Oh, Jenny, this
ratatouille is fantastic.
Jenny smiled at her
mother. Thanks, Mom. I made it while Jay was out
leaving you, isnt he?
Jay tried not to watch
Jennys smile too closely, tried not to check whether it became
frozen. I like to think of myself as the mighty hunter in
this household. It takes agility and strength to be able to
trap the graceful eggplant.
shrieked with laughter. Oh, Jay, youre so funny!
Her father smiled politely.
younger brother, couldnt stand the small talk any longer.
How was it?
Jennys mother reprovingly. Im sure theyre
just sick to death of having to talk about Mars, Mars, Mars.
She could not keep the eagerness out of her voice.
all right, said Jenny. We never really get sick of
it. Theres so much to tell.
Jay watched her go
into her media mode before his eyes. With her own parents.
It was hard to realize how often she had been putting on her smiling,
daring pilot act lately, thrilled and blasé by turns as she
thought was expected. Stiff smile, bright, determined eyes.
It chilled him to watch her do it with her own family.
And then, of
course, we were thrilled when Jay found the microfossils, said
Jenny half an hour later.
Oh, of course,
said her dad. We were glued to the set for that one.
Well, we tried to be. Our neighbors kept calling to
stood up and yawned exaggeratedly. I am so beat. I think
wed better head back to bed. Why dont we meet for
lunch tomorrow? Theres this little coffee place across
from the hotel
trust my cooking, Mom? Im sure I could make you a much
better lunch than that, said Jenny, smiling, always the good
daughter. This time, Jay was not the only one to notice how
fixed her smile had become. Why dont you just come
on up here?
And then in the afternoon, I thought we could go to the sights, you
know, Bunker Hill, the Old North Church, the Constitution I
told Alex his big sister would show him her favorite city.
those things a hundred times before, Jenny said. Theyre
really easy to find, though, if you take the walking tour. Im
sure youd love it.
All right, well,
in the evening maybe we could catch a symphony concert I hear
theyve got that little Chinese girl who plays the violin, and
shes only eight years old and
They show that
on the television, said Jenny. Why dont we
stay comfortable here and watch it?
Her mother and father
exchanged glances. You know, if you dont really
want us around her father began.
No, no, its
not that at all, said Jenny hurriedly. Its
just that, well, I just dont feel much like that is, Id
rather not if its all the same to you Ill just
her mother finished for her. I see.
The fans are
still kind of rabid, Jay jumped in, and the press still
gets us from time to time.
I suppose it
would be hard to deal with constantly, said her dad.
Jenny shot Jay an
anguished look. Harder than you can imagine.
Well, you wont
have to do it again, will you? said her mother, determinedly
cheerful. Okay, then. Well. Well drop
by for lunch, say, around noon?
fine. Jay stepped in, putting on his false smile, the
welcoming son-in-law. He put an arm around Jenny. Well
look forward to seeing you then.
After the door closed
behind them, she crumpled in his arms. Oh, Jay. Oh
God. I cant I dont I dont know
what to do.
want to I cant
said again. He stared bleakly over her shoulder at the blank
wall of their living room. After a few minutes, she pulled away
and went to the bathroom to wash her tear-stained face. When
she came out, she went to the computer. Just as she always
did. Jay flopped face down on the bed.
Lets go to
the shore, said Jay as he cleared away the breakfast dishes a
Jenny didnt even
look up from her paper. You go on ahead.
Come on, hon.
You love the shore.
me, Jay. You know I cant deal with
March. Nobody will be there its too cold to be
three weeks since youve been out of this apartment.
She finally looked up
at him, a brittle sadness in her eyes. You go on, Jay.
Enjoy the shore.
I doubt that,
What a marvelous
solution. He managed not to slam the door. Somehow
he found himself on the highway traveling west, not east. He
stopped at a gas station in Indiana, keeping his hat pulled down and
his sunglasses on. He called his parents to let them know he
was on his way. Then he called Jenny.
where are you? She was frantic. He should have
called sooner, he thought.
miles east of West Lafayette.
