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№ 2.
The Florist

4AM EST and it's finally calm. The acid storm subsided an hour ago, toxic fume that followed took another 30 minutes before loosening up its grip. A typical night on Venus, I was told, and it's not without benefit: no worries about windows getting dirty.
Volumes of vapor still lingers and visible in the air but the system indicates that it's safe now. Environmental lockdown lifted, alarm is silent, and the blaring red light had faded into white.
I can see the city now.
When the residents told me that watching the storm from inside the Barrier is a ritual every new settler needs to go through, I was quick to dismiss it. "Cool but I think I'll pass." My coat, my jacket, and my shirt each has a hole that can be seen through because of an acid raindrop hanging on the hanger ceiling decided to welcome me on my first day. Seeing the acid rain streaking down on the other side of the glass makes me anxious.
That was a month ago. Now, far away in L1, the Shard had already cleared off from the surrounding vapor, lights from its cells are now flickering from temperature gradient, instead of being scattered by acid droplets in the air. "It still stands.." I thought to myself while my eyes are gradually taking in more details of the city, just like zooming in on the cellular structure of my plants.
Knowing that it stood firm and the fact that me and my plants are still breathing with our molecules unaltered is comforting. This is the charm of storm-watching on Venus, by appreciating safety inside the Barrier, and the continuity of life.
The city is clear as ever now, even the Ruins and the desert can be seen. Usually they are covered by heavy smug and accumulated toxic fallout. The power of the storm seems to have wiped out everything outside the Barrier and washed off all the dust, showing the actual sand dunes underneath.
It's beautiful.
I grabbed the blanket and dug in on top of my preparation shelf, a little bit annoyed that I forgot to make tea and order a cushion set. I started fixing my eyes and mind through the 3-tonne blast-proof window, looking into the night.

Ryan Tang, 16042020
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