Tirza Abercampo was from the Moon and had lived there almost her whole life. Growing up in the shadow of the Earth, she dreamed from the time she could remember of what it would be like to set foot there, to breathe atmosphere, to see a bird or to walk in a forest that wasn’t inside an artificial colony pod, spinning in artificial gravity, lit by artificial light, inside a massive lunar cave. One of her favorite things to do was to leave the habitat and take the shuttle to the surface where she could bounce around in the giant recreational dome in moon gravity and gaze at the big blue jewel floating so brightly in the black ocean of space. The big, blue jewel where she had been born, but didn’t remember.
Going to Earth wasn’t possible, at least for her, as re-immigration was no longer allowed. You had to be a person of some importance to be allowed to visit, and even if one were allowed for humanitarian reasons, like seeing family, you would have to stay for quite a long time to justify the cost. That’s where the phrase, “Might as well go to Earth”, came from whenever someone cited a near-impossible task. But for the longest time, since her mother died, going to Earth had become her most treasured dream. As she grew older, she thought carefully about the reasons why. Was it just because Mom loved it and missed it so much? Maybe it was because life on the moon was so predetermined. With resources rationed and options limited, it seemed like more of a waystation than a destination. Or maybe it was the strange feeling, deep in her heart, that seemed more important and real than the hard manufactured doors and walls that surrounded her, no matter how many planters or pictures covered them. That feeling was the feeling of a real breeze, of a storm blowing in, of birds flying wherever they wanted to, instead of just across an indoor habitat.
So when the time came to graduate school and decide what she wanted to do for her life, she did something impulsive and entered the emigration lottery to Sumeria. While she spent one week after another aimlessly dating boys who didn’t become boyfriends and brooding on one job after another that she didn’t want, the government was busy processing the lottery entries.
One day, much like any other monotonous day, she was casually checking messages and almost missed an inconspicuous government notification. How easy it would have been to dismiss it as so much junk, but the subject line caught her attention and she opened it. She had won a spot in the emigration lottery. The notification congratulated her and informed her that she would have a year to get her affairs in order, take cultural acclimation and skill building classes, and finally, travel for several years in suspended animation.
But at the end of the journey—Sumeria! Terraformed almost 2,000 years ago, the lifeless planet needed only a little technology to transform the mixture of gases into breathable atmosphere that could trap heat and cause precipitation, and seed it with diverse life forms, many of which had been perilously endangered on Earth. In fact, many of the species that thrived there were now extinct on Earth, never to be seen by most Terrans or Moonians except in Visuals.
When Tirza entered the lottery, it was in a fit of pique. She didn’t even remember what had been bothering her that day, because there were so many things that made her feel like she was wasting her time. When she won, however, she discovered that the goodbye to her family was now an all-too-real, unthinkable dilemma. Her mother was dead, and at least her older siblings had their own lives, but her father would be left alone. Being the last child at home with him, she was constantly concerned with the emotional distance that kept him from her. Guilt gnawed at her when she dreamed of getting away from the home that had lacked warmth since Mom died, and she felt that she must at least find the key to unlocking his heart. Before she left forever, she wanted to make sure they didn’t have any regrets after she was gone, that they both expressed their love before it was too late.
That night, like he did every night, her father said, “Going to work, see you in the morning,” as he grabbed his engineer’s bag and the meal she had made for him. There was no kiss, no asking about her plans, or admonitions to do anything in particular. He was a low-impact roommate—neat and reasonable. She did not expect anything else.
