A memory of a life. Part 9

A grainy black and white picture transmitted from our only natural satellite to a series of networks to be broadcasted to a world in awe. We’re doing it, we’re moving forward onto space, no longer it seemed we would be stuck here on this island of ours. The stars were our destiny and we were to seize them. A feeling that anything, any matter could be solved by the blood, sweat, and tears of just wanting it. A deliverance of something honest, of hope, of our dreams.

Ever since they launched the rocket to carry the three heroes to the Moon, Noah has been about space travel and nothing more. A fascination that seems to carry her through the treatment and tests. A stronger person than I will ever be. She sits on the floor in front of me while I draw the stars and stripes on her helmet. They’re making their approach as there’s a knock on the door.  I cap the marker and step over her to answer it. John and Linda stand on the other side gripping their son Aaron by the shoulders. “We’re not too late are we?” John asks. “Just in time.” I reply while I move to let them enter. They let go of Aaron and he runs like a caged animal set free. He goes and sits next to Noah as I lead John and Linda into the kitchen. “What’s in the bowl?”  I ask questioning the lime green plastic ware existence. “Oh, it’s my egg salad.” Linda says in a quiet tone. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t like me very much, or she’s shy. I lead them into the kitchen where Cynthia is prepping the hamburger patties. They have their greetings and John follows me out to the back yard to get the grill ready. We stand there for a little while not saying a word and just watch the fire engulf the coals. The fire dies down and so the conversation picks back up. “So when you all heading back over to LA?” John asks. I poke the coals a few times before I respond. “Tuesday after next.” I put the grilling surfaces back on and avoid eye contact. I mean, I didn’t hate people’s concerns. It’s nice to know they care, but sometimes people have a habit of dragging you right back into reality when you just need a little break. “You taking the Plymouth?” He asks then takes a sip from one of the beers he brought. Damn did I want one. “We’re going to take the train, I don’t think she’s up for the miles. And, well, Cynthia and Noah have never been on a train.” I glare at the beer in his hand as he takes a drink. “Well let’s see if they’ve landed yet.” I say snapping back to the present.

Noah and Aaron run around the living room with their arms spread out, flying through space or the air, it changes rapidly. Linda and Cynthia sit on the couch leaving a spot in between them, which I take. John comes in with his second beer and sits down in the armchair. We sit staring at the TV making irrelevant comments on what we’re seeing, it switches between people standing around with headsets on, then the grainy feed from the lander. There’s a crashing sound behind us followed by the sound of Aaron gasping. We all sit up and turn around. Noah is lying on the ground in front of Aaron. I start moving towards her concerned it was one of her bad ones when she starts giggling like an insane person. I know a parent shouldn’t overreact when their child falls or anything, but fuck that shit, it’s my little girl, I’m going to damn well try to catch her every time. “I crashed my spaceship!” she says trying to get up. “Will you help me?” I walk over as everyone else sits down. I lift her up. “Space crane recovering spaceman Noah.” I say imitating a walky-talky voice. “Thanks, space crane!” She says as she runs off again.

I put the burgers on the grill, this time, John didn’t follow me outside. Probably because he was already on his 5th beer. The burgers sizzle as the grease drips off. Alone with my thoughts, I think of nothing. The screen door snaps shut behind me. Noah and Aaron come running off the back porch. “Mom said to get some tomatoes!” She shouts as they run past me. I watch them carefully pick the tomatoes from the garden. They try to be as graceful as a 5 and 4-year-old could. Aaron holds the bottom of his shirt forward as Noah slowly places them. After they collect as many as they could they slowly walk back. “Tell your Mom the burgers are almost done.” I say to Noah. She nods slowly and smiles.  The screen door slaps again as I put the burgers on the plate. Right as I step through the door they shout for me. “It’s happening, they’ve landed!” I set the plate down on the counter and jog into the living room. I pick Noah up and set her on my lap as I sit between Cynthia legs against the couch. Neal Armstrong emerges from the capsule and begins the descent to the Moon’s surface. He says the words and takes his steps. In my chest burnt the light of hope, if we could achieve this, we could save my girl.

