“What do you mean, you broke up?” Demeter all but screamed in the message. Argh! This lag was killing her. She paced up and down her room. She needed to iron her clothes but her hands were trembling. After a couple of attempts and a burned finger she pushed the damn chore for tomorrow.

She stuck her finger in her mouth and sat on her chair, frowning.

The thought hadn’t even occurred to her. Those two bozos could simply break up, and poof, her thesis was gone. And she had already invested so much time and effort into it. Heck, it wasn’t even salvageable at this point, there was no conclusion, no information to extract. Trip and Persephone had allegedly broken up, and now she was thoroughly fucked.

She couldn’t wait for the lag, she called up Trip. As soon as he picked up, she went straight into crazy-chick mode. “Hey, what the fuck is Persephone telling me? You guys broke up? What the hell, dude?”

“Demeter, calm down,” Trip said on the phone. He had repeated the same thing a couple of times now.

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” she squealed at him. “Answer me.”

“I’m trying to. Yes, we had a fight. It happens way too often, I’m afraid,” Trip sighed.

“You didn’t tell me about the fighting during the interview,” Demeter protested.

“Yeah…” He trailed off and sounded ponderous. “We… Look, we get into fights all the time. We say mean things, we break up, block each other, ignore each other’s calls… It’s what you do when you’re far away, you know?”

Demeter scrunched up her nose and propped up the phone on her desk. She gestured with both hands, touching thumb and index finger. “Trip. My dear boy, Triptolemus. If you guys break up, I’m fucked. I’m not trying to be selfish here, I actually am bummed out that you had a fight. But I stuck my neck out with you two and now you’re telling me, you’re just done? Finito?”

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“Finito,” Trip agreed with a deep sigh.

“No! No finito. No-no-no, man. You get on that phone, and you call her up, and you say you’re sorry and you’re an idiot and that you want her back and that you love her from here all the way to the stars, got it?”

There was a pause.

“Trip. Fucking answer me.” Demeter was looming over the phone on the desk, feeling her veins ready to pop out of her forehead.

A grumble and another pause. “Demeter, she’s gonna get pregnant,” he said with a pain evident in his voice.

Demeter deflated on the chair. She blinked. “Oh, fuck.” She rubbed her eyes. “Oh, man, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah…” Trip said, acting all brave and strong, but his voice broke.

Demeter didn’t know what to say. “D-Do you need a friend? Want me to come over, talk it through?” she stuttered.

Another pause. She could imagine Trip looking away into the distance, a bit upwards. She had seen him do that when he was pensive, like staring at the sunsets. He swallowed. “Thanks. Uh… Perhaps tomorrow. I appreciate it, really.”

He hung up.

Demeter sat there blinking. There she was, thinking about her stupid thesis when they had actual, adult problems to deal with. A life! She would bring a life into this world. Okay, into the generation ship, but still. Her friend, her confidante. She had mentioned the trips to the doctor and the medical exams but it hadn’t sunk in apparently. Demeter knew that the entire generation aboard the ship was expected to breed, but the reality was that she hadn’t really understood the consequences.

Persephone’s message finally came through. “Sweetie, I need to tell you what happened. It’s bad. Do you have the time?”

Demeter smiled bitterly and sent a message back. “Of course, dear. I’m here, tell me everything.”

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