September 2nd, 2005
The life of every Venusian Cowgirl is circular. Moxie was told this repeatedly when she signed up. To drive the point home, a silk-screened sampler saying as much was set on the opposite wall of the entrance portal to her new apartment. Moxie put down the boxes of clothes she was carrying, hooked her thumbs into the loops of her jeans, and stared at the imitation cross-stitch. It entranced her so much that she didn’t even notice her brother coming in until he started yelling.
“Goddamn! It is hot out there!” Apple said. He set down the bureau he was carrying and collapsed next to it all in one liquid motion. Moxie brought him a globe of water, closing the door with a swing of her hip as she walked past. Apple pulled the metal ring from the bottom of the globe, then put it to his forehead. The globe’s chemical reaction cooled the water it contained and Apple’s face simultaneously. “You’re sure I can’t change your mind?”
Moxie scooted down on the floor next to him. “Don’t tell me you only offered to help me move to Venus so you could talk me out of it. You’re thick, but you’re not that thick.” She pulled the ring on her own globe, drinking the content before it had adequately chilled.
“Can’t blame a guy for trying.”
“I can, too.”
“So this is what you want, huh?” Apple motioned around the apartment with his half-empty water globe. “A tiny apartment in a ranch complex, taking care of mutant cattle.”
“They’re not mutants, they’re genetically engineered. Six legs are better for the terrain here.”
“Any cow with six legs is a mutant, I don’t care what you say.”
“What about the pigs?”
“I have never been against science that give us more bacon.” Apple stood up and ambled to one of the apartment’s round windows. “This is what you want. It’s veryâ€¦”
He turned to face her. “Yellow. Very yellow. And hot. Andâ€¦it’s just so damn far away, Moxie! I mean, you wanna be a cowgirl in a hot place, fine. You can go to Buenos Aries, or Madrid or some place else close. Not here. Why do you have to move here?”
“It has to be here, Apple.” Moxie leaned against the circular doorway, regarding her brother from across the room. She absentmindedly rubbed her water globe against her vest, leaving dark tracks on the light tan suede. “I can’t be on Earth anymore than I can be a teacher.”
“Why can’t you be a teacher anymore? You were good! Those kids on Earth still need you.”
“No, Apple, they don’t.” She walked over to him, and turned him back toward the window. “Did you see this control panel? You can adjust how much heat and light comes in through the window. Check this out. This only half up, but feel that sun!”
“Moxieâ€¦,” Apple began, but she wouldn’t let him.
“Do you remember Kandie? Smallish girl? Always had ridiculous hair? I know I’ve talked about her.” Moxie wasn’t looking at her brother, but at the vast expanse of Venus that lay outside the window. “I had the whole class draw pictures of their families. She showed me hers, and pointed out her mother. Her mother’s face was all red. I asked her why, and you know what she said? Because her mother was shot in the face. That’s why. It’s getting worse. Every day more of Earth becomes more of a battlefield, and you can’t escape it. Not anywhere on the planet.”
“So you come hereâ€¦” Apple reached out to Moxie’s shoulder, surprised at the intense warmth the suede kept.
“Where’s there’s not a soul but us Venusian Cowgirls.” Moxie turned to him, and gave a weak smile. “I can do things here, Apple. If a cow gets sick, I can fix it. I can save it. I can’t do any of that on Earth. This is what I want. This is what I need, to get my strength back.”
“And then you’ll come back.”
“And then I’ll come back.” Moxie didn’t want to say it, but she knew it was true. “You know what they say about the life of a Venusian Cowgirl.”