This was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, at least that's what They said.
I stared at the window of my pod. All I could see was the hazy green air filled the room, like it had my entire life. Like it had for the past million years, except today, it was even worse. A red light flicked on and off above me. This was the last five minutes on Earth and I was spending it in a stuffy pod filled with recycled air. The same air that I would be breathing on the four week trip to Mars.
Everyone who could afford them, were contained in a sleek white pod that would supposedly keep us safe when the sun exploded. This is what The Scientists said. Everyone listened to The Scientists.
The people of Earth were about to begin our “next great adventure”. We were supposed to be excited, but I wasn’t.
I leaned forward to look out the window. I could just make out my mother next to me and she looked calm and relaxed, the way she always does. Her bright blue eyes were closed and I could see a soft smile lay on her lips. She must be thinking about dad.
Their marriage was not like most. In our colony people were assigned who to marry at age eighteen. The women and men would move out of their houses and go to their new assigned home. Then, they would have children. This was my colony’s only purpose. Some colony’s purposes were to grow food or teach children. My mother and father fell in love at age 16, and they never wanted to be apart. So, at age 18, instead of going to The Office and filling out papers to become married, they had a child, me, Juniper Darcey. Because of this, they couldn’t be married to anyone else or have children with them, so they were soon married. You might be guessing that they lived happily ever after, right? No. They didn’t. They were shunned by both of their families and everyone else they talked to. This, of course, made it hard for either of them to get a job, except with The Scientists.
I met my dad only two days ago. This might sound strange but, when I was born, he was forced to join The Scientist in order to pay for expenses. What my mother didn’t realize when he first took the job was that once you join Them, you never come back.
Two days ago, I had come home from school and dropped my bag at the front door, like usual. My mom had been sitting at the kitchen table reading a letter. A blue envelope. I could not believe it. The only letters contained in a blue envelope were from the government. I leaned over her shoulder, holding my breath.
Dear Mrs. Darcy,
We are pleased to inform Mr. A. Darcy will return home on the eighth of May, Sixty-Twenty-six. We are currently preparing for the new adventure that awaits the human race, and we need all employees to return to their assigned home. If there is any problem with him returning home, please mail a response back to us informing your situation. Thank you for your time.
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at their word choice. Everyone knew what “the new adventure that awaits the human race” meant. The sun was going to explode and humans were going to move to the Mars Colony. The Scientists had been trying to hide this from children, like me, for a long time. They knew we would speak against it and tell them that their plan was stupid, which it was. And of course, on the news channels, when they announced this, there was an uproar. The kids knew what The Scientists meant. This would be the last few days on Earth.
I looked at my mom. Her face was frozen in shock. “Mom,” I said tapping her on the shoulder, “Is daddy coming home?” She nodded and gulped back a sobb. Suddenly, my younger sister, Daphne, ran down stairs.
“Mommy! Mommy! I can’t find my ballerina doll! Do you know where-“ she was cut off when she saw my mom rub her eyes, trying to hold back the tears. “Mommy, what’s wrong?” Her black curls bounced up and down in the tight braids they were held into.
“Come here,” she said quietly and Daphne ran over to sit in her lap. “Daddy’s coming home,” She said as she stroked my sister’s forehead.
“Daddy?” She said. She looked at my mom quizzically. She had been adopted five years ago, when she was three.
“Yes, Juniper’s daddy,” she said gesturing to me, “but he’s your daddy too.” Daphne squealed and ran upstairs in excitement, probably to tell her dolls all about this. My mom sighed and continued looking at the letter.
“Mom?” I had said, “isn’t today the eight of May?” She looked at me, a look of utter shock stood on her white face.
“Yes—I guess it is,” she whispered to herself. I sat down in the chair next to her with a thump. I cranked my head to look out the window. I could barely make out a black car parked in our driveway. The greenish hayz made it unclear who was coming to the door, but then a loud ding filled the house. My mom looked at me, “you should go get it,” she said and nodded towards the door.
I carefully stepped towards the door, shaking with both nerves and excitement. I grabbed the key that was hanging on the door and unlocked it with a click. I opened the door and saw a tall man with short black hair standing there, a huge smile on his face. “Dad?” I said, a quiver in my voice.
“Then one and only!” He said and a huge grin washed across my face. I had never met this man before, but I immediately knew we were meant to be together. I ran forward and hugged him. It was as if a warmth I had never felt before filled me. I missing peice to a puzzle I never knew I had was filled. He hugged me tightly and bent down to my height. We stayed like this in silence until my mother and my sister came over. I heard my mother gasp and I quickly let go of him. She rushed forward and kissed him, as if she had been waiting her entire life.
I look up as the red light blinks green, indicating we had one minute left. If this doesn’t work, what do I want my last thought to be? My stomach was doing somersaults. I thought about the pink flowers that would blossom every year and the time when I first tasted chocolate. I didn’t realize the heat that had settled over me. My face was pink and sweat glintered on my forehead. I shook my head. The scientists are smart. I will not die. I will not die. A humming filled the pod and I looked over to my sister that was opposite to my mom. She looked scared and her eyes met mine. We locked eyes for a moment until everything started to get brighter. It was unbearable. I could just make out the time that was on the clock above me before I had to squeeze my eyes tight. Twenty seconds.
I counted backwards in my head, being able to make out the fuzzy blinking of the light, and I thought of everything that happened to me. Singing with my best friend at my third grade talent show. Nineteen. Playing dress up with my sister. Eighteen. Seventeen. Making cookies for a bake sale. Sixteen. Fifteen. Playing Cinderella in my school play. Fourteen. Looking out the rainey window on long car rides to the other colonies. Thirteen. Laughing with my sister at my mother’s cheesy jokes. Twelve. Have freshly baked chocolate chip cookies last night with my entire family for the first time. Eleven. Ten. Nine. My heart pounded with each blink of the time. I shut my eyes tight as the heat became unbearable. My grip tightened on the leather straps that were sewn neatly onto the interior of the pod. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. I took an uneasy breath and the humming grew louder. Four. Three. Two. I clenched my teeth as I was about to witness the last second on Earth. One Mississippi I thought. I had no idea what Mississippi was, but I had learned that it was an ancient saying in my english class. The light grew dim and it let out a loud beep. I felt nothing. I opened my eyes, but immediately shut them, the light too blinding.
Suddenly, a force hit me. I force that felt like a dodge ball had just hit me in the stomach, but stronger, far stronger. It felt like the whole galaxy had been waiting for this one moment to let go of it’s anger. The anger of it’s best friend laughing at it. The anger of father’s day when it had no dad to be there. The anger of bad grades and teachers telling it to work harder. But these, I realized, were not the galaxy’s problem’s, these were mine. I let go of that thought when I heard the faint screaming of hundreds of people. My eyes flew open. Light like I had never seen before danced in front of my eyes. Red, blue, pink, white, and yellow. While this was happening, I noticed that the pod seemed to be getting hotter. Sweat started to drip down my forehead and beads of water formed on my upper lip. I clutched the leather straps that were dangling by my side. I leaned my head back as the heat started to become unbearable. Then, the light on the clock turned off and a dim white light flickered on the top of my pod.
Suddenly all the colorful light and heat disappeared and all that was left was the darkness of space. A dozen rays of light surrounded me, stars, but they didn’t look beautiful like they had on earth. I didn’t long to see them twinkle anymore. Insead, they looked like dul speaks of light, each one heartless and cold.
Then my breath quickened pace. What about mom? I learched my head forward, the amount of gravity made my head spin. “Mom? Mom? Mom!” I screamed, though I knew she couldn’t hear me. I started to panic. When I looked through the glass of my pod, all I saw was space. I turned my head the other way. More space. I pounded on the glass, hoping that it would make her appear. Then, it hit me.
I was the only survivor. I was the last person from earth.
As my pod hurtled toward the colony on mars, I leaned back, stunned. What I felt was unbearable dread. My mom was gone, my dad was gone, and my sister was gone. No one was there, not even the Mr. Evens, the old grumpy man next door that used to yell at children if they stepped on his lawn, or Mrs. Magic, my mean second grade teacher who claimed that she would one day become president. It was just me. Me, and the rest of the universe. This was the day that the sun rose but never set.
I wish I never got into that pod. But, by now, it's too late.