It is Mars, the fourth planet of the solar system. Once it was a dead planet, rocky with canyons, volcanoes and craters all over it. Red dust covered almost all of Mars. However, the scientists of the earth had a little hope that it would be a ‘live’ planet one day and it would be the human’s future address.
A few countries planned to make a ‘new residence’ for the earth people. By the middle of this century, the Red Planet has been turned from a cold, dead planet into a, Earth-like home. The scientists succeeded to make a real society with real people living real lives within 10 years before the earth died.
A government also needs all the structures that go with it. Any new society needs an economy as well as systems to maintain the habitat, provide employment, health, childcare, social care and education. The first Mars settlers were living in the capsules they arrive in, later the surface was drilled to form caves or rock could be excavated for building materials – just as the houses from stone on Earth.
“How was the earth, Mom? Was it really a nice planet?” Ronny looked at his mother questioningly.
Sara looked shocked at Ronny, surprised that he had asked her, such a question. Although, his long black wavy hair was flopping over his blue eyes, Sara could still see the look of innocence in her child’s eyes. Sara started to relax as she realized her son’s questionswere nothing more than curiosity.
“What do you know about the earth?”
“I know nothing more about the earth; I just know it was your home, Mom. Please tell me about the earth,” Ronny pleaded with his mother.
Sara tried to say something in reply, but her words seemed to get stuck in her throat. She could remember the most important Martian law: “It is a punishable offence to share anything about the earth with any born on Mars.”
She could also remember the President’s warning: “There are several key challenges for humans on Mars; the most important being health threats and psychological effects of isolation from Earth. Sharing your memories of Earth with the children is illegal. If anyone breaks the law, he/she will be arrested immediately and put in the bar for the rest of his/her life. If the Martian children know about the beauty of the earth or the previous lifestyle of the human beings, they will soon start to compare Earth with Mars. They will never appreciate this planet and it will be a great loss for them. Instead, they will start missing Earth and it will be bad for their psychological health. Therefore, it is imperative not to share anything about the earth with the beloved children, in order to protect their future.”
Ronny had settled himself on the ledge of the oval-shaped window, eagerly waiting for the answer, but his mom said nothing and just looked out the window at the western sky. The sun was setting, but it was blue in color and much smaller than it looked from Earth. As she stared at it, she felt like a lost soul wandering the threshold between Earth and Mars. They were expected to live each day in an unemotional state, working -eating and sleeping- nothing more and nothing less.
Although, Ronny was becoming more persistent with his questioning, Sara seemed oblivious to it. Instead, her thoughts drifted to events that had occurred many years earlier, somewhere beyond Mars.
She closed her eyes and recollected the last day of the third planet, or rather, the end of human civilization. As her spaceship hovered at a safe distance, her people observed how the planet became bluer within forty-eight hours of leaving the earth. The view would have been spectacular if they hadn’t realized the change in color was due to the blue ocean swallowing the rivers and streams; great monuments and buildings, such as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and all forms of living things, including human beings. The passengers of the spaceship became speechless and looked like rock statues or the hillocks on the red planet.
Sara’s thoughts once again turned to her mom, who was now lying in peace under the cold blue ocean. Just before Sara had left Earth her mother had touched her fingers and murmured, “God bless you my child.”
Open ground under a Martian sky at twilight has its own kind of silence, one that sounded like the hum of a thousand bees. But, here there are no insects, no birds, and no living creatures except human beings. Sara gave a long sigh and continued looking at the setting sun.
The sun's last rays were sinking behind the red hills, and the sky was becoming darker. Sara could feel the tears running down her cheeks. She was weeping for her mom and for all the parents who sacrificed their lives to save the next generation.
As Sara listened, she could hear her mom’s sweet voice, “We are getting close to the point of no return, but it is important you survive, Sara. Please, try to be happy living on the red planet. Although, I am resting at the bottom of the ocean, I still pray every day for you and for the others.”
“Mom, are you weeping? What happened, Mom?” Ronny asked as he moved closer to his mother.
Sara could hear something as if someone was calling her from a distance. It wasn’t until the voice became louder and and more demanding that she came to her senses.
