At 12 years old, Liam felt older than his parents. The other kids at school had the same feeling. Reality was right here, right now, all around them. But the only thing the grown-ups had any interest in was a fantasy of the past. Earth. Climate change. The draft. So what? The future was at their doorstep!
Liam washed a protein shake down with a tube of cool, pure water from the community pump. Don’t waste a single drop, his mother reminded. He reminded her he’d never spilled since gaining access to the faucets and reclaimers. He suited up and headed for the airlock. Double check the seals before depressurizing, his father called. Liam called in return to point out that he’d been born under an artificially pressurized dome. Such fears at their age; they may as well be afraid of the dark.
He hopped along the frozen ground, enjoying the sound of methane crushing underfoot as it reverberated through the bottom of his boots. Wait up, called Karen over the radio. She was two years older. He blushed as soon as he heard her voice and tried to act cool while she galloped toward him.
Sorry I’m late, she said. The ‘rents made me measure the rads before letting me leave. Liam rolled his eyes knowingly. He told her about his own morning. He told her he thought Earth must have been an awful place to leave them so shell-shocked. I disagree, she said. It’s like Caitlyn’s parents say—they’re Neo-Rebirthers, you know—they feel like they’ve been ejected from the garden for their sins, only their sin was setting the garden on fire. No matter how much they repent, the garden’s still gone.
Maybe, said Liam. He appreciated her 14 years of wisdom as only a 12 year old with a crush could, but he still wasn’t convinced. But they didn’t have the view. He looked up at the pale swirling orb that filled the sky and the halo that bent to encompass them. They stared up together in silence, and Liam reached out to hold Karen’s hand.