Daisy Chains and Cigarettes

“Jeez, find a more difficult hiding place?”

Ty started in surprise when Ari dropped down beside him in the viewing room.

“I’m not hiding,” he mumbled. He made to move the object in his lap out of Ari’s sight, but was too slow.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing!”

“Wow! Is that—”

“It’s not!”

“Let me see.”

“No!”

Ari grabbed the object as Ty wrestled to retain it, but Ari had always been stronger. Ty let it go, freeing his hands to send Ari a violent gesture.

“I can’t believe you brought an actual book with you.” Ari laughed, ignoring the gesture. “Were all the other useless items already taken? Did you have to settle for this, what, romance novel?

“Shut up,” Ty muttered, without any real bite. He fixed his eyes on the viewing window. The dot he had been watching was already so much smaller.

“You know they downloaded near everything onto the shipboard computers, right?” Ari was saying, flipping through the book. “More importantly, there are actual girls on this ship that—huh?”

Ty hunched his shoulders, knowing without looking that Ari had reached the real reason he had smuggled the book into his meager allotment of personal belongings. He had to give up his sweatshirt in order to fit the space requirements the government set, but he counted the sacrifice as minimal. Not like he’d be going outside much when they reached Mars.

Next to him, Ari sighed. “I’m sorry,” he said, handing the book back over. Ty took it without a word, slipping his fingers to the marked page where a daisy chain lay being preserved.

“I miss it,” he confessed.

“We’ll be back soon,” Ari reassured. Ty snorted. “Okay, not soon soon, but… someday.”

“Sure.”

“Dude, the Earth is, like, stupid resilient. Two decades, she’ll have fought back all those nasty chemicals, and the world will be overflowing with daisy chains.”

“Twenty years,” Ty repeated.

“Tops,” Ari assured him. When Ty said nothing, Ari shuffled around, pulling a carton from his pocket. “Here. This will cheer you up.”

“Cigarettes. Really?”

“A manly toast to our future lives as Martians.” Ty took a cigarette and pretended to take a drag. Ari smiled, reaching into his pocket again to produce a lighter.

“Open flame is forbidden,” Ty recited automatically, lowering his cigarette. Ari waved blithely.

“Shut up and have a smoke, daisy chain.”

Soon smoke was drifting about the boys, causing distortions in the artificial light. Ty kept one hand on the daisy chain and stared in the direction of the dot that was Earth. It was now barely distinguishable from the others stars, and he had to strain to see it.

He wondered if Earth really could fight back against the destruction they were leaving behind, if he could find his way back to his home planet, and if daisy chains could still exist beyond the pages of a book.

Ty blew out a cloud of smoke, obscuring his view of Earth.

Twenty years. Tops. 

Jenna Glover

Jenna Glover received her my B.A. in English, Creative Writing from San Jose State University. Her work has been featured in past cycles of Dually Noted. In between writing short and flash fiction, she's working on The Big One, her contemporary fantasy novel.