Friday, October 11, 2013

Tips for Young Astronauts (250=1)

Tips For Young Astronauts
A jet overhead, a thin white trail in the overly-wide blue sky under which they float in the pool.

“Dad?” he says.

“Yes?” says Dad.

“It’s a rocket,” pointing at the contrail.

Dad knows it’s not, but knows it doesn’t matter, really. It matters what we want it to be.

“It is,” he says, with the peculiar emphasis he adopts in these conversations.

“But where is it going?” he asks.

“Where do you think it’s going?”


“That’s right. It’s a rocket to Saturn.”

“Saturn has rings.”

“It does.”

“And Uranus is tipsy.” This is how the book describes it: Tipsy Uranus, the planet that lies on its side as it orbits.

“That’s right.”

“But how can I get to Saturn, Dad?”

Dad considers. An important question.

“You have to go to school for a long time and then become an astronaut. And learn math.”  Emphasizing math because sometimes he doesn’t like it.

“Okay, I’ll do that.”


“And then I’ll be an astronaut.”

“Where will you go?”

Considers, then: “To Saturn.”

“Will you bring me back a rock? From Saturn?”

Nervous laugh.  “Saturn has rings.”

“That’s right.”



The water is warm. The night is coming. Nobody else is around. The rocket to Saturn is gone and its rocket trail fading.

“But will you go with me?” In his voice: fear of going away. Once, he thought they were driving not home but to Florida, again, on vacation, he started crying.

“I sure will.”

250=1 are stories that are exactly 250 words long, including the title. Here's a list of all of them I've ever written.


Andrew Leon said...

That made me choke up.
I hope we're going to Saturn by the time he grows up.

Pat Dilloway said...

That would be a good Father's Day story in some magazine. Of course I inappropriately snickered at Uranus.

Briane P said...

PT: that's why that's in there.

Andrew: Me, too.

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