes. He hates this.
I’m at the kitchen door by now, edging away from the conflict I’ve started. From the conflict I always start. I feel rotten inside, but I can’t stop. I feel hurt, too. “I can’t talk about this any more. Don’t ask me about it any more.” My voice breaks, and I turn away.
“Minni!” Mom shouts from the kitchen.
Two minutes later I’ve shoved on my boots and jacket and I head out the apartment door to stomp around the space station. At least I can look at my planet from the big glass windows. At least I can pretend I am home where there is weather, and animals, and warmth, and real air.
I escape the clamor of my family arguing after me, I ignore their blur of insults, shock, disappointment, and pain. It hits me like a soft wave, but I block the wave with our door and get away. Just for a minute, I think, and I step out into the bustling space station.