Jasmine looked at her fellow emigrants and wasn’t sure whether to be frightened or hopeful. She might not be a prize of femininity, but the other women on the lunar elevator were… well… they were interesting. One couldn’t keep her fingers away from her nose. Jasmine didn’t think the woman was actually… er… removing anything, but it was still kind of gross. The woman sitting next to the nose picker gave her a tissue, which she used, tucked into a pocket, then continued to scratch her face as before. The woman who had offered the tissue looked scared to death. She was a tiny waif of a thing, and every time she met someone else’s eyes she broke into a huge artificial grin, as if desperate to make friends.
The elevator slowed significantly, causing a wave of nausea in Jasmine’s stomach. Judging from the looks on her cohort’s faces, she wasn’t the only one feeling sick at the deceleration. Jasmine looked down to the rapidly approaching ground station. The elevator dropped into a rooftop airlock, then crept down a tight tube. Jasmine’s ears popped.
Most of the women were gathered at the downward-facing windows, eager to catch their first glimpse of the lunar citizens. They all had different reasons for immigrating to the moon, but one thing united them.
The moon needed women.
“They’re gathered down there… to get a first glimpse of this new batch.” said a woman next to her.
The thought scared Jasmine. She was still a mess from the journey. “The company said the welcome reception was supposed to be tomorrow morning… what do you mean they’re gathered to…”
“…to see the new batch?” The woman smiled the exhausted smile of someone who’d been in her position before and just given up. “They always do. Yeah, the formal reception is tomorrow morning before the job fair. But everyone in the city knows that this elevator load is…” the woman stuttered a moment, as if about to use a vulgar term, but then she caught herself. “…mostly women.”
“Which ones are the rich ones?” another woman asked. She was better looking than most of the others, and suddenly Jasmine felt the weight of what she had reduced herself to. Maybe she was a talented organizer, with skills applicable to many business situations. Maybe she was well-read, with a wry sense of humor. Maybe she was all that, and more.
But she wasn’t pretty.
Jasmine was named after a Disney princess. She was even called “Princess” as a term of endearment by her parents and big brother most of her life. When she turned sixteen, and the acne was just getting worse, and weight kept piling on no matter what new diet she tried, calling her “Princess” started to sound condescending. Sixteen years later, it still was.
Hundreds of faces were turned up towards her. Perhaps one of them was the handsome prince she’d always dreamed of.
Or perhaps she’d traveled 380,000 kilometers just to have her heart broken again.
This story was written for the Write on Edge prompt “To the Moon.” I used exactly 500 words, which was the limit lol! I’ve always liked stories with characters who are not sublime specimens of humanity. We can only do that if a story is in writing… if it is ever adapted to screen, the producers invariably cast beautiful people, just giving them some little tiny ugly quirk.
I was talking with Michael Laine of Liftport (The space elevator) the other day, and we were noticing that the project had far more men than women. It wasn’t unfairly biased… that was simply the way it worked out. That got me thinking that the 1950’s projections of “Mars Needs Women” might come true after all. Even though we have women scientists and astronauts and women in places of authority and command, they are still far outnumbered by men. I imagine “the company” might purposely recruit women, promising they would have a job if only they would immigrate to the moon.
This story isn’t related to any others I’ve written. Actually, reading back, I’m not sure it qualifies as a story… it is an opening scene. For now, I’m OK with that. But as far as the writing prompt exercise goes, it’s not quite right… it is a challenge to write a complete story in just a few hundred words! Maybe I’ll go back and expand this story someday.
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