The cockpit was hot – almost unbearably so – and I tugged at the thick neckline of the flameproof suit that seemed to pinch and squeeze my limbs like a boa constrictor the higher we climbed. All that was visible beneath the clear circular window was flame – bright orange, or read, or maybe yellow, sometimes blue – seeming to engulf the nose and swallow the body with its eager maw. Static reverberated through my helmet, filing my ears with a crackling silence, so much more favorable to the suffocating one that could have been present without it.
I was shaking. Not out of fear, or nerves, or anxiety, but excitement. Trepidation. Glee.
It had worked – my ship had worked. And as the fire slowly flickered, roaring one last time before fizzling out into the deep empty void, I knew nothing, could possible feel so good…so pure…so accomplishing as sitting wondrously in the control room of the rocket you had built from scratch. The one tediously prepared by months of toil and arduous labor; tested by the wind and the rain and the sky and deemed worthy to be admitted into the heavens; crafted skillfully with only the finest materials, most artful hands, and more than enough duct tape.
“How’s it holding up?” My mission control’s voice rang loud and clear through the com link, the best noise I’d heard since take off – besides the triumphant scream of the engines as they propelled the shuttle towards the stars.
I pressed the button of the side of my helmet and responded with unconcealed euphoria, “It’s brilliant, Jack!”
“That’s great! Now, if you want to start off towards the moon, just push the joystick forward.”
I glanced down at the controls on the panel in front of me. The steering reminded me of the gaming remote in my living room – a brightly colored metal pole with a yellow knob on top. I looked back out the window at the ethereal orb floating below, almost surreal in its beauty – mythical.
“Nah,” I said. “I think I’ll just hang her for a minute.”
I could hear him laugh into the mic, chuckling at my antics. “Well, make sure you take a picture!”
A knock of the roof made me jump – a hollow, muted series of thumps, almost like a rap against a door.
I panicked, frantically scrabbling for any gauge that would explain such an anomaly.
It sounded like my mom – stifled, but still clearly her.
“Jack!” I called. “What’s happening?”
“Cookies, man!” A crinkle and a squeak and the static went dead, the mic turning off.
“Jack!” I shouted, desperately trying to regain his attention, terrified that I was being left alone.
The mic popped again, like popcorn. “Henry?” It was my mom again, comforting and soothing.
“Mom! What are you doing here?”
“Informing you that your mission may have to wait,” she said seriously.
“Cookies,” her reply was somber, almost grave. “Fresh out of the oven – ooey, gooey, and hot.”
My stomach grumbled involuntarily.
“I have to make it!” I whined, torn between coming down for the goodies, or continuing on to my dream.
“You can always go back up,” my mom reasoned. “The cookies won’t wait forever, though.”
I gazed longingly at the moon – just as surreal as the earth beside it.
I sighed. She was right. Jack would be back tomorrow – the shuttle worked today, and it would work the next. Cookies on the other hand – that was something you had to snatch while it was there.
“Ok,” I said.
I could hear my mom’s smile from 62 miles away.