Intergalactic Space Travel

When I was four years old, I successfully executed intergalactic space travel for the first time, in my parent’s attic. Mushroom clouds of fuscia and navy billowed by with polka-dot stars. My mousy hair was forced straight behind me, and my eyes stung from the gust. The first time was the best, but once you find a space portal in your attic, you don’t really forget about it, that is, until you grow up.

“Hurry up and grab those boxes, babe. I got to get to that meeting by 4,” Kyle shouted from the bottom of the ladder. I rolled my eyes. Kyle was my boyfriend, but I wasn’t sure how much longer that would last. He was a nice guy, but not the kind of guy who might have been to space before, or who had plans to go somewhere like that anytime soon.

Sweat was already spread in a sheet across my forehead, so I lifted my t-shirt and rubbed it dry. July wasn’t the best time to be in an attic, but Mom and Dad were selling the house in a month, and tossing all of my old junk unless I wanted anything.

Most of the boxes were stacked in varying heights in front of the circular window that looked upon the front yard. Behind me, though, I couldn’t believe the old sheet was still hung up. I peeled it back, the navy was faded to a gray blue, and felt crisp with time. A few glow in the dark stars still clung to the slanted ceiling, and — my space travel chair. A worn, now soft cardboard box, that once held reams of paper. I tossed the box aside, and flattened out the lid to sit on the ground. I crossed my legs and smiled. I thought my parents would have taken down the portal years ago, after I graduated college.

I stared straight ahead at the box fan in front of me. The dust and humidity clung to my skin like a muggy blanket. The fan was pretty rusted out, but was still plugged into the socket.

“Jess, it’s almost 3!” Kyle voice bellowed from somewhere below.

“Come up here, I want to show you something!” I shouted. I looked to the left and picked a little at the pink paint that was peeling off the walls — I couldn’t believe my space portal was still here.

Kyle was silent for a few seconds before saying, “I — come on. I’m wearing a suit.”

I sighed loudly. “Whatever, give me a minute.” Frustration curdled into a ball in the center of my chest. Maybe I should just tell Kyle to go, or maybe he would leave without me. I tapped my finger tips on the edge of the cardboard impatiently. The thought of Kyle leaving without me was actually sort of relieving. I shook my head, that’s not how this thing would end.

“JESS!”

I didn’t reply. Ready for take off? an annoucer’s voice echoed in my head. I leaned forward and placed my hand on the fan’s dial — 5–4–3–2–1 — and turned it up to full blast. A brown cloud of dust spewed and the fan clicked a few times before really getting going. The gust wasn’t as intense as I remembered, but still cool enough to catch a break from the heat. I looked around — I was only missing one thing. I turned to each side scanning the perimeter, before I found it — my space helmet, or my mom’s old rusted out strainer. I plopped it on my head and sat back down, curling my arms around my knees. So this was space travel as an adult…

I heard footsteps coming up the ladder. I turned to my right and peeled back the navy curtain to find Kyle’s head staring at me. His mouth hung open, and I could see his eyebrows curl with fury.

I smiled at him nervously. I had to look ridiculous, sitting on a box lid, in front of a fan, with a strainer on my head.

“What are you doing?” Kyle asked through a clenched smile.

“This is my space portal.” I shrugged my shoulders at him, turning down the fan.

What are you doing?” he asked again. His face almost looked disgusted.

“You know what? I don’t know.” I pinched the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes. Frustration was pumping through every vein.

“Are you coming or not?” he said, his face stoic.

I sighed loudly, and paused. “Not — actually, I think I’m going to space.” I let the curtain fall and turned up the fan. I dropped my hair from it’s ponytail and shook it until it caught in the breeze. I closed my eyes, and then opened them, letting the gust dry them out. I sat there for ten more minutes before turning off the fan. My chest felt lighter, pressure-less, zero gravity? I stood and put the original seat back back in its place and grabbed the few boxes I wanted to take home.

I stepped one foot on the ladder before climbing back up. I snatched the strainer from behind the curtain and tucked it into the top of one of the boxes. As I climbed down, I imagined anyone but Kyle asking me what I did today. I would tell them, “I went to space”.


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