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Joseph Thomas lay on the thick Martian grass as he gazed at the stars thoughtfully as the infinite black sky reflected upon his eyes. It was the night of his 11th birthday.

“Dinner is ready!” said his father entering the yard.

Joseph looked for several more seconds at the stunning picture that was the sky. And once again, he asked his father the one question that had long pestered him in the middle of the night.

“What happened to Earth?” He asked, not expecting an answer. His father had always had a way of avoiding these questions. It was always, "You're not old enough” or “I don’t know.” Which Joseph clearly knew was a lie. It was almost pointless even asking. But to his surprise, this time was different. After several moments of silence, his father spoke.

“I guess it’s time we told you.”

Joseph sat up in disbelief that his father would actually tell him about Earth.

“I know you probably have a lot of questions, which I understand, but I can’t promise that I have all the answers. I was only your age when I first arrived here with your grandfather and he had this talk with me. That was almost forty years ago.”

He sat down on the grass next to his son and considered the question again as he examined the sky searching for the light where two billion people used to live. The atmosphere of Earth was still green with radiation from the nuclear weapons, which made it rather easy to find in the night sky.

“About sixty years ago, the war broke out. Millions of people lived on Mars, and they were called home to fight on Earth. As they packed their bags so did we. Grandpa packed us up and we fled to mars. He knew what would happen if we stayed, and, unfortunately, he was right.”

“Why was there a war?” Joseph asked trying to make sense of it all.

Mr. Thomas smiled and thought out his next words carefully. “We may never know for sure anymore. I was told that it was simply because we lost ourselves in ‘a mechanical wilderness.’ We weren’t ready for the science, because it eventually led to our self destruction. Joseph, the reason we’re here is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I think it’s important to know your history, to know where you come from, but sometimes, it’s also good to forget.”

Joseph still didn’t understand the war, it seemed so pointless. And why did people get so upset with each other?

“I want to know more, can we go to Earth?” he asked.

“Oh no, son, if there’s on thing that’s for sure, it’s that the third planet is incapable of supporting life. There’s far too much radiation in their atmosphere. And the last of the rockets have already been destroyed. It’s to protect us, son. ”

Joseph had a look of disappointment on his face. He wanted to learn more about Earth. “Protect us from what?”

“Ourselves. Our past. That way of life is gone; this is our time to start over. ”

Joseph looked back at the green planet for several moments, studying it, seeing it from a different perspective now. Seeing it for what it really was.

“It’s been a dead planet for quite some years now.” Said Mr. Thomas

“How do you know for sure?”

“Grandpa checked his atomic radio when we landed. There was total radio silence. It means everything is gone. There’s no one left to answer. I have the radio in my drawer; you’re welcome to listen if you like?”

Joseph gave him a slight nod, and his father returned to the house. He realized now why his parents hesitated to talk to him about the past. They themselves wanted to forget, that was the point. This was the new beginning, a chance to start over; we couldn’t go back to old habits.

His father returned a moment later with the little radio in his hand. “I hope this still works; I haven’t used it in years. No need.”

Joseph placed the small device to the bones around his ear and thought he could almost feel the vibration, only a whisper, and then it was gone.



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