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  • Writer's pictureRachael Twumasi-Corson

Ships

Some drink wine on bad days. I choose music. Shimmy my shoulders, wiggle my waist and feel problems fade away, for 3 minutes and 40 seconds at least.


That day, I was drowning out the news as I often did. Music on full blast. Broom in hand. Bellowing out my mother’s favourite song, following the OmniClean and sweeping the hall with my corn-husk broom because the cleaner bots always leave a trail of crushed rice behind them. Despite all their microchips and AI power, they still can't sweep properly.


Nobody wanna see you rising.

And when they do, they don't even like it.

They just wanna see you deep in crisis.

Drive yourself, you don't need a licence.


 “This song, man! Some old school tunes.” Kweku said, walking in unannounced.

  

“Kweku!” I jumped as he approached.


He laughed. “Only you would sweep after the hoover.”


I kissed my teeth.  “It doesn’t get all the jollof bits. What are you doing here?”


“I told you I’d be round before lunchtime.” He said, wrapping his arm around my shoulders and squeezing tight for just a moment. “Martie, you love this nonsense music.”


“It’s got a good beat.” I frowned at him. “What do you want? When you turn up unannounced, you always want something that you know I’d air if you messaged me.”


He chuckled.  “These lyrics though.” His voice went high as he laughed. I loved that about him. His deep voice first attracted me, but his high-pitched amusement finally won my heart after months of his chasing.


“It’s got a good beat, I don’t think about lyrics. My friend, why are you dodging the question?”


“Friend yeah.” He grinned at me and laughed again. “But really? Deep in crisis? Why would people want to see you deep in crisis? That’s extreme, who hated that Fuse don that much?”


I listened to the music for a second.


We wanna walk over them haters.

Now watch me do my Azonto, Azonto, Azonto


“It’s really not that deep.” I shrugged and switched off the music then spun round to face him. “You are here because...?”


“Martie, it’s getting real now.” Just like that, all hint of humour was gone from his face. “Which ship you going on?”


“Kweks, you know the answer.”


“Actually, I don’t.” He took the broom from my hands and set it down. I’d forgotten I was holding it, wondered if it was just an excuse for him to touch me. He knew what his slightest touch did to me. Judging by the way he looked at me, he knew my skin was tingling and I was struggling to focus.


He smiled for a minute, cleared his throat. “This is stupid. Nation ships are the dumbest idea since all those old white men got together and drew lines on a map.”


“The planet has a decade left at best. We have to choose and leave or-”


“Yes, yes, yes. I’ve heard the propaganda. You know what, forget the ships. Don’t even tell me. Why don’t we just stay?” He asked, narrowing his eyebrows conspiratorially. “No stupid separation based on where you were born or what kinda paper has your picture on it.”


“A passport is more than a piece of paper with a picture.”


He took my hand.


I hesitated then pulled away. “I hate this too, you know. And staying here is a death wish.”

His eyes lit. “So, you’ll come with me?”


“Nah. Your ship is dry. Come with me. We’ve got Afro beats, amapiano and the ship food processor makes better jollof than your mum-”


“Who will be on the British ship,” he interrupted, rubbing his brow.


“She will?” I was genuinely shocked. Now it hit me. I finally got why he was being so serious. I had a choice. He didn’t. This wasn’t about the flavour of the food or the type of music in the lifts on-board.


“Martie, have you been straight up airing my HoloApps?” He shook his head.


“That thing’s overwhelming. I don’t check it.” I felt pathetic.


“This is the 'final evacuation effort.' It's everywhere. All they talk about is the evactuation on the news that you ignore. We’ve got a few more days to decide. If we’re even lucky enough to get that long. If we’re going, we have to choose a ship now. Most people have deserted this god forsaken planet already. It's getting messy out there.”



I froze. Feeling as utterly powerless as when I first heard the news. I’d just graduated from the world’s top engineering academy with a Distinction in my MEng. My hard work had paid off and the world was my oyster... Except it was bye-bye world. So bye-bye oyster.


No time for graduation parties. On went the tannoys and the government broadcast the warning across the sky screens. Even with my commitment to being a hermit, I couldn't avoid news this big.


Asteroid impact in two years. Chance of survival at current ozone strength under 0.5%.


Just like that, Earth became a refugee planet. Two weeks later, just outside of the Milky Way, a star system was offering us asylum on an old garbage disposal planet where the main waste products were dehydrogenated oxygen and nitrogen. Almost too good to be true. The not so good news was that the trip would take bare light years, so I would be about 97 when we arrived. 


“You have a choice. I don’t,” he said, echoing what I’d just figured out.


“What?” If I acted dumb maybe it wouldn’t be real.


“We never sorted our Ghanaian citizenship. Visas weren’t too bad, and mum thought we’d stay around in Britain, so there was no point.”


I sighed. “So, I guess that leaves it on me.”


“Guess so,” he said. He reached to take my hand.


I squeezed his, enjoying the butterflies, then turned the music back up. 


My choice wasn’t easy, but it was the only real option.

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