“Hold my glasses,” I sputter, ripping them off and shoving them into Gizmo’s mechanical hands.
He takes them and replies disgustedly, “Mariella, you always get space sickness! Why do you even bother going galactic sailing if you always end up heaving over the side?” Typical robotics, squeamish and high strung.
I wipe my mouth with my apron, take back my spectacles, straighten up, and pull my hair free free from the pins my mother uses to make a bun at the base of my neck. As my fiery curls tumble down my waist and blow in the solar wind, Gizmo gives me a dirty look and shakes his silver, boxy head. I roll my eyes and start to twist my hair back up into the bun and begin pinning it in place again. Of course, I can’t do it as tight as my mother can, and I end up with a bunch of curls falling out. I hate having my hair pulled back so tightly! It’s so restrictive, so stern and icy cold… If it had it my way, my hair would be down all the time, and I wouldn’t have to wear uncomfortable shoes and dresses I can barely walk in.
“Gizmo, you know why I go galactic sailing; it’s the fastest way to Mars. Besides, it’s the only way Father will let me leave the vacation home on the moon. I’d rather go solar wind surfing but father says that’s a scoundrel’s activity,” I mock.
“I can’t believe you learned that behind his back! He’ll have both our heads if he finds out you go solar wind surfing once we get to Mars!” He fires back.
I lean on the side, “I know, but I just can’t help it! I love the thrill! I love adventure! But when you come from a family like mine, adventure is a crime…”
I feel my smile start to fade away and my eyes begin to glass over. All my life I’ve hated how restricted my decision making has been! I just do what Mother and Father do for me; they never think to ask me what I prefer. I dream about traveling the galaxies, surfing the cosmos, wearing what I like to wear, making friends that Mother and Father haven’t picked for me! As crazy as this sounds, I’d like to learn mechanics and astrocartography, the study of mapping the cosmos! I want to study those kinds of fields, instead of how to be the perfect high-society wife. I want to tear my hair out sometimes!
“I hate that he makes me go with you,” Gizmo complains in response, joining me in leaning over the side and staring into the indigo and silver dotted mass.
I roll my emerald eyes, “Do you think I like it either? I’m 17 orbits old! I’d appreciate a little independence now and then! I do not need a guardian robot anymore!” I gesture widely and frustratedly at the end of my declaration.
Some of the other voyagers turn their heads and gawk at Gizmo and I. My cheeks go a shade darker with embarrassment and regret for yelling like that. I burry my green face in my green hands and sigh. I peek through my hands to see Gizmo’s gauge on his chest fluttering between seething, embarrassment, and broken-hearted, even though his heart is only micromechanics.
“Well,” he begins surprisingly calmly, “I have only been keeping watch over you since the day you were born! As much as I hate all this sneaking around behind your parents’ backs, and as much trouble as you could get yourself into, I do care about you! I may be mechanical, but you know very well I still feel. I don’t want you to outgrow me, we’ve been through our entire lives together. I never would’ve been assembled and programed if it weren’t for you.”
I wrap my arms around his cold, metallic shoulders, “I didn’t mean that, you know I didn’t. I just wish that mother and father would trust me to make my own decisions.”
Gizmo hugs back, “Like the decision on who you marry?”
“What?” I jump back, “Whatever gave you that idea?” I can feel my stomach starting to churn again…
He rolls his black cameras for eyes, “Mariella, it’s obvious why you’re always sneaking off to Mars. Why you drop me off at the Martian History Museum then ditch me a moment later. You’re always off with that Martian boy, the one with electric blue flesh and 4 arms.”
“His name is Lucas,” I whimper, blushing a darker green again.
“How could you have fallen for him? You know your father will be selecting your husband at the end of the lunar cycle!” Gizmo shrieks.
I turn away, “I know! The guilt’s been eating me alive all week! I couldn’t help it! Lucas is everything I’ve dreamed of! I’m everything he’s ever dreamed of too!”
Gizmo turns me back around, “What do you mean?”
“Think about it, I hate that Mother and Father only care about our status and that my whole life has been restricted because of it. Lucas is free to do whatever he pleases because his family doesn’t worry about him! I can treat him to luxuries he’s never gotten to experience, and he can show me the beauty in the cosmos outside ge structure and over-protectiveness his parents never gave him. We’re perfect together…” I sigh.
Gizmo squints and shakes his head in confusion, “Wait, wait, hold on. This boy actually wants his parents breathing down his neck like yours do?”
I bite my lip, “Not exactly. His parents were never there for him. His father is a galactic cadet and always out of planetary reach, his mother works in the deep-space uniform making factory day and night, rarely coming home. He just wants to feel like they care about him.”
“How Ironic. Mariella, you would give anything for your parents to care a lot less, and this Lucas-Martian-boy would give anything for his parents to care a lot more,” Gizmo chuckles, his emotion gauge drifting to “content”.
I chuckle too, but then sigh worriedly, “Do you think if my parents saw how wonderful we are together, do you think they’d consider him as a possible son-in-law?”
“Your father and mother would never agree to an interplanetary marriage, don’t deny it. A Martian and a native Venusian, it’s taken from that ancient script, the one with Desdemona her Othello,” He shudders, “Renaissance literature was so dark and so… Well, I’m glad we’ve changed.”
“Oh please,” I remark, “Lucas would never fall into a jealous rage. We’re far past Shakespearian ideals and you know it.”
“That doesn’t mean your parents are past their petty, shallow desire for you to marry a wealthy Venusian boy,” Gizmo counters back.
I feel tears welling up, “I don’t want to marry an upper-class, Venusian boy! I want to marry Lucas! I don’t care if he doesn’t have any money or doesn’t know high society mannerisms and customs! I hate them! I hate the expectations and standards I have to meet! I hate the pressure my parents put on me to make me look good! I hate that my life has been decided for me! I hate that the only time I can be myself is when I’m meeting with Lucas in secret! I hate that falling in love is a crime! I can’t take it anymore!”
By the end of my rant, tears are streaming down my cheeks. Gizmo is staring at me, his emotion gauge reading “worried.” Once again, the other passengers are staring at me, the Venusian who’s supposed to be the perfect daughter and wife, but isn’t. The Venusian who’s supposed to do as she’s told, and follow what everyone else does, and make a good impression but always fails. The Venusian who would rather be anyone but herself.
Gizmo puts his metallic hand on my shoulder and points to a small, red speck on the horizon, “Just enjoy what time you can with Lucas, and maybe by some miracle, your parents will see how much you love him and let you marry him. We’re nearly there.”