“Are you sure you want to do this?”
Edna looked up at the team leader, whose brown eyes were narrowed on her face in concern. It wasn’t the first look she’d received since volunteering to join the mission. Not only was she the oldest woman ever to go into space, she was going to be part of the first American team to land on Mars. And though she was loathe to admit it, she couldn’t blame people for worrying. Sixty-five wasn’t exactly an ideal age to travel the galaxy.
“Astronaut” had never been a regular part of Edna’s vocabulary until a year ago, when her good-for-nothing, scumbag of a husband finally ate his last quadruple cheeseburger and followed that cow to the other side, leaving Edna free for the first time in almost fifty years. Of course, Edna preferred the term “explorer” to “astronaut.” The latter sounded too pretentious when used in everyday conversation, such as at the grocery store or a trailer park community picnic. Not that she’d been to either any time recently. No, Edna hadn’t stepped out of the NASA training center for what seemed like months, now. Ever since NASA had requested volunteers.
“You know there’s still time to change your mind,” said the director as he handed her a helmet that matched her G-suit.
“What, you still think that just because I’m older than you and dumber than you, that I don’t have what it takes?” She could only take so much concern before it really started to get on her nerves.
“Now, Edna, you know I don’t think that. All of us on the team have watched you prove yourself in every test you’ve been given. Why, you kicked butt on the flight simulator. And the underwater walk was a piece of cake. I’m just worried that centrifuge training might be a little more difficult to handle. We’ve never had anyone with your particular...um...characteristics go past four g’s. And you know you need to get past 6 to be able to go.”
That was the end of the line. Edna hadn’t spent the last five decades being trampled into her trailer home’s threadbare carpet just to let some teenage-looking, know-it-all mission leader tell her what she already knew. She was too old, too stupid, and too blonde. Even if it was from a bottle to cover the gray.
Edna’s gaze raked over him in irritation. “Watch me, little boy.”
With that parting remark, she pulled the helmet over her head, clipped it shut, and stalked off to the centrifuge.
Watching her walk away with an attitude the size of Mount St. Helens, Gary Williams, team leader for MM1, Mars Mission One, struggled not to laugh. She was a tough old broad, but she hadn’t experienced anything like this before.