Like We Say

Author: Samuel Stapleton

I let myself in through the airlock and dropped down to the kitchen. She was on the couch.
“Hey,” she said without looking up. The stream mumbled quietly into the background of the cramped sitting area. I plopped down next to her, but not too close. The cold from outside was still radiating off of me.
“Michael and Sarah will holo-over in a little bit. I think.” She told me.
I looked over at her. Her hair covered most of her face. It made me smile because it didn’t hide beauty like hers. Not from eyes like mine. I put my feet up on the table and stared with heavy lids at the monitor. I ended up napping. Two young people. Together. In a cold, quiet house. People would say: go out, live, experience, get drunk, party, visit the moon, eat at fancy restaurants, you’re young, be extraordinary, explore the system.
We always answered by napping, in a cold, quiet house. I reached room temperature so I wrestled off my jacket and tossed it behind us. She looked up from her book and slowly pretended to fall toward me. I pulled her onto me and shifted us long-ways onto the couch. She read. I held. Two people became one.
Michael popped the airlock and dropped in not long after that. I was half awake,
she was still reading. I heard him search the cooler, grab nothing, and then come back to sit on the floor. Michael is skinny.
“My parents still won’t let my sister come out to visit.” He said.
“Did you offer to pay for the holo-out?” I mumbled in sleeper voice. He went quiet while he thought. Then he sighed, “I would…but I can’t. I have to save up for the whole thing. Otherwise they’ll force her to pay for the trip back.” He explained.
“Isn’t that like blackmail or something?” I asked only half-seriously. Sarcasm is my favorite. My book-lover giggled sadly. Laughter is her favorite. And silence. Laughter and Silence.
“Basically. She’s been asking to leave for two years now. Most of the kids are leaving the cities. But it’s mom, you know? She’s afraid to let her leave Earth.” He finished.
“You could bring her here if that’s easier. It’d be cramped but safe.” I offered. What a crazy shit system we live in. Kids taking care of kids, living with other kids. It’s like that on most of the rocks out here.
Sarah walked in, took one look at us and shook her head, her soft golden curls swirled in the low gravity – like creamer being added to coffee in slow motion. She disappeared into the bedroom and reappeared with a blanket. Sarah is a magician. Or possibly a witch. I’m not sure. She’s a hell of a pilot though. Michael kissed her forehead and unceremoniously tossed the blanket over the book lover and me. We spoke a muffled thank you.
The stream blared Jeopardy IV reruns, and book lover quietly answered almost every question. It’s how we work. She memorizes everything, and I memorize her. Michael and Sarah sit on the floor with the holo-dog. Chauncy. What a ridiculous name for an animal that’s not an animal. Yet it fits him. He is the best space companion you could ask for.
Four enterprising friends. Now, in a slightly less cold, slightly less alone house. On an asteroid all to ourselves. Come visit some time. Like we say out here, “What’s mined, is ores!”

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