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The Baker of Mars and the Banquet of Ancestors by Steven Bergmark

I am the steward of Mars. You can find me in the tallest hole of the solar system: a caldera atop Olympus Mons. Every year, the caldera deepens a couple centimeters, and my view of the sky shrinks just slightly more.

My father held this post, and my father’s father before him. It will take another 500 years, the work of churning the mantle of Mars, exciting the liquid iron within and reviving the magnetic shield needed to resuscitate her after millenia of cold sleep.

I am the baker of Mars. I operate the largest kitchenaid this side of the meteor belt. My children, and my children’s children, will be bakers.

They sent me a spouse, who herself was in a cold sleep as she made her journey from the blue-green marble to me. She’s been here a year already, actually. When I first laid eyes on her, I figured she could sleep a while longer. I could tell right away she must have an astonishing personality. She just has to. This will be a sore spot between us, when I eventually wake her up. I’ll need an excuse of some kind, some kind of depression I was buried in, unique to this rusted planet. Or my rover went kaput, somewhere out on the shallow slopes of the mountain. I need to go for a drive every once and a while. You understand, I’ll say, you must understand that.

When the work is done, year by year, the temperature will eke higher. Slowly, the little microbes will sputter back to life, and my descendants will lay down the whisks and bowls to take up the microscope and the beakers. Earth will mail us seeds, and they will take up the rakes and spades also. Scientists and farmers both, tillers of the ruby planet and close studies of the tiny pharaohs of Mars.

When I turn 65, my son or daughter will put me to sleep, and I will awaken when the work is complete, and I will meet my children yet again, and my children’s children, and my father, and my father’s father. There will be a party, a verdant party.

As long as my spouse doesn’t kill me.


Steven Bergmark lives and writes in Chicago. He teaches high school English and humanities on the south side. You can find more of his work in Sinking City. Twitter: @BergmarkSteven

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