I cant see
cheap old gas station phone. Doesnt even have a video
pickup. I cant see you, either, hon.
What are you
doing? Jay had never heard his wife sound so
shrill before. He winced.
to go see my folks.
back in a week, okay?
Not really, no.
I just needed to
get away. I couldnt stand that city for a minute longer,
You always said
you loved Boston.
I do love
Boston. Its just
wrong with that?
Look, babe, Im running out of change. Call me at my
folks tomorrow or the next day, okay? Bye. He
was driving through the western suburbs of Chicago before he realized
hed forgotten to tell her he loved her.
Jay held his breath as
Charlie Onimoros pressure-suited foot descended, slowly, from
the last rung to the red dust, transfixed by the situation, not by
Charlies words: Well, we made it this far.
Jay watched the puffs of rusty fines following Charlies
His mother shut the
video off with an exasperated click. Not again.
Come on, Ma, I
landing. What a surprise. How many times is this?
Stop brooding, go do something different. Get out of the house
I know, Ma, but
Is exactly the
same on my couch! she snapped. They glared at each
other. Jay finally looked away, and his mother softened.
Jason. Im worried about you. Ever since you
home, Ma. They wont let me go home.
She watched him
helplessly for a moment, then sighed and left. He flicked the
video back on and watched himself half-falling down the stairs in his
eagerness to touch the Martian surface. It seemed like more
than two years ago more like an entirely different lifetime.
There was lots of footage of the crew cavorting in their bulky
spacesuits, during those first hours. There were so many words
the video hadnt picked up, but he could still hear them clearly
in his mind.
It had been good to
feel gravity again.
Jay abruptly shut off
the video. He slammed all the doors out to his car, overcome
with frustrated longing for perspective, for Mars, for Jenny.
The sky was pale over
the fields, a washed-out, weary summer blue. Jay had been
sitting there, staring out on the horizon, for an hour when another
car pulled up and parked behind his. He turned his head
Jay wanted to laugh; Ethan Goldberg, the second man on Mars, had
never been known to waste words, and evidently driving across half a
continent did nothing to change that. Ethan stepped up on the
bumper and sat next to Jay on the hood of his Volvo. For a long
time, they just stared out at the fields in silence.
Jay finally couldnt
stand it any more and turned to face his friend. Howd
you know where to find me?
We asked Jenny,
said Ethan. We need you, Jay.
Jay looked away.
Theres nothing I can do.
me that. You know you did more than any of us.
We all worked
Yeah, but you
were the one who figured out the microfossil stuff. And people
are still buying prints of your paintings. They dont care
about the rest theyll forget about it in a year.
So if anyone can
convince the Board to keep the missions, its you.
twisted. What do you mean, convince them to keep the
missions? We did a great job. The Board is a solid
four-to-one in our favor.
Where the hell
have you been? In the six years theyd worked
together, Jay had never seen Ethan lose his cool. The
Board wants to scrap the Mars missions! Youve been
sitting around with your head up your ass, moping like a spoiled kid
because you cant have your favorite toys. Well, the way
things are going, nobodys going to get to play any
insane, said Jay flatly. We had a solid majority.
We did a damn good job. What would make them change their
their minds, said Ethan. We have a whole new Board,
Jay. Jefferson retired, and Schramm died while we were up
there. The people they have on there now
the very first
thing Tyson Grigg did was call for a reassessment of the Mars
program. Kept pushing it until they had to give in.
