Welcome to the Thursday Thousand! Every week, on Thor’s Day, I will be posting a short story (hopefully) written in advance. The only parameter is that it be, at minimum, 1000 words long. It can be any genre, any length beyond that, and even contain mild cliffhangers!
Why? Because some of these will turn into novels, let’s be honest here. Enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Note: And here is the second in the character sketches for the series of novels that have the planets as main characters!
As before, a music rec, as well. I played this song during both of my yoga classes on Tuesday, and when I woke up Wednesday morning, it was still stuck in my head, so I listened to it on repeat. Halfway to work, I realized I knew what I was going to write about for my short story, and I couldn’t stop smiling. This may be one of my happier characters, and he’s such a goon that I just adore him.
ESomeone was yelling. They were too far away to hear the actual words, but Earth knew the shape of it well enough. Beside him, Luna snorted, lifting her head to look over Earth’s shoulder. “Pretty soon, the only living beings able to hear her are going to be dogs,” she muttered.
“Don’t be like that,” Earth said as he heaved another shovelful of dirt out of the hole. He flipped his arm so he could see the inside of his wrist where his watch was resting. The band was worn leather, a little frayed at the edges, but the face was spotless, an intricate design like a bursting star in the middle with compass points all around. “It’s late,” he said as he dug his shovel back into the hole. “She asked me to be home an hour ago.”
“And you told her no,” Luna said, “She should have taken you at your word.” One of her dainty boots pushed at the edge of the hole, scattering dirt down into it, and Earth sighed, pausing as he looked up to glare at her. “Ew, don’t do that,” she said, flicking more dirt at him, “You look like Gollum.” She ducked her head and tried to glare up from under her furrowed eyebrows, but she just looked ridiculous, and Earth snorted a laugh before he went back to digging.
Aunt Deimos hollered again, just a single syllable, his name stretched long. She had asked him to be home an hour ago, and he had said no to her, but she never believed him, and he was always telling the truth, so this happened a lot. He kept reminding her that it was the beginning of summer, and that since he usually never went all that far, there shouldn’t be an issue with him staying out late. Aunt Deimos disagreed. Every night he finally trudged home, she would clap a hand on one of his shoulders and say, “I promised your mother I’d look after you, terra.” She rarely called him by his given name, always translating it into Portuguese and reminding him of all that he’d lost. His mother had spoken in Portuguese almost always. The only time she switched to English was when they had visitors of the white variety. But here, Aunt Deimos had raised her only son in English, and though Mars’ vocabulary was littered with a little Portuguese, every time she called him terra, Earth remembered.
The shovel clinked against something, and Earth took a moment. He pressed one hand against the lip of the hole, holding himself steady, and closed his brown eyes as he breathed—dirt, rocks, wetness, home.
When he was four, his mother packed them all into the car, told her skeptical husband to just trust her, and they set off on an adventure. They made it to the lake no problem, and their afternoon was full of picnic foods and toddler Earth splashing through the shallows, shrieking about fish. The ride home, however, was the beginning of the end. Earth had small memories of that drive, but they only came in fast flashes—his mother screaming, the deafening roar of a truck’s horn, and the seatbelt cutting across his throat. He still had a scar there, for though the seatbelt had saved his life, it had cut into his throat a little, and sometimes, when he wasn’t paying attention, he remembered the feeling of it digging into his skin and he started rubbing at it.
His father died on impact. His mother, though injured, was out of the hospital in a week. They went back home, two instead of three, and nothing was ever the same again.
Earth was first sent to stay with Aunt Deimos when he was seven. His mother was going away to spend some time in a recovery center. He didn’t understand what those words meant at seven, but he did remember crying every night for the first couple of weeks, feeling like he’d been abandoned. He laughed sometimes about that first time because, when his mother came to get him almost a year later, he cried again, this time because he didn’t want to leave the new home he’d found. They lived together for another few years, and then, without the careful preparation of the first time, Earth found himself standing alone in his mother’s kitchen, eleven and a little bit furious. An ambulance had come and gone, and they hadn’t known Earth was there because after he called for help, he hid under his bed. Now, with the tile floor sparkling and ammonia making the air gross, Earth picked up the landline, dialed the only number he had memorized, and went to wait on the front porch until Aunt Deimos arrived. She sighed when she saw him, his little brown hands clutching the straps of his backpack, dirt snubbed across one of his cheekbones, and his curly hair in disarray. “Come, terra,” she said before she scooped him up. He was too big to be carried, but he curled into her and breathed in her familiar scent.
