Breakfast on Mars

“Desmond, it’s time for breakfast.”

He was completely engrossed in cataloging the root structures of the young bean sprouts he was growing, and he ignored the reminder. For a third time.

A voice came over the intercom. Not the virtual assistant again, but the commander. Desmond couldn’t ignore her. “Stop working and come eat.”

He carefully placed the sprout back in its petri dish, gently compacting the soil around its base to keep it upright, and rubbed his fingers together to get as many particles of dirt and fertilizer back into the dish as possible. Small losses added up in a closed system.

He walked lightly from the bio module to the hab and announced himself sarcastically as he entered the galley. “Mission Specialist Desmond Wright reporting for duty.”

Commander Sasaki gave him a sideways look over her coffee mug. “You’re worse than a teenage boy with that snooze alarm.”

“I just get caught up in my work.” Desmond began heating water and flicked through the dried meal packets in the pantry: chocolate chip pancakes, frosted cinnamon buns, banana nut waffles, strawberry crepes. “Actually, no,” he said, and closed the pantry. He faced the table where the commander sat and he leaned back against the counter. “The real reason I don’t eat is because NASA was in charge of packing all the lunchboxes for the Romulus missions. I don’t understand Americans. They eat dessert instead of food. It’s intolerable.”

The commander snorted and smiled broadly. “Well that’s why they’re all so sweet.”

Zeigler’s muffled voice bounced in from down the corridor. “Yeah, I hear you. You don’t like it, you can eat your bean sprouts.”

“That day is coming my friend!” Desmond went back to the pantry in search of an acceptable breakfast. The commander was a calm and gentle leader, but that didn’t mean she didn’t get her way. She would not leave the galley until she saw him eat something. Finally, he found a packet of brown rice. “How many more breakfasts?” he asked.

“Six hundred eighty-eight more Martian breakfasts before Romulus heads home,” said Commander Sasaki.

“Including today?”

“No, not including today. Eat up.”

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