Jupiter, Heartburn, Tomorrow
Seventeen year old Emily Robinson looked through the telescope at the far away planet Jupiter.
“I wish we could live there,” she said, bored. “It’s so much prettier than Mars!” She kicked the pink dust under her feet. Here, the sky was red, the ground was red. The dust that accumulated on their instruments was um, oh yea… red.
“Well why don’t you go ahead and go then,” her eight year old brother Sean piped up. “Then I can have your room!”
“Fat chance, squirt!” Honestly, that kid was so annoying. “Just you wait until Mom and Dad get back tomorrow. I might tell them you took the cat.” The cat was their covered all-terrain vehicle. Sean wasn’t supposed to take it out by himself. Emily had left him sitting on the couch watching videos an hour earlier while she suited up and went to get the daily readings from the outpost equipment. Sean just grinned.
“You tell on me and I’ll tell them that you never went out and took any readings yesterday!” Emily bristled and Sean danced neatly out-of-the-way in case she tried to grab him.
“You do that and I will NEVER take you with me in the cat again!” She said, meaning it.
Impasse. Little brothers were such a pain. Something to her left caught Emily’s attention.
“What was that?” She asked. A puff of red dust rose several yards to their left. There was another, a few feet past it. A small puff blossomed at Sean’s feet. She turned to him wide-eyed.
Meteor shower! Sean turned and sprinted for the cat with Emily right behind him. THUD. A large chunk of rock landed right in front of Emily, it barely missed her!
The base was a half mile away and was built into the rocks at the base of a cliff. Along with sheltering them from the worst of the sun’s rays the surrounding rock protected them from meteor showers. Getting caught in one of these showers while out in a spacesuit could quickly become fatal. The rock Emily just dodged could have easily busted her helmet (and her head) wide open. While Sean might think that was cool, the idea just gave Emily heartburn.
They reached the cat and jumped in, Emily in the driver’s seat. She had to take a second to put the seat back so her knees would fit behind the wheel.
“Hurry up Emmy!” Sean wailed.
“Okay, okay I’ve just… I got it!” She slid behind the wheel and Sean hit the button that dropped the metal and plexiglass top down over them. At least it was some protection. They still had to hurry though, you never knew how big or small the meteors would be. Emily stole a glance at her little brother.
“Hey Sean, it’s okay. We’ll be home in two shakes. Come on buddy.” She patted his shoulder. Sean turned to her and she could see that he was really scared.
“What happens if a rock hits the cat and it won’t run?” He eyed the distance between them and the base.
“Then we get under it and wait for the storm to pass.” Emily replied calmly. “It sure is a good thing you brought the cat out, I would have been out there all by myself.” She blew him a kiss, you couldn’t do much more than that in these bulky suits. “Wait until Mom and Dad hear about that!”
“You don’t think they’ll be mad?”
“No Sean, they won’t be mad.”
“I promise. Now let’s park this thing and get inside.” They had reached the base, safely. As they stood in the dust room removing their suits Emily teased her brother one more time. “Soon as I get out of this suit I’m gonna give you a big sloppy kiss!”
As there simply can be no worse evil than sloppy sister kisses to an eight year old boy, Sean ran yelling from the room. Emily laughed. She made it into the living room and all of a sudden her legs felt weak and wobbly. Her heart was beating a mile a minute! She sat down to wait it out, this delayed hysteria. She was cool and calm during emergencies, but always fell apart afterward. As she sat there taking a deep breath, Sean ran back into the room. He came up behind her on the couch and hugged her neck hard.
“I was scared,” he said in a small voice.
“I know, I was too.” Emily replied.
“Don’t tell Mom and Dad.”
“Okay!” He let go of her neck and ran off again. Emily smiled. Little brothers, can’t live with ’em can’t throw ’em into orbit!