Mining Base 262 (aka New Belize) Ganymede
“Well, I guess this is it then,” said Martin, heaving the last suitcase onto the cargo loader.
They stood awkwardly, fidgeting their hands and feet to distract themselves—to avoid bursting out in tears like toddlers in the crowded spaceport terminal.
“Yeah,” said Danny, trying to mask the emotion in his voice.
“We had some good times,” said Lai. She looked at her toes.
“We sure did…”
“When do you think you’re coming back?” Lai asked.
Martin shrugged. “No idea. I’ll be gone for at least a year, though.”
“But we can call you, right?” asked Danny.
“No, calls from Mars to Jupiter cost a fortune. 350 dollars a minute, I think it was. Even sending a postcard would cost a couple hundred at least.”
“That’s crazy!” Danny looked even sorrier than before. He swore. “Man, I can’t believe this.”
Martin sighed. “Believe it. Stupid parents… Don’t worry, I’ll be back. Eventually.”
Danny was at the point of tears. “But we were supposed to stick together forever, remember? Back in kindergarten? Together forever?”
Lai sighed and patted Danny’s back as tears rolled down his face. “Anyway, we better get outta your way. If your parents catch us here…”
“Wait,” Martin said, pulling an apartment key from his pocket. “Take this.”
“What? No, I couldn’t, your parents—”
“Will never know. And if they really are Christians, they should want to help people out, right? Just make sure no one robs the place. And don’t throw any parties. Keep the place at least moderately clean. I mean it this time.”
Lai nodded, tittering, and accepted the key. “Okay, okay. No parties. Thanks.”
Martin hugged them both. They were long, warm hugs.
It was only then that it finally hit him. He was really leaving. For real, for real. He had been through everything with these guys: Gang fights, a street riot, a divorce, one sibling overdosing, other siblings enlisting in the army, one parent dying. Plus three arrests, a fire, and seven muggings, just off the top of his head.
They were thicker than thieves… not that they weren’t thieves. But as thieves go they were abnormally thick.
And he was leaving them. Maybe forever.
And for what? What does “spreading the word” even mean!
It just wasn’t fair.
He hated his parents with a new, burning passion.
He could kill them!
No, he couldn’t.
They were his parents. He loved them and they loved him.
But what right did they have to force their beliefs on him and constantly shake up his life? First, it was going to church on Saturdays, which meant he had to quit the basketball team. Then he wasn’t allowed to do anything fun on Saturdays because the Bible said “do no work” or some nonsense like that. So he had to just lounge around the house all day Saturday listening to his parents’ stupid church music instead of hanging out with the gang. Then the family went vegan, which meant he had to give up basically everything worth eating. Then he had to go to the Adventist school, which meant he had to leave his old classmates, who were replaced with a bunch of snobby goody-two-shoes. And now his parents were dragging him halfway across the solar system!?
It just wasn’t right.
“Bye guys,” said Martin, finally. “Don’t die until I get back.”
“Bye,” they said in unison.
Martin turned in the direction of gate 3, where his family was waiting for him, and walked. Realizing that he was crying, and not wanting his friends to see him that way, he didn’t dare look back.