Write It Out: Instruction Video
“LOG ENTRY: SOL 381
I’ve been thinking about laws on Mars.
Yeah, I know, it’s a stupid thing to think about, but I have a lot of free time.
There’s an international treaty saying no country can lay claim to anything that’s not on Earth. And by another treaty, if you’re not in any country’s territory, maritime law applies.
So Mars is “international waters.”
NASA is an American nonmilitary organization, and it owns the Hab. So while I’m in the Hab, American law applies. As soon as I step outside, I’m in international waters. Then when I get in the rover, I’m back to American law.
Here’s the cool part: I will eventually go to Schiaparelli and commandeer the Ares 4 lander. Nobody explicitly gave me permission to do this, and they can’t until I’m aboard Ares 4 and operating the comm system. After I board Ares 4, before talking to NASA, I will take control of a craft in international waters without permission.
That makes me a pirate!
A space pirate!”
Windows to Her Soul – MEC 2018
The house faces an inland waterway. Faces it and keeps its unblinking eyes on it, ever alert. The second-floor windows are unshuttered and stare, straining, towards the distant ever-present ocean. There are three eyes looking out. Two are dormers on either side of a slanted, steep rooftop, each framed in white with flat, solid headers, giving them a weary expression. As if the effort of watching, and of having to continue to watch, is a burden. The window in the centre has no such header but is instead installed under a peak with matching white fascia coming to a sharp point high above, more triangular and enlightened than the other two. A third eye, like the intuitive soul of the home that remains ever hopeful, or more accepting of what comes its way.
The first-floor windows are more obscured from a distance, sheltered as they are by the verandah rooftop that shields them, a heavy eyelid as it extends over the decking below. Held by sturdy wooden pillars, this roof protects the lower windows and double-door entryway from the elements and limits their view to the more immediate goings on at the home. These eyes oversee the day to day laughter and tears that come and go like the tide, like the water that reaches in from the ocean and is pulled out again, like a breath.
When the young man, with eyes of that very same blue as the ocean on a clear and calm day, made his way back up the waterway towards his home following the watery trail of the moon on the water, the centre window had known all along he would return. The two upper windows saw and knew while he was still quite a distance away, but the lower windows had no idea until he actually arrived.
The mother had dreamt of him often. In her bedroom, the centre room on the second floor, she saw him in her dreams. His hair, which had been called strawberry when he was a boy, a description he’d hated, would surely have darkened by now and in her dreams was the colour of the copper kettles in her kitchen. She could see his face so vividly, imagined it so completely. Freckles spattered liberally like sloppy paint, full eyebrows, lashes and lips, eyes squinting into sunlight in the distance, into the future. Maybe a beard or moustache. Stubble in any case, after all he would be a man now. She stood at those upstairs windows, peering out along the waterway towards the ocean, but not often. The windows were there, they would stand watch. She’d return to the main floor and go about her day where the windows offered safer views. Views of the birds as they flitted about in the long grasses or the dock, the water’s edge. Views of the neighbour’s cat as it basked about in the yard, lazily chasing birds and sunbeams. Views of her husband as he poked away at a boat’s motor, or cut the grass, or sat with coffee and a book in the shade of the verandah. Then, as the rays of sunshine began to slant and the light diffused, making way for night, the upstairs beckoned and she’d look beyond her lustrous copper pots and reach for the simple elegance of a tall, clear wineglass. She’d fill it with the Pinot Grigio that her husband kept stocked for her in the wine cellar and kitchen fridge.
Cold wine frosting the glass, she sat beside her husband on the verandah and kept her gaze close. She noticed the way the condensation made such a uniform pattern on the glass. The way the liquid clung to the inside of the glass after she’d taken a sip. The way the glass, with the right light from the right angle, might still afford a view of what lay beyond it, but not a clear view of the grass, the dock, the water. The way the liquid itself would allow her clear passage up the stairs and to their bed, without consideration of what the upstairs windows might see. Her sleep, at least at first, would be sound and dreamless, until the pull from her window, aided by the moonlight, that great eye in the sky, the all-knowing Grandmother moon, would deliver images of him.
While the centre window had foretold his return, the other upper windows had seen and watched his slow, strong craft move along the moonlit waterway, and the lower windows finally witnessed his arrival. It was a copper-haired young man who quietly heaved himself out of his craft and sat, his feet tethering the boat to the dock, looking at the house that stared back at him in the moonlight. He felt, in his head and his heart, both the weight of judgement and the lightness of acceptance as he took in the refreshed image of his childhood home.
He lay back, his feet anchoring him to his boat like an umbilical cord, and looked up at the night sky. It amazed him to think that this moon and these stars were the same ones that had been with him since he’d first left this place eight years ago, on a night just like this one. He always knew he’d return, one day. He had to see the world first, for himself, and return on his own terms. Heavy head cradled in tired arms, he closed his eyes and slept, his feet gently bobbing within the boat on gentle waves.
From above, she shook her head. If he’s real, she thought, rubbing a hand over her face, he’ll still be there in the morning. But I don’t suppose he is.
I can’t imagine being up in space, trying to get back to earth, and having lots of time to think. But thinking about being a Space Pirate sounds like fun! I tend to think too deeply these days, and this story is a great reminder to play and have fun. Writing, like in my story above, helps me to play. How about you? Do you ever write for fun?