Her memories evaporated and she turned to see Ronny peering up at her. The tears glistening in her child’s eyes looked like the blue oceans of the earth. Sara simply shook her head and whispered, “Nothing Honey, nothing. There are so many good things to remember and so many bad to forget. I want to forget the bad memory that Earth is dead and try to be grateful that we are here, still alive, and that I still have you, Honey.”
She smiled as she hugged Ronny to her. She knew only too well that it would never satisfy Ronny until she had been told everything he wanted to know.
Ronny repeated his question again. “Mom, please… what was Earth like? Was it really a nice planet?”
Sara raised an eyebrow and sighed. Feeling nervous and with tears still streaming down her cheeks, shegazed at her child and said, “Okay Ronny, let me think for a minute ....”
Sara glanced from her son to the blackish wall, before diving into the ocean of her thoughts. In that instance, she felt as though she had got back her lost days of color, which had been hidden in a remote corner of her mind. She remembered the leaves changing colors, children running around the neighborhood, the chill in the air, ghost stories and all the beauty of nature she had lost forever. As she closed her eyes she could almost smell the flowers she had once loved.
It was a while before she broke the silence. “No honey. It was not better than our red planet. Mars is the most beautiful planet of the solar system,” she said replied before stooping down to give her son a hug.
Ronny stared at his mother for a few seconds longer than normal, which caused her to be concerned. She couldn’t understand why Ronny was being so persistent with his questioning. She just hoped Ronny hadn’t realized that she was envisioning the opposite to what she was saying. After a pause she continued, “I want to forget that planet, Honey. What is the use of digging up old stories? Let them remain in the past.”
She sighed and turned back to the window to gaze at the moon. Beneath the starry sky there were small red hills scattering here and there.
“After seven Martian Years, the red planet is still alien,” Sara thought.
Ronny knew there was something his mother wasn’t telling him as he could see a dark shadow of pain on her face. After little more than a minute, she sighed softly and sat by her son to reassure him. As she gazed lovingly at him she said, “Ronny, I will tell you the details one day, okay Honey?”
Sara smiled and stood up, whilst Ronny stared at her, saying nothing.
As Sara headed towards the black wall, it started to slide to one side. Without hesitation, she walked through the opening as she knew her husband; Stephen would soon be back from his office. He had been working for seven years as a Climate Control Officer in the meteorological department on Mars.
She spent the next few hours cooking dinner. Stephen got back around 9.00 p.m. He was looking very bright even after a hard day’s work.
Sara remembered when they lived on Earth, they would meet near a riverside park and he would bring her flowers. She had been just a teen whilst, Stephen had crossed the doorstep of twenty.
Stephen was busy reading a file when Sara entered the living room. After a minute, he raised his head and saw her standing in front of him. He was shocked to see that her complexion was very pasty, and she looked extremely exhausted.
Concerned, he asked, “What happened, Sara? Is there anything wrong?”
Later, Sara sat at the edge of the bed. For a moment, she was silent and averted her face before fixing her eyes gravely on Stephen.
“Is it something serious?" Stephen repeated.
“Ronny is eager to know about the earth, but I just don’t understand why the sudden interest.”
Stephen became speechless for a moment. Then he sat bolt upright, looking confused and said, “Do you mean to say he had heard anything about Earth?/I wonder what he has overheard./I’m wondering if has overheard someone talking.”
“I’d like to know too,” Sara said and gave a deep sigh.
Although, Stephen was worried he knew he needed to reassure his wife and said, “Don’t tell him anything, you know only too well: Ronny is classed as a Martianas he
iswas born here. It is his planet and he obviously loves this planet. The earth is lost. If he knows about Earth, he will start comparing Mars with Earthand I think it will make him unhappy.
Instead, I think it may be best if we just wait a while and keep a watch on him, because we also have to consider that he may tell his school mates his newfound knowledge. Not only, could we both be in great trouble under Martian law, but we have to think – how would Ronny cope then?”
Sara leaned against her husband and murmured, “How long has it been since we heard a bird’s song, or how long has it been since we last saw a butterfly?”
Stephen gazed at her for a few moments before saying calmly, “Sara, why are you still worrying? There was nothing we could do to save them … and there’s nothing that you can say to bring them back.”
Sara started to protest, but Stephen gently put his finger to her lips to shush her and continued, “Remember Sara, we wanted a safe planet and we got it. This is where we will spend the rest of our lives. Earth is lost– Mars is our home, now.”