It was like that for the rest of his teenage years. When he was twelve, his mother came to pick him up again. He didn’t speak to her on the way home. When he was fifteen, he came home not to blood this time, but to pills on the floor. He called another ambulance, and when it arrived, he was already gone, a stack of books in his arms because his backpack was stuffed full of clothes, and a scowl on his face. Aunt Deimos pulled over on the highway to let him into the car. A few months before his sixteenth birthday, his mother arrived, and he stood firm in Aunt Deimos’ driveway. “I’m not leaving,” he told her.
“Get in the car,” his mother said, grabbing his arm.
He wrenched away from her. “Promise me,” he said, “Promise it won’t happen again.”
She did. She pleaded with him, she offered him platitudes, she apologized, and, for some reason, Earth believed her. Luna always told him he was too trusting. But eight months later, when his mother was finally committed to a psych ward, Aunt Deimos was there, no judgement on her face, just sorrow. “Come, terra,” she said, and pulled him into a hug.
“Can I stay with you forever?” he whispered into her shoulder.
Earth was eighteen now, and he felt more at home with Aunt Deimos yelling for him to come inside than he ever had cleaning up after his mother.
“Earth,” Luna said before one of her boots pressed against his shoulder.
“Right, thanks,” Earth said before he leaned into the hole, his fingers digging into the dirt at the lip. He scrabbled around with his other hand until it caught on a handle, and then he started pulling. Luna held onto his arm, her boot still against his shoulder to keep him from toppling in. He jerked once, twice, and then nearly collapsed face first in the dirt. Luna laughed as he reeled back instead, the little metal lunch box flying out of his hands as Earth tumbled over sideways. “Shit!” Earth yelped before he scrambled up to his feet and ran over to where the lunch box had fallen.
Luna jumped to her feet, joining him. She was in one of her usual getups today, scuffed boots with pointed toes, laced up to just above her ankle, shorts with more holes than denim, little flowers embroidered into what was left, and a green shirt, the loose material gathered into a knot at her ribs. Her pale blonde hair was braided and hanging down her back, a floral headband keeping any strays away from her face. “Well?” she said excitedly as she dropped down next to him, her already grass-stained knees mucking with dirt.
Earth twisted over until he was sitting, the lunch box in his lap. It was black with the NASA logo printed across the front, royal blue with white lettering, white stars, and that famous red swish. His brown hands were covered in dirt, there were grass stains on his knuckles, and though he kept his nails as short as possible, he’d still managed to get a black line of dirt beneath them. One of the knees poking out of a hole in his jeans was smeared with scabs from where he’d skidded against the cement when he fell off his bike earlier that week.
“Dude, open it!” Luna said in exasperation before she started to reach for the lunch box.
Earth hugged it against his chest, glaring at her. “Excuse you,” he said.
“I’m going to punch you.”
That was not an empty threat, so Earth dropped the lunch box between them, flipped the lock, and opened it. All was quiet for three seconds, and then two sounds erupted—Aunt Deimos yelling more than just Earth’s name and Luna exploding with laughter.
“You’re such a predictable little nerd, I love you,” Luna said as Earth narrowed his eyes at her.
“Predictability isn’t bad,” Earth grumbled as he carefully took out the model Saturn V rocket his father had painstakingly put together and then put on Earth’s bookshelf a few weeks before he died. Beneath it was an old NASA catalog his mother had found at a flea market, an Apollo 11 patch meticulously cleaned and carefully stowed in a plastic baggie, and the thing Earth had dug all of this up for—a piece of moon rock. He didn’t know how his parents had it, though they’d always promised someday they would tell him, but the first time he left his mother, he found it hidden in her closet in a box of his father’s things she’d never been able to get rid of. Two days after he came to Aunt Deimos’ that first time, he buried everything in this lunch box and promised himself he would only dig it up when he really needed it.
“You’ve been keeping this stupid thing secret from me for—” Luna paused as Earth looked up at her. He wasn’t sure what his expression looked like, but he knew it wasn’t pleasant. She held up her fair hands in front of her, palms out. “Sorry,” she said, her blue eyes wide, “It’s not stupid. But—I don’t get it.”
