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One Martian Afternoon
written by "Leahy, Tom"
... filled with the odors of the wonderful edibles the old Martian had created on and in the Earth-made stove. She opened the Earth-made refrigerator that stood in the corner and withdrew an Earth-made bottle filled with Martian apple juice. Marilou jumped up on the table and sat cross-legged. "Here, dear." Aunt Twylee handed her a glass of the icy liquid. "Ummm, thanks," Marilou said, and gulped down half the contents. "That tastes dreamy, Aunt Twylee." The little girl watched the old Martian as she lit the oven and gathered the necessary ingredients for the cobbler. As she bent over to get a bowl from the shelf beneath Marilou's perch, her hair brushed against the child's knee. Her hair was soft, soft and white as a puppy's, soft and white like the down from a dandelion. She smiled at Marilou. She always smiled; her pencil-thin mouth was a perpetual arc. Marilou drained the glass. "Aunt Twylee—is it true what my daddy says about the Martians?" "True? How can I say, dear? I don't know what he said." "Well, I mean, that when us Earth people came, you Martians did inf ... infan ..." "Infanticide?" Aunt Twylee interrupted, rolling the dough on the board a little flatter, a little faster. "Yes, that's it—killed babies," Marilou said, and took an apple from the bowl. "My daddy says you were real primitive, an' killed your babies for some silly religious reason. I think that's awful! How could it be religious? God couldn't like to have little babies killed!" She took a big bite of the apple; the juice ran from the corners of her mouth. "Your daddy is a very intelligent man, Marilou, but he's partially wrong. It is true—but not for religious reasons. It was a necessity. You must remember, dear, Mars is very arid—sterile—unable to sustain many living things. It was awful, but it was the only way we knew to control the population." Marilou looked down her button n...

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