*Note from the author: Hello! Thank you for your support of my writings. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about you. I haven’t posted in a while because I am currently working on my first novel and I am excited to share it with all of you! Okay, now to the story:*
The sound of screeching little metal wheels echoed through the house. The soft padding of little feet followed along with sporadic vrooms and pews. Daniel steered his little tin spaceship into the kitchen where his mother was hastily whisking eggs over a hot pan. His father paid little attention to the distraction as his eyes were glued to the morning headlines of January 28th, 1967 inked into the flimsy paper.
A hissing sound filled the kitchen as Mother poured the eggs out onto the pan. As if she was just thrown a hot potato, she flinched and frantically turned down the heat to the boiling pot of water next to the bubbling eggs.
Daniel blasted the little tin spacecraft into the air and did a “fly-by” of the stove. Before it could even reach its final destination of being tangled up in the phone cord, Mother snatched it from his hands and slammed it onto the counter next to her.
Without saying a single word, she glared at Daniel who quickly sprinted to his spot at the table next to his father. Mother let out a heavy sigh before pulling the tin of coffee out of the top cupboard and scooping it into the metal holder. She placed it on top of the boiling water and quickly returned her attention to the eggs.
When she was satisfied with their look, she scooped them from the pan onto a white serving platter. The one with the pink flowers that circled the flat of it in a figure eight. That one was her favorite. She rarely used it, however. She only pulled it off of its place in the curio cabinet when it was a special occasion.
The day outside was hot and muggy in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Daniel didn’t see a reason that any guests would be going out in such weather to join them for breakfast. Father, anyway, spent most of his days working until the sun went down. But, Mother told Daniel that yesterday was a bad day at work and father had lost some very close friends. Daniel didn’t really understand why that would be considered a “special occasion” in his mother’s eyes.
Mother sat the platter of scrambled eggs right next to the freshly brewed pot of coffee. Father barely even flinched, his eyes still glued to the newspaper.
“Honey? Would you like me to pour you a cup of coffee?”
“Humph,” he nodded his head in approval.
Mother poured the coffee until it just reached the rim of the cup. She sat the pot back on the table and took a seat in her chair.
“Daddy look!” Daniel’s arm shot out and he began to point his chubby little finger at the back of the newspaper Father was reading. But before the tip of his finger could make contact with the inky tissue, the side of his hand knocked his father’s cup of coffee and it splashed onto the white table cloth and Father’s work pants.
“Daniel!” Mother lurched back in her chair and scampered up to get a kitchen towel.
Father frantically tossed the newspaper out of his hand, sending it floating to the linoleum floor. Father’s chair scratched against the floor as he pushed it out and ran for the kitchen sink.
“Hot! Hot! HOT!” Father’s hands flailed up and down as if it would cool the steaming coffee stain dripping down his trousers.
But, Daniel wasn’t so much focused on the incident anymore. He hopped out of his chair and reached for the newspaper. The sounds of his father’s hysterical shouting and his mother’s calm mumbles faded into the background.
Daniel had seen that man before. The one with the deep brown hair, slicked to the side. The dark eyes burrowed beneath thick eyebrows. Father has introduced him as Mr. Chaffee. Roger Chaffee. Father had told Daniel that they worked together and that he was going to go to space.
Daniel was in awe when he met him, the man that would be among the stars and the planets that had fascinated Daniel so much. But Father’s voice boomed in the kitchen and it shook Daniel back into reality.
His eyes shot over to his father who was now holding his hands against his face. Father was sobbing. His body heaving up and down as he took in gasps of air every now and then.
Daniel had never seen his father cry. Never.
Mother quickly escorted Daniel out of the kitchen, guiding him by his back with her cold fingers into the living room. She turned him around and knelt down by his side,
“Daniel. Do you remember Daddy’s friend from work? Mr. Chaffee? The one that was going to space?”
“Well, yesterday, there was an accident…” She trailed off and stared into Daniel’s little blue eyes that were filled with confusion.
She started again from a different approach, “Do you remember how I told you that Grandma Smith went to heaven a few months ago?”
Daniel gave a swift nod.
“Well, Daddy’s friend and two other people who were going to go to space are in heaven now too.”
Daniel stood, looking towards the back wall of the living room, trying to wrap his head around what his mother just told him. He eventually looked her right in the eyes and said,
“Mommy? Isn’t space where heaven is? So, they just took a different way. Right?”
Mother looked into her son’s innocent little eyes and let a small smile make its way to the corner of her lips,
“Yes, Daniel. That’s right.”
She wrapped her arms tightly around his little body in a hug as hot tears rolled down her face. Father suddenly appeared from around the kitchen doorway, after listening to the entire conversation, and wrapped his arms around Mother and Daniel. And for the first time in years, the three of them sat, crouched on the living room floor tangled in each other’s arms. The space between them being no more.