Clio was slightly surprised to hear from Jean only several weeks after she had left his house so abruptly. Against her better judgment, she agreed to see him, but insisted he travel downtown to her. She was looking out her window at the muddled horizon, mindlessly fiddling with her lit cigarette, when she heard the knock at the door.
"Come in, it's open," she called.
She heard him enter behind her, but she didn't turn around, afraid that healing wounds would be reopened by looking at him. "What do you want?"
He closed the door behind him, but didn't come any closer to her. "The Pioneer 2 leaves for Ragol in a month, the official announcement is being released tomorrow," he said.
"I can make sure there's a space for you on board. I want you to come with me."
Clio finally turned her head to look at him. He still looked exhausted, and she was concerned; however, she maintained her distance from him, both physically and emotionally. "How are they deciding who gets on the ship?" she asked.
"A group of government officials and military leaders have already been selected. Scientists, doctors, and hunters were next."
"And everyone else?"
Jean scratched his ear and looked away from her. "Civilians will be chosen using a lottery system based on their ID numbers."
"I'll take my chances," she said, as she turned back to the window and put the cigarette to her lips.
"How can you say that?" He started to cross the room to move towards her, but another look from the blue-haired woman stopped him in his tracks. "We don't know how long it will be until the Pioneer 3 is ready. Coral could collapse by then." For the first time, Clio thought she saw tears forming in his deep blue eyes, now ringed with red. "You could die before getting off this planet," he said sadly. "Please come with me."
Clio inhaled on the cigarette again and thought carefully before answering. "I'm assuming that they're not putting you up in civilians' quarters, of course."
"And if I come on board specifically with you, I'll be living with you, right?"
She laughed bitterly. "Nothing will have changed. I'll still be sitting around by myself, staring at the walls, wondering when you're going to be home. I'm not going to commit myself to years of loneliness."
He looked guilty. "You'd have the girls..." he offered.
Clio's eyes grew wide and she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Elenor and Ult may be enough for you, but they're not for me." She extinguished the cigarette in a nearby ashtray and contemplated lighting another. "I appreciate your offer, I really do, but I'm going to have to decline."
"Please - "
She put her hand up, cutting him off. "If I get selected, I'll go, and hope that some of my friends make it, too. If not, I'll just keep on doing what I've always done and whatever happens, happens."
The doctor made one last attempt to change her mind. "If you don't get on that ship, it could be your death sentence."
"I know." She could tell how sincere he was, and she briefly wondered if she was making the right decision. "I don't doubt that you care about me, but I know you care about other things more. Coming in second or third to you isn't the life I want."
As much as he wanted to, Jean couldn't deny her accusations. "Wherever you wind up, I hope you find someone who can make you happy." He opened the door to leave. "Goodbye, Clio."
"Goodbye, Jean," she said for what she knew could be the last time. After the door closed, she resumed staring out the window at the dismal sky, not knowing how much more time she had on her home planet.