Whats to reassess now? We made more finds in a
year than theyd anticipated for the first five trips! And
all the stuff we left to start the colony
dropped. Thats just the thing, Jay. Its
the discoveries. A couple of the Board members are talking
about potential interference with native lifeforms.
stupid. Dont they understand what fossils
means? It means dead! I would stake my
professional credibility on the fact that we were the only
living creatures on Mars in the last hundred thousand years at
least. Hell I am staking my professional
credibility on it!
really the fossils, Jay. Ethan sounded tired. For
Cathy Allers, maybe. She legitimately cares about
conservation. But there are two others Grigg and
Czernery for them its the money. They never cared
about Mars anyway, and they see this fossil thing as the perfect
excuse to kill the program.
Jays gut twisted
again. Thats half the Board. Theyve got
Not counting the
Oh, come on,
Goldberg, get real! snapped Jay. The last time
Shepherd didnt abstain was in 12 for her precious
genemod program. If shes our only hope, we might as well
Ethan arched a brow at
You know Im
on your side here.
come to Oregon and testify to the Board?
Oh, God, Ethan,
you know I the mountains
For Mars and for
all of us.
Ethan said nothing.
know yet. Charlies talking to her.
acknowledging the wisdom of this. Charlie, counselor and
biologist, was the one theyd always designated for the hard
talks on Mars. He was good at them. Jay occasionally
wondered if he ever resented it.
hows she doing?
about the same. As far as Ive heard we dont
hear much from her.
Jay stared at the rows
of corn. There was nothing about the scene to remind him of
Jenny and so, perversely, he was reminded of Jenny. It
seemed that just as every landscape he tried to paint became Mars,
every person who touched his life brought him back to Jenny.
They had been married
for a year when they left for Mars they were still married.
Neither of them had ever said the word divorce. But
that was easy, Jay reflected, when they hadnt said any words at
all in three months.
Jays reverie. Hey, man, I dont know whats
going on between you and Jenny. I dont know if I want to
know. But she looked pretty miserable when I called her, and
youre not exactly the soul of good cheer, either. We all
want you to work things out.
Yeah, I know,
Jay said wearily. Its just been
But I do know,
Ethan overrode him, that this is really important. Not
just for you and Jenny. Okay?
Jay, after a minute. Ill come.
said Ethan. Youre not the only one whos had
it hard, you know?
Claire? Jay was ashamed he hadnt asked before.
She gets by.
You know Claire.
The two men sat in silence; it seemed ridiculous to make small talk
when they had grown to be more than brothers. They each knew
the others mind; silence was an easier communication than
conversation. By the time Ethan had left, Jay knew he was on
his way to Oregon.
Jays flight had
gotten into Portland in mid-evening, but the adrenaline had been too
much. Ethan took one look at him the next morning and said,
You look like shit.
Jay stood up from the
couch hed appropriated in the hotel lobby. I think
youve said that before.
Did you get any
sleep at all?
are so close, Jay mumbled, looking away.
Well get you some coffee, at least. Our spot on the
Boards agenda should start in maybe an hour. Claire and
Charlie are at the coffee shop.
Jay only fully
realized how much hed missed his crewmates when he walked into
the coffee shop and Claire launched her tiny self at him. She
hung on to him, mumbling, Oh, God, Jay, weve been so
worried about you.
someone else a chance, protested Charlie, and he stepped in for
a bear hug. Charlie didnt know how to be shy, Jay
remembered fondly and with aching ribs.
Jay slid into the
booth with them and wrapped his hands around a fresh espresso.
He was warmed by more than the coffee. The whole situation
reminded him of the last time theyd all sat in a hot tub, the
night before liftoff, savoring the warm swirls of the water in
silence. Jenny had thrown one leg up on his shoulder, one
perfect wet foot curling around his neck. They basked in each
others presence in the coffee shop, in warm community again.
He wished Jenny would get there.
Charlie was obviously
sorry to be the one to break their reverie. So theyve
heard all of our testimony so far, he said. All but
yours and Jennys.
How does it
look? Jay made himself ask.
Claire made a face.
