The Space Race

Entry by: odgemob

22nd January 2016
"I think every child of my generation wanted to be an astronaut at some point..." You say this with a distant smile, one arm folded across your stomach your hand cradling a wine glass with only the dregs left. "Well, we were growing up in the midsts of the space race. It was an exciting time."

And your long-legged daughters giggle with a kind of fond disbelief in their eyes. Presumably it strikes them as amusing to think of your soul all bundled up in the body of an overexcited 8 year old with a 1969 haircut and a hole in his jumper.

But something in you is singing a song of nostalgia tonight. You don't know what caused it. Maybe it was your daughters and how suddenly you see that not even the youngest is a child any more, her straightened hair, her adult laughter and the way that she sets the table and dries the cutlery without being asked.
Maybe it was the phone-call from your brother, Tom. The way that he tried not to worry you, the words he used: "Just a few tests. Just to be on the safe side. Nothing to worry about but just thought I'd let you know..."The way that the worry needled down the line all the same. Static in the silences. Your brother breathing.
Maybe it was just Christmas. The cold, clear nights and the promise of snow.

You don't particularly want the memories, but suddenly there they are. Your childhood spins itself into the kitchen and stares you in the face.

You and Tom, crouched by the black and white television with your parents. The four of you transfixed, your breath as one, held by the magic of the man on the moon.
That summer you were all astronauts. You space raced each other around the living room and acres of stars swum at your heels. Rocks in the park were moon dust and you and Tom bounced yourselves to zero gravity until you broke the spring of your bed and your mother's lipsticked mouth screeched into an angry circle when she saw what you'd done. She slapped you both, but not so hard that it hurt.

You thought you were living on the brink of the future. How did you not notice that the footage was in black and white? All you wanted was to swim through time and milky ways in a bright white space suit. All you wanted was to run as fast as a rocket and have fire came out of the backs of your shoes. All you wanted was a walkie talkie or a parachute or a telescope or an alien.

One time you made yourself a space helmet out of a saucepan and when Tom stole it and wouldn't give it back you pulled his legs from under him and he fell and broke his arm. You both cried and cried on the way to the hospital, him with the pain and you with the guilt.

Lightyears have not passed since then.
No time at all really.
And yet. Still. You grow old.

You never became an astronaut of course.
And you realise with sudden clarity that your life has been as most are:
No step at all for mankind. But, for one man, what a giant leap.