“It’s not a life, Stephen,” Sara protested. “One could hardly call it living. It was a miserable life.”
Sarah paused for a couple of minutes, so her words would have more impact, then she continued, “Our people were unable to love our Earth and she took her revenge. They suffered for what we had done wrong. At times, I still remember their screaming and wailing.”
As Sara looked at Stephen, she started crying and a few teardrops fell onto her blouse. In turn, Stephen, lovingly put his arm round her shoulder and pulled her to him, and Sara rested her head on his shoulder, until she was ready to cook the dinner.
When they had finished eating their dinner and Sara had tied up. She shut off the kitchen light and stepped into Ronny’s bedroom.
As Sara approached his bed, she noticed he was already fast asleep and looked like a little angel as he lay smiling. She leant over and tenderly brushed Ronny's hair away from his forehead with her fingers.
It is sad he will never know the beauty of Earth with its wide variety of birds, animals, oceans and different cultures. Instead he will only be able to imagine how beautiful the earth was. He is growing with the belief that he has everything, but I know this is not so, she thought.
She then bent down and kissed his forehead and gazed lovingly at him, before walking over to the window and looking at the sky. The stars were pretty, flickering brightly amidst the clear sky.
It’s the same sky and stars … but it is not our earth. It is an unknown planet, that doesn’t hold a special place in my heart. I feel so alone, Sara thought sadly as she turned and started to walk to her bedroom.
As she lay beside Stephen, he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer. Feeling exhausted from the day’s events; they fell asleep in each other's arms.
Centuries ago Mars, the fourth planet of the solar system was a dead planet, rocky with canyons, volcanoes and craters all over it and a large percentage of red dust. However, scientists still believed that it would become a second home for mankind, if our planet was ever destroyed.
The first Mars settlers were living in the capsules they arrive in; until the surface had been drilled to form caves, or rock could be excavated for building materials – in the same way houses had originally built on Earth.
The rest of the week passed without incident and Sara and Stephen, were happier and had started to relax, thinking that Ronnyhad lost interest in finding out about Earth as he asked no further questions. Instead they made a pact to put Ronny’s inquisitiveness down to his tender years.
However, Monday evening, the following week, Sara was sitting on a couch, recalling all the wonderful places she had visited, when Ronny entered the room, holding something in his hand.
Like an echo of her thought, a child’s voice said, "Mom?"
Sara’s thoughts were abruptly brought back to the present, and she was surprised to see Ronny standing before her.
"Yeah, Honey,” she assured him and then gesturing in his direction; asked,“Are you all right?"
Ronny shrugged and said, "I'm fine.”
Ronny stepped closer to his mother and held out his hand. “Mom, I got it. What’s this mom? What’s that?”
“I don’t know what it is mom.”
As Sara stared at the object in his palm memories flashed through her mind like a bolt of lightning, and her heart skipped a beat.
Startled, she shouted, "Oh, my God."
There was a colorful butterfly on his palm and although, it was dead Sara was awe struck that one of Earth’s creatures was lying there. Shocked, she glanced from the innocent face of her son to the butterfly and began to tremble – out of fear and joy.
Ronny, looked inquisitively at his mother and asked,
“Mom, why are your eyes watery?”
Sara felt tears welling up in her eyes and furtively wiped a tear from the corner of her eye before asking, “Where did you find it Ronny?”
Deep down, Sara felt she already knew the answer to this. She felt sorry for Ronny that he had missed out on seeing the beauty of Earth but she also felt frightened what would happen if any of the others were to find out her secret.
Sara thought: wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could announce loudly, Martian children behold this magnificent butterfly. It was once a part Earth’s beautiful creation that we thought was lost forever.
But, she knew she could notsay anything, so she just bit her lower lip and then started to sob.
Sara didn’t answer at first and allowed silence to pervade the room, whilst she touched Ronny’s arm reassuringly.
It was a while before Sara spoke again, “We never know what we're going to miss… until it's gone.” She gave a deep sigh and continued, “It’s a butterfly, Honey, a little colorful insect. Once it was alive and could fly away with delight from flower to flower, but now it is dead … it has no value – it’s best that you forget about it, forever.”