Retiring to her room, she pulled out the Keepsake Visual, which had been made long ago. Even though she had many recordings and holos of her mother, this one was special. It was refreshingly organic and tactile. The small screen was folded between a coarsely hand-woven cover made of natural fibers. Tirza put it to her nose, but it had lost its scent long ago, smelling more like Tirza than her mother, but she tried to remember anyway. Opening the Visual, she saw her mother, who was not much older than she was now, smiling and goofing around. She was in her house on Earth, with her beloved parrot Mango, who was saying all sorts of real words that were nonsense. “Take the garbage, Dinner! Wee-ooo! Oh, no! Garbage! I love you!” Her mother was in stitches, laughing at the bird’s meaningless words, but yet, speaking his language. He bobbed his head, and she bobbed back, delighted, and it was clear they were in love. Long after Mango had died and they had all come to the moon, Tirza knew that look of love, too—Mom looked at her that way when she played or cuddled with her.
Closing the Keepsake, she knew what she was going to do. Taking the bulk of her graduation gift money, she used it to purchase a long-distance session with an Ornithomancer from Earth. Dad didn’t hold with that sort of thing, but he didn’t hold with much besides the practical anyway. Ornithomancy, however, was something Mom would have loved.
There were no Ornithomancers on the Moon, and never had been, as far as she knew. The few birds kept up here were all managed by gardeners or biologists, and they were here for atmosphere in the gardens, or for food. But down on Earth, there were groups of people committed to protecting and communicating with life forms other than humans. More than 2000 years ago, even before Sumeria, there had been a reckoning of thought and philosophy after the Great Extinction. Science and spiritual practice, having spent hundreds of years at odds, came together again in an age called the Reconsideration. Having been brought to the brink of existence by environmental catastrophe, people started to think not just about progress, but meaning. There were many new movements, ways of thinking, and philosophical orders established. One of these were the Ornithomancers, who dedicated themselves to conservation of avian life, habitat, and spiritual connection with birds. After finding one Jessica Wren, Tirza’s days dragged until her appointment finally arrived.
Wanting privacy, she walked across the neighborhood to, ironically, The Communal. The public space was the heart of the colony, a huge space with a cathedral ceiling perfect for large community gatherings—concerts, graduations, sporting events. On the perimeters and on multi-tiered walkways and platforms, there were sitting areas, meeting rooms, and pleasantly appointed, enclosed quiet study rooms. It was one of these that Tirza had booked so she could use her visual screen without risking her father walking in.
She walked across the vast space which, when not cleared for a large event, had pathways and planters arranged to create a park with meandering walks and seating nooks. The planters boasted an eclectic mix of plants and trees from all over Earth, representing the heritage of many of the Moon’s residents. On the walls, it was Wisconsin Week, so the lighting and projections turned the space into a deciduous hardwood forest. The weeks were picked by resident lottery, and there had been a lot of tropics lately, so the change made her happy. She didn’t know that the scene was biologically incongruous with the heavily-laden grapefruit tree whose pale yellow globes she admired so much, or the three palm trees in the center of the room, but there was something about it that gave it a feeling, a personality all its own that she couldn’t quite describe. If she had thought about it, she would have said the real plants in front of her didn’t belong in the forest, but not known why.
She climbed a set of stairs, crossed a walkway by the fountain square, climbed another set of stairs over the ball court, and then found the number of the study room she had reserved. Entering the soundproofed space, she sat and awaited the appointment time. She was 15 minutes early. She stood up, paced, sat down, and started the process all over again. By the time the chime sounded a connection, she was jittery with anticipation.
Finally, the Ornithomancer appeared on the screen and, having never done a session before, Tirza nervously began to chatter her thanks and her reason for wanting a session. She had confessed 3 or 4 anxieties and questions she hoped to answer before Jessica Wren pointed to the bottom of the screen, which displayed the word “Mute”. Blushing, she rushed to hit the unmute button, but found she remained muted. With a practiced resignation, Jessica’s voice spoke in flat cadence: “I have purposely placed you on mute because it is common with first time seekers to have not read the preparatory statement. It is important that you do not provide me with personal information about your situation so as not to influence my interpretation. The reading will provide you with the most value if I am able to translate the wisdom of the bird messengers without bias. You may then take the information and place it into the context of your own life and situation. After the reading, I recommend that you meditate on what we discuss here, and observe its relevance in your life.” Tirza sheepishly nodded, feeling that they were off to a bad start. “Now…” Jessica’s face changed, and her voice warmed to a kind-sounding conversational tone. Tirza wondered how many people came, desperate for answers, vomiting their demands on Jessica day after day, to require the preventative talk that must have been so tiresome. She resolved to hold her tongue and follow the instructions.
