Shuttles pulled into the terminal with a whooshing sound. Air jets that kept them afloat dissipated until each silver car settled onto a rubber landing pad. Passengers from Mercury disembarked. The dark, rough heat dwellers stood out amongst the Earthlings.They quickly wrapped themselves in layers of sweaters and jackets. Most had already pulled on thick socks and fur-lined boots. Travel had been open for several years, but it never failed to surprise him to see the Martians bundled up like they’d arrived at the arctic tundra.

He shook his head, and focused again on Lila’s retreating form, her long, black braid wrapped in a bun. She, too, looked dressed for winter despite the high heat of mid-August.

“Lila, wait!” Jordan rushed to catch up. She spun around, and he nearly crashed into her.

“Look, I need some space. Okay?”

“Space? Lila, if you go to Neptune now, I’ll be dead by the time you come back to Earth. If you even come back…” His eyes widened when he recognized the determination in hers, the stubborn set of her jaw. His words came out in a whisper.

“That’s it, isn’t it? You’re not coming back.” After six years scavenging the Earth together all she had left for him was a look of pity.

She boarded the shuttle, and its doors slid shut with a hiss. He wondered how she’d managed to get a ticket off this rock, then he saw a tall Nepetian wrap his blue arms around her waist.

Originally posted at Siobhan Muir’s blog The Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked for her weekly Thursday Threads contest.

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