Back to the Beginning

Drawing of a black sky, with a blue planet which has mostly brown continents. Caption reads: "Back where my adventure started."

Back to the Beginning short story by Iris Carden

I suppose it’s appropriate that my story ends here, back where my off-Earth adventure started.

I haven’t written in this journal for many years, not since the blight on Mars, when I was left with a choice.

As we were becoming less and less liked by our fellow Martian workers, as the food crisis worsened, I spoke with Howard and Sarah about Kim’s offer to me. Then we all spoke with Kim, and reached an agreement.

Howard, Sarah and I all took our pittance Mars Corp gave us for buying our farm, our pre-blight profits, and our significant redundancy payments (because the workplace disruption was not only bad for us, but also for the corporation), and we all bought into Kim’s business. Of course, as well as money, we brought our years of experience of farming on Mars.

I moved in with Kim, in the living quarters attached to the colonists’ outfitters, and Howard and Sarah bought a house nearby in Armstrong.

With the money we brought, we expanded Moon Farm. As the profits rolled in, we expanded it further. Eventually we grew not only fruit and vegetables, but sheep and goats for wool and milk, chickens for eggs and meat, and bees to pollenate everything and to provide honey.

We were always very careful with rotating crops and animals, so we keep improving the soil as we go. Now Moon Farm has better soil than most farms on Earth.

Sarah stepped away from working the farm to get a second PhD, this one in education, and began the Moon’s first school, as an offshoot of the business. It was a great success, because children and parents had struggled with distance education from schools on Earth. Gabrielle, of course was in the first cohort of students.

As Kim and I never had children of our own, Gabrielle became our informally adopted niece. She was as much as part of our household as she was her parents’.

The farm grew so large we were exporting food and fibre to both Mars and Earth. We expanded into manufacturing, because it seemed the logical next step.

Somewhere along the line, we became a giant megacorp, but with only four investors. We might be only a footnote in the history of Mars, but no-one’s writing the history of the Moon without at least a couple of chapters about us.

Now, we four founders are semi-retired, we do a little occasionally because we love to potter around the farm, but younger people are doing the bulk of the work.

The last to retire was Howard, when he handed over the reins as CEO to Gabrielle. That’s only right. Each of us has left our share of the business to Gabrielle in our wills.

Gabrielle and her partner Paul have five children, who all spend time with their grandparents and great aunts when their parents are working.

I don’t regret not having children. I got to watch Gabrielle grow into an amazing woman, and I get all the joy a grandparent would from her children.

Some things never changed. While the colonists’ outfitters now has a perspex tunnel out to the interlinked farm domes, it also still has the airlock where people new to space can go out to the surface to try out their newly-fitted space suits. When we negotiated our claim for the land for the expanded Moon Farm, we also negotiated for an area that would always be virgin Moon surface so people could still go out and have that same feeling I did on my first visit here.

As I write this, Kim and I are sitting on our deck chairs, beside the pool, out under the dome. We’re looking out to that still mostly blue marble in the sky that is Earth. Even from here we can see the ice caps are so much smaller than thirty-five years ago when I had my first lunar stopover. Much of the green has retreated as well, and it is mostly brown. From this distance, it’s still in its way as beautiful as the first time I saw it from the Moon. I know for people living there, it’s starting to seem as desolate as the Moon first seemed to me.

Kim’s pouring us wine. It’s from Moon Farm grapes, of course. The rest of our “family”, Sarah, Howard, Gabrielle, Paul, and the children, will be here soon. We’re celebrating thirty years since the move from Mars.

I look back at Earth. It’s not the way I remember it. But that doesn’t matter to me. I have a home. I have a family. I have a place where I belong. It’s been a good life.

The Mars Stories

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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