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January 3rd, 2038


Bit of a sad day. All of the crew got sprung from the Recovery Center today, except me. I'll be on my own for another five days while I finish my recovery and rehabilitation. Commander Lewis and the rest of the crew talked about sticking around so I wouldn't be on my own, but I told them not to be stupid. They've been away from their families for nearly three years, and it's not like I can't see Mom and Dad every day while they hang out in Florida with me.


Vogel especially had to get out of here. His mom is still alive for now, barely, but she's in a coma. If the Hermes hadn't made the Rich Purnell Maneuver, they would have made it home in plenty of time for him to see her before she lost consciousness, and she might still have been able to recognize him. (Of course I'd be, y'know, dead). We all could see him trying to keep up the stoic German thing while we were being checked out by the doctors, but I knew he was in agony about it.


At least Martinez is doing better. I didn't see him when he was reunited with his little boy David after we'd landed, but he was looking pretty down when we met in the Recovery Center's common room later. How the hell must it feel to arrive home, the baby you'd left behind now a little boy, who doesn't recognize his daddy? He's gradually reconnected with the kid, but it took a few days (the ice cream party Christmas Eve helped).


Makes me glad I'm single. Though apparently there's a great many women who'd like to correct that, at least going by the messages on my Facebook page. A remarkable number of them appear to be both Russian, and clones of each other, at least going by the pictures on their (otherwise blank) home pages.


All of this pales beside me having to deal with Lewis and her self-imposed guilt trip over leaving me behind. She's been pretty much second guessing every decision she made during the entire mission, in anticipation of the inevitable Congressional hearings about the accident that left me behind on Mars. A typical conversation with her goes like this:


LEWIS: It was a storm. I should have made sure we were all roped together for safety while we made our way to MAV.


ME: We didn't have any rope.


LEWIS: We could have made some from Hab canvas, like you did.


ME: And by the time we finished that, the MAV would have fallen over.


LEWIS: Or we could have used …


ME: Listen, even if we were roped together, I would have still gotten speared by the com antenna, and then you would have had to figure out whether to stay on the ground while Beck stitched the wound shut, or launched with the rod still sticking out of me. Want to take bets on how the first zero-g emergency surgery in history would have gone, inside that dinky cabin?


LEWIS: But…


ME: You made the decision you made with the information you had. Every bit of data at that moment said I was dead, okay? If you had stayed and kept looking for me, then either Martinez would have launched, leaving us both behind without enough supplies or potatoes to hold out until Sol 549, or worse, the MAV would have tipped, everybody else would have died when the fuel tanks cracked open and exploded, and we would have still been stuck on Mars.


LEWIS: ...yes.


ME: We're done this conversation. Seriously this time.


LEWIS: Okay.


I know she was just decompressing after commanding what had to be the most nerve wracking mission since Apollo 13 but Christ it drove me nuts. I'm honestly a bit glad she's gone back home now. Seriously, she was even talking about how she should have done the spacewalk herself, instead of letting Beck, our EVA specialist, do it. Which would have been nice and dramatic, but stupid.


Speaking of Beck, and Johanssen, at least they're still getting along well. They let the rest of us know on the QT that after spending a couple of weeks with their respective families, they're going to publicly announce their engagement. Which is great for them, and also kinda nice for me. I'm looking forward to the press getting off my back and finding something else to talk about. After the press conference disaster on the way home from Mars, no one has suggested me doing a Q&A again.


Hmm, I wonder if I could set up an AMA on Reddit though. Something to think about.


Anyway, I've got a doctor hovering over me to get back to work walking the parallel bars. More later.


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