Earth leaned back so that he could tuck the moon rock in his pocket. “I need it for luck,” he said before he put the model rocket back in the lunch box. He’d thought about burying it again, but he didn’t want to put it back without the moon rock, so he closed the lunch box and got to his feet. “Are you coming for dinner?” he asked as he tried to dust off some of the dirt from his jeans.
“Nah,” Luna said, jumping to her feet, “Mom’s probably hollering for me, too.” She jabbed a thumb over her shoulder toward where her bike was dumped in the grass. She whirled around, heading off in the opposite direction of the house. “Call me if anything exciting happens!” she called over her shoulder. Earth lifted a hand in a wave and turned away from her. She’d probably show up throwing rocks at his window tomorrow morning regardless of whether or not he called her, so their goodbyes were usually half-hearted, if they existed at all.
Aunt Deimos had finally given up on trying to call Earth back, and by the time he made the long trek from the fields surrounding her house to the front porch, the sun had set in earnest, and the sky above was dark and speckled with stars. Earth paused at the bottom of the front steps to tilt his head back and smile at the night sky. He closed his eyes, breathing in loud and slow. At the very top of the inhale, he held his breath, trapping the stars and the night and possibility in his lungs.
“How many times do I have to call you before you come home, terra?” Aunt Deimos shouted as the screen door slammed open.
Earth’s exhale rushed out of him in surprise as he tipped his head back down and looked at her. She was a little woman, narrow in every aspect, but she worked hard, and muscles visibly stretched taut in her arms as she planted her hands on her hips. There was an apron tied around her waist, hanging over her jeans, which were rolled up at the ankles. She was wearing an old band shirt, the sleeves rolled up a few times, and the hem tucked into her jeans. Her feet were bare, but then again, they only ever wore shoes in Aunt Deimos’ house if they had to go somewhere. She thought shoes were unnecessary, and she liked the feeling of hard wood beneath her bare toes.
“Meu deus,” she sighed loudly, flailing a hand at him. Her brown hair was tied up behind her head, though pieces of it were scattered around her face, a few of them sticking with sweat. “Olhe para você!”
Earth made a show of looking at himself. Jeans torn at the knees, Converse that had once been off-white and were now dusty with dirt and grass stains, a faded Shuttle shirt, the sleeves rolled up like her, and a baseball cap on backward, a few of his curls poking out of the front. “Que?” he said as he turned his brown eyes back up to her.
“Entre!” she yelled, though she sounded more exasperated than mad. Earth started up the stairs, but then she added, “E lave suas mãos,” and his shoulders ducked up as the tips of his ears went red.
“Desculpa,” he mumbled sheepishly as he went past her. His hands were the worst of it.
“E seu rosto,” Aunt Deimos continued as she trailed him into the house. “Ah! Sapatos!” Earth obediently bent over to yank out the knot on his Converse, tugged the laces loose, and pulled them off. He dumped them by the front door, straightened up, and sighed when Aunt Deimos swept the hat off his head. “Terra,” she said fondly, tucking a hand into his curls and pressing a kiss to his temple. “Talvez tomar um banho.”
“Fine,” Earth stretched out the word until Aunt Deimos pulled away with a smile.
“Dinner in twenty. Tell your cousin.”
Earth blew a kiss in her general direction before he went down the hall. The front door opened into a wide hallway that was more doorways than it was actual wall. On the left was a sunroom that was overwhelmed with plants and a dining room with a table stretching almost all the way to the kitchen. On the right, a truly massive living room bled into one of the largest kitchens Earth had ever seen. He peeked on his way by to find flour out on the counter and the delightful smell of bolinhos de laranja in the oven. Earth inhaled deeply, and then scurried away when Aunt Deimos yelled wordlessly at him. He didn’t wonder why she’d made orange cakes, just darted up the grand stairs at the end of the hallway. It went straight up before yawning open on either side. Aunt Deimos’ house was like a maze he could traverse with his eyes closed, but as a child, he’d gotten lost more than once and Aunt Deimos had found him crying in a hallway somewhere.
