Ronnie waited outside the new boy’s cryosleep pod, barely keeping herself from bouncing up and down. She wasn’t supposed to be here–Mom had told her to let the new settlers get settled before she started pestering them. But she couldn’t wait. She wanted to meet James P. Morgan.
She traced the nameplate on his pod. He was twelve, only two years older than her. Maybe he’d be her friend. She’d never had a friend before.
The pod beeped. Ronnie bit her fingertips. This was it.
The lid hissed open, and James sat up. He was wearing the same gray jumpsuit that Ronnie had on. His short dark hair stuck up in the back, and he was thin and pale from the cryosleep. He blinked at her. "Who are you?"
He wrinkled his nose. "That’s not a girl’s name."
"It’s short for Veronica."
"Oh," James said. "I’m Jim."
"I’m very pleased to meet you." Ronnie extended her hand. "Want me to help you out of there?"
Jim’s legs were wobbly, and he leaned on Ronnie’s shoulder. Joy curled in her belly.
"Are there any other kids here?" Jim asked.
Ronnie shook her head. "Nope. Just me. Just us, now. None of the other scientists have kids. Dr. Marie is pregnant, though."
Jim nodded. "I knew someone was. My dad’s excited to deliver the first Martian baby." He looked around the room. "Where is everyone else?"
"All the pods are spread out so that people can get their bearings before they meet anyone." Ronnie blushed and stared at her feet. "I’m not supposed to be here."
"Oh," said Jim. "Well, I’m glad you are. I’d have fallen on my face if not for you."
Ronnie grinned. Jim’s balance was getting better, but she didn’t want to rush him. It was nice, having someone lean on her. "There’s a lot of cool stuff to see," she said. "I know a secret way into the greenhouses."
They reached the hall, and Ronnie’s mom spotted them. "There you are! What do you think you’re doing! I can’t believe you! You’ve invaded this poor boy’s privacy! You’re grounded for the next week, young lady."
Ronnie wanted to melt into the floor. Grounded! But she wanted to show Jim around the station!
"I don’t mind," Jim said. "Really. I’m glad she was here."
Mom’s glare softened. "She really shouldn’t have bothered you right after you woke up from cryosleep."
"Please don’t ground her, ma’am," he said. "She promised to show me around."
"Well, if you really don’t mind, then I suppose I won’t ground her. Come on, honey. You’ve got chores."
Ronnie was grinning so hard that her cheeks hurt. She had a friend.