Le chapitre 45
Jean’s back felt like it was getting cold. If that were indeed possible. He was sun tanning. A rather odd practice that he had dreamed up. He had found a natural notch in a cliff wall. When the sun was at just the right height, its rays would reflect off both walls of the notch and onto the floor where he was lying. Sure he was still in his space suit. But he could feel the radiant energy from the Sun’s rays and it felt great! Oddly, the suit wasn’t particularly happy as it had to shed the heat from the Sun as well as the heat from his body. Still, with his headset receiving the sounds of surf and a Keali’i Reichel song, he was all but on a beach on a Pacific island with a matai ready at hand. Maybe he should try to roll onto his front to warm his back and cool off his front? He wondered if the heat dynamics made sense. But, he decided rolling over wasn’t worth the bother and he just let the suit continue its job of evening out the temperature.
He smiled slowly to himself and wondered a little bit on how he had gotten so lucky. Not so many years ago he was fixing drains in a suburban hell. His pay was reasonable and the job occasionally interesting. The attentions of a bored housewife looking for a little more than some cleared drains did offer perks that he would not have imagined anywhere else. It was a life. A simple one. No expectation of change. Even though in his twenties, he had starting planning out a soft retirement; somewhere without snow to shovel. Somewhere without grass to cut. And especially somewhere with somebody else fixing the plumbing. His future was assured and all was rosy. And he looked at his life now. He had more piping to maintain than ever. And exotic piping at that. There were no housewives to be found but he had three colleagues who satisfied all his physical desires. He’d even had some of his sperm frozen back on Earth should he want to start a family when he got back. If he got back! He felt a small downward tug on his smile. This happened every time he thought about his future. Before he had a safe plan that extended to his dying day. Now he had more options than he could count. He could stay on the Moon even though disaster could strike at any moment. He could return to Earth and start a new career in almost any field as he was a space veteran. He had heard of an effort to send humans to an asteroid. He was considering volunteering. Or he could return to Earth and pick up where he had let off; fixing plumbing in suburbia and waiting to die. Somehow after all he’d been through in the last few years, he couldn’t see himself returning to his old life. But what to choose for his future? He was indeed lucky to have accomplished so much in so short a time. However, he no longer felt in control of his destiny and he’d have to rely upon luck to again guide him to the best choice.
While contemplating this for a little while longer, he began feeling slight vibrations along his back. Someone must be walking up to his location. He wasn’t trying to hide, especially as all their suits had tracking devices built-in. But, he was a bit surprised as they seldom met up with each other outside the Hab. Usually they preferred the solace of solitude while rambling about the barren lunar landscape. He didn’t bother getting up. The vibrations got stronger and were indeed coming straight toward him. He groaned and turned off the sound of the surf and ukulele’s and opened his comms to receive. He watched as some lunar dust caught the sun’s rays and floated like snowflakes across his visor’s field of view. His suit began humming harder as it dealt with Jean’s increasing rate of respiration. “Sadly” he thought to himself, “there was just no hiding from reality.” He began the slow process of raising himself to a near-sitting position.
As his visor adjusted to the new lighting levels, his eyes took in the horizon and then dropped a bit further to the figure approaching from the smooth plateau a bit down and to the left of his notch. He recognized the smooth gait of Xu as she quickly traversed the intervening distance. He always thought that she looked more like she was floating than walking. Perhaps it was all the yoga that she did. Nevertheless, he was still the champion for speed and clambering around the Moon’s surface. He smiled as he thought of this. He kept smiling as he realized that Xu was not hurrying to approach. “It mustn’t be any emergency” he realized. He heard her humming to herself as she completed the last few hops. He liked hearing her voice. He smiled more on realizing that is was slowly strengthen. It was a characteristic of their comms while outside of the Hab. The comms had an automatic gain control to simulate the increase and decrease of volume due to changing separation. With it, they got a very realistic impression of being outdoors on Earth. It was just one more way that the designers had effectively planned for their well-being. Xu stopped a couple metres away.
“How’s our sunbathing beauty” she joked using their private comms channel.
He smiled. Being offensive was something Xu just couldn’t do so he took her comment for the light hearted ‘hello’ that it was meant to be.
“Well, I’m a bit scratchy because I forget my towel. But with the low tide keeping all the waves well out of sight, I guess I won’t be needing it as I’m not going swimming.” he replied.
He waited for her to continue while posturing himself to get fully upright.
“Say, I’ve been noticing that our evening get together isn’t feeling the same. Seems like we’re focusing too much on work and not enough on living” she went on. “Have you been feeling anything like this, maybe too much stress among friends?” she amicably shared.
Jean thought about this. He was quite comfortable thinking for a bit before answering. Silence did not bother him. In a sense, he welcomed it knowing that everyone respected his input and was willing to wait.
“Now that I think of it” he began “I have noticed that we seem to be more going through the motions rather than speaking from the heart. Seems that we’re getting to agreements a lot quicker than before; not so much discussion, and a lot less disagreement. Odd. I wonder if that’s real or just me reading into the situation?” he finished.