Richard’s family had long since left. His wife couldn’t take the lengthy hours anymore. His secrets isolated her, drove them apart, she had said. He had obsessed over his work. Neglected the kids.
In black hours, night after endless night, he labored over invisible things — particles in pressured hoses, electric charges in thick, metal housings. All of his study and labor had paid off. He had discovered the unseen, the material side of the immaterial — dark matter.
It had a thousand capabilities, not the least of which was travel across the space-time continuum. “Think of it like a balloon,” he had said in his presentation to the Science Mission Directorate, as he placed stickers on the inflated latex bag. “If you squeeze one part,” the stickers moved across the expanding rubber, “you will be shoved to the other side.” It was such a simple concept — one all the other scientists had missed. But he had not missed it; he had discovered how to squeeze dark matter. And his discovery made rocketry seem as silly as trying to cross the ocean on an inner tube.
Cape Canaveral closed, ushering him from the coast of Florida to a desk job in D.C. Websites featured his photo everywhere. Interview after interview, podcasts, articles, and white papers abounded. Extra projects sprung up. Consulting gigs and new secretaries managing schedules flooded into his life. He didn’t sleep — there was too much to do. “Humanity’s ticket to the stars,” was his favorite description of his work.
As he mulled over the daily articles on his new desk, something caught his attention — a clothing ad featuring an adolescent boy around ten years old. But Richard never suspected that same boy, east of Orlando, glanced over an abandoned space center, stared at the stars, and wished for a dad.
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