Colli stepped onto the tarmac. Heat rose through the thin soles of her shoes. Thick air made it difficult to breath. Following the white lined pathway toward the terminal, she wondered if she would ever get adjust to the extremes of her newly adopted home offered. Inside the terminal, artificial generators cooled the atmosphere.
Much better, she thought. At least for now.
A sign waved over the head of the other passengers in her flight. It read “Collianna Glakn”. Even here they can’t spell my name right. Colli sighed. She’d seen it spelled worse.
When the others moved away, a young woman with long dark hair continued to hold the sign high until Colli walked close.
“Colniniana?” The girl asked.
“Just call me Colli. That’ll be easier for both of us.” Colli brushed the wild silver-blond hair from her eyes. “You’re Mary, right?”
The girl nodded. “Yeah. Your younger sister.”
“Where’s your mother?”
“She’s at home. Making a special meal for you. Said something about cold pancakes with sugar. By the way, here’s a letter that came for you yesterday. Hope it’s good news.” Mary handed Colli a large manila envelope.
Nobody’s supposed to know I’m here. Colli’d walked away without telling anyone where she was going. “I’ll check this out later.” She frowned. “We better get to the… enclosure? What do you call it here?”
Mary’s knowing smile betrayed her. “House. It’s called a house. You’ll get used to it. We can practice some of our local phrases together later. Do you want to drive?”
“D…drive? I don’t think so. Where is the uh… car?” Colli’s shoulder’s tightened. Despite the relief she’d felt about returning to a normal life, there was a sense of dread that clung to her. They said it was my choice.
“It’s okay. Dad taught me how to drive. He’ll teach you too.” Mary gave no indication she felt anything might be other than what she’d been told.
During the trip to the ‘house’ Colli sat stiff, glad for the seatbelt that kept her strapped in. How Mary kept this strange contraption on the wide slab of never-ending pavement, Colli wasn’t sure. It felt good when they finally pulled to a stop under the canopy afforded by large fully leafed trees. It gave her a sense of protection from outside observation.
Colli puffed as she entered the house. Not heavy by Earth standards, she still felt the extra pull gravity exerted on her body here. Natural heat didn’t help. Sweat gathered under her arms and trickled down her back.
Mary was right. Cold pancakes made with real butter and sugar reminded her of home. Grandma made these from leftovers on mornings during school breaks. But Colli had no appetite. What she wanted most was to sleep. Once alone in her sleep chamber, even the fear of what the envelope held could not help keep her eyes open.
Tomorrow I have to follow up on the interviews. Colli thought as she drifted off to sleep. She had sent out inquiries before leaving home on the moon. A thirteenth generation Lunarian, she felt stifled by the solid enclosures of her childhood. Her second course of study had given her the excuse she needed to escape.
“You’ll be back,” Alli, her best friend and only confidant, told her. Unaware of the true motivation that drove Colli, Alli sought to keep her friend close. “They live different there.”