Apparent Magnitude: Negative 28, Brighter Than the Sun

By Tricia Theis

July 11, 2016

Apparent Magnitude: Negative 28, Brighter Than the Sun

We’re in church and the minister is reading a story about Maria Mitchell, America’s first female astronomer, when my son whispers, “When I grow up, if there’s a planet left that nobody has been to, I’m going to be the first person to step on it.”

I brush my hand through his flop of hair and push it out of his eyes. Leaning down to kiss the side of his head, I breathe in the smell of his scalp—sweaty, because I let him get away without a shower.

I say I love the idea. I think how heartbreaking and sublime, to be the mother of an astronaut. 

“But—” he begins.

He’s concentrating on his hands in his lap; his legs are criss-cross applesauce in his chair.

“I might have to be gone for, like, a year.”

He looks at me only peripherally; his expression is serious and shy. Measuring my reaction to his proclamation, he seeks comfort and permission at once.

I cup my hand around his head and pull his body towards me.

“I know,” I say.

His future departure is a presence that shimmers there between us. It sparkles like a firecracker—a glitter rocket whose fuse is only so long, the wick already ignited.

Photo, "Blast Off" provided by Centophobia via Flickr's Creative Common license.
comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow