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Sunday, April 10, 2011

She Remembers the Voyager

Mary watched the blue Earth slowly disappear, swallowed by the diamond jeweled shroud of space. She held her grand daughter on her lap and thought how fortunate she was to have lived long enough to see her home from such a vantage point.

"This is perfection," she whispered. Her breath condensed on the window then quickly faded from view.

"Why is this perfection Grandma?" Jimmy asked from the seat beside her. Jimmy was nearly twelve. He had his grandmother's bright green eyes and dimples. Using his armrests, he propped himself up with his elbows to look out the portal. He was a seasoned space traveller for one so young, having made the trip back and forth between the Europa Defense Station and Earth several times in his young life. The Earth was gone, leaving only his dimmed reflection staring back at him. He dropped back into his seat, tapped on his Wristnet and flipped through the holographic screens floating motionless before him. He was looking for a new game, anything to help pass the time.

"It's perfection because I'm here with you and your sister and I'm in space, something I've dreamed of doing ever since I was a little girl." Her smile brightened her wrinkled face.

"Did you always want to live off Earth?" Jimmy moved his finger through the air to close the image. He turned to look at his grandmother.

"Ever since I flew on the USS Voyager when I was your age."

"The Voyager?" Jimmy was confused. He knew his grandmother was well over 100. He knew only people called astronauts went into space back then, and she was never an astronaut.

"The Voyager was a make believe starship at a school. We went there for a field trip when I was in the sixth grade." She sat back in her chair, turned toward Jimmy and continued. "I was the communications officer. I got to talk to aliens. It was something I've never forgotten. Ever since then I wanted to go into space for real - and here I am." She took Jimmy's chin in her cupped hand and gave it a grandmotherly squeeze.

"Grandma, my school at the station has three space ship simulators. We learn to fight real aliens, not pretend ones."

Mary looked at her grandson's proud expression . He was a Cadet Lieutenant and always scored well in the battle simulations. If he continued at that same pace he'd be certified for duty at sixteen.

"Life was simpler back then Jimmy. We didn't know anyone else lived in the universe but us. How could we have known the Voyager Probe would make our existence known to the..."

"Grandma," Jimmy interrupted. "They would have found us anyway. Dad says it was just a matter of time with all the TV and radio." Jimmy reactivated his Wristnet and screened his homework. The list was longer than the last time he checked it.

"Look at all this homework." Jimmy slumped further down in his chair with a forced look of exhaustion. "I told dad three weeks was too long." It was his dad's idea that he, his mother and sister spend time on Earth. Jimmy explained to his dad that he'd fall behind in his classes but his dad insisted. He thought Jimmy was too serious for an eleven year old and needed time away from the Academy. Jimmy cleared his throat then remembered his Grandmother. "It's OK Grandma. I'm really glad we came to get you. "

"And now you're my brave little cadet bringing me to the stars. You know what? Your old grandma is feeling like a little girl again. Now, here comes your mother."

Mary's daughter returned from the Steward's Station balancing an armful of snacks. She knew they'd be hungry after awakening from the first sleep cycle, scheduled to begin in ten minutes.

"Now then, are we ready for a nice long sleep?" Mary asked as she began adjusting the Starliner's seats for sleeping. We're several days out from Europa. Our first awakening will be in 24 hours. You'll get to see Mars." She squeezed her mother's hand as she pushed the "Sleep Prep" button.

Soon they would be home at the Europa Defense Station where Father was waiting.

P.S. I found the picture above and felt the urge to add accompaniment. I know, I should remember that a picture is worth a thousand words but, as many of you know, I relish the challenge of writing something to go with a cool picture I find on the net. I did my best to keep the story short. I've been told over and over by many of you younglings that my Troubadour posts are mind numbingly long. I realize several of you have delicate attention spans, so heaven forbid I post anything over two paragraphs in length!
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