Sunday, June 19, 2016

DREAM LIFE ON MARS

Falling. Falling. Only instead of down I was falling up — past the treetops and scuttling clouds, above the satellites and around the moon, to a tiny house on the north pole of Mars. The sky was red against the snow.

Inside the house — it was really a rough cabin, cobbled together with rocks and wetted sand — was a chair, a table and a typewriter. A manual model, with a fresh ribbon, and 100 reams of paper were stacked on the floor next to it. On every page there was one handwritten sentence:

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

I knew the quote but didn’t know why it was written on the paper. All I knew is that this was my home now, and my sole task was to sit here and type that sentence over and over and over again, until I ran out of paper.

I began.

The key was typing the words but not typing over what had been written. And no typos. Any mistakes needed to be covered in Wite-Out and struck over. No typos. No mistakes. It was hard at first because I wasn’t used to the keys, but soon enough I was settled and making a clatter than sounded like honest work.

It was the only sound on Mars, save for the wind, which whistled against the cabin.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

No spellcheck. Just the steady sound of keys to paper. Page after page, maybe 25 or 30 typed lines per pages. When I was done with one I would pull it from the roller and give it a brief once-over before squaring it with the other pages. The “a” on the typewriter was slightly offset and sat higher than the other letters, giving a jaunty look to the words “way” and “can."

The sun rose and set on Mars, but its light was feeble. On some nights I could see the small blue twinkle and knew who was there. I called out to them and spoke of my devotion, and the wind would sing their song.

Every time I finished a ream I would make a mark on the wall.

Finally I reached the end. The last page was blank. My test was over. A rocket grew large in the sky. It landed next to the cabin. The doors opened and robot arms disgorged the ship’s contents: 100 fresh reams of paper and a new ribbon. This one was red.

All of the pages were blank.

I watched the rocket take off. It was not there to take me home. This was my home. This planet, this cabin, this typewriter.

I stacked the shipment of 50,000 pages next to the typewriter and threaded the new ribbon into place. I thought about Earth and my stomach growled. Hemingway was right. Memory is hunger. My brain would not allow me to forget anything that had happened, and my hunger would never go away.

I would always remember, and there was only one thing I needed to say.

My fingers began to dance:

I love thee enough for both

I love thee enough for both

I love thee enough for both

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