Plutonian Paradise: My Twelve Year Old Life
by Patricia R. Corbett
My parents never anticipated we would be here. While I don’t remember the rebellion and eventual apocalypse, my father and mother told me many stories about earth. After the rebellion, they managed to escape with their one treasure, a music box that has been in my family for many years. The golden and burgundy velveteen box that would someday belong to me.
Like many former earth walkers, my parents were still learning to adjust to darkness and artificial seasonal changes. I only knew stories about earth, I never experienced walking outside and enjoying fresh air. Callisto says you cannot miss what you never knew. She was right, I loved gazing at the seven moons that I viewed quite clearly through our arthropod window. This is what I know, but I wanted to know more. I longed to visit each moon. I began studying each of them at 12.
My mother supported me by buying me all sorts of paints to recreate these moons and their constellations on the ceiling and panels of my room. She herself painted a huge tree that covered the entire wall opposite of my window. At the base of the tree she painted an opening. I imagined if I were to enter, there would be a path of lush green grass that led to a beautiful enchanted forest.
My father, who also supported my natural curiosity and indulged all of my whims, told me that if I excelled at my studies, I would have an opportunity to venture out into the universe with my youth explorer team. My father was a well-respected scientist who was the head of the Global Renewable Energy Awareness Team (GREAT). He encouraged me to be adventurous, but worried of a hierarchy that lingered from the ways of earth. Pluto had become divided between the affluent science based research teams and the agricultural teams. Unfortunately, this dichotomy was an indication that more exploration would take place on other planets. More survival of the fittest. He could have easily pulled strings and sanctioned my travels, but preferred that I ‘made my own way’ and to create my own opportunities for learning and exploration. His love and respect for nature led him to design our arthropod to be a tropical space. I was allowed to explore the plant life and vegetation. I was warned never to go beyond the trees.
From what my mother says, school is very different on Pluto. Long days of academic rigor that became the downfall of earth were gone. If nothing else, former earth walkers learned that caring for the environment and a spiritual connection to the universe are necessary to develop a more evolved and caring society. For this reason I was encouraged to be creative and connect with people. In school I became involved in the study of drama; considered a most respected ancient form of learning. I, like my mother, also loved all forms of art. I made all kinds of things with all kinds of materials. At some point I would have to use my art to earn a living and I would have to leave the comfort of my arthropod. I made friends easily, but I preferred to keep circles small.
Callisto (named for one of Pluto’s moons) was very smart, but very shy. She didn’t fit in with the lively girls who tended to gossip. Her parents worked for the agricultural team. Some of the girls, despite what they were taught, made fun of the agriculture families. One day she was crying in the bathroom after class. I had overheard the gossipy girls making fun of her family. I gave her some tissues. Callisto and I were in drama class together. She was always very quiet and shy. I noticed how she never volunteered for projects. After she wiped her tears, I invited her to work on costumes for our play. We hugged and remained friends for life.
Twice a month we would spend the night at each other’s arthropod. She loved my dog Titan and laughed heartily when he nibbled at her ankles as we played in the gardens of my home. Titan was a shit zu and as precious as our music box. He was one of the few breads that survived the apocalypse. Callisto owned a red panda named Giggles. I was allowed to play with her when I visited her home. She also introduced me to the world of agriculture. Her parents grew Kombucha. I helped them pick the leaves and brew them. The tea was delicious, but very potent. It was rumored that it cause the body to feel ‘funny’. I felt relaxed when I drank and my parents didn’t object. Her parents had taught her how to prepare the tea along with how to make the ancient cookies she called macaroons. When she stayed over, we always made macaroons for me and my family.
One day Callisto and I disobeyed father and ventured beyond the woods of our arthropod. We were looking for wild berries. My father knew we would be curious so he created a tree barrier that we were forbidden to cross. Callisto and I made a pack not to tell that we had bee disobedient. We held hands, closed our eyes and breathed deeply before we took our first step.
The moment we crossed passed the trees, the air felt different. There was no blue sky. It was as if we were on the edge of the universe. We were amazed, but unafraid of the darkness. I let go of Callisto’s hand and we began to twirl around while looking into the air. Callisto warned that we should return to the forest, but I wanted to go further into the darkness. Against her wishes I skipped forward only to trip and fall down a dark hole. I landed on a soft surface and was able to stand immediately. I heard Callisto calling to me. I assured her I was fine and that I could climb out, but I was unable to grip the sides of the hole. I called to Callisto that I was stuck, but she did not respond. My curiosity was then replaced with worry. I sat and began to sing because I refused to be afraid and singing made me feel safe. As I was about to sing my sixth song, I heard my father and mother’s voice calling my name. They lowered a ladder to me and when I climbed to the top, there they were with open arms. As I hugged them tightly, I promised never to venture beyond the trees. My mother looked at me and replied, “You have my permission to use your imagination.”