Ethan nodded, slipped
an arm around Claires shoulders. Doesnt look
good. Weve got three pretty firmly against, and the ones
who are for well, seems like Dan Kajitanis the only one
whos really excited about Mars. He told me once he grew
up on gadgety science-fiction stories, real Space Ranger stuff.
Beth Deshbach thinks Mars spells profit in all capsshes
got really long-range plans for a colony.
So if she sees
itll be profitable, why dont the others?
short-term types, said Claire. Always existed,
next guy down the road never matters.
run space exploration that way, said Jay.
said Claire. They dont want to run a space
exploration program. They want to come in once someone else has
opened the way. Once the costs are down. If everyone does
The cost never
goes down, and were stuck here. Claire, said
Charlie, youre preaching to the choir. Were
up against a couple thousand years of inertia, staying on this hunk
of rock. And then theres this alien biosphere crap.
Well, we can
give them the facts on that, said Jay. Thats
Claire and Ethan
looked at each other. Claire spoke slowly. Yeah.
And, Jay, theres one other thing. Weve heard.
Charlie jumped in.
Now, we all know damn well this isnt true, but
well, youve got to know the company keeps an eye on all of us.
They know where you and Jenny have been since we got back, and
theres some talk that
theyre saying the program
should have been screened better, and then you wouldnt be
Well, said Jay. Well. Im here, arent
I? I can answer their questions. And when Jenny gets in
I really dont
think Jenny will be coming, said Charlie gently.
Jay softly. Well. He was saved from further
comment by a shriek from the front of the café.
Oh my God!
Jay looked around for
somewhere to hide. Charlie rose to intercept the
Did you enjoy
our Mars broadcasts? he asked with a charming grin.
Did I! I
watched all of them I even taped the ones that were on when I
was at work. It was so amazing!
Did you have a
favorite on the crew?
Well, at first
it was Lindy, the fan blurted. She looked stricken when
she realized what shed said.
Charlie quietly said,
Yeah, she was my favorite, too.
The fan giggled
nervously. Oh my God. I cant believe I said
that. Im so sorry.
okay, said Charlie seriously. Other than Lindy,
though, is there anybody whose autograph youd like? Or
kidding! Oh wow. Thats so nice of you. I
always liked She looked around. Wheres
She had to stay
home, said Jay smoothly. Will I do?
Oh, of course, I didnt mean to sound
Jay picked up one of
the take-out menus and asked for her name. She spelled it for
him, and he wrote, To Alidia, sorry Jenny missed you. All
the best, Jay Warren.
He looked up.
You want everybody else?
said Charlie, taking the menu from Jay to add his scrawl to the
bottom. They passed it around, and then Charlie ushered the
woman out the door with a cup of coffee to go.
really good at that, Jay told him.
We all have our talents. Lets hope you can use some
of the stuff we told you to convince the Board.
Jay passed out fact
sheets to the Board, having been coached by Charlie in corporate
practice. He also brought pictures from the different dig
sites, twenty-seven eight-by-ten color glossy photos with circles and
arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it
was. He passed the photos around. The boardroom was
utterly shielded from the outside world. Jay wondered if the
Board members could really be aware of the teenage protesters
outside, shouting pro-Mars slogans on the steps.
What you see
here, he told them in his best official voice, is Martian
microfossil structures. These were found at four sites, fairly
spread out in our explorations. They show the development of
bacteria along fairly similar lines to those on Earth, based on
carbon as wed expect, of course, and with the same residues.
Im sure most of you remember the Martian fragment found in
Antarctica when we were kids that was the same kind of
I thought that
sample was inconclusive, objected one of the Board members.
Grigg, said his discreet gold nameplate: the enemy.
without being sure of other factors in its formation, yes, the
Antarctic rock was inconclusive. We dont have those
disadvantages here, said Jay with a wide, fake smile.
