Checking his watch, Tommy figured he didn’t have long left before his Dad came home and for the project to be finished and ready for him coming in. He looked at his own home made box and slid the letter into place, on a little window he’d made in the cardboard. All he had to do now was transport it down into the garden, and place it next to his father’s. He’d even laid out his special space costume, nice and folded like his Mum had taught him, inside his little rocket. As he stepped back to admire it, he found it to be alarmingly on the small side. But it would do, as a little side car to his Dad’s own rocket. It was still brown and plain, with not a lick of paint or colour to it as of yet; Tommy wanted to wait to see what his Dad’s would look like so that it matched.
Carefully, Tommy picked up his newly finished build like it was a baby just out of the womb and started to carry it down the stairs of the attic. He only had to make it from here to the kitchen and then into the garden, but he knew that he’d probably bump into his Aunt if he took the traditional route, and he didn’t feel like explaining anything to her. He’d overheard the gathering in the living room that afternoon, when it seemed like the house was packed with everyone his Mum and Dad had ever known, telling his father that he was crazy and that he couldn’t bring her back and had to stop, especially for Tommy’s sake. He hated that particularly, his name being used as a bargaining chip when he hadn’t said a word either way. It was in his best interests to avoid meeting anyone on the way to his launch point, so he decided to go out the non-traditional exit; through the window of his bedroom.
Sliding open the window, careful not to make it clatter against the top and make a noise, he put one foot out onto the ledge, balancing the rocket on one hand. Glancing down, he saw the flat bit of roof that he needed to land on, just a few feet over to the right of the window. It was a tricky move, but he’d done it a thousand times before. Ducking out and under the window, he was now outside, his back pressed against the wall of the house and his feet – thankfully still a child’s size – balancing on the little shelf of stone that jutted out from his window.
He looked down and thought it easier to perhaps try and drop the rocket onto the flat bit of roof first, but he didn’t want to risk it. It was only a first floor drop down but he still didn’t want to take the chance that it could splinter and the last few months would be for nothing; his Dad might finish his today and leave without him. The thought caused a swell of panic to rise up in Tommy and he made the decision that he would hold tightly onto the rocket and shimmy as close as he could to the roof.
As Tommy shimmied his way across the stone shelf, moving closer to his makeshift landing pad, the wind picked up. It grabbed hold of the rocket and yanked it out of his grip and before he could think he moved forward to grab it, to save it from falling, not thinking of where he was and forgetting himself. Before he fell, little Tommy looked up just in time to see his Dad step into the rocket and head off into his adventure unknown, out of Tommy’s life, maybe forever. It was a sad thing for a boy to see and he remembered thinking what a funny drink life is and how death makes it bitter to swallow.
He lurched out into the air, the rocket floating next to him and, just before he hit the concrete below, he thought of how peculiar they must have looked; a little boy and his cardboard friend, flying through the air in perfect sync but neither of them moving upward, only down to the stone surface below.….