Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chapter Sixteen: Old Fashion Story Time

Todd was befuddled.

"You're going to read a children's story?" he asked.

"Yes," answered this week's reader, Traci. She thought that Todd's befuddlement was charming. She also thought his over annunciation of the previous question was kind of cute. She wondered what Todd was doing after the reading and decided not to ask. Her lack of asking was directly proportional to the lack of sex she was having. That and the fact that she was a children's writer -- all the men she met, who were often also charming, were also married.

"Okay," said Todd.

Traci smiled.

"Well, here is the moment of truth."


It’s past my bedtime, but I’m still up. It’s Saturday, and Saturdays I get to look at the stars with Dad.

After Dad puts the last dish away, he looks over to me and says, “Let’s get ready, Nova,” and we hurry upstairs to get our coats. I pull my hat with funny flaps over my ears, because Dad says it’s going to be cold. Dad pulls on sweaters and buttons my coat, because I can’t with my mittens on.

“You get the magazine and I’ll get the scope,” he says, so I hurry to find this month’s star chart.

Dad and I always set up on the flat roof over the porch even though Mom always says to Dad that I am going to fall off.

“If she can identify the stars, she can recognize the end to a roof,” Dad replies.

Mom shakes her head, but she also smiles and kisses Dad on the cheek, saying, “Take care of our Little Star,”

It’s cold and breezy on the roof because it is so exposed. Dad sets up the telescope, and I flip through the star charts and magazine clippings we collect about space.

“Orion is high in the sky tonight,” Dad says. He points to a row of three stars, “See, Little Star, that’s Orion’s belt, and see further up, his arms and bow.”

I squint up at Orion, and then look higher.

“Is that square one with the tail the Big Dipper?” I ask.

“Sure is, and look over there,” Dad points, “the Little Dipper.”

I look over and smile. The Little Dipper is one of my favorites because it is
small like me. All the rest of the stars are in giant shapes that remind me too much of grown ups.

I look down at my magazine clippings to see if there is anything special happening this month. Dad looks over my shoulder.

“Hey, Nova, it says here that a star in Cassiopeia is going to go super nova.”

I smile, “Like me.”

“Nova, like you. It says it should go in several thousand years! Well that’s a long time. That light from the star will take a long time to come here.”

“Because space is really big.” I am proud to know the answer.

“Really, really big, Little Nova Star. Do you know how big space is?”

I scrunch up my head because I am thinking so hard. “Bigger than Earth and the moon, even the solar system?”

“Much, much bigger,” Dad says. “Space is so big that it contains lots and lots of systems with planets and stars.”

I look up, amazed.

“Dad, are there people on those planets looking up at us?”

“I don’t know, Little Star, but space is big. If it were just us that would be a whole lot of space no one was using. Maybe, someday, you’ll see space.”

I look up at the sky and think, “Someday we’re going to travel to Orion,” I say.

“Someday, Star. It’s good to dream.”

Dad and I dream of a giant spaceship with me at the wheel heading out into space. I dream of nebulae and of baby stars and colors in all directions. Dad looks up at the sky, but he says that he dreams of Mom. I think of Mom in a dress of stars with a giant moon crown. If Dad and I ruled the sky, no one would ever cry again, and my best friend, Sal, would have the puppy he’s always wanted.

“Dad, if I ruled the sky, Mom would have a dress of stars, and nobody would ever cry again,” I say.

Dad laughs and says, “Such an unselfish wish.”

I see a light over the tall pine where I like to pretend I’m an insect with Sal. A star shoots across space.

“Hey, look at that one.”

Dad looks up.

“Your first shooting star, Nova,” he says. “Let’s go tell your mother.”

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