Two Suns Away
Ten years...how could ten years go by in a flash? Laura held a yellow umbrella above her as she stood waiting outside the restaurant door as violet rain fell freely from the sky. She thought about how she had lost him and then been so lucky to have him back again. Her mind wandered back to the beginning.
Ten years ago, she had been surrounded by her family as they all huddled together. Laura had gripped her father’s hand winding their gloves tightly together as her grandparents’ sad sunken eyes filled with tears that slid down their weathered cheeks. “This was the only way” they had begged. They had already talked about what-ifs, as if there had ever been a chance to do it differently, knowing what they knew now. Everyone had been warned decades before her birth, so she had grown up with stories of what life had been like for her relatives.
She had always favored the ones where they had talked about growing up playing in fields of grass and on parks full of trees. People would leave their windows open to feel the fresh breeze or smell the rain coming. The empty buildings that towered the sky used to be castles in the air for the rich, with balconies to watch the sunset each evening; but then the air had become too hard to breathe forcing the lucky owners to vacate.
At first, nobody had paid attention to any of the warnings from scientists across the world. They had all been a laughing joke. No one took it seriously when natural disasters started happening more frequently at dangerous record levels. When temperatures had plummeted in tropical islands and the ice caps melted, it was simply the march of time. Then as the ocean levels rose affecting coastlines, everyone had just moved along with their lives as if they were new lands to explore. It was only when the ozone layer had depleted, leaving a constant haze in the air, that they had stopped laughing.
Nations across the world became unified choosing to act now, changes had to be made. Of course, it had been too late then. The haze had continued to darken the skies daily, making the air almost impossible to breathe. Soon, gas masks had been necessary if you wanted to walk anywhere. Forget about opening your windows for fresh air, for there was none to be found.
Laura had been so afraid of what was to come. She stood there on the platform with her family, amongst a sea of people all saying goodbye to their loved ones. She was old enough at the age of ten to understand that their world was dying. There were dozens of ships on platforms all around them. Each silver bullet-shaped ship gleamed against the sky, like a candle waiting to be lit. Why couldn’t everyone come with, she had thought. In her young eyes, there looked as if there was room enough for everyone.
She had looked up, barely able to make out the building tops through the dark haze that filled the sky. Everything had happened so quickly. Rumors had spread like wildfire about rockets to start life on another planet. She and her friends, Bill and Sara hadn’t comprehended what that meant, yet all their parents had become more anxious each day. Then one day the tv announcer broke the news about some type of lottery. Everyday Laura watched as each adult with a personal device would constantly check their email. Sometimes they would break down sobbing and others cried with happiness and laughter. She and her friends hadn’t seen either from their’ parents.
Then one day Laura’s dad picked her up from school, instead of carpooling with Billy and Sara. Instead of driving home, they had met her grandparents at one of the platforms with suitcases in tow. Now she wondered
if her friends were somewhere on another platform like her, mixed among the crowds and saying goodbye to their grandparents. They all had met at preschool becoming the best of friends. Now she wondered if she would ever see them again.
What if they weren’t on another platform? What if they were still going about their lives, never learning until it was too late that they were doomed, just as her grandparents? She couldn’t think about that now. She needed to be brave for her father and burn the memories of her grandparents’ faces into her brain. She knew that she would never see them again.
Sirens suddenly pierced the air, announcing the time had come. Final goodbyes were said as everyone began to share desperate last hugs. As Laura moved forward in the crowd with her father, she glanced behind one last time to see her beloved grandparents. It was too late though, they were gone. “No tears,” she thought.
They climbed up the stairs, higher and higher. Soon they reached a door gapping open, as if to swallow them whole. Laura looked down for a second becoming instantly dizzy, unable to even see the ground. Her father grabbed her gently and said, “Just keep walking.” Stepping inside the door, she followed her father.
Row after row were already filled with lucky passengers like them. She forced the thought of her friends away. After walking what seemed like forever, Laura and her father found their pods. Each one appeared as a glass coffin that you would find Snow White just awakening from. Her father had explained on the way, how this would help them sleep before they got to New Earth. There would be a fresh start where humankind could be smarter this time and learn from their past mistakes. There wouldn’t be much difference really, she was told. Changing seasons, vast oceans and climbing mountains were all there as well. Laura climbed into her sleeping pod with false confidence hoping to dream of these, as her father’s face loomed over her as the lid gently sealed shut.
When they arrived at New Earth two years later, Laura and millions of others had woken just like Snow White with a new beginning laid before them. Colonies had already been settled far in advance in large green bubbles that towered into the air. Red grass-like fuzz grew beneath their feet as two suns blinded Laura’s vision for an instant. “This would all take getting used to,” she thought. “I hope my friends are out there somewhere.”
An officer had walked them over to their assigned home. It stunned Laura how similar the interior of their home was like the one they had left behind. Settling into routine quickly, Laura flourished.
Then suddenly two years later, life had changed again. She was touring the new high school in their sector when a flash of red hair caught her eye. As the person turned her way, she saw Billy for the first time in four years. Laura rushed through the crowd calling his name. Turning towards her voice, he stood stunned for a split second before running towards her just as eager. They collided into each other, hugging as if their life depended on it.
They spent the rest of the afternoon catching up, only to realize they only lived a few buildings away from each other. Billy told Laura all about how Sara’s family also had been chosen, had moved across the ocean, and was doing well. They kept in touch with their personal devices with new technology founded here.
During the past six years, Billy and Sara had developed a close relationship discussing their future together. Just the other day, Billy had proposed to Sara in front of her father during spring break from the university. Beyond excited tonight, they had shared an exquisite dinner celebrating all together, even Sara who had made the trip.
Now Laura smiled as Billy pulled up to the restaurant door, coming around to open her car door. She kissed him softly thinking, “This really is the New Earth.”