The Death of an Astronaut [story] by Tuere T.S. Ganges

I witnessed the death of an astronaut in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The sky was as deep, dark, and blue as the ocean it reflected with scattered stars that looked like twinkling jacks careless cherubs left outside.

I clutched a 24-pack of soft white toilet paper, looking for my car, when a little brown-skin boy in a striped polo shirt walked by, his finger looped around a stainless steel bar of his mother’s shopping cart. His feet bounced off the asphalt as though his shoes could hear the song in his heart. The mother’s voice was soft as a lullaby. “And what did you do at your dad’s last night?”

“We just looked at the stars,” he sang and pointed up, his feet skipped past discarded candy wrappers and wrinkled receipts. “It was awesome!”

My mind danced, thinking about constellations and all of the science awards the boy would have in his future. I wondered if he had a telescope and tried to remember which aisle I’d seen them in so I could suggest they buy one.

“Hmm,” the mother said. “That’s just like him. Cheap and stupid. Couldn’t he take you to the movies?”

The little boy’s chest caved in. His shoulders rose and sunk with one heaving shrug. “I don’t know.” His heels touched the ground, feet no longer reacting to playful, imaginary springs. He’d crash-landed mid-step, no longer a dreamer, but a small man wondering how he’d fallen into a child’s body.

 

***

Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

– refers from the phrase “own blue sky” in  Walking into the Wynn, Las Vegas, and You Are Stitched Into by Rose Hunter

 

Tuere T. S. Ganges writes in Baltimore. She was a June 2009 recipient of the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work has won prizes at the Philadelphia Writers Conference; and has appeared in The Shine Journal, Flask and Pen, Milspeak Memo, Mythium Literary Magazine, Wigleaf, Fiction Circus, and a Pushcart Nominated piece in Referential Magazine.