Cynthia and Noah are tremendously excited for the train ride. We get to the station 20 minutes before the train leaves. I, however, do not share their excitement. I rush them as much as I can and really shouldn’t, but we cannot miss the train for anything.  We sit on a bench waiting for the train to arrive. An older man joins us in the wait, he sits on the bench next to ours. With tattered clothes and a shiny bald head.  Noah taps me on the knees and pulls me closer with her index fingers. “He’s bald like us daddy, he’s from outer space too?” She asks. I glance at the man. “Most defiantly.” I whisper back to her. She adjusts her helmet then becomes tired and rest her head on Cynthia’s lap. Cynthia and I have a conversation without words, she moves her eyes to indicate Noah then looks at me with a worried face, I reply with a slight raise of my shoulders and a tiny smirk. Her face then switches to one that seems more optimistic. “Do you hear that?” Noah asks as the faint sounds of the train come into focus. She sits up and looks up and down the tracks. Far off in the horizon, a tiny dot appears. Cynthia excited as well picks up Noah and walk to the edge of the platform. They stand there watching the train approach as I gather the bags. We board the train and find our seats. As we leave they’re nearly foaming at the mouth with excitement. However, once the train gets to its normal speed their both rocked to sleep.

Another x-ray, the technicians doesn’t even both arguing with me anymore. One less battle I have to fight. We sit in Dr. Loewen’s office waiting for him to see us. Out in the waiting room, Noah is playing hide and seek with Lisa. The door shuts behind us as Dr. Loewen walks in. “Hello.” He says. He walks to his desk and sets the x-rays and folder down onto it. “Hello, Dr. Loewen.” Cynthia says, he doesn’t tell her to call him by his first name. I start to pick at my nails wondering what was going to come next. “I’m sorry.” He says, leaving a pause that almost toxic. “It appears the treatment isn’t working.” He tries to go on but Cynthia is already balling. “Are there any options, I mean there has to be something, can we operate now?” I ask with a shaky voice. “I’m sorry.” He says again. “That still isn’t on the table, there’s nothing we can do. I’m going to take her off the treatment, and will let Dr. Fylnn know. I still want you two to continue the weekly check-up’s with Dr. Flynn, she’ll let me know in turn.  Again I am sorry, I wish there was more I could do.” He stands up from his chair and walks over to shake hands. My arms rattle, my legs quiver, anger not at him, but towards him burns. I was swinging before I recognized the fact that I was. I clock him in the nose and it bleeds. He stands back prepared to defend himself when Cynthia pulls me back. “What are you doing?!” She asks me. “I don’t, I don’t know. I just…” I try to swallow as many tears as I could. Cynthia apologizes to Dr. Loewen as I hover near the door. “It’s alright, no I’m fine, haven’t had a blooding nose in a long time.” He says stifling the flow with a handkerchief. We walk out of the office and my head and hand throb. Cynthia grabs Noah and we hurry out of the hospital. As we ride the train back home Cynthia asks for an explanation of my actions but I’m unable to give one.

We tuck Noah into bed, Cynthia kisses her goodnight and doesn’t look at me as she closes the door. “So what do you want me to read tonight, three musketeers?” I ask,  but she shakes her head no. “Gulliver’s Travels?” Again she shakes her head no. “What will it be then?” Happy as a bird in spring she sings “Steam Shovel!” I pull the red covered book from the bookcase and sit in the rocking chair. “Alright get comfortable.” I say as I open the book. “Mike Mulligan had a steam shovel, a beautiful red steam shovel…” She reads the book along with me page for page until her voice fades away. I look up from the book and she fast asleep. I kiss her goodnight, once, twice, three times. I finally get up and close the door. I walk downstairs to find Cynthia, she lays on the couch with a cigarette in her mouth staring at the ceiling. “Is you hand okay?” She asks. I flex it open and closed. “I think I’ll manage.” I say. I get a glass of water then head outside to sit on the porch in the dark.  I finish my glass of water as the light comes on and Cynthia walks out to join me. She sits down behind me and passes a cigarette to me. She rubs my shoulders as I take a drag. “I don’t know what to do.” I say. She squeezes hard against my shoulders.  “It will be okay, we’ll make it, she’ll make it. You just have to believe.” I relax a little, though I wasn’t ready to believe in what she wanted me to.