'I had one just like it.'
'You did, grand-papa?'
'Ryder...the Winter of '47 we...'
'The others are waiting for me, grand-papa.'
'Well..wait now.. let me draw you a flight plan on the back of this napkin.'
'Hurry, they're waiting.'
'You haven't got your mittens, Sugar.'
'Ok. There. See?' She was burning up inside her protective suit.
'Let's see,' he dictated, glasses on the edge of his nose, '..down Gosport Hill, across 3rd - I'll go that far to look both ways - over the Collin's frozen swimming pool....you had a second and third helping of beans tonight?..you can fire your afterburners and skim across the dry lake bed of Armstrong's crater kicking up some minor dust - wear shades, it's a full moon - reach the south side of Mars in a free-falling glide down soft layered hills - avoid the Valles Marineris, that's a steep crevice - orbit once for a gravitational boost, and you should be back before dark.'
He was confused now. She looked at the old astronaut and he was crying. It both fascinated and embarrassed her. She'd never seen a grown man cry before. She took the napkin and was awed by the Picasso scribble. She looked down at her pink boots in embarrassment. Then, looking up at him sitting there at the kitchen table her eyes met his and it looked to her for a moment that he did not recognize his surroundings.
'I have my mittens - see?' She tried to help with quivering voice on the verge of tears herself.
He dropped to his knees, unfastened and re-fastened her boots with her snow suit legs tucked in. To protect the small child from the barren vacuum of space he told himself.
Outside, her impatient friends called her like a rookery of penguins calling their mother.
'Tatyana? T a t Y A N A A A!'
She looked at him.
She kissed his cheek.
He lit a lantern and sat at the bay window. Looking out towards the east it had stopped snowing. The lantern went dark while he waited the two hours for the glorious rise of the full moon. His full moon. He prayed quietly that the undercarriage of the Flyer would withstand the piercing heat of re-entry. And he heard children laughing.
Posted over on his site A Vagabond's Sketchbook
Listed as #90 over on Magpie Tales 44