Our New Home
Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
Esmee sat on the porch, staring out at the twin peaks ahead of her. Endless fields of flowers were split in two by a small stream. It was the woman’s favorite place. Or had been on the old world. There was not a soul to be found for miles, no sign of animals to be detected. Seamus said it was only a matter of time before other life would emerge, but Esmee already thought this place would never feel like home.
Her fingers fumbled with a small tablet device on her lap, conjuring up pictures and videos her eyes chose not to see. Memories of a time long past. A time that would never return, no matter how hard the scientists tried.
Esmee felt a set of warm hands come to rest on her shoulders, and gave a little start. She hadn’t heard him come home.
“Hi,” Seamus said, tenderly kissing the crown of her head.
Esmee turned and caressed his cheek. Rough. Unshaven. It had been a long week for him. For both of them. “How was your day?”
“Long. The first wave arrives in two days, and there’s so much more to do.”
“Did you have time for this?”
“I made time.” Seamus’ lips created a smile, one that did not extend to his eyes. He sat down on the old wooden bench — the only possession they had been allowed to bring — and rested his head against Esmee’s. “Are you sure you want to see this?” he asked.
Esmee swallowed hard. It wasn’t as much a want as it was a need. Something she, they, had to do. She handed Seamus the tablet and nodded, as resolutely as she could muster.
Seamus looked her in the eyes for a long time. “You already said your goodbyes.”
“I owe it to them.” Esmee truly felt like she did. She was the one who got out. She had married the ‘right’ person and got to live. Everybody else, her friends, her parents, her siblings, hadn’t been that lucky. They were no scientists, no politicians, no artists. They were plain old middle class. And so was Esmee. But Esmee had married a terraforming genius. Esmee got out.
Seamus called up a view of outer space, and Esmee’s heart broke. The asteroid, the cloud of doom that had been hovering over all of humanity for the past two centuries, had reached its destination, and even from the bird’s eye perspective the couple had, the devastation was clear. Esmee was beyond tears.
Seamus’ face was ashen as he turned off the tablet’s display. He put his arm around his wife, the only comfort he could think of. “I’m sorry,” he said.
Esmee looked up, her eyes clouded in a haze of tears. “Just make this into a real home, okay?”
Seamus hugged her, his voice firm as he whispered in her ear. “Okay.”