Jessica introduced herself, explaining that she lived on a wildlife reserve in North America, and how Ornithomancy worked. She was particularly adept at reading bird oracle cards, and had devised a deck based on the native species she stewarded. “Keep in mind, it is possible to get information from non-native birds, birds who are extinct, or subspecies that have emerged on the colonies, such as Sumeria or Demeter.” Heeding Jessica’s warning, Tirza tamped down the synchronistic zing she felt at the mention of Sumeria. “But just as a doctor will treat you with the medicine available to them, I interpret based on the relationships I have built with the birds I know. Understood?”
Tirza marveled at the discoveries that most people had learned to take for granted: the AI engines that had decoded many of the linguistic meanings of bird calls, or the gifted intuitives such as Jessica who had learned, like anthropologists or psychologists, to put aside their own ideas and learn to think and feel the way the animals did. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know, to understand something about a living being so different from ourselves? Jessica seemed particularly gifted, because she was still able to speak to humans like a human—she had heard that some Ornithomancers (or any of the Animalmancers, for that matter) “went wild”, relating more to animals than people. Tirza felt a knowing sensation, that Jessica would be able to tell her something important.
As the cards were pulled, Tirza did not know what they could possibly mean for her. “Nest.” “Juvenile.” “Eagle.” What could this have to do with her?
Jessica began, sounding as if she were talking about friends. “Hmmm. We need to start with issues relating to raising young. Two eagle parents raising young are very nurturing. They take turns hunting or sitting on the chicks to keep them warm and dry. Both will feed the chicks, ripping off bite-sized pieces of food for many weeks until the babies are able to rip pieces off for themselves.”
Tirza was impressed with Jessica’s knowledge. She knew that Ornithomancers not only “read” bird messages in a spiritual way, but they were well-versed field biologists and researchers as well. She wondered how you became one, but it had never even been offered as a course of study up on the Moon.
Jessica continued, “Even after the juveniles leave the nest, the parents continue to hunt for them until they are self sufficient. The parents give of themselves generously, and by the end of the breeding season often look a bit tired and thin. Then the family goes their separate ways, until the parents return the next year to raise more young. However, if a juvenile appears at the nest site the following year, the chick that was so carefully nurtured is mercilessly chased off as an adult interloper, a threat to the new nest.”
“Not all birds parent this way. Eagle young are altricial as opposed to precocial—as in, being precocious. Birds like ducks can hatch and walk right down to the water, swim, and forage for food on day one. Altricial birds, like eagles, need more care. If one parent dies, the other parent will continue to raise the young but with a lesser chance of success.”
Tirza’s mind raced—what could this possibly mean? Is my father is going to start a new family? He’s not much of a nurturer. I don’t think he was that into raising the family he had in us! She thought about what Jessica said about one parent dying, and it struck her. Her father had continued to raise them, and had done a good enough job, as far as keeping them fed and educated. He wasn’t cruel, he just was distant. Tirza longed for some some loving warmth, but he just wasn’t that guy. But what did this mean for her decision?
Turning her attention away from the Nest and the Juvenile cards, Jessica ran her finger thoughtfully along the edge of the Eagle card. Her head tilted, as though following a new train of thought. The card was a picture of two eagles on the branch of a large tree. One was perched on a higher crook of the branch, looking to the left, and the other to the right. “There’s something else here, but I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s a feeling that I can’t quite give you specific words for.” She furrowed her brow in concentration. “Look at this eagle here, the one looking to the right. She looks like she’s about to take flight. Keep in mind that eagles soar higher, and see farther than other birds.”