The second floor held a library that stretched through two long rooms, Uncle Phobos’ study that Earth had special permission to go in if he was careful, and Aunt Deimos’ art room. The stairs that twisted up on the left led to the master suite, a guest suite, and a storage room where Uncle Phobos kept anything he wasn’t currently working on. He had a lab in the basement, too, and it was a bit of a sticking point between Earth and Mars. Earth was allowed down there without Uncle Phobos, but Mars, under no circumstances, was to go down without his father present. Earth understood the reasoning, and he knew Mars did, too, but sometimes, Mars got a little touchy about the attention his cousin received from his parents. Aunt Deimos spoke Portuguese with Earth on and off and Uncle Phobos shared a love of science with him, both of which Mars didn’t have. Uncle Phobos had told his son time and time again that there was an easy fix to both things, and Mars usually stormed off in response.
The stairs on the right, though, led up to Earth and Mars’ rooms, as well as a small room that they both shared. Half of it was dedicated to Earth’s space paraphernalia—a giant telescope that pointed up toward a skylight, a detailed map of the moon, one wall completely painted in the planet’s different hemispheres, done by Aunt Deimos, and a bookshelf filled with nonfiction books. The other half was like walking directly into Mars’ brain, and it was sometimes a little disconcerting—model airplanes hung from the ceiling, a desk with a dazzlingly bright light and a magnifying glass that helped Mars see the small details on the models, his pilot’s license proudly framed, one wall, also painted by Aunt Deimos, done to look like the curve of the Earth from the highest altitude a jet could fly, a poster of Chuck Yeager, and his bookshelf full of technical books that made Earth’s head spin. Because though Earth and Uncle Phobos shared a love of chemistry and things that went boom, though he and Aunt Deimos could rattle on for hours in Portuguese and loved baking together, this Earth shared only with Mars—space, the final frontier.
“Good grief,” Mars muttered as Earth burst into their shared room, the final frontier spoken aloud. “Are you ever going to stop?”
“You liked it,” Earth said, swiveling to face his cousin, who was tucked into one of the two reading chairs. Earth preferred a massive beanbag, but Mars had a cozy armchair wedged into the corner of his side. His cousin was rolled up small, knees against his chest, a blanket wrapped around the tops of his knees, snaking up to his neck, and hooked around his shoulders. He had headphones in, and his temple was resting against his knees, his closed eyes turned toward the wall, though one of his hands darted out from under the blanket to hit pause on his phone.
“What are you listening to?” Earth asked, not coming in any further.
“Podcast,” Mars said, peeling open one of his eyes to squint at Earth. “I did not like it.”
“Dude, you totally fell in love with Captain Kirk.”
Mars opened the other eye. “Maybe a little,” he said, “His eyes were very blue.”
Earth grinned winningly.
“You’re very loud right now,” Mars said, glaring at him. He looked rumpled and sleepy, the family curls all the men shared hidden beneath a black beanie, his nose a little red, and his brown eyes full of shadows.
Earth frowned. “Are you sick?” he asked.
“Don’t you dare—” Mars started, and then groaned when Earth threw up cross fingers at him and started to back out. “Earth!” Mars shouted, but it broke at the end as he started coughing.
Earth paused at the top of the stairs, took a big breath in, and let it out in a holler even as he heard Mars scrambling out from under his blanket, “Aunt Deimos! Mars needs tea!”
“You’re the worst!” Mars yelped as he shot out from their room, yanked Earth into a headlock, and dug his knuckles into his head.
Earth shrieked, the sound littered with laughter, and tried to escape. It was short-lived, for Mars let him go as he gasped for breath. “We hates it,” Mars wheezed, “We hates it forever.”
Earth snorted. “I’m telling Luna you Gollum’d,” he said as he walked away, scooping his fallen hat up off the ground.
“Did you find your precious lunch box, loser?” Mars asked, no bite in his words.
Earth patted it, spinning around to bestow another wide grin on Mars before they parted ways. Mars went back into their shared geek room while Earth went into his bedroom. It was neater in here since most of his space stuff lived in their shared room, just bookshelves overflowing with everything else he liked to read, a desk with his laptop, an open notebook, and a calendar taped to the wall, and a large bed. He set the lunch box on his desk, stripped out of his dirty clothes, and peeked into the hallway to make sure Aunt Deimos wasn’t there before he darted across the hallway into the bathroom that was next to Mars’ room. He took a fast shower, as ordered, scrubbing the dirt from as many places as he could find it, and when he emerged, Mars was knocking on the door. “Dinner, terra,” he called through the wood.
“Be down in a second!” Earth called back.