So if there was
life on Mars if this isnt merely circumstantial evidence
where did it go? Where are all the Martian lifeforms
now? His questioner leaned back with a cocky smile, as if
he had asked the question that would destroy Jays case.
the surface changed, of course, said Jay. And none
of the lifeforms were versatile enough to change with it. The
necessary mutations just didnt happen. The evidence is
not circumstantial, Mr. Grigg: independent teams of scientists
unrelated to this expedition have confirmed our conclusions.
And how do you
know that the organisms werent versatile enough to change?
asked a woman in an expensive peasant skirt and blouse. Cathy
Allers, he remembered, the Green.
We have found
absolutely no traces of life on Mars, Ms. Allers, he said,
looking her straight in the eye. Every surveying robot
has looked. Every overhead probe. We looked pretty much
nonstop the entire time we were there. Looks like the
conditions have been wrong for ages. There is no life on Mars.
Not any more. At least, not anywhere humans can touch.
the topic of response to change, it seems that your little expedition
party has had a few problems with that itself, hmm, Jay?
It was Grigg again.
Jay tried to keep his jaw from clenching, his hands from balling up.
He said, Im not sure what youre getting at, Mr.
I can be blunt.
Wheres your wife, Dr. Warren?
our apartment. In Boston.
He looked away.
Yes. Hanging on the wall of the conference room was
one of the replications of his painting of Jenny sitting by the
lander. It felt like a violation. At the time he had
painted it, it had seemed natural that her helmet obscured her face.
He had known her any of them would have known right away whose
portrait it was. Now, in the sterile corporate environment, it
made Jenny feel farther away, more alien. He wished he could
see her eyes again.
she come for the review?
She was unable.
I believe her testimony will be given on your conference phone.
Why was she
Jay said nothing.
Why was she
unable, Dr. Warren?
You should talk
to Jenny about that.
said Grigg, his voice dripping with false tact. Well.
At least you were able to be here, hmm? Tell me, was your wife
upset by Lindy Onimoros death?
Cathy Allers responded
before Jay could. What the hell kind of a question is
that? Of course she was upset.
Jay shot his
unexpected ally a grateful look. Indeed. We were
all very upset to lose Lindy. What are you getting at?
Was your wife,
perhaps, more upset than most?
I think, as
Lindys husband, Charlie was probably the most upset, said
said Grigg smoothly. Of course. But did your
ah, shall we say, unusual behavior
begin after Dr. Onimoros death?
to say whats usual when someone loses a dear friend on a
distant planet, said Jay dryly. Jenny grieved like
the rest of us. But she still did her job.
So she didnt
feel responsible for the accident?
Jay was half out of
his chair before he realized what he was doing. He settled back
in with an effort. Responsible? No. Why?
commanding officer, she didnt feel she should have taken charge
of the situation sooner?
This was a
scientific expedition, not a military conquest. Jenny did not
give orders. Nor should she have. She was in no way
responsible for Lindys death nor should she be made to
feel as though she was.
Yes, thank you. I just wanted to reassure myself.
Certainly you understand. One more thing: perhaps you can
share with us your reaction to her book.
book, what do you think of it? Is it an accurate portrayal of
your lives on Mars, do you think? She sent us advance copies
this week; I was eager to get your reaction to it.
book, said Jay dully.
Dr. Warren has more interesting things to tell us about the work he
did on the Mars expedition. One of the other board
members was trying to save him, but he didnt even bother to see
who it was.
May I see it?
he asked. Grigg handed it over.
The cover was
stylized, with a Mars rising cratered and sunlike behind a blue and
green Earth. It was called Alien Home. Jay opened
it to discover that it was a series of edited journal entries.
this is just as Jenny lived it, he said, letting his fingers
trace down the page. He had randomly turned to one where she
was talking about freedom and art on Mars. He remembered that
night. She would never yes. Im sure
this is what she experienced. Thank you. He handed
we need from you for now, Dr. Warren, said the chair smoothly.
Well let you know when weve reached a decision, of
How did it go?
Claire asked him.
Okay, I guess,
he said numbly. Did you know Jenny wrote a book?
