“For the first time, scientists have found a large, watery lake beneath an ice cap on Mars. Because water is essential to life, the discovery offers an exciting new place to search for life-forms beyond Earth.” — New York Times, 7/25/18

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The first word I learned in Earthling English was “hello.”

Shortly afterward, I learned the words “rise” and “condo.”

Back then, I didn’t understand the concept of an Earthling greeting, let alone a multi-tiered living facility. There was no need for such formalities here on Mars; we all just undulated as one happy, gelatinous Martian mass.

But a lot has changed in the days since it happened.

I am, of course, referring to your Earthling discovery of Lake Flurpzorp: the beautiful, subterranean body of water that many Martians, myself included, call home.

Before your space-boat took pictures of it, Lake Flurpzorp was a simple place. On an especially pitch-black day, you’d see Martian families going for a dip in its sub-zero acid water. Kids would build plasma-castles onshore and weep big, green tears when a smoking wave took them down.

The town was nothing glamorous, either. Mostly just Fuzwaqqle shops and the occasional Zibnib deli, their owners arguing loudly at all hours of the Martian sun-cycle. The noise gave it a certain energy, a buzz that carried your flagella to its rhythm. It wasn’t perfect, but it was alive. And it was ours.

Or at least it was, anyway.

As soon as you Earthlings heard the word “lake,” you came like a pack of ravenous Wuptups after a juicy piece of murplefunk. It didn’t take more than twelve hours before the rovers you had sent to “explore” our planet were laying down zoning tape for something called “The Villas at Mars Bay.” Twelve hours later and our streets were almost level.

I watched as you labeled our Fuzwaqqle shops “not up to code” and demolished them. I turned away as you did the same to the Zibnib deli. None of it took very long. After all, we Martians are only about an earth-millimeter tall and our buildings correspond to our size.

By the time another day had passed, the Lake Flurpzorp I knew was gone. In its place were hundreds of your sky-high cubes made of weird flat rocks and shiny see-through squares. Signs for earthling things like “brunch” and “kombucha” hung everywhere. The streets were quiet, save for the whir of the rover as it continued building a foreign city in the middle of my home.

It’s been less than a week since all of this began, and now I work in one of your Kombucha shops. I spend my days pouring tiny glasses of Kombucha for Martians who don’t even have mouths or gastrointestinal tracts. I go home to a sky-high cube where I sit inside another cube, longing for the Martian mass I used to sleep in. The only thing that brings me joy is placing one, quivering tendril on my see-through square as I stare at Lake Flurpzorp’s waters below. And even this is diminished by the sight of construction on a new sky-high cube that I know will eventually block my view.

Which is why, Christine from Avalon Holdings Group, the answer I am feeding to this letter translator is “no.” I am not interested in pursuing one of many real-estate opportunities in this vibrant, up-and-coming lakeside community.

That being said, prices starting in the lower 400’s do seem like a good deal.