He toweled himself dry, darted back across the hallway, and quickly changed into a pair of less ripped jeans and a plain white shirt. He rifled his hands through his hair, sending good vibes to his hair so it wouldn’t do something weird while it dried, and then hopped out of his room and ran down the stairs. They usually ate in the kitchen at a smaller, square table when it was just the four of them, so Earth headed that way, his stomach rumbling. “Tia!” he exclaimed as he thundered down the main stairs, “Is that peri peri?”
“How in the world,” he heard Mars mutter.
“If you helped me in the kitchen more, you would know, too,” Aunt Deimos said, though it was good-natured, and Mars wasn’t scowling when Earth finally swung into the kitchen. It was peri peri, and Earth almost sagged to the floor, succumbing to his suddenly famished stomach.
“You’re my favorite,” Earth sighed, practically floating at he came over to the table. The door to the wine cellar was open, where Uncle Phobos was likely hidden. Mars was flopped into his seat, his feet kicked up on Earth’s chair. There was a large copper platter in the middle of the table where an entire roasted chicken was doused in peri peri sauce, one of Earth’s favorite Portuguese sauces. It was a little spicy with crushed chilies, but had a citrus flavor that would go well with the orange cakes Aunt Deimos had finally taken out of the oven. She was currently sprinkling sugar across the tops of them at the counter, and Earth wondered what kind of news they had if their dinner was this extravagant.
“Start serving yourselves, boys,” Aunt Deimos said, “Phobos will be up in a minute.”
“I can’t decide!” Uncle Phobos called up.
“Oh, just pick something!” Aunt Deimos shouted down, “I don’t care!”
Mars rolled his eyes, but he was grinning as he leaned forward. When he was done scooping scalloped potatoes and roasted carrots onto his plate, he handed the tongs to Earth and then wiggled an entire wing off the chicken. By the time they’d both gotten helpings of chicken, Uncle Phobos had decided on a wine and was setting glasses down for him and his wife. It was a loud, boisterous night full of Mars occasionally sneezing into his elbow, Aunt Deimos cooing at him, Uncle Phobos talking about his new project at work, and Earth wincing when he caught sight of a smear of dirt somehow still left around his wrist.
When the food was properly demolished, Earth leaned back in his seat, sighing contentedly. Uncle Phobos started clearing the table as Mars got up to put on the kettle for tea. “Terra,” Aunt Deimos said as she turned to him, “Something came for you today.”
Earth blinked at her. All of a sudden, the peri peri chicken and the orange cakes made sense. “Wait, what?” he said as he sat up straighter, “Why didn’t you—”
“I called you many times,” Aunt Deimos cut him off, “You didn’t come, so you didn’t know.”
Earth just held his breath, staring at her.
“Mãe,” Mars chastised lightly.
“Bem, bem,” Aunt Deimos said before she got up. Earth watched her, his breath caught in his lungs, as she went over to where the orange cakes were cooling. He hadn’t noticed the envelope next to it, but now, he zeroed in on it. He felt, rather than saw, Mars glance at him, but he couldn’t focus on anything but that envelope. “I didn’t open it,” Aunt Deimos said as she picked it, and the orange cakes, up, “But I have a feeling.” She brought both over to the table, Mars right behind her. Uncle Phobos was still at the sink, but he turned to lean his back against the counter and watch them.
When Aunt Deimos handed Earth the envelope, he almost dropped it. His hands were shaking, and all he could think of was his father’s model Saturn V rocket and the moon rock in his pocket. The envelope wasn’t that thick, though. It was just a standard business one, and it felt light. It felt like a denial.
Earth gently slid his finger beneath the flap, tearing it open. He swallowed before he pulled the single sheaf of paper out, and Aunt Deimos set a hand on his arm as he unfolded the paper.
When he hiccupped straight into tears, Mars quietly whispered an oh no and Uncle Phobos sighed, but it was Aunt Deimos that saw the tears for what they were as she squeezed his arm. “I’m so proud of you, terra,” she said as he looked over at her.
“I got in,” Earth choked out.
“Shut up!” Mars exclaimed before his chair screeched back and he raced around the table to envelop Earth in a hug.
“Terra!” Uncle Phobos yelled from the sink, throwing the dish towel in his hand into the air. Aunt Deimos just sat back and beamed at him.
When Mars finally pulled back, grinning widely, Earth hastily wiped at his face. “It’s just an internship,” he said, “It doesn’t mean—”
“It does,” Aunt Deimos said firmly.
