The letter came. The first line read:
"Thank you for your application, we are excited to inform you of your acceptance into the Mars Colonization Foundation's Colony One Program."
She stood there, the light from the tablet screen occasionally dimmed by a passing car, reading the sentence over and over again. Each time she read it, a new question ran through her mind.
Is this a joke?
Is this a joke? Why would the pick me?
Is this a joke? Why would the pick me? Of what use can I be in Colony One?
Each question, a brick of dread, slowly building her reason to hit the "I decline" at the bottom of the page instead of "I Accept."
The back door opened and closed. “Babe, where are you?" Dave called as he made his way to the kitchen. "You won't believe what happened today at work."
Dave's voice shot panic through Kim's body.
Shit. What's he going to do when he finds out?
As she made her way to join him in kitchen, she steeled herself for what was surely to come.
Dave rambled on about work, but all Kim heard was a low drone.
Her secret pressed on her, the pressure building until it could be contained no longer. It finally escaped her lips somewhere just below a shout.
"And then he says to me - "
"Dave, I am going to Mars." Kim interjected. It wasn't what she'd meant to say. She had meant to open up a conversation about it.
But there were no conversations with Dave and she already knew this was only going to go one way.
Stunned from being cut off before he could describe his heroic moment, Dave took a deep sigh.
His face cracked into a half smile. One she knew all too well, one that said "That's cute babe, sure you are." She stiffened at the sight of it and prepared for the worst.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I applied to that Colony One Program at the MCF. They accepted me and I am going to Mars."
All pretense of humor had bleed away from his face by the end of her sentence.
"Honey, why would they want you?
"Honey, why would they want you? What would you even do there?
"Honey, why would they want you? What would you even do there? Are they that hard up for people to dust or something? "
"They don't want me to dust, you jackass. I am sure they need educators and I do happen to be one. I - "
He lunged across the table between them and snatched her wrist.
"You dumb bitch, let me educate you on why you're staying right-fucking-here."
For once, Kim defended herself. But the result was the same as it always. Bruises and apologies.
That night, she limped downstairs to retrieve the tablet. She opened the acceptance letter and scrolled to the bottom and selected "I Accept."
A warning message flashed on the screen.
WARNING: You will never return to Earth. There is a high likelihood your life expectancy will be dramatically shortened. Are you sure you accept?
Kim clicked "I accept" again.
'Fuck this place.'
We Are Mars: