Sighing, Ryan left the pen hovering over the paper and looked at Molly. “You ready?”
Molly smiled, the wrinkles he so dearly treasured stretching. “No one’s going to like this, so let’s just get it over with.”
As he began writing, Molly’s hazel eyes looked out the arched window. Sunlight streamed into the room, illuminating the beautiful old books of their library. Their grandchildren were running across the red ground in front of their family’s houses, their space suits not able to hide the giggles and smiles. Their rover assistant rolled over to them, probably to tell them it was time for dinner. They chased after it, entering the side chamber of their home. A banging sound informed the grandparents the door had sealed, where the children would now be taking off their suits and running around inside.
By the time Ryan was finished writing their will, the sun was setting over the dark silhouette of the mountains. The dusty brown sky turned dusty blue to match the dropping sun, and stars slowly began popping into view. They both signed the document, tucking the paper into an envelope and into its desk drawer.
. . . . .
The lawyer, Mark, handed the aged envelope to the eldest child of the family, who carefully opened it and unfolded the yellowing paper. She looked around her parent’s old library, filled with her siblings, her children, and her grandchildren. Babies sat in their parents’ laps, cooing to fill the silence, while the young children played with toys. Many pairs of sad yet anticipating eyes were on Margaret, waiting for her to continue.
She cleared her throat. “July 24th, 2108. My dear family, if you are reading this, it means Molly and I have died. While this will is about the distribution of our property and things, I would first like to express my love for each and every one of you. Molly and I were one of the very first people to settle on Mars about fifty years ago, and though we didn’t meet until our arrival, our greatest accomplishment and joy is this wonderful family. You all mean so much to us, more than you can know.”
Many people wiped their eyes, hugging each other closer and smiling at Margaret. “As you are aware of, Molly and I have accumulated a large estate and many material possessions since we have been here. While we are grateful for the wealth and comfort, we are aware that this may cause divisions among you. We value the relationship within yourselves more than objects, which is why this will not create grudges.”
The family began to look at each other with confused expressions, wondering what could be the solution.
“Everything we own, our money, rovers, and property at 5833 SE 29th St, Mountain Valley, Mars, including everything inside the property, will go to one family,” Margaret read, speeding up with anticipation. The entire room seemed to hold its breath. One family, but won’t cause grudges?
“That family is--” Margaret suddenly stopped, narrowing her eyes at the paper to make sure she was reading it correctly. The lawyer wasn’t the only face filled with puzzlement.
“Barbara and Thomas McKay,” she quietly finished. “They may decide how to divide the items given to their family.”
Silence fell on the room, with the exception of a baby noisily playing with a toy. Everyone seemed paralyzed, unsure of how to take this news. Finally, one of Margaret’s nephews broke the tension.
Margaret cleared her throat, seeming to have forgotten that she needed to read the rest. “Barbara is Molly’s only sibling, who lives on Earth with her husband and family. They have stayed in regular contact with us since coming to Mars, and are the only ones who loved us for who we are, not just our money. Molly and I love all of you dearly, but all of you only love us for the prospect of getting our wealth as an inheritance, with the children as an exception who don’t understand.”
Mark’s eyes widened in surprise as Margaret took a deep breath to read the last sentence. “So wipe the fake tears from your eyes and use the contact information attached. Lots of love, Molly and Ryan.”
You could’ve heard a pin drop in that room. One by one, the pairs of eyes turned to Mark, who was simply leaning against a bookcase the entire time. Sighing, he took the will from Margaret and read it over, carefully and thoroughly.
“Well,” he finally spoke. “You heard the will. You all are getting nothing, and there are people on Earth I need to contact.”
A bomb of noise erupted. People leapt to their feet, screaming and yelling at each other and Mark. This startled a few babies and toddlers, causing some to cry and their parents to become even more frustrated.
“HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?”
“DID YOU KNOW MOM AND DAD WERE GIVING US NOTHING?”
“LET ME SEE THAT WILL!”
“WHAT ABOUT OUR FUTURE?”
“WE WERE COUNTING ON GETTING AT LEAST A LITTLE BIT OF MONEY!”
Finding himself being cornered by a mob of angry people who wanted to snatch the will from him, Mark held the will facing out so others could read it. Not wanting it to be ripped or damaged, he refused to let anyone touch it. He couldn’t hear himself think amidst all the yelling and arguing, and he was finally able to squeeze out of the library and into the long hallway, leaving the commotion muffled as he shut the door.
He entered the airtight garage where his favorite rover, complete with painted flames, was in. He slid in the driver’s seat, flipping on the engine and driving over the sensor, triggering the warning message to play over the garage speakers. Ten seconds later, the hatch door opened, and Mark drove out onto the red, dusty ground.
Back in his home, Mark turned on a video call with Barbara on his computer.
After brief introductions, he got to business. “Are you aware of the wealth your sister had?”
“No, not really. I heard they were pretty well off, but I didn’t know just how much.”
“Molly and Ryan owned a mansion worth about eighteen million dollars, along with a full staff, seven rovers, and about 6 million dollars in their bank account. Twenty years ago they wrote out their will that was opened today. Everything, including the money, the mansion with everything inside it, and the rovers, are to be given to you and your family. Will you except this will?” He smiled, entertaining himself with his own joke.
For a moment Mark thought the screen was frozen. There wasn’t any emotion on Barbara’s wrinkled face. There wasn’t even any motion in her hazel eyes. Her voice eventually croaked out a whisper.