Pressed up against the glass curve of the window, she stares out at her ancestral planet below. Though she is born of Earth-dwellers, themselves born of Earth-dwellers stretching all the way back to the very first Earth-dweller, she has never felt a blade of grass below her feet nor felt cold raindrop-kisses on her face. Orbit is all she has ever known—cold clean lines and pulverized food.
Her parents whisper and discuss in the corners of the station. Ought they to send her to Earth to live with me, her grandmother? It would do her some good, they say, to see her home planet before she settles down on the space-farm, growing acres of food for a hungry Earth. Perhaps she'll even meet a nice boy that she can bring home and carry on the business with. Yes, best to send her home for the summer.
They know it is summer, though there are no seasons in orbit. For my daughter and her husband, the thought of summer can produce memories of swimming pools and ice cream and pavement, hot beneath their bare feet. They both become nostalgic, sitting at their kitchen table and saying,
"And do you remember how the sand would get in your bathing suit and rub against your skin?"
"And how the air conditioning blast felt so good after being outside in the heat?"
"Remember summer storms at night?"
Their daughter presses ever closer to the window. Only three more weeks, she thinks. Only three more weeks before she can escape the station, the farm, her life in orbit. Only three more weeks until she could finally come home. She hadn't known the depth of her longing to set foot on Earth until her parents had brought up the possibility of a visit.
And she would meet a boy. Of course she would meet a boy. But not to bring back to orbit—she shudders at the thought, imagines trying to tell a boy that now he has to go to space and grow space carrots and space radishes and space potatoes until they grew old and had a kid and sent them back to Earth to find a mate and continue the whole horrible cycle over and over and over—
She jerks out of her thoughts. "Yes?"
"Don't forget sunscreen."