“It’s amazing,” he said, “Uncanny. How do you get them like that?”
Molly sighed. The conversation had been going so well.
“It’s natural. Freak accident of birth,” she explained.
“No way. No gene-splicing at all?” He was Centaurian, which meant he was tall and blond by default, and also considered himself god’s gift to women. A lifetime in space made you soft, you just didn’t use those muscles, but he was quite buff, which meant he was either new to spacefaring or had some very expensive mods. His eyes were heterochromatic, which was common among people from that part of the galaxy. His left one was brown, and the right was green. But it was her eyes that were the topic the current conversation.
“No splicing. Not for the eyes. I inherited a few mods, but nothing cosmetic. Just a weird coincidence,” Molly didn’t like talking about this. People made too big a deal out of it. She wanted to talk about something else. “How long have you been out here? Centauri is a long way away.”
He shook his head, “Just a few months, but seriously: your eyes are amazing. I’m not just saying that to hit on you.”
Molly frowned, ordered another drink, and tried one last time to take the conversation in a different direction, “So what brings you out here? You on your way to Procyon?”
“Oh yeah. Headed out there for work. Inner sphere colonies aren’t doing so well since there are no more resupplies from Earth. What about you?” He ordered a drink of his own.
“Oh, I live here. I work as an operator for a salvage fleet. We’re based out of this station,” she gestured to a window, “Lot of derelicts drifting out there by the Warp Stream, even today. Gonna take years to get it all cleaned up.”
“Oh yeah, saw that on the way in. Pretty grim stuff,” he raised his drink and Molly politely knocked hers against it. A small *thunk* of plastic hitting plastic and they drank.
The small talk continued, and Molly was glad that he was no longer complimenting her on her eyes. She’d heard it before. Too many times. From guys like him, who thought they were just the coolest, it wasn’t that it was so bad, just annoying. The worst were the refugees. They still came through every now and then, veterans of a war that had been over before Molly was even born. A war that had taken something that could not be replaced. They came through headed anywhere, stopped at the station to refuel and restock, and they ran into Molly. All throughout her childhood people would look at her, and gasp. Molly tried to avoid eye-contact with anyone over 50 now. If she didn’t, she just made people sad. They saw her eyes, they did a doubletake, and they started to cry. Not all of them of course, but enough.
She hated her eyes. Simple as that. Just hated them. She thought she might pay for an alteration one day when she could afford it. Other girls looking for vanity mods went in for things like boobs or butts or pheromones that smelled like cinnamon. She wanted her eyes to be a regular color. Maybe plain blue or brown. Anything would do really. Just as long as people would stop crying when they looked at her.
“So, I hate to ask…you probably get asked this all the time in fact…” the guy was saying. The hairs on the back of Molly’s neck bristled. She’d let slip that she lived here on a deep-space station, and now the guy was probably convinced that she was all alone in deep space and was just dying to jump the bone of any half-way decent looking spacer to pass through. One: she wasn’t alone, there were, like, twenty people living on station at least. True most of them were out and about usually, and she was often one of only two or three people on a station built to accommodate 100+. Still; hardly alone. Two: she wasn’t eager to jump any bones at all. She didn’t play that game. Some girls on the station did, but Molly had never really been into it. Heather who lived near the airlocks was. She loved to play that game. Maybe she’d let this guy down easy and point him in that direction.
“Can I get a picture. Of your eyes I mean.”
Molly slapped him. She didn’t know where it came from, but she slapped him hard. Hard enough to throw the Centaurian off balance and send him tumbling to the floor. The other spacers from his ship in the mess hall looked over in silence. The only sound was the whir of a service drone as it zipped over to ask if the Centaurian needed assistance. Molly turned on her heels and stormed out of the mess. Once out of sight she ran to her bunk, near the junkers’ hanger, and locked the door behind her. She threw herself onto her bed and began to cry.
Why had she hit him? Why did he have to ask that? Why did she have to have these stupid awful eyes.
She sobbed into a stuffed whatsit that was once an elephant, shaking with anger and not knowing what to do with it.
After a long time, maybe thirty minutes or an hour, she started wiping her face and her nose, and decided it was time to stop crying. She coughed and sniffled as she choked down the last tears, going over to her small bathroom to clean up. She splashed her face with cold water, letting the tears gurgle down the drain, and dried herself with a pleasantly fluffy towel. She looked up, at the face in the mirror. At the eyes that were mostly blue, with hints of green, and grey and brown. All of it arranged in such a way, that they just might resemble a vibrant, living planet.
One that no longer existed.