Every morning I wake up in the armpit of this alien world.  For years, all our leaders told us, “Sutaria is the future.” Some future this turned out to be.  Maybe in order to understand it, I would have to go back into the past.

When I was a child in school, I remembered reading about the wars, the depression, the diseases of Old Earth. That is why my ancestors went to Mars. For centuries, there was peace but then the Tharsis conflict occurred. My parents were the first to leave.

Fearing for their lives, they booked passage to the newly formed Orion colony on Gilese. That is where I was born. I remember being happy. There was a time when I was carefree and not so riddled with anxiety. Life was idyllic. Our society was thriving; peace was the norm. It was as if for one moment in time, everything in the universe stood still.  It was glorious!

When I turned 21, it was time for my mandatory service with the Gilesean Faction. I was excited. This was my chance to do something, to make a name for myself. I had been floundering but I felt that I now had a sense of purpose.   My service was uneventful for several months but then a coup occurred. Emissary Davis was overthrown by the power mad Chancellor Warner. This was the beginning of the end.

The government was at war; our once peaceful existence was plagued with demonstrations and violence. Our economy which was booming suddenly went bust. The staples of life became harder and harder to obtain. I had been assigned to patrol the inner quadrants of the Capital where the impact was devastating.  Crime was rampant so a mandatory curfew was imposed. For the most part, the citizens complied with the ruling and enforcement wasn’t necessary.

Chancellor Warner had the people believing that he would lead them to utopia. He claimed that he was the voice of reason in the sea of unrest. His plan was to create a unified federation. The idea was for Emissary Davis to build a colony on the shores of a new planet, Sutaria. Sutaria was several million miles away and the journey would be arduous. This was his vision of greatness that we would expand beyond Gilese and Sutaria was the first step. Manifest destiny in space.

After numerous meetings and negotiations, Warner and Davis emerged looking more like partners in love than bitter rivals. Next came the barrages of Sutaria is the future campaign slogans. With this newly tentative peace forged, it seemed as if we were poised for greatness.  Plans were being made, our finest scientific minds were designing the colony and the ships that would take us there.  

I was assigned to Sutarian detail.  As much as I didn’t want to leave home, it was my duty and I understood the oath that I had taken. My parents were understandably upset to see me go but they supported the government.  My deployment was set. I said my goodbyes and boarded a ship bound for the new frontier.  As Gilease grew smaller and smaller, I could feel my heart breaking. Another life chapter closed, another to be opened. 

Months later, I found myself on Sutarian soil.  As I unpacked in my habitat pod, I glanced out at a bright star in the distance. Tears formed in my eyes.  I didn’t know what the future would hold but I did know the future would be here for now.

It is many years later and I am still here. I have retired from my service in the Faction. It wasn’t easy trying to maintain order. There were some uprisings, some threats from outsiders but we managed to resolve matters with few casualties.

At night, when the world is quiet, I lie awake and think of Gilese. I remember how it felt to be young and full of promise and hope instead of being old and jaded.  Every night I say a silent prayer to whomever might be listening for I know when I sleep, I dream of Orion. 


Published by Susan Leighton Woman on the Ledge