Bare feat in the park

Guin and Xonvart sat on the kitchenette counter.

A large pot of coffee percolated beside them.

Lee ran his finger across the flowchart.

They all looked tired, staying awake until dawn.

Lee and Guin had danced until three a.m., gone back to the cottage to relax and then invited Xonvart over to discuss their plans.

Xonvart rubbed his palm against a corner on the countertop.

“Did you bevel this yourself?”

Lee turned toward Xonvart.  “No. The previous owner upgraded the kitchen. Why?”

“Oh, I can feel the sawblade that carved to edge on this tile. I was wondering what grade sandpaper you used to smooth this, if any.”

Guin jumped off the counter. “Who wants coffee?”

After adding protein boosters to their caffeinated brew, they gathered at the small kitchen table. 

Xonvart made his usual half-confused/half-concentrated facial expression as he studied the flowchart notes.

“Let me get this clear in my tired brain. You’re saying that we’re catalysts for a large solar system reaction?”

Guin nodded. “Lee saw us as the Genderless Three years ago, set up an experiment to test his theory about applying a label to the three of us and then let the experiment run free of direct interference by us for over two years.”

Lee opened the mini fridge and removed a frozen rock he used to cool down his coffee, having no room for an ice tray or icemaker.  He turned back around and laid his head on Guin’s shoulder.

Guin patted Lee’s fuzzy head. “Take a nap if you need to. We may be going over this the rest of the day!”

Xonvart laughed. “I’m supposed to watch Delymo’s daughter play soccer this afternoon and then a pirate party at Shelmi’s tonight so it won’t be all day for me.”

Guin shrugged. “No worries. As you see, we’re not in a hurry, exactly. A day or two here or there won’t make a huge difference.”

Lee started snoring. Guin gently moved Lee’s head on her arm to clear his breathing passages. 

Guin motioned Xonvart over. “I know it seems impossible but I wouldn’t have invited you if I didn’t think we could do this.”

Xonvart patted Guin on the back. “You’ve been through a lot. If you want to do this, I’ll be glad to help!”

Guin rubbed Lee’s neck. How many times had they sat in this kitchen, working out the details?  The first time Lee had talked to Guin about going to Mars, she wasn’t sure if he was a dreamer or on drugs — repeatedly he had told her that she was part of something bigger and the two of them had fallen in love with the idea of escaping their thoughts, regardless of the destination.

As it turned out, Lee was a dreamer. He, like so many smart, rebellious guys she knew, had been a drug dealer, too.

But Lee’s dreams, like so many of hers, were based on reality.

Xonvart smiled. He had been smitten with Guin a long time.  His friendship with Lysal and Delymo had strengthened his love for Guin and his resolve to align his love for dance with Guin’s.

“And you say it’s as if we’re dancing our way to Mars? Sounds like fun. But are we, I mean us here, really going? We’re not astronaut candidates. By now, we shoild be full-fledged space flyers.”

Guin rubbed the hair on Xonvart’s arm. “I know. That’s the beauty of this plan. We get to Mars not as us but also as us.”

Xonvart raised an eyebrow.”From a systems engineering standpoint, I understand the need to create a whole new kind of ecosystem to set up a permanent colony on Mars.  But if, as the chart shows, humans will no longer be humans after reconfiguring a viable Martian biome, how are we supposed to get there?”

Guin twisted her waist to take weight off the hip Lee’s torso was leaning against.

“I don’t know all the details yet. That’s why you’re here, to bring in your own network of experts.”

Lee snorted awake, opening his eyes to see Guin smiling.

Lee and Guin had known happiness and fun but it was peaceful moments like this they cherished most, genderless nerdy friends chilling with each other, no more barriers, no more pain, laser-focused on the future.

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