Ronny looked at his mother and answered, “Don’t worry, Mom; I won’t ask you anything about Earth. I know the memories upset you and I don’t want to hurt you.”
Sara hugged her son and kissed his forehead, “You are my sweet butterfly.”
“Mom, Earth is not dead; it is still alive with all its beauty. I know I have never seen Earth and not see it, but I can understand how wonderful your planet must have been when I look at this insect.
Sara started to relax and sighed with relief until Ronny added, “Mom, please don’t be angry with me but...”
“What have you done, Ronny?” his mother pleaded, starting to panic once more.
“Mom, you know the little box in your bedroom... the one that you keep the butterflies in. I accidently told Nina about them yesterday, and she asked me for one to show her father. She promised to bring it back -”
“You did what!” Sarah shouted; her eyes bulging out of their sockets as though she was about to burst a blood vessel.
She then sat in stunned silence as she pondered her child’s confession.
“You mean, Nina, the daughter of Mr. William, the Governor of our area? Oh, God!” Sara shouted and took a step back from Ronny.
After a couple of seconds, she said lowered her voice and said, “Honey, you have done something very grave and I fear I will have to pay dearly for your mistake.”
Sara looked panic stricken.
Puzzled, Ronny beseeched his mother, Please, Mom, I didn’t mean to hurt you … and I know I shouldn’t have taken anything out of the box. It’s just that when I saw the butterflies, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Nina knew I was excited about something and promised to be my friend if I shared my secret with her. She promised she wouldn’t tell anyone else, but her father.”
Sara looked up to the sky as though she was searching for an answer. After several minutes had passed, she turned to look at Ronny, once again.
“Mom, I promise, I will never do it again.” Ronny said tearfully.
Although, Sara was extremely worried she couldn’t help but feel pity for her beloved son.
“It will be okay, Ronny, forget it for now,” she urged, “Just get school.”
As Sara towards the kitchen, she could feel the anxiety building-up in her body whilst Ronny was left rather confused.
She sat absentmindedly at the kitchen table for a long time trying to decide what she should do next. Although, it would be risky she knew the only option open to her was for her to talk to Nina.
That night Sarah dreamt a sweet dream. In her dream, she was walking with her mom and Ronny along a narrow road totally covered with colorful petals. Innumerable butterflies were flying around them. Ronny became speechless seeing the butterflies and started running after them. And then the scene changed, and everything disappeared … her mom and her son...the butterflies – everything had vanished.
Sara cried out in fear and woke up. Her heart was still racing. She took a few minutes to realize it was not true; it was just a dream.
The next morning, after Ronny and his father left the house; Sara sat in a chair and opened the box. The remaining butterfly was lying there like a dead rainbow. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the butterflies in her dream, but her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell ringing.
Sara took a deep breath and walked out of the bedroom. Her heart was pounding in great fear.
When she opened the front door her face paled The Martian Law Officer, Boris Clerk, a small, neatly dressed man in gold-rimmed dark glasses was standing on the doorstep with two Martian Law Guards.
In a somber tone, he quoted Martian law and said, “Mrs. Jackson, you are under arrest for breaking the law of our planet.”
When Ronny arrive home from school, he searched the house for his mother. As he wandered from room to room, he started to feel frightened. His mom was nowhere to be found.
Confused, he decided to go back into the living room and sat on the couch. Then he began to sniff and whimper, before breaking down into full blown sobs.
By the time he had calmed down enough to look out the window the sun was setting behind the horizon. He sat there in silence like a statue until he felt a hand on his shoulder. He quickly turned his head and was relieved to see his dad standing behind him. His eyes were also watery.
Before he could ask him about his mom, his dad looked into his eyes and said, “Ronny, your mom loved butterflies very much. Therefore, she could not face the thought of leaving them behind when we had to abandon our beloved planet …Earth. They were a reminder of her lost Earth, but sadly we have lost her for her love of Earth.”
Tears dropped from his eyes and fell on the lips of Ronny. Stephen held Ronny close and unashamedly sobbed for his wife and their son's future. However, as he tasted the saltiness of his tears, he realized it reminded him of the lost ocean. In that instance, he gave thanks to God, knowing that Earth was not lost; it was still alive in their tear drops.
Author Notes: Please read this story and leave a comment.