Tirza waited for Jessica to explain, but abruptly, she gathered the cards back into the pack and tamped them smartly. “Yes, that’s your answer,” she said definitively. Something about her changed, as if she could no longer hear a distant call, and her attention returned fully to the person in front of her. Silence fell between the two women.
Tirza’s face tried to hide her disappointment. “It’s just that… I mean, I don’t think my father has any intention of starting a new family, not after my mom died, and, and… I’m not sure what that would mean for me anyway. And…” she trailed off, confused.
Jessica was gentle. “What is your name?”
“Tirza. Let me give you a little advice. I know it’s what you’re here for, but I don’t usually give the direct advice people are looking for. I don’t know what the story is with your father, or what the question is you are looking to answer, but now you have the information to figure it out for yourself. The birds often speak to us in metaphor or by example. You’re not going to build a home out of sticks any more than they will tell you how to pass a math exam. Look for the messages they can tell you about the most important things in life—relationships, surviving, communicating—things like that. Take a little time, meditate, perhaps, if you can, wait a little bit for more information to become more clear. Then you’ll know what to do.”
Trying to take it all in, Tirza gathered her belongings and left the room. Her head spinning, she absently walked along the study room level, wandering the walkways and stairways until she found an empty seating nook nestled in a garden wall of foliage. She felt like a little creature under a bush as she watched the sun set through the oak trees on the wall. She sat for a long time. The ambient sounds of game pieces sliding on tables, and the sounds of other people didn’t register until she recognized a voice in conversation on the other side of the wall—a very familiar voice.
“She’d never be able to afford the singles tax on the living quarters.”
“Well, maybe Bar and his wife could take her on.”
“They’d take care of family if they had to, but they wouldn’t want to. If it came to that, they’d ask why it was their job and not mine, and they’d be right.”
They paused, perhaps making a move in their game. Dad’s friend spoke quietly, tentatively. “I mean, are you sure you want this? She’s a good girl, a fine daughter. Children are a parent’s treasure,” he quoted the old proverb.
“Of course she is,” Dad snapped. “That’s why I’m trying to do right by her. As I’ve always done,” he added under his breath.
Tirza’s heart pounded. She was relieved to hear her father seemingly defend her, but from what? It sounded sinister, but she was confident that her father was a good family man, her protector and caretaker.
“Listen. I’ve never told anyone this, but I loved Halene more than anyone, anything, I ever loved. I gave up my inheritance and my family because they didn’t want me to marry her. I gave her three children because she wanted them more than anything in the world. I didn’t, but I wanted what she wanted. And when the shortage of ’45 happened and we couldn’t afford rations because there were five of us, I gave up my home…” at the word “home” his voice raised slightly with pent-up emotion, “…my home. And refugeed here. And I would do it again. But I gave it all up for her, and now she’s gone. And for the love of her, I raised those kids because she loved them. I did everything she would have asked me to do, raised them up right, took care of them, prepared them for life. I don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
“No, no, you did fine, fine. I’m just saying, now that you don’t have to worry about them so much, maybe you could…enjoy them?”
Resolved, Dad said, “I don’t need to enjoy them. What I need is to take this chance and start a new life. There’s a couple hundred thousand people on this rock, mining or fleeing, but none of them were meant to stay. Except maybe the ones born here or got used to it. I’m an old horse, I never did. I want to be on my home, looking up at this place, not the other way around. And finally, with my background, I could take that job and go back, but not while I have a mouth to feed.”