She wrote a
book. Its due out next week. Did any of you know?
Charlie looked guilty.
She told you
when you were there to talk to her.
he said. But I knew she was working on it, at home.
On Mars, I mean. I thought you knew, too. And then when I
talked to her last week
It became clear
that I didnt know.
guess I dont know how you could have missed it.
She was always
messing around on the computer she could have been working on
it any time.
But you didnt
need to know every little thing shes doing.
Such as writing
a book. Little stuff like that.
I knew she was
writing stuff, but a book
she should have told me.
You should have
asked! How could you not know about something she cared about
So now Im
a lousy husband?
what I said. But I just dont see how you could
know what it was like, Charlie. You dont know what she
was like. When we first got back you werent there,
okay? Jay glared at them all, holding each one with his
intensity before dropping his gaze.
Charlie held his hands
up. Im sorry, okay? Youre right.
I wasnt there I dont know. But I still think
you should should have known there was something.
There was so
stand the decorum of the corporate headquarters a moment longer; the
beige corporate paint job, with its tasteful burgundy border,
particularly oppressed and offended him. He mumbled an excuse
to Ethan and dove from the room before he could hear an answer.
The protesters parted before his car, not sure whether he was a
friend or an enemy.
brass-trimmed glass elevator made it a little easier to breathe, but
not enough. Jay couldnt start to relax until he crested
the last hill and could see the ocean. He parked the rental car
up by the lighthouse and took steep wooden stairs down to the black
stone beach. He walked for awhile, staring out at the angry
waves and throwing an occasional piece of driftwood. The
throwing motion felt unnatural, as though hed never done it
before, and he realized that he had never pitched things away on
Mars. The gesture had never occurred to him.
Finally, he settled on
a pale, washed-up log. The ocean constantly rattled the stones
around him, and for a few moments he let himself pretend that it was
the impact of Jennys feet behind him. He could see her
hair whipping out behind her in the cold wind; he could almost smell
the soap she used and the natural scent of her body. In his
mind, he realized suddenly, she stood a little nervously, just as she
had on that day on Mars. That day, it always was in his
memories. The day she suggested he start painting again.
The stones shifted and
rattled behind Jay. He put off looking for as long as possible,
trying to let himself believe it was Jenny, knowing, finally that it
would not be. He would not let himself be surprised that she
wasnt there. He turned and was surprised, in spite of
himself, to see Cathy Allers settling on the log beside him.
said, not sure what else he could say.
who you were hoping for, huh? She pulled her skirt in
close around her legs, huddled into her jacket. Its
cold out here.
What did she want out of him? Jay refused to ask, preferring
instead to let the silence stretchshe was the one who had
sought him out. She could carry the burden of conversation.
I have a
question for you. If you had to go again, would you do it?
In a heartbeat. How could I not?
Would you bring
Yeah, I would. Lindy wanted to go. She was happy
there. We all knew the risks.
How about your
clenched; he forced himself to relax them. When he spoke, it
was in even, measured tones. I suppose thats a fair
question. And yes. I would bring Jenny to Mars again.
what it would do to her? Allers asked sharply.
Look, I know
what you think youre getting at, Jay snapped. You
think Mars drove my wife and me crazy. Youre wondering
what kind of a person could do that to himself, or to his wife, or
anyone else for that matter. Right?
You said it, not
We both know
damn well that was what you were getting at, he growled.
She didnt answer. Look. Mars didnt push
Jenny over the edge, okay? Leaving Mars did.
But if sending
people up there makes them
see us up there, said Jay desperately. Maybe
you can see the traces of it now. How much we all care
damn it, how much we love each other. And how much we
accomplished up there. Of course it was hard to come back from
that. Inevitably. If someone is upset at coming back from
an Eden to a cesspit, what do you do? Do you tell her shes
crazy? Do you try to forbid Eden?
