Catherine Mintz

The buggy wheels bounced under us as we came up to the crater rim and turned to get the best view. I had my scope in the back, under a canopy I'd scavenged from the recycling plant. I kept a tarp over it whenever I was in town. As head of operations Dad was touchy about family helping themselves to released material: he looked the other way for other people.

Bowash had hand-scrabble ethics still, even though it was the biggest colony south of the Martian equator, with an orchestra, racetrack, and an earth-normal dome-zone that you couldn't quite see from side to side in because of the big vegetable growths landscaping had put down the middle. The trees were kind of spindly from our lighter gravity, but you got the idea of a forest. First genners loved the place; the rest of us could take it or leave it, and mostly left it.

Cindee was an old pal, and slid out even as we came to a stop. You can stay our on the surface for hours with assisted breathing but you don't -waste- time. She had the tarp off before I set the brakes and set off the beacon. She'd already started on the sighting in. I started reading her the numbers, so she could bring up the tracking.

The go-lights began coming on -- Cindee has sweet hands on machinery -- and we were ready. I checked the filters one more time. There'd be plenty of official observations and maybe a little news coverage if the day was slow but they're nothing to seeing an astronomical event for real.

Besides, what better way to spend the afternoon before your wedding evening? Something for us, you see. Everything else up to when we closed our own door would be recorded and replayed at family gatherings for generations. If the clan held strong, people would smile at our happy faces long after Cindee and I were mixed with the red dust of Mars but the reason we'd picked this sol would always be -our- secret.

The dark dot that was a planet touched the rim of the sun and began to move across the sea of fire. Without looking at me, Cindee took my gloved hand in hers. "We're going to be happy," she whispered into her mike.

"I know."

Hand in hand, we watched the transit of Venus.


Back to The main party

Copyright 2004 Catherine Mintz