Mouth to feed. The image of a scrawny, tired parent eagle came to her mind. Tirza felt sick in her heart, her blood pounding in her ears, unable to catch breath as hot tears came to the corner of her eyes. Holding them back, she stared off into the distance, focusing on nothing until a dark shape crossed the setting sun on the projection and landed on a large branch. The eagle settled its feathers, and looked directly at her. Tirza knew it was just a recording, but of all the places the eagle’s gaze could have landed in this far-off room on the moon, it landed on her. Shocked into stillness, her breath finally caught in her throat and then slowly released. With a modicum of composure, careful to not to be seen, she took a circuitous route away from The Communal. Reaching the main corridor, she ran through the maze of hallways until she reached home.
That night, still lying on her bed in a daze, her father stuck his head in her room.
“No dinner tonight then?”
“No,” she replied quietly, hugging her pillow.
“Oh. I can pick something up, then.” He seemed just very mildly perplexed. Hesitating, he said, “Everything ok?”
“Going to work, then. See you in the morning.” And he left.
She wandered around in a daze, the same thought running through her head, “My father doesn’t really love me.” She walked to the rec center and played baskets with a few of her friends, where the game was fast-paced enough to keep them all too busy to talk. “My father doesn’t really love me.” She went to the bar at night and absently watched a Moon history program on the Visual, called “The Eagle Has Landed.” Her mind noted the eagle, remembering the reading, but she just thought, “My father doesn’t really love me.”
She went back home and laid on the bed. Her father said, “Going to work, then. See you in the morning.” She didn’t reply. He left anyway.
The day after that was much the same. This time, she wandered down the long corridor leading to the surface shaft. She passed a family struggling with a fussy toddler, the mother futilely trying to quiet the child in her arms. Hearing an ear-splitting shriek, she looked back and saw the child desperately waving her hands over her mother’s back at the the object she had dropped. Tirza grabbed it and rushed to catch up. “Excuse me!” She shouted, and ran with the stuffed animal. The child quieted as soon as she wrapped her mouth around its bright green head, hugging it tight. It was a parrot. Tirza thought of her mother and Mango, and smiled for the first time in days. The mother profusely thanked her. Snuggling the now quiet baby, she rushed on while Tirza looked after, feeling the connection between mother and child as if it were a physical bond.
She left the habitat and entered the lift to the surface, feeling the change in gravity as she rose. The familiar but still magical feeling always cheered her and the change in reality always made her feel like anything was possible. She didn’t realize it, and her mind would have come right back to it if she had, but the repetitive thought loop had broken for now. Instead, she anticipated visiting her favorite place.
Stepping, or rather, bouncing out of the lift into the dome, the lowered gravity felt delicious. She couldn’t quite fly like a bird, but she could leap and bounce a lot easier. The park was set up with a number of obstacles and objects for recreation, but also, plenty of places to just relax and be. She easily climbed an outcropping of rock, from which she gained enough height to see the lay of the land within, and beyond, the dome. From her perch, she saw the tranquil, harsh beauty of her home, stretching out to the mountains on the horizon, ending in the blackness of space. And there, like another dome on the distant horizon, almost big enough to grab, a blue and white half-Earth rose. It was different every time she saw it; like a living, breathing creature, it moved, sometimes covered in a feathery mantle of white, sometimes showing a large patch of blue or brown or green. It spun much faster than the moon, so she was able to see all of its sides; conversely, the people of Earth only ever saw this side of the moon. Tirza knew there were a few colonies on the other side—her sister lived in one—but couldn’t imagine having to live there, never being able to look up at the Earth.
Though she tried to appreciate the beauty of the moon, she imagined reaching her hand toward the Earth, sticking her hand inside a cloud and changing the pattern of swirls. She wanted to lift her hand up and find it cupping water from the sea. What would it be like to look down from the top of a mountain, higher than the highest catwalk in the Communal, and feel your stomach drop? Unimaginable. What would you do if you were walking in a forest and, right in front of you, there was a real wild animal? What would it do? Tirza lost herself in her daydream, like she had many times before. But her eye wandered over to the historic area of the park where, to this day, lay pieces of the ancient lunar module, the Eagle. For the first time since the reading, she thought through what Eagle could be telling her.
