I watched the rolling waves on the lake as the breeze gently blew. The golden sky reflected off the lake, Lake Melanie, the latest of our achievements. From the beginning twenty years ago, our vision came to life. Roads constructed, buildings went up, and people arrived in droves, now this.
My wife, Bethany, and our three children, Bobby, Roy, and my baby girl, Melanie never made it here to see what the team had accomplished. Their absence, my remorse, my grief-stricken nightmare that pranced around in the back of my mind continually robbed me of this scientific marvel.
I was startled by a voice from behind, “Excuse me, sir! Are you Dr. Brad Berry?” I turned to see an attractive young woman in her mid-twenties. Offended by another imposition, I breathed, “Not another reporter!”
The tension started in the back of my neck, moved through my shoulders down into my balling fist. “How many times do I have to repeat my story to you people? Do reporters never tire?”
She softly responded, “I am not a reporter.”
The tension eased as I noticed how much the young lady reminded me of my deceased wife, Bethany. I chose to entertain her. “How can I help you, miss?”
Something about her was amiss. She put her head down for a moment as if gathering her thoughts then looked up at me. Her eyes searched for something. The pain was evident. “Mr. Berry, I have traveled a very long way to meet you. I have only one question for you.” She paused swallowing the lump in her throat, “Why didn’t you search for your family?”
It was my turn to lower my head and bury the pain. While suppressing my grief, I looked back up at her. I had become adept at deflecting personal questions by giving the corporate sales pitch. “Twenty years ago, Global Space and Exploration Corporation (GSEC) sent a team on a mission. I am the lead scientist for this project. Our goal was to make Mars inhabitable. Our task was to build a self-contained Terre-structure, an artificial atmosphere, that could support several million people. Thanks to a skilled team of Geo-hydrologist, this lake is our latest achievement. For the first time in millions or possibly billions of years, Mars has water on its surface.