Somebody once told me that a white dress is the best way to let others know you are pregnant once you start to show. Here on Mars, we only have thick, lead-lined, liquid-cooled outfits in our wardrobe. You get a little red dirt on them and there’s no one to give you grief for it—no one except John, but it saddens me to think that he will soon have bigger things to worry about. Irrigation and cultivation are not easy feats in an environment as harsh as this, and John is the botanist.
My job was just to get us here.
We were the two best and only candidates for the job.
At first, it was hard dealing with him; getting him to keep his eyes off me, complimenting my hair or my ass instead of my input on soil saturation. Then, as experiments garnered success and political approval took off, I started to let my guard down with him.
It was one morning, three months into a six-month stay, that I said we should celebrate our first successful bean harvest. By then I knew John’s looks; I knew he would have an innuendo for the request. So, when he did, I stayed quiet.
Sometimes silence is salience.
We became close after that. He would kiss me, tell me I was one of the best things to happen to his “productive abilities,” then work for hours on end. Smiling came naturally to me then, so I smiled and believed him.
Then came our first harvest of barley.
Three weeks later, John and I toasted the first beer on Mars to the world on twenty-minute delayed live television.
Our bosses back home were overwhelmingly pleased with our accomplishments and the doctors who administered our monthly evals were more than satisfied with our state of mental health. The daily exercise in the centrifuge and the earth-gravity simulator in my bedroom was working wonders for my immune system, while hormone-balancing vitamins helped with my exercise and sleep. I had never felt better and never felt the need to question my physical health. In all my excitement, I had stopped paying attention to my menstrual cycle. When you worry about deadly radiation piercing the lead of your bedroom wall every night, you forget about the things that troubled you back home.
As I sat on the toilet that first lonely night of the end of my happy streak, I guessed I had missed my period two months in a row.
I thought it wasn’t completely unusual though, I had missed periods before. But what about my perfect health in every other sense? Not even so much as hard stool was a factor for me to consider.
Sometimes John would look at me funny when my pangs would lead me to inventory the food rations for a second or third time that week. I chalked it down to an idea I had that temperature changes might affect the preservation.
Soon after, the nausea spells started. I blamed those on an idea I had about oxygen distribution.
It wasn’t until the big wigs decided six months was actually counterproductive, given our success, and talks of a mission extension started.
How do you tell the world that the feat of human survival on Mars cannot be because you got saucy with the only man around for forty-million miles?
That was about the time I began taking little walks outside alone. I know a little spot on the edge of a small cliff I like to sit on and watch the sunset. The suit hurts, and if I don’t lean just right it sometimes rubs my shoulders raw.
How nice it would be to be able to walk out here without it?
Sometimes I like to walk back to the lander after it gets dark. Sometimes, I just like to look inside it and give in to my nostalgia. It’s when I look at those two lowly seats that I begin to miss things like color; pinks, light blues; the ones we don’t have here. I like to lean against it and wonder what I’ll do or say in another four or five months. What I’ll say to the doctors, my supervisors; what I’ll say to John when he figures it out; what I’ll say when his “productive abilities” start to slow down, along with the oxygen.
Somebody once told me that a white dress is the best to let others know you are pregnant once you start to show. For me, who knows? My clothes haven’t started getting tight yet.
So, I sit. And as I let my worries fade out, I think of how nice it would be to just once slip inside a white dress.