“I came to the moon to go to college,” I said to my twin sister, Ren. She... or at least her holographic avatar... was shrunk down to twenty centimeters and standing on my desk. I leaned back in my chair and sighed. “There were literally a million applicants for every admission here this year,” I went on. “How can I waste time?”
Ren shook her head. Despite being my twin, she had Mama’s coppery-red hair, while I had Mom’s raven black. I was jealous, but not enough to do the genetweek. She was on Earth, at Mom’s alma mater, Northern Arizona University. There was a slight but noticeable delay as the signal bounced from Aitken basin to the satellite at L2, from there to the processing station at L4, to the Baker Island High Port, and finally down to Flagstaff. “Your argument is spurious, Ran,” she said. “The admissions algorithm selected you as the best match for Sankt Vladimir’s cultural as well as educational milieux. That includes your interest in dressing up in weird clothes.”
I sighed and rubbed my eyes. “I wish I could talk to Mama about it,” I complained. I tapped my slate, pulling up the system map. Two months on, Grey Maru would not yet have passed the orbit of Mars on its Hohmann orbit out to the Jupiter Trojans. The time lag would be no more than talking to Ren.
Ren looked like she was about to object that I could, but then she nodded; she knew what I meant. “It’s weird,” she agreed, “not being able to go to the jungle and talk to them. But she would agree with me. Ran, you’re in Lunagrad. How many times in the last five years have I heard you go on and on about the Valentina Bridge and the CosPlay brigade there?”
“How many times did I hear you gush on about ‘the mountain campus,’” I countered. “How’s that fresh air thing going for you?”
Ren looked embarrassed. “I’ve discovered that ‘fresh air’ smells like cattle droppings,” she admitted. “But I’m waiting for winter... I’m told that skiing is a blast.” She shook her head at me. “And you’re deflecting. You know what Mom would say if you asked her about it.”
“Is your homework done?” I said, mimicking Mom’s drawl.
“Well?” Ren asked. “Is it?”
I looked off to the left, at my bed and the pile of textbooks I’d left there to answer Ren’s call. “Yeah,” I said, only fudging a little.
“Then you can go play,” Ren said, mimicking Mom’s drawl as well.
I nodded. Ren was silent for a moment, then went on, “I have to go meet some people,” she said. “But you really should go.” She blew me a kiss. “Love you, Orchid. Miss you.”
“Love you, Lotus,” I answered. “Miss you more.” Her hologram winked at me, and then vanished. I sighed, and closed the channel.