Valentin has had a great effect on me and, through me, on Erin. She woke up today and told me, while we still were in bed, that she wants to have a child. Nothing extremely weird about it; We were planning on having one in the future. It’s simply that I’m sure some primeval instinct kicked in in her when she saw the committed I am to my friend. I may be Valentin’s only friend, but he’s the only friendship I established based on emotions. Now I understand the adage: Money and friends should never mix. In today’s society, lending money to friends doesn’t differ from lending it to a stranger. Responsibility and objectivity are always preponderant in such a transaction. But in the case of Valentin, I know I would be embarrassed to ask him to pay me back, but also I would commit crimes for him, as I already did. My change has aroused mild jealousy in Erin. She wants to divert my attention towards her and the project of a baby. We talked about this. She’s well aware of this feeling in her, a feeling that still plays a subconscious role in your society. Jealousy is a poison, but it can be taken in microdoses to get high. So, we’ve become addicts with Erin, and the drug was provided by me, by allowing my emotions towards Valentin to play themselves out. Erin doesn’t blame me for it. She could’ve simply left, since there’s no use in blame. But she’s staying, full of acceptance. She has now given Valentin the nickname of: The catalyst of our love.
The last few months at work have been filled with watching wild horses that, unlike Mustangs, are being set free on purpose on the domed ecosystem of the Hellas Planitia. This is the place chosen for the first Martian settlement, called Karahan Plain, in honor of the cradle of terrestrial civilization. The same as their American counterparts, wild horses on Mars quickly adapted to life in their new environment, showing exceptional endurance to its hostility. Over millennia, horses had undergone genetic modification through the use of breeding techniques adapted to the needs of their masters. This led to a huge decline in the genetic diversity of these animals. Currently, we use genetic engineering processes to retrieve their advantageous primeval features, some of which date back to the Eocene Epoch. Carefully rewriting or turning off aggressive genes and adding the domestic gene, we managed to create a species that possess the disposition of friendly dogs and a modest birth rate, which means that they won’t reproduce out of control nor pose a threat to people if they wander off forests up to the city borders.
We flew to the city two months ago, so I’ve been disconnected from Valentin, except for sporadic exchanges of messages. Getting used to the low air pressure and lesser gravity was a full-time job for the first two days, but these nano-exoskeletons make it very bearable, and they are as comfortable as spandex. The only disadvantage is that they numb our weather sensation, so wearing them is the equivalent of wearing a thick coat and thermal face mask in subzero temperatures. We never take them off, except when having sex, but even then, it comes off partially depending on the erogenous zones being touched, commingling with the partner’s exoskeleton.
I just saw the recording of Milena’s therapy session. It appeared from thin air among the other reports, as if I had overlooked it. That’s all the evidence left behind when the future is tampered with: some solitary witnesses like me and Conrad, who could stubbornly insist to no avail on the first version of reality they knew about. But I don’t think Conrad was surprised to see this alteration in the reality-time continuum. Were it not for him, none of this would have happened, which leads me to tranquilly put all the blame on him, feeling just like a pawn in his game of destiny. I can’t guess his intentions, so I must humbly accept that his reasons are beyond my understanding. Paraphrasing the adage: People from the future work in mysterious ways.
My narration arrives to an end, since I have no more to say for the moment. Valentin and Milena are doing great, but since they both have now the status of regressed people, they’ve decided to settle in one of the remotest places on Earth: A meteorological outpost in the Andes, in Southern Argentina, called Ojos de Cielo. Milena does her research on climate change there, while Valentin idles away his time composing songs and riding horses. Maybe some of his songs will become popular one day, but that’s something that Conrad failed to mention in his reports.
I promised Valentin to go visit them as soon as we get back from Mars, which was supposed to be in one month, until Erin had another revelation: This is the best place to raise our kids. She likes the rough look of this planet, and she thinks our kids will have a more interesting life here. “It’s the new world,” she said, “and besides, it will be hard to get used to not wearing the exoskeletons back on Earth. It would feel like nakedness.” “You got a good point there,” I said, and we laughed. Since then, we’ve been traveling around, getting acquainted with the region, and finding out in general about the planet. The more we learn about it, the more we like it. If we decide to stay, we’ll probably pick one of the cities in The Hellas, but a beautiful option could be one of the subterranean megacities inside volcanoes, such as the Arsia or Pavonis Mons. Our bodies will obviously suffer from the acclimatization, but there’s nothing current medicine can’t fix, and Erin is actually happy to contribute to research on interplanetary migration health issues. I, on my part, am set on the Hellas, because of its cavernous beauty and the possibility to continue with my current work on Martian horses.
My original hypothesis that harmony is desirable has been subjected to correction: Harmony exists by default, that is, we naturally tend towards harmony, which doesn’t make it necessarily desirable, the same as the fact that tending towards death doesn’t make us desire it. Knowing that harmony will always prevail, we can choose to disrupt it, the same as a musician playing dissonant chords. Of course, the more the disruption, the more our lives become tense and weary, so it’s only natural to try to avoid it and live a harmonious, though sometimes dull, life. I only have respect for people like Valentin, who dare to do things that we only manage to read and admire in ancient literature. I now understand the extent of the old-fashioned saying: “Real reading is allowing a book to change your life.” It’s more than mere entertainment for people in our time, the same as in yours, but you take it even more seriously. By purposefully failing to detach yourselves from the books you read, you choose to feel them instead of analyzing them. You understand them intuitively, before understanding them intellectually. You choose to pick the delicious fruit and devour it, without even asking what it’s called. Through Valentin, I have learned to respect you all and your brave way of being. The conclusions of this story are for you to draw, or for Conrad to present, since I suspect he is in charge of this recording now. For my part, I can only be grateful to you all, because thanks to you, I am a man fulfilling his potential beside a loving and beautiful woman. So if some of you happen to be one of my ancestors: thank you for your genetic wisdom. Whatever you will do to the world, I trust you with it, and I wish you all farewell.