by Angela Kempe
Sylvia clutched the tattered picture of her eight-year-old son to her breast. She closed her eyes and imagined her boy, long and gangly, smiling up at her. He wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up. She bought him a telescope so they could gaze at the stars and they spent their summer nights imagining what life might exist beyond their solar system, studying the great scientists who dreamed like them, of uncovering the mysteries of the universe.
“You can be whatever you want to be,” she used to tell him. “Life is a blank canvas and you can paint any picture you want on it.”
But he already felt a feverish passion in his heart for science and decided that he was an astronaut as true as one could be. And so they embarked on a journey together, discovering every book they could, learning about physics, chemistry, and astronomy. Turning their house into a laboratory of science experiments and engineering projects.
Her seat shook violently. She remembered the call. The pain of hearing that his friend’s mom’s car had crashed on the way to the movies. The emptiness of knowing he was gone.
If he wouldn’t be one of the hundred travelers aboard the SpaceX shuttle to Mars, she was going to be.
“Here’s to your dreams, my baby boy.”