“Hey, listen to this. How well do you think I could grow… watermelons on Mars?”
You ignored him, typing up your report with frenzied fingers as he watched you, fiddling with the Newton’s cradle on your desk. It was getting increasingly difficult to tune out the little ticks the tiny silver balls made, and you froze for a mere second, wondering if entertaining him would be a good idea.
“Due to the complete lack of water on Mars, I believe that your watermelons would turn out very poorly.”
You continued, pushing each key deliberately so that it clacked loudly, as if he’d care enough to pick up on your cue.
“No, see. If I grew them in the Hab, they’d be fine. Yeah, it’d probably be a big waste of water, but think about it. Mark’s Martian Melons! That’d be fucking sick!” He got excited at his own alliteration and beamed at you. You saw him grin at you in the corner of your eye, and as before, you ignored him shamelessly.
“Watney, don’t you have better things to do than ask me about your marketing strategy? Last I recalled, your degrees weren’t in business.”
“Probably. But hey, I’m spending my time with you. You should be happy.” Another smile. This time, you stopped, hitting the enter key and doing a quick ctrl-s before looking at him tiredly. You hadn’t slept in—what, 23 hours? 24?—and was starting to get irritable with your boyfriend’s behaviour.
“You’re flying to Mars soon, Mark. You’re just wasting your time by sitting your ass down here, procrastinating. Don’t you have pre-flight tests? Psychology tests?”
He finally frowned, stopping the clattering Newton’s cradle with his pinky. “Do you not want me around?”
“No, that’s not what I…” you rubbed your eyes. “I’m just saying that I want you to be prepared and all for takeoff. You leave next month, right?”
“Actually, I leave this month. It’s June.”
“Oh. Wait, what?” You squinted blearily at the calendar above your desk. “Shit, it’s Wednesday?” You pulled your phone out of your pocket, which was supposed to remind you about the real world, and saw that it was dead. No wonder you were so hungry; you’d forgotten to eat. You sighed.
“Yeah, and you haven’t had sex with me since Thursday.”
Whining. You had a three year old as company. He set the ball off again and away they went. You debated throwing the desk toy away entirely. Or maybe you should just jump out the window. Then, vaguely, he muttered, “it’s because I’m going to Mars that I’m here.”
“What?” You looked up fuzzily. Your coffee cup was empty, save for a patchy brown stain at the bottom, and NASA apparently did not have enough room in the multi-billion-dollar budget to afford decent beans.
“Are you going to miss me?”
“I…” you wanted to be prideful but was too tired for any witty comebacks. Slumping back into your chair, you relieved the crick in your neck and sighed. “Yeah, of course I will. You’re gone for half a year.”
“You don’t mind, though, do you?”
The question made you snort with laughter. “It’s a little late to be asking that. I’m pretty sure NASA’s not going to be all like, ‘you want out? Okay!’”
He reached forwards and laid a hand over yours. You let him curl his roughened fingers into yours and suddenly felt very afraid, because in less than a month’s time, you would be without his touch for a very long time. It was stupid, because you were a grown ass adult—and it was doubly stupid, because you were one of the people who literally wrote the manuals for the Ares missions. But you clung to him.
“I… I don’t mind at all. You’re doing something billions of people dream they could. It’s bigger than you or I.” You gave him a little squeeze, despite the fact that your heart was somewhere near your untied shoelaces. “You’re a man of science. The world’s hero. And I’m proud of you.”
“Well. Besides the fact that you won’t listen to my triple M pitch, and that you’re a horrible fucking liar—I love you. Don’t forget it.” He stood and you couldn’t help but reach after him, your heart fluttering anxiously.
“Where are you going, Wat—?”
“Mars, bitch!” he hooted, bringing the attention of your fellow labmates to your cubicle. Your cheeks flushed red as he sauntered away after pelvic thrusting, giggling like a three year old, and you lost the desire to call ‘love you too’ back.
You should’ve, probably. Might’ve been a good idea, seeing as he’d be declared dead as dicks in a couple of weeks.