This is a follow-on to Wild West – although it stands alone.
“WHAT?!” shouted my husband.
We were in our module, an almost free floating cube of space junk the company called quarters. It was tethered to the asteroid we were mining As we were surrounded by vacuum, Jim could have shouted as loud as he wanted and he wouldn’t have been heard.
“I’m pregnant.” I repeated, calmly.
“How?” he asked, his voice edged with exasperation.
Before you get the wrong idea about him, Jim loved kids. It was just that he believed they had no place here. Everybody else agreed.
Everybody, that is, but me.
“I stopped taking the pill.” I said.
“And violated company policy?”
“Yes.” I answered.
“And what are we supposed to do?” he asked.
“Raise a child.” I answered.
“Mary,” he said quietly, “Have you thought about this?”
“Of course,” I answered. I was ready for the barrage of objections.
Nobody’s ever done a zero-G birth,” he said.
“Nobody’s tried,” I countered, “We won’t know it won’t work.”
He looked shocked by my answer.
“There aren’t any diapers.”
He had a point there, we were millions of miles in space it wasn’t like the nearest supermarket was around the corner. But I had my answer ready.
“For most of human history, there haven’t been diapers.”
“Sure,” he answered, “But at least the shit fell.”
“We’ll put a bag around his lower body. Up here, he doesn’t need to crawl.”
“His?” asked Jim.
“I had an ultrasound at the clinic,” I answered.
“A COMPANY DOC KNOWS?”
“Of course not,” I answered, “I did it myself.” That had been an interesting bit of skulduggery.
“What about muscle development?” he asked. It was part of our daily routine – working our ‘gravity’ muscles so we could return to Earth. A baby wouldn’t know to do it.
That, of course, led to the crux of the matter.
“Jim,” I said, “The kid won’t go back to Earth.”
He was about to say something, but it didn’t come out. His eyes just searched my face, looking for some sort of grounding.
“Jim,” I continued, “Humans have been out here mining for 40 years. We come, work for five years and then go home. We miss 17 years of our life once transit is factored in. 17 years, Jim. And why? Because we have no life here. Before I even left Earth, long before I met you, I intended to change that. I intended to have a baby. Here.”
It took a moment, but he recovered his voice.
“Are you crazy?” he asked. It wasn’t a metaphorical question.
“Not at all,” I said, “It’s just time to make this our world. We can put padding on the rough edges, build space suits for infants and toddlers. We can even put together a little school.”
“And how can we pay for it?”
“Jim,” I said, “We make good money. But beyond that, think of the headlines. You don’t expand the human frontier by sending men to space and machines to mine. You expand the frontier by having children and building communities. The mine is a company project. For company profits. But our baby is humankind’s project. For the purpose of making beyond Earth part of our world. The money will come.”
“And we never go home?” he asks, a touch of sadness in his voice.
“Jim,” I replied, calmly, “We’ll make our home here.”
Jim thought for a moment. And then, as I knew he would, he nodded his head.
He repeated. “We’ll make our home here.”
That was ten years ago. Today, as I look around a piece of space junk the company calls a classroom, I smile.
The room is full.
Ours was the first, but not the only, family on this frontier.