Just Count the Stars

by Gracie Jane

I got this idea during a standardized test, and then it was hard to focus… But at least I had two days to finish the essay!

This definitely isn’t my best story, but I mean… It works? My favorite thing about it is the title 🤣. If anything, I learned that science fiction certainly isn’t my genre!

I spent hours working on this but it’s still terrible, bleh. Welp, better not let it go to waste. :’)

Please enjoy my messy present-tense writing, everyone! It would mean a lot if you left some feedback, by the way. Thank you!

(Okay, but I seriously am starting to hate this with all of my heart. I hope you don’t 🖤)

“And that’s how we came to live here, on our wonderful country of Mars,” my teacher says, though I can tell it was scripted by some instructional coordinator down on Earth. Although my teacher is one of the luckier ones who wasn’t made a miner, educators aren’t much better off. I honestly don’t see why we can’t have simple virtual teachers and be put in those society schools, where people around Earth have huge, online schools, with big classes. It doesn’t really seem that hard to add a few Martians to a little group face call. To add to that, all of the ‘essential’ jobs are more ‘honorable’ than material mining, but they’re treated pretty much the same.

Mining hours are cruel and tedious, seeming to last years, though it’s only 12 hours a day, though there is certainly a hint of sarcasm there.

As I leave school, I glance about the city of Ares, the capital of Mars. The city shines with self-driving hover-cars bustling around, and even a few hovers are crashing into each other, pretty much defining the regal chaos of it all. The glittering, transparent oxygen dome offers magnificent views of the galaxy. 5 star resorts, said to be full of artificial pools and activities, dot the horizon, where Earthens vacation and enjoy luxurious hours basking under the stars.

Once again, actually living on Mars isn’t quite the same as visiting.

I grab my hover keys out of my pocket and walk over to my cheap Stargazer model 132. I insert the key into the ignition and select the location marked ‘home’ on my screen. I pull out my book, titled “Earth Before Mars.” I happily sink into my small, fluffy chair as I begin to read about the history of Earth before the modern day country of Mars was established on the red planet.

My waker alarm is set to loud bird whistles, and the song of a sparrow coming from the speakers alerts me that I’ve reached home. I take a minute to wonder about birds and what it would be like if they don’t only live on Mars. Birds have always been my favorite topic to search online. What if humans could fly, up and up to the top of the domes, and feel the stardust shining between their fingertips?

I shake my thoughts away and walk to the front steps of the crowded apartment buildings. I sling my techsatchel over my shoulder and hop up the staircase. I launch myself into another daydream. I am like a bunny, jumping two stairs at a time, until I reach the sixth floor. My star-shaped key necklace handed down by the family jingles as I huff and walk over to apartment 6-19.

“Butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” I say, cracking up as always. One time I was playing with my family during a rare game night, and my dad said that. Dad said that our great-grandfather, an Earthen astronaut from Alabama and an original moon colonist, used to tell him that, so the catchphrase has been passed down from generation to generation.

“Hello Ms. Asa. Welcome home,” my Athena house monitor replies, hearing my access code. The door opens, and I slip inside my home.

Nobody seems to be home when I walk in, so I turn on the lights myself. Mom must be picking up my sister, since little Mya is too young to have a hovercar. I toss my heavy techsatchel onto the small couch, and retrieve my phone from it. I try not to grimace as I look at my iPhone 36. It’s really outdated, but at least it works. I open up Songbird, a unique app I found where you can make music out of birdsong. I experiment with some song sparrow and white-throated sparrow harmonies mixed together for an hour, until the front door opens again.

“Mama, what’s for dinner?” Mya asks, dressed up in a ridiculous maroon princess gown. Today was dress-up day at daycare again; They have it every Friday.

“Mya, for the last time, I don’t know. Whatever food we have will be dinner tonight,” Mom says exasperatedly.

“Hi Asa! What’s for dinner?” Mya says, jumping up and down.

I put down my phone and hop off the couch. “I have no idea Mya. Just be quiet and stop asking.”

“Mama told me to be quiet!!” Asa whines.

“I’m gonna go in my room,” I sigh. I grab my old Earth history book and march over to my room, if you could call it that.

My room has old yellow walls, with a fluffy white rug to cover up the cold and bare wooden flooring. I’m just starting to lay down on my drab twin-sized bed and pull out my book when my head touches my pillow. My head makes a THUNK! louder than usual. I lift up my pillow, and there lies a narrow, little chest.

I try to open up the chest by pulling on its edge, but it doesn’t budge. That’s when I realize that there’s a little keyhole with a straight line, though I attempt to stick a little piece of my sister’s putty, I realize that the hole has separations on the inside, with one of the three parts deeper than the other. My mind immediately jumps to my necklace.

I grab the tiny, star-shaped pendant and insert the side of it into the keyhole. I yank gently, and bam, it opens! Inside, there is a small map. I take the map out, and intake its beauty.

It’s a map of the stars, with delicate twinkles sparkling around the drawings of constellations. Small, yet exquisite doodles of birds seem to touch the stars. The map of stars seems to shine as I place my finger on the line of the Little Dipper.

I run to my window, hugging the map to my chest. It’s so valuable, and I know this seems so selfish, but I’m so grateful to have something of my own, something that I can use and treasure.

As I count the bright stars, I realize that even though life may be tough, my life is so little compared to the billions of stars in just the Milky Way. With that thought, I crash onto my bed, with happy dreams of touching the stars.

4 thoughts on “Just Count the Stars

  1. I can’t wait until you revisit some of these stories down the road. The world you crafted is very alive in my mind, I can just see Asa laying back and enjoying her hovercraft ride like another young lady I know!

    Liked by 1 person

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