A little science fiction, in honor of Mr. Bradbury passing away earlier this month.
I miss color.
That’s the one thought going through my head as I scan item after item for customer after customer. It’s been a busy shift, what with the holiday and all. Everyone in the whole colony seems excited except for me.
I miss color.
It had seemed so cool when the opportunity first came up. I mean c’mon, I was eight. Who didn’t want to live on the moon? It had seemed like the best birthday present ever. We would be the very first, and Dad was going to develop moon-growing vegetables and Mom was going to design a drill to well deep into the surface to harvest moon ice.
Plus there was a rocket ship ride. Complete with a whole hour of anti-gravity free time. That feeling of floating, of not being weighed down by yourself or towards anything else, was the most amazing thing in the world.
I even got to wear a spacesuit. Had to, in order to get from the ship into the airlock. Fifteen minutes to put on a suit I got to wear for about two and a half. That was pretty cool, too.
Our first year was in tents, as the building happened. They’d built the entire Air-and-Grav dome around absolutely nothing to begin with, because it cost less to have people work after the dome was built, than outfit a bunch of people in suits for long periods of time. It seemed like camping. Which is fun for about two weeks. But then you kind of miss running water and warmth. The AG dome is protected from the harsh heat in the sun and cold in the shadow times, but the temperature is always either chilly or hot. And really, there wasn’t much here but rocks and dirt at first, so exploring wasn’t as exciting as it sounded.
There were a lot of people here during the building, and a part of me thought it would always be like that. Not that it’s completely sparse now—there are 572 of us in the colony, the thirty-second moonbaby was born just last week—but the community definitely shrunk when the builders and contracters left. I threw a fit that week, because I wanted to go home too, but Mom and Dad were both on long-term contracts, and it just wasn’t in the works.
I had already started missing color by then. Every single building was the same dusty grey-white as the surface. It was done by government decree, so that they wouldn’t mess up the moon’s luminosity. The whole no-color thing just went wild from that point on. As if wearing a red shirt on the moon was going to mess up a summer night in Seattle. As if it that would be anything compared to the number the construction did on the tides back home. But hey, what’s the destruction of a few hundred microecosystems in comparison with a colony on the moon?
I know I sound ungrateful. What we’re doing here is of historical significance, after all. I’m the first person in the entire existence of people whose first part-time job was at a convenience store on the moon. I get that that’s important. But forgive me if selling moontrients and moon-o-degradable paper products doesn’t always particularly feel historically significant.
The color thing really gets to me, though. The depressing thign is, there are kids here who have trouble remembering different colors’ names.
There are kids here younger than me who don’t remember Earth at all. Not as anything other than a bright blue and green object in the sky. Those oceans have little more meaning to them than imagined ideas. They know nothing of salt breezes or sea spray. Coral reefs, schools of fish, tide pools. They know nothing of colored sunrises, sunsets. The closest thing they’ve ever seen to a field of flowers is the lily-white harvest of pollination poppies in the Growing Center. Forests or wildlife or fire—they don’t even know fire, it’s too dangerous here in our world of cycled, manufactured-oxygen.
There are kids here for whom the moon is more home than Earth. As if they don’t consider the fact that it hasn’t yet garnered a capitol letter for its name.
There are kids here like that. But I’m not one of them.
I know I’m not the only one who feels it, either. My mother has framed photograph of bright, cochineal-and-pink flamingos in a lush jungle setting hanging in our front room, and sometimes I see her standing in front of it and leaning in ever so slightly, wiping tears from her cheeks.
On Tuesday it will be ten years since we landed. I turned eighteen three weeks ago, and I’m legally an adult now. On Monday I have the option of hitching a ride back Earthside when the annual shipment of supplies comes in. If I have the guts to do it on my own. The way back is always a one-way ticket, unless I miraculously turn into a rocket scientist, which is really unlikely since I’m terrible at math.
I’d have to do it all on my own if I went back, too. I could go back to the house, maybe, but I’d have to find some way to live. I wouldn’t be able to access any of the millions my parents are making—those funds are no good Earthside unless one of them comes with me. Which they won’t. We’ve had that conversation enough times for me to know that by now.
“Going to the festivities next week?” asks Marcie, a chubby redhead who lives down the row from us and works on the engineered atmosphere.
I scan the packaging of a black-and-white “Happy Mooniversary!” banner and bring the total up. Marcie was always a bright spot in my day. She’s one of only three redheads in the colony.
“I just might make it,” I say, jokingly. As if anyone in the colony wouldn’t be going to the festivities.
But my heart beat hard against my chest as I said it. And I could feel the color in my cheeks rise with my pulse.
I’m pretty sure that I just lied.