Jim zoned out a little during the speeches. He listened while Ronnie’s dad got up and talked for a while about the purpose of the colony–about exploration and the indomitable human spirit. It was the same sort of thing that Ronnie’s dad always went on about. Jim’s lips twitched. He really liked Ronnie’s dad. But the scientist’s speeches about what the crevasse could mean got a little tedious.
He glanced at his mom. She was still there. He could barely believe that his dad hadn’t called her away for something. Maybe things really were changing.
She saw him looking at her and beamed at him.
Finally, it was time for his speech. He looked out over the crowd of friendly faces. He spotted Don in the back.
Jim’s knees shook. He’d tried to get out of this, but Ronnie had insisted.
The crazy girl thought that speeches were fun. Jim hoped that he wouldn’t embarrass himself too badly.
"When my dad decided to bring my family to Mars, I wasn’t sure what to think. We’ve always moved a lot, but I’d never even thought about leaving the Earth behind.
"The year before we left, my grandmother took me on a whirlwind tour of the planet. She wanted to convince me to stay with her. That didn’t happen, but I did get to see some amazing things on Earth.
"But I’ve seen some amazing things on Mars, too. Ronnie and I were the first two humans to see the Valor Crevasse. Standing there, looking at it was one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had. There aren’t many new places to find on Earth.
"But my favorite thing about Mars is the people. There’s an incredible sense of community in this colony. You’ve all made me feel welcome from the moment I opened my eyes here, and I want to thank you for that.
"And most of all, I want to thank Ronnie. She’s the best friend I’ve ever had, and without her, I never would have had the courage to wander off of the path, and the Valor Crevasse would still be unknown."
Applause thundered around him. His mom’s cheeks were wet. Ronnie squeezed his hand. "Told you speeches are fun," she whispered.