“My father doesn’t really…” her mind began, filling in the now familiar mantra she had adopted. But here, looking at the Earth and dreaming, she made a choice to put aside the hurt and self-pity that particular thought brought her, and try to think about what it really meant. Was she given a message just so she could suffer? She supposed it was possible—maybe the messages were simply truths, whether they hurt or not. But was there a benevolent force behind the mysterious workings of the universe? She liked to believe so. It could be wishful thinking, she knew, but smarter people than her had wondered about such things since the beginning of consciousness, so it wasn’t off limits to her to wonder about it, too. Maybe yes, maybe no. And maybe our lives are full of a billion ingredients of amazing things, and it’s up to us to decide what to make of them.
She thought, for the first time after being shocked by her father’s words, about what Jessica had told her. About how the parents care for the young, and how much harder it is for one parent to succeed when the other one dies. That isn’t true for everyone, though. She conceded that it must have been hard for her father, but she was angry as well—her friend Xia’s mother had died when she was young, and her father was more loving and more involved than most of the other parents she knew. She had always wished her dad was more like Xia’s.
But wishing didn’t change what was in front of her. Putting aside what she wanted and needed so badly, she looked at the situation with as much objectivity as she could. Her father was detached, wounded, unable to move on from his wife’s death. And now Tirza knew he hadn’t wanted to be a parent. He had done a lot to take care of them, sacrificed so much. In a way, he gave all the love he had to give. He did it for the woman he loved, and because it was the right thing to do. The real tragedy was that he had done all of the grunt work of love, but turned his back on receiving the joy of it. And Tirza realized she had been spending years trying to earn his love, and force feed it back to him. And when that didn’t work, she had been sloppy, trying to give and get it from boys she dated, trying to hold onto family through the siblings who had long ago stopped trying and gone out and made their own lives.
Still, could Dad see the light? Maybe he did not have a lot of love in his heart, but she did. She wanted him to be happy and would he regret it when she left?
When. She. Left. Just like that, she realized her decision had been made.
Before she told him, she went down to the immigration office to find out one last piece of information. Although she had applied as a single, the office allowed those selected to apply for an additional spot on the journey for humanitarian reasons, to accommodate for those who had perhaps gotten married in the meantime, or had a family member that wished to accompany them. There were only a few of these spots available, and they would go to second round picks if not reserved, but Tirza was allowed to put a temporary hold on one.
In the afternoon, between when her father awoke and when he went to work, she approached him. “Dad, I need to talk to you about something.” She was clearly nervous, but her father, as ever, was nonplussed and sat at their table.
She had practiced the speech in her head over and over. About how her mind was made up and she really wanted to start a new life on Sumeria, but she did not want to leave things unsaid. That she knew he missed Earth, and had secured a spot for him on the ship, so he could start a new life with her there, on a beautiful planet away from here. And she started to, but when she got to the part where she had decided to move to Sumeria and expected him to provide at least a little resistance, a little reluctance at never seeing her again, his face lit up.
“Wow, kid, that’s great! That’s fantastic! I always wanted something like this for you!” He chattered on excitedly about how there would be so many opportunities for her, and spoke flatteringly about how she was too smart to spend her life on the Moon. On and on about how he was so pleased and excited. For her. And she knew, for himself. The plan to express her feelings of love died on her tongue.
Her one last attempt was, “Well, Dad, I am excited. And, since you are too, I wanted to let you know, I was able to get a spot for you, too. If you want to come along.” A last, weak attempt at persuasion, she whispered, “I know you never liked it here…”
It was written on his face—the sudden switch from enthusiasm to diplomacy. “Me? Ah, well… no, no, Tirza. I’m too old for that sort of thing. This is something that you should do, for your own future. Parents are not built to hang on to their kids. I worked my whole life to make sure you could make a life for yourself, and I want you to do it. Don’t worry about me, not one bit. I’ll be fine.”
