By Jude-Marie Green
One rocket lumbers along to the launchpad. Earth-bound and clumsy now, gorgeous with potential. It’s yours. You’re the last. You should be proud of that.
You are lucky to get one, they say. The program’s defunded and there’s nothing afterwards. Forget all the money spent on training you, on building those rockets.
We’re done. Someone else will carry the flame. China, France, India. But not the red, white, and blue.
You fit the uniform; you fill the capsule. Go flight! The rockets flare and acceleration g-forces seem to push you into Mother Earth’s arms, snugging you into her bosom. A farewell hug before you cut the apron strings.
Into the mic you mouth the expected words. Country, God, family. Unspoken are the superlatives that occupy your mind. Best. Most. Greatest.
You mouth more words, you trained monkey. You’re not even sure which words they are, because you’re thinking of your family. Your husband, your grown children, your parents. Your friends, colleagues, students. People who know you, love you, understand your dreams. All these people, all that support. Will it be such a great loss in your life when the end of the program takes space away from you?
Yes. And yes. And yes.
You decide. No, you decided some time ago. You aren’t returning home. Ship’s batteries will last a while, your air a while longer. If they chase, they’ll chase you to the stars. You push a button. Ad astra.