Mars was not
perfect, Jay, said Allers gently. It cant
solve all our problems.
So we shouldnt
solve any? Jay scrambled to his feet. I know
its not a cure-all. But God damn it, its a start.
They all looked up
when Jay burst into the boardroom. Cathy Allers was the only
one who didnt look surprised.
Do you, perhaps,
have something to add to your comments, Dr. Warren? Karrin
Shepherd asked dryly.
Yes, I do,
he said, as steadily as he could manage. Look. I
already told you about the paleontological stuff, the fossils of the
Martian microfauna. We showed you the cloud patterns, the
mountains, the Great Rift Valley. And we showed you the profit
items, the innovations that came from this expedition, all the
ingenuity and plain damn hard work that got us there and back, and
how its starting to make you a pile of money. And thats
He threw his folder on
the cherrywood table, papers scattering outwards. We
didnt show you Mars. We didnt think youd
listen. Well, its our job to try to make you
listen. To help you understand. Youve seen my
paintings. Now youve got Jennys book. But Id
like you all to read this. He leaned forward and fished
six copies of the same page out of the mess hed made. Go
on, read it. Sunrise, by Ethan Goldberg. Did
you ever think someone could write a new poem about a
sunrise? I didnt. When I was in school, they taught
me that pretty much everything had been said about sunrises already.
They were full of shit.
In that folder,
too, theres a recording of Charlie and Lindy singing together,
one of their duets from after supper, when we got a chance to relax.
You havent heard it before we kept it for ourselves.
But I want you to listen to it, really listen.
going to hear something powerful there. I could call it dreams,
I guess. Or enthusiasm. All I know is that on Mars, we
all felt alive.
not the only ones. Look at Dr. Vandervelde and Dr. Liang, from
MIT, and the group at UCLA, and the one in New York. Look at
Doreen, for Gods sake did you ever talk to Doreen?
She cleaned our offices, when we were in training, and she got caught
up in it, too, in the excitement of being part of something really
new, of giving us somewhere to go again. Look at how
many teenagers watched us land on Mars and then kept watching,
even through those long weeks of rock-picking and dome-building.
They dreamed with us. Look at the kids outside, for
Christs sake. They want to go, too.
You sent out an
engineer, a doctor, a pilot, three scientists. And you got that
back, as best we could. But you also got a poet, a singer, a
writer, and me. A painter now, I guess. And we all love
each other. Like a family is supposed to. We got good at
it; it became easy to care for each other. Im not saying
we didnt piss each other off. We did, all the time.
But we worked through it, together.
what Mars is really all about. Thats what makes it really
worthwhile. Weve got the chance to take another frontier,
and do it right this time, and help everybody in the process.
Dont kill that. Please. When you think of Jennys
and my reactions to coming back, think of what it was we had to
When Jay rejoined the
others outside the boardroom, they looked over him carefully,
searching for hidden wounds. Finally, Ethan said, All
right, what did you do?
I told them the
truth. Nobody said anything. I gave them one
of your poems. And a tape of Charlie and Lindy, one of their
evening concerts. I tried to give them Mars. He
slumped into one of the armchairs.
You did well,
Claire finally said.
needed doing, said Charlie. Thank you.
I may have
wrecked things for us. You know that. They already think
I dont see
any way it could possibly have hurt, said Charlie.
Yes, it could
have, said Jay.
Claire shook her
head. Im pretty sure Grigg and Czernery wont
approve of that sort of thing on company time. It
might push them further away from us. But they werent on
our side to begin with. I dont think you alienated
I guess well
Jay was not a patient
man. He had been waiting for something to change since they got
back from Mars. From home. It had all left him, on the
beach and in the Board Room, and he felt the way he did when he
finished a dig or a painting. It was over, and he had done all
he could. All except for one thing.
He stood up.
Let me know how it turns out. Although I suppose itll
be all over the news.
Ethan gave him a
brief, searching look. But Jenny hates watching the