Some of Them Closer
by Marissa Lingen
Coming back to Earth was not the immediate shock they expected it to be for me. It was something, certainly, but I’d been catching up on the highlights of the news as it cascaded back to the ship on our relativistic return trip, and I never knew the island where we landed, when we left home twenty of our years ago and a hundred of theirs, so I expected it to look foreign to me, and it did. The sun was a little yellower than on New Landing, the plants friendlier.
But I never thought of myself as an Earther. Even with the new system, hardly any of us do. I thought of myself as from Montreal. Quebecoise. Canadian, even. But Earther? No. I am far more provincial than the colonists whose home I built will ever be.
I flew into the new place instead of Dorval. It looked like Dorval used to. It looked nearly exactly like Dorval used to, and I had a twinge of discomfort. The floors were curiously springy, though, which made me feel like something was different, and that was reassuring. There isn’t an Old Spacers’ Legion or anything like that to meet people like me coming in from off-planet–they did that on the little Brazilian island where we landed–but there was a department for Cultural Integration, meant for people traveling from elsewhere on Earth. They assigned me to a representative of the government, who greeted me in a French whose accent was nearly my own. To my ear it sounded more English, with the round vowels, but even with the new system I thought it might be rude to say that to a Quebecoise.
The English-sounding French-speaker gave me a key to the four-room apartment they’d gotten me, not far from the Guy-Concordia Metro station. I told her I could take the Metro to it, but she smiled and said no, they’d have to get my things out of storage for me anyway. So we did that. There were only three boxes. Once you do the math on what will keep for a hundred years, it’s a lot easier to give away the things you can’t take with you. I gave them to my sister, who died, and whatever was left, she probably gave to her son, who had also died, or her daughter, who was retired and living comfortably in Senegal last I heard. So what I had left myself fit in three small plastic boxes, all labeled “Mireille Ayotte NL000014.”