A loud ding sounded from the PA system overhead. The automated tour guide was nothing if not punctual. “Next stop: Earth–Sol system. The cradle of humanity.”
The cradle of humanity?
Jamiro shifted in their seat. Not their humanity they thought. Jamiro knew where they were born; In a sterile white room in the birthing ward of outpost 8 in the Draco system. Nowhere near Earth.
Jamiro’s disheveled uncle, Crampas, leaned over and nudged them gently with an elbow. He smelled like stale beer. That’s just how he smells even now that he’s stopped, Jamiro’s father had said when they protested going on this so-called ‘perspective journey.’
“We’re nearly there kiddo. Are you ready to see where it all started?” Crampas whispered. He looked as if he was ready to jump out of his skin.
“Yeah.” Jamiro replied. He had been staring at nothing but black void punctuated by the occasional streaking light of a nearby star for thirteen hours. Their patience was spent.
“We should be there soon” Crampas said, “twenty minutes tops.”
Jamiro didn’t respond. Instead they made sure to make a show out of yawning. They smacked their lips a few times, looked around the cabin, and rolled their head slowly back to look at Crampas, who hadn’t seemed to notice. He was too busy glancing at his watch and looking out the window.
“It’s an odyssey Jamiro,” Crampas said breaking the silence.
“What is?” Jamiro said, cracking a smile, contemplating whether to add ‘you?’ to the end of the question.
“Out of all other star systems, Sol was the only to produce beings that went offworld…” Crampas was gesticulating and cut himself off when he noticed. “Just wait Jam, I can’t describe it. I couldn’t do it justice. But when we get there, you’ll feel it.”
Jamiro’s uncle had been waxing about his first ‘birthright’ for weeks before the trip. It was, frankly, annoying. Every day he would tell the same few stories about the smell– it smelled earthy, and about his sense of belonging, dropping words like “humbling,” and “life-changing.”
The loud ding sounded again. “Final approach: Earth.”
The class C cruiser slowed from interstellar speed and emerged near a field of asteroids. The pilots pulled up, gracefully avoiding a few slow tumblers and sailed over the icey pole of a blood-red planet.
“That it?” Jamiro asked, turning from the in-flight observation screen.
Crampas looked stood up and paced around. “Nope. No. No. No. That right there is just Mars– a dead planet. Though it wasn’t always dead Jam. Some…”
Jamiro cut him off, “How about that?” He asked as the cruiser passed into the shadow of a rather large asteroid.
“The moon,” Crampas said, his voice jumping an octave as he turned again to the window.
Jamiro knew this game. Get uncle talking and eventually it ceases to be a conversation. He’ll just talk at you. “What’s it’s designation?” Jamiro said.
“It doesn’t have one.”
Jamiro’s interest perked up. “Wait, really?”
“Nope,” Crampas said, smiling.
“Not even a non-form name?” Jamiro questioned.
“Ha! Nope. It’s just the moon.” Crampas said, laughing. “It was the first one. Before humans could see into the sky, they just had the one.” His eyes widened. “Y’know, some people even worshipped it.”
Jamiro snickered. What idiots, he thought. “They really worshipped a damn rock?”
His uncle dropped his smile. They sat for a moment and watched the ship circle around the the colorless moon. It was evident this space-rock god had violent beginnings. Each crater had a story. And somewhere down there, Crampas knew, were ancient footsteps and bleached-white flags. As the ship veered left out of the moon’s orbit, it’s breaking procedure complete, a pale blue light filled the cabin.
“There she is,” Crampas moving closer to the window and cupping his hands around his eyes as makeshift blinders.
“She?” Jamiro said. “Uncle, it’s just a planet. A rock in space with some water molecules and carbon-based life.”
Crampas motioned for his nibling to stand and join him at the glass. Jamiro sighed as he stood and joined his uncle.
“Listen Jam, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. It’s just a planet and the moon is just a rock, but realize that this is special to me, and whether you know it or not, to you too. That,” he said pointing at the approaching earth, “might just be a rock spiraling through the empty void of space around an aging star, but, it’s alive.” Crampas saw that his words weren’t landing with his nibling. “Just, try and have an open mind about this.”