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4th February
posted by amber

The Bride

To put the finishing touch to my state, Jaime arrived at dawn, very drunk and shouting, “If you don’t come out, I’ll kick on the door.” Pilar motioned for me to stay quiet while she went out, wrapped in her housecoat, to tell him to go away and not come back until an hour before the wedding.

“And even then,” she called after him, laughing, “you won’t be allowed to see her!”

“This is a mistake, I know it is,” I worried, sitting on the bed with my head in my hands. “The authorities will see through it.”

“No, no, we’ll all testify, if it comes to that, about the way you love each other, how you’ve been close to each other for a long time before you decided to take this serious step. And anyhow, there’ll be the baby. You’ll be a family. It would be heartless to tear you apart.”

She bustled around, starting the coffee maker wedged next to the small apartment’s sink, opening the make-up kit she intended to use to transform me into something – a bride, I guess. For a woman who’d had nothing but sons, she was very prepared to serve as foster mother of the bride. As well as real mother of the groom.

I stood, and was immediately struck by a wave of vertigo. “Wow!” I said, and sank back down onto the bed.

“Be careful. You aren’t used to the low gravity yet.” She brought a cold washcloth and pressed it to my head. The washcloth smelled fresh, the domed city’s water – despite being recycled more times than I cared to count – sweeter than any water available on Earth right now, at least for people like me.

I whispered, uncertain about the possibility of surveillance. “Won’t they be able to tell the baby isn’t the child of…someone who doesn’t live on Earth?”

“No, no. It’s all the same. We haven’t changed that much, yet, on Mars. Lots of men send sperm back to Earth for their contract brides. Women have problems, here, making it through the first three months, we don’t know why. Now, I’m going to make you some huevos rancheros for your breakfast – it’s a busy day for you, an important day.”

Then she came over and hugged me, because I was weeping. I’d never expected to get out of the slum, I’d thought my life was over after I found myself pregnant after being raped, and now here I was, on Mars, about to become the wife of a man I’d never met.

And soon to bear a baby who would be a true Martian.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.

The first line of this story came from “The Children of Sanchez,” by Oscar Lewis, a book very influencial to me in the writing of my trilogy of novels, The Healer,” “Darkness of the God” and “Stolen Children.”

This story also is a little teaser for you readers – Feb. 12 – 18 is going to be Mars Week, with all stories using lines from Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles.”

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