It was a standard letter-sized envelope. Sarah handed it to David and sat down beside him on the floor. She resumed untangling a massive pile of Christmas lights.

David gave her a suspicious look before pulling two official looking forms from the envelope. He glanced at the titles and squinted at Sarah again. "You've got to be kidding, right? You want us to be a part of the Mars colony mission?"

"It's all you talk about," said Sarah.

"I'll ask you again. You want to join the Mars colony?"

"Yeah, I mean, why not?"

David gave a smirk. "To begin, there is a vetting process for essential qualities such as aptitude, usefulness, dependability---compatibility. It's a one-way ticket, that sort of thing, you know. But as you so casually put it, what the heck, why not?"

"Imagine watching a red sandstorm by the dome window while listening to a Bach concerto," Sarah swooned, "who isn't geek enough to want that?"

"What about the cat?"

Sarah frowned. "I didn't think---but simple enough. We'll just request another application, fill it out and press her paw print to it."

David stared at their dismal project. The tangled Christmas lights lay in front of them like a mound of storm-tossed seaweed on the beach.

"I can see you're not enthused," said Sarah.

"Who packed this box of lights last year? I am not saying much but it sure wasn't me."

"Pretend we're on Mars, saving Christmas."

"Tell you what?" David got up and took his jacket from the couch. "What about I go to our local big box store and get us some brand new tangle-free lights?"

"No. These lights will sort out just fine, you’ll see. Sit down. Help me." Sarah struck a gloomy note as she untangled, "You sure don’t want to go to Mars all of a sudden."

"Please, please, please." David sat back down on the floor, where Sarah plucked at loose ends. To him the mound now resembled an organism, with stinging tendrils reaching out. "Look," said he. "I'll gladly spend the entire night untangling these lights just to make you happy. Can we, however, change the subject?"

Sarah was quiet for a minute. Her voice came out small and almost too quiet to hear. "Can you just dream with me a bit?"

"We're just not space mission material." David said this while fidgeting with an electric cord. He plugged and unplugged it several times from another cord end. Then something came over him. His expression brightened. He connected the cords one last time before dropping them and picking up two more to connect. After that, he leaned over the pile of Christmas seaweed, excited to connect any loose ends he could find.

"Stop it," said Sarah. "You are just making it more difficult to sort this stuff out."

He got to his knees, connecting more ends. "Don't you know what it looks like to have somebody dream with you?" he said. "Connect these these with me you, you pretty... Space Cadet Sarah, you."

The cat got involved and grabbed at the pile here and there where David worked. Sarah felt sure she didn't understand, but she helped anyway. Digging together, they matched ends, working joyously at first, and then madly. Once finished, David closed the window blinds and Sarah stretched the last plug-end to the wall.

"Wait, wait for it!" David turned off the room lights. "Okay, now."

With a spark, the half-untangled pile of Christmas lights winked to electric life. Reds and yellows, greens, whites, and blues mingled in a Christmas tangle. Then, the twinkling began.

"Looks pretty," said Sarah.

"Not quite done yet." David grabbed the lights from the center and gave the whole pile a twist. He let it go and stood up to appraise the effect. The lengths of cord radiated now in a swirl frozen in time. Both he and Sarah felt they were standing, floating together, over a mass of stars, a distant galaxy.

"Oh!" said Sarah.

"And if you ask me," said David kneeling and touching one tiny pink globe in the midst. "I am pretty sure we're right here."

Sarah moved closer and gasped. "I can see us."

END