“Dude, yeah,” Mars said as the kettle started whistling and he went to take it off the heat. “They said this was one of the most prestigious internships NASA has ever offered. They’re only taking people they think might qualify for the new astronaut program. You’re going to space.”
Aunt Deimos gently pushed the plate of bolinhos de laranja across the table, and Earth started laughing, this big, hiccupping sound of relief. The moon rock had worked. He’d applied for the internship as soon as it went live, and the director of the new astronaut program teasingly tweeted ten minutes later that they’d officially received their first application, less than one minute after the internship was live. Earth knew the tweet was about him, and he’d proudly showed anyone who would listen. That was in December, halfway through his sophomore year of college, and he’d had to wait until now, until May, to find out that he’d been accepted. He was in college early because of Aunt Deimos, because she’d helped advocate for him and keep him on track, even when he wasn’t living with her. Mars was studying earlier, as well, though only a year earlier, and he’d been the one to burst into Earth’s advanced chemistry class to shout, “Dude, they just announced it goes live in five minutes!”
Earth didn’t even hesitate. His professor, who knew everything, shouted after him, “Good luck, and come back when you’re done!”
Mars and Earth raced down the hall at top speed, heading for the computer lab. None of the classrooms had wifi, and the computer lab seemed like it was a million miles away, but when they screamed through the doors, they still had three minutes left. The staff in charge of maintaining the lab started to yell at them, saw Earth, and spun to look for a free computer. “There!” he called, pointing at one in the middle row.
And that was how Earth applied for the one thing he wanted more than anything in life, with his cousin hovering at his shoulder, with the staff member peering over the rows of computers, with his professor glancing at the door every few seconds. The months after crawled by, but when the semester let out, Earth started to forget about it, instead dove headfirst into summer. It wasn’t until he’d seen a tweet from someone in the space community this morning saying that they’d been accepted that Earth realized he needed a little extra luck, that he needed to dig up his parents’ moon rock and keep it close.
And now, all the pieces were fitting together.
“Alright,” Mars said suddenly, “I’m going to bed early. We’re doing a celebratory dawn run tomorrow.”
Earth’s already overwhelmed senses shot even higher. “Yeah?” he asked, his voice shaking a little.
Mars knocked his knuckles against Earth’s shoulder. “Duh,” he said, “Meet me at five in the backyard.”
“Stick to the runway,” Aunt Deimos said fiercely as she turned to her son, “My flowers hate you.” Mars made a face at her, so she smacked his hip as he was going by.
Earth wanted to stay up all night and just stare at the letter, but, in the end, he was only awake a little while longer, eating four of the orange cakes, much to Aunt Deimos’ pleasure, before he retired to his room. There was no light under Mars’ door, and their shared room was empty, so Earth forced himself to go to bed, setting the moon rock on his nightstand and staring at it until he fell asleep.
In the morning, when his alarm went off at 4:30AM, Earth blearily patted through his duvet and pillows until he found the letter, opening it up and sighing when he read the words again. It hadn’t been a dream.
Though he didn’t enjoy being awake this early, he wasn’t unaccustomed to it. Mars liked dawn runs best, and Earth tagged along as often as possible. Thus, when he finally staggered outside under the still dark sky, an orange cake in each hand, it was dressed in the same jeans from last night, the same white shirt, and a NASA sweatshirt on top, the sleeves pulled down. He had on his Converse like always, which he knew Mars would roll his eyes at, but his cousin was busy triple checking his plane. It was just a little coaster, nothing fancy, but it helped him log hours when he couldn’t get to the airfield, and it was as familiar to Earth as this house was. He paused to take in a breath lungful of morning air, and smiled on the exhale at the thought of that letter.
He was going to be an astronaut, and this internship was one step closer to achieving that goal.
When he stopped next to one of the wings of the plane, he held up an orange cake, and Mars instinctively reached out of the cockpit to take it. “You ready?” he asked before he took a big bite.
“To the final frontier,” Earth said, relishing in Mars’ groan as he clambered up to join him. It’d taken Earth a little longer to get his pilot’s license, and so he hadn’t flown as much as his cousin, but as he settled in next to him in the two-seater cockpit, Mars tossed him a snoopy cap.
“Let’s go chase the sun,” Mars said.
Earth grinned, looking out toward the horizon. Someday, he was going to see all of this from far, far above, but for right now, this was exactly where he wanted to be.