Emil was thinking thoughts he rarely thought about.
These were thoughts you only thought about when your friends abandon you and due to the lack of having something better to do you decide to sit outside on the balcony and reevaluate your life but you immediately regret that in the background is a late cloudy night and not the sun in transition, rising or setting, or even a stationary sun somewhere back there, so you wonder if you would enjoy waking up at sunrise and doing your thinking then, decide not at all, and thus decide to leave your thinking alone until sunset the next day if you can get out of work on time. And since you have nothing left to think about, you think about the thoughts that Emil was busy thinking about.
Inora was asleep nearby, on the extra mattress Emil had in his storeroom, a remnant from the days before Emil had bought his current mattress. So, his old mattress. Inora was asleep nearby on Emil’s old mattress.
Emil had laid down on top of the new mattress, which was on top of Emil’s bed. Inora, used to travels, used to sleeping on a new bed every night, was asleep just as soon as she had dragged the mattress out of the storeroom and into Emil’s room. Emil was hoping they could talk a while longer and felt like this was Inora’s revenge for Monday night.
He tossed and turned around his bed, struggling to find the right position, and so he got up from his bed and headed out to the balcony.
Both Inora and he had suppressed their curiosities and not teleported back to Earth to see what was going on. Inora wanted to remain focused on the job at hand, and Emil wanted to settle in at the Planet. But his three-room apartment and a balcony with a view instead of a window without a view did little to make him miss Earth less. He thought about all the reasons that had made him leave the Planet in the first place. The mundane regularity of life at the Planet was in striking contrast to the whimsical life that the crazies had developed at Earth.
It started even before the crazies had anything to do with Earth. During construction, while Earth’s orbit around the sun was being calibrated, the engineer in charge of the operation thought it would be nifty little innovation to add two degrees of eccentricity to the orbit instead of a perfect circle, and while the Earth was finally being place in its position, one of the axles holding it upright broke and tilted the entire structure by some 23.5 degrees. And that, really, made all the difference.
Life on Earth varied from one moment to another instead of blending into one another.
The days in a month varied between 28 days and 31 days, instead of a uniform 30 days in the Planet. The days were grouped together into 7-day weeks, but the days of a month could rarely be divided by a week (only during three in every forty-eight months was this possible) but no one seemed to be the least bothered by it. 60 seconds made a minute and 60 minutes made an hour, but 60 hours made two and a half days. And 60 days sometimes meant less than 2 months but often meant more. And 60 months made both 5 years and 5 dozen months because a dozen meant 12. Unless it was a baker’s dozen, which was 13. 13 was also considered an unlucky number, but this superstition did not spread to the bakers, who were generally very well regarded by the Earthians for supplying a nutritious and tasty food for the people. And the capitalists said that bakers should be loved and appreciated for what they did for societies even if they were all selfish pricks, and the socialists said that a baker should enjoy the full benefits of his or her labor, and the anarchists believed that you should just leave the bakers alone and let them focus on improving their craft in whatever way they preferred, and Emil could get behind all three opinions, but he knew that a capitalist baker and a socialist baker and an anarchist baker would never agree with him.
At the Planet, each day was about 50 Earthhours which meant that working-hours were twice as long but they still only had one lunch break. When you woke up one day on the wrong side of the bed, the day went on forever. There was twice as much time to fill every day and not even half as many things to fill the days up with. The short and crisp days on Earth were godsent.
And leap years! Leap years were Emil’s absolute favorite. The enterprise of Earthians. Instead of calibrating their calculations better when the available technology became available, they just decided that – they would not. And that was that. They chose to use the wrong date for 75 percent of their lives and pull a day out of a hat every 4 years to put them on the right track again – until that year came to an end.
He was almost sad.
Then he remembered that during the many years he spent at Earth, his salary from Zara Advertising had accumulated in his bank account while he lived off his salary from Proverbial Advertising. He did some quick calculations and concluded that he was a rich man. Rich enough to rent anything he wanted, within bounds, and for a reasonable period of time.
Being in such a glum mood was terribly unbecoming of someone of wealth.
He left the balcony and went back to his room in a better mood.
Inora was softly mewing to herself in her sleep. Emil stood by and heard her have a whole conversation in mew. Then he went to bed.