She looked in his eyes. Not one word about Earth, or a new job. His eyes held their peace.
“Ok, Dad.” She reached over, gave him a hug and a kiss, and politely, he gave a friendly pat of a hug in return.
Over the next year, she spent most of her time out of the house, attending her classes, getting to know her new world. It was too far away in time and distance to get any information about the kinds of workers Sumeria needed until she got there, so she got general education and skills classes, and would figure out “what she wanted to be when she grew up” when she got there. She still made Dad his evening meal, and they orbited around each other smoothly and companionably. The feelings in her heart lurched from time to time, and every once in a while, she tried to connect, but her father always evaded these expressions by diverting her attention or pretending to misunderstand. Eventually, as Sumeria loomed, her future started to become more important than the past, and her heart began to heal even before she left.
The date of her journey loomed, but the real date was for cryofreeze. One of the requirements of the trip was that all immigrants must go into suspended animation before the ship left port, because cryofreeze was, quite frankly, terrifying to many people. If the ship left and you just couldn’t go through with it, you would be stuck living your life on the ship for fear of “going down for the sleep.” After all of the training, some people actually backed out on the last day.
Tirza wasn’t afraid of the cryochamber half as much as saying goodbye. After everything she had gone through, prepared for, and dreamed of, part of her still wondered if she was abandoning her father, if his cold heart could be melted by a daughter’s love. And if, somehow, she was leaving behind her last chance to feel the love she had always needed from him. So that afternoon, at lunch, she opened a conversation.
“So Dad…My cryodate is in two weeks. Would you come to the goodbye ceremony?” The goodbye ceremony was a formal ritual, designed so that people would have a small, but merciful distance from last goodbyes, aspiring to create a last memory that was dignified and uplifting. The immigrants would, of course, make their tear-stained hugs in private before the ceremony, and then all of them would assemble on the stage in front of their loved ones. They would still be in the same room for another hour or so, but the distance would have already started to lengthen as dignitaries spoke solemn words, well wishes, and showed a tasteful presentation of Sumeria. Then, each immigrant’s name was called, and they proceeded directly offstage to the cryo facility. If after all of that, a person got cold feet, they were permitted to exit via a one-way door in the hallway, after which they would return home. They would be blacklisted from future immigration lotteries, but it was always an option. It prevented a dramatic exit from the stage which could give others cold feet, or provide false hope to audience members wishing that a loved one would stay.
Dad looked uncomfortable. “Actually, Tirza, I’ve been meaning to tell you. With you going and all, I got a job on Earth. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Just like you! And with you going, I figured I could accept their start date, which is beginning of next week.” He continued matter of factly, “So I can’t make it. I hope you understand. I’ve paid the rent through, so you can stay, and of course, take anything with you that you like.”
She nodded her head in acknowledgement. On the day he left, he wished her good luck and safe travel. And then he was gone.
Bar and his wife came to the goodbye ceremony; Talia and her family couldn’t afford to make the trip from their colony on the other side of the moon, but sent their best wishes. It was nice of Bar and Allyn to come, but she shed no tears. Only when a picture of Earth was shown did she choke up a little bit, but she took a deep breath and gathered her strength. As she raised her head up, she had a momentary flash in her mind, a vision of sitting on a branch, looking over a wide valley. It was time to look further than Earth, gather her strength, and soar.
When Tirza walked down the hall to the cryochamber, she walked past the exit door and set her mind on the future—to a beautiful new world, to new experiences, maybe to find the love she always wanted and needed. The love she was giving to herself by doing this—and if that’s all she got, she would make it enough.
When she laid down in the cryochamber, ready for adventure, she saw one more thing that told her everything she needed. On the inside lid of the chamber was the brand name of the device, next to an icon of a long tailed bird. The manufacturer of the chamber was Parrot Interplanetary. Dreaming of her mother’s laugh, she went to sleep, ready to wake up to a new life.