642 Things to Write About: Writing Prompt #4

For graduation, I acquired a lovely book called 642 Things to Write About, which was compiled by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.  As a direct result of this, I have now challenged my fellow Word Nerds to respond to each prompt as they are posted on a weekly basis.  I will respond in the body of this post, while I ask everyone else to respond in the comments.  This week, the prompt is the following:

You are an astronaut.  Describe your perfect day.

When I was a boy, I was…incredibly average, actually.  I liked TVmy favorite show was Power Rangers.  I disliked (and by ‘disliked,’ I mean ‘hated’) both school and reading.  I wanted to be an astronaut.

Here’s where it gets to be less average: I actually became one.  An astronaut, I mean.

This is especially ironic because the becoming part of “becoming an astronaut” required an inordinate amount of both school and reading, and little to no Power Rangers.

Although being an astronaut sounds like the most glorious existence possible to a kid, filled with daily adventures surrounding flying and, best of all, infallible proof that aliens do exist, here’s the plain fact of the matter: being an astronaut is boring.  Except when  it’s not; then it’s merely time zooming by at light speed, punctuated only by your mortal terror and, occasionally, your neighbor puking.  While wearing his helmet.  Because life just isn’t fair.

So, all things considered, this is my perfect day:

I sleep in a little and get up around eight.  I stay in my pajamas, amble downstairs, and am greeted with a giant pile of pancakes, a warm coffee with no less than 12 sugars, and a newspaper–all provided by my shiningly beautiful wife (who happens to be a supermodel).

Around noon, I go outside, and, in the front yard, play ball with my dog and/or two kids for a couple hours.

Around four, I mow the lawn.  Then, I go inside and watch TV for an hour or so.

At 5 o’clock sharp, I go out back and grill the exquisite burgers that my glorious wife has made, and at 5:30, the four of us sit and eat the burgers and potato salad and other divine side dishes that are courtesy of my stunning wife.  The kids drink sodas, and my wife and I have a beer.

Then, the kids go play until bedtime while us adults sit and talk.

Then we go to bed.

The end.

See, it’s perfect, right?

Too bad I don’t have any kids.  Or a dog.  Or a wife.  Or a house.  Or a TV.

Cara Kennaway

P.S. I’m am so, so dreadfully sorry it’s taken me so long to post this.  This week has sort of hated me.

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7 thoughts on “642 Things to Write About: Writing Prompt #4

  1. The Earth spins slowly below me. The world is before me, the sun behind. The universe is the air I move in, the sea I swim, my endless horizon.

    I can see North America. It’s directly beneath me, basking in the full force of the sun’s rays.

    It doesn’t look the way it does on the maps, you know. There are no thick black lines separating the states from each other or partitioning off Canada and Mexico; no five-pointed stars to mark capitols or dotted lines indicating important roadways. None of those petty human distinctions and divisions matter up here. All those things on which the world bestows significance, our problems and priorities, our worries and conflicts and hopes – all dwindle away to nothingness here in the vastness of space. Even me.

    Especially me.

    Even the sun, our glorious, blinding, awe-inspiring, life-giving star, seems smaller now that I’ve been here. Now that I’ve known this. Now that I’ve seen forever.

    ***

    I am seven years old, hair tangled, shoelaces undone, my small, soft hand enveloped in Uncle Peter’s big rough one, bright-eyed and windblown and still bound by gravity on the last perfect day of my childhood. Uncle Peter is fielding my endless barrage of difficult questions about the world in the calm, unhurried manner in which he does everything.

    “Uncle Peter, how many people are there in the whole world?”

    “Well, child, I don’t exactly know. I never took the time to count ’em.”

    “Do you think prairie dogs go on dates?”

    “No, I imagine prairie dogs are a mite too smart to get involved in that sort of thing.”

    “If I squint, could I see all the way to California?”

    “No, child, you couldn’t.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because the world’s not flat. It’s round, so from here it falls away, and if we’re on top California’s down on the side.”

    My youthful mind struggles to grasp this concept on its own, so later in the day Uncle Peter steals one of Aunt Mary’s prize oranges from the kitchen to provide an illustration. When he’s finally brought me to understand, I sit staring at the orange, my lips slightly parted.

    “What’s troublin’ you, little one?” Uncle Peter asks at length.

    “So… no matter where you stand… you can never see… forever?” I ask slowly, dumbfounded. “Because the world’s always falling away?”

    Uncle Peter thinks about it a moment, brow furrowed, eyes looking off into the distance. “Well,” he says at last, “I’ll wager if you were up in space you could see forever. There’s nothing to get in your way up there.”

    I turn this over in my mind. And suddenly, like a bright burst of sunshine on a stormy day, a dream appears in it, the kind of dream that can carry a body through the worst of times. I set the orange on the table, scamper around it, and gently place my hands within my uncle’s and look up into his bright blue eyes.

    “Do you know what I’m going to do someday?” I whisper the words. These are words made to be whispered, breathless, sacred words.

    “No. What are you going to do someday?” Sensing the import of the situation, he has lowered his voice as well.

    “I’m going to go to space. I’m going to see forever.”

    ***

    He could’ve told me it was impossible. He could’ve told me not to get my hopes up. Many did, over the years.

    He said, “Yes. Yes, I believe you are.”

    ***

    He believed me. He believed *in* me. And that matters.

    Even up here.

    ~Pearl

    1. Great job, Pearl! I liked the still, sort of suspended feeling of the whole thing, rather like what I get from many images of space. I was a bit struck, though, by the dialogue–it seemed a little bit unnatural (mainly the parts where Uncle Peter is calling our narrator “child” and “little one”). I get that you were going for an effect, and maybe it’s just me, but I just thought it seemed kind of…fanciful. Otherwise, well done!
      -Cara

      1. When my mom was growing up, my grandpa frequently called her “child” and “little one” (or so I’ve been told), so it seemed realistic to me.

        Anyway, thank you!

  2. Bit of a cynical view, isn’t it, Cara? It reminds me of the commercial in which two astronauts are heading up into space and one asks the other what his dream job is, and the other says he wishes he could’ve become a florist…

    But, as always, it’s nicely written and inventive. So well done.

      1. So you’re justifying cynicism… based on the words of a cynic.

        There’s probably a logical fallacy in there somewhere.

        1. “Logic, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion – thus:

          Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
          Minor Premise: One man can dig a post-hole in sixty seconds; Therefore-
          Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a post-hole in one second.

          This may be called syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.”
          ― Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary

          …I have an endless supply of these. And I love them. Beware.

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