Author: Frederick Charles Melancon

The scars don’t glow like they once did, yet around my pants’ cuffs, neon-green halos still light my ankles. Mom used to love halos—hanging glass circles around the house to create them. But these marks from the bombing blasts on Mars shine so bright that they still keep me up at night. So, maybe, the scars haven’t changed at all, and it’s just that the people in this lunar town don’t stare like the ones from the last city we evacuated to.

Dad carted me off here when he finally found some work filing insurance claims for war veterans. It didn’t require him to limp around on his legs that aren’t marked like mine but are all one shade of green, so here we are—with the people who don’t stare.

To fight the loneliness, I talk about the injuries, whether the people here ask or not, especially while we wait in line for rations. Usually, it’s quick. The food phases in, and we pick it up. But sometimes, there are delays. One minute the food appears by magic and the next not. Back home-home, these transporter pads are how we got everywhere. We just transferred in—no lines. There’s no system like that here.

Before the bombings started, the only time we actually stood in line was the day of the blast. It was Dad’s idea to get to school first. He’d heard his father once talk about waiting for school to start in the morning. Mom thought he was crazy. Before the energy blasts, people just showed up on time. But Dad wanted to be the first at school with his daughter—waiting in the front of the line like he’d won.

So that morning, we woke up an hour early. While Mom slept in, I fixed breakfast, and Dad packed my bag. When the time came to phase there, I held back a yawn as my eyes adjusted from the lights of our home to the distant security lights outside the school building. And I admit it. I was disappointed, maybe even a little mad, when the two human shadows outlined by the light coming through the glass doors stood first in line.

Worse, they were nice. The mom and boy were from outside the city from the same place where Dad grew up. When they said our family name, it wasn’t like the city people said it. It sounded like music. Our name, Bellicomb, was a country name, and people in the city said it like belly comb just like they do here. At first, it was funny until it was repeated, but that mom said it right—bellacawm. For a minute, I was more than the girl the teachers always made the class giggle at while they read the roll.

She was talking about her old school, and then it seemed like the sun rose too early and bright.

I woke up in the hospital with these scars. The rivers of green down the right side of my body and all over my legs could be seen when the lights were turned out. The other patients regularly complained that it kept them awake.

Dad glowed too, but the mom and boy weren’t ever found by the paramedics. The scars remind me of them and what would’ve happened to us if we were just a little bit earlier for that line—or just stayed home with Mom.