Soon after, the transport ship that left is replaced with another one. The continuous flow of transport ships takes the continuous flow of people to the Mother-Porta. All of them going to volunteer their labour to harvest the crops. The crops that will feed the ship’s inhabitants for the ninety years they would spend in space and provide the seeds to use on Salvatorem, the new planet. It happens once a month when all the crops, biologically engineered to be in perfect synchronisation with one another and to grow at enormously accelerated speeds, reach the age appropriate for harvesting, which needs a lot of hands to be completed. A scientist explained to her once that this is to eliminate the need for big crop storage areas as the crops will be grown for immediate consumption purposes. Zara always feels grateful it isn’t her responsible for to thinking about these kind of things. She is an engineer. Something breaks, she fixes it. It may be mostly simple and easy, but she is great at it and she loves doing it.
The line moves forward again and moves enough for her to get into the ship with the passenger count reaching over the limit, which makes her slightly nervous. She closes her eyes and the ship gets on its way.
She keeps them closed for the remainder of the trip, later more for resting than anything else, and only opens them when she feels the jolt of the transport ship docking. The boarding process is a long and tedious one as the lines of people are slowly directed towards the harvest fields. Step by slow step they move forward in a familiar rhythm. Some talk to each other as they walk, but most stay quiet. Zara hardly ever sees a smile from people while they’re on the ship. Then, in a split second’s time, in a glimpse, she understands why.
In front of her Zara sees a young girl walking behind her mother. With one hand the girl clutches to her mother’s clothes and with the other she clutches her own. As they continue walking in the rhythmical pace the girl’s head moves slowly to gaze out of a small window that everyone else ignores. Through the window Zara can see the soft blue and white of Earth as it gazes upon its doom. The girl’s eyes stare longingly towards it and her hand that clutched her mother’s uniform listens to her eye’s desire and starts to reach towards the window. She stays there for only a second before her mother, who probably noticed the missing touch of her daughter, pulls her away and moves her forward with the line.
No one smiles because there is still something to remind them of what they are leaving behind. And what would take it from them. Even when it’s gone from existence, it will still be in their dreams, their thoughts and their memories. There won’t be a lot of smiles for a long time. She’ll have to accept that.
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Tiaan Lubbe lives in Pretoria, South Africa where he spends his time teaching little monsters, directing plays, doing what he calls writing and dreaming up the future. Mostly all at once.