This evening, my little boy, Short Stack asked me for something different after we had read our books and switched out the light. He’s the master of all bedtime delay tactics and so, over the years, I’ve grown pretty much invulnerable to his attempts to stay up an hour past lights out. It’s been a struggle which can best be summed up as irresistible force meets immovable father. On some evenings, it can make for some serious opera. Tonight though, he hit below the belt.
“Dad, will you tell me a story before you go?”
“Oh… Um… A real one or one I make up?” He doesn’t ask me for spoken stories much. Just reading from books, really.
“One you make up. Tell me a story about anything you want to. Just make it all up.” That request has never happened before. Not even once.
I thought a moment as I sat on the rug by his bed in the darkness of his happy little room. “Okay. Here it goes…”
Once there was a little boy, who wanted nothing more in the world than to go to space.
He loved the idea of riding a rocket and floating along above the earth.
One day, he decided to do something about it.
He called NASA.
“Hello.” He said. “I am a little boy who loves rockets. I want to go to outer space. Can I ride there on one of your rockets?”
“We think that’s a great goal for your future!” said the man from NASA. “But you’re too young to ride on one of our rockets just yet. First you need to grow up and work very hard and study to become an astronaut. Then, you could ride on our rockets.”
But the little boy didn’t want to wait until he had grown up. Every day that passed seemed to him a day he could have been in space, so he thanked the man and hung up the phone.
He had another plan. He called Russia.
“Hello” said the little boy. “Is this the Russian Space Agency?”
“Da.” said the voice on the other end of the phone, which means, “Yes” in Russian.
“I love rockets and space,” said the boy. “And though I might be young, I would like very much to ride on one of your Soyuz rockets to get there. May I fly to space with you?”
“Ah…” said the hesitant voice. “Nyet.” which means “No” in Russian. “First, you must be older and study vith all your might. Den, eef you haf vorked hard enough, you might become a cosmonaut and ride into space on a Soyuz rocket.”
But the little boy didn’t want to wait until he had grown up. Every day that passed seemed to him a day he could have been in space, so he thanked the man and hung up the phone again
He had another plan. He went to the basement.
In the basement, he started to rummage and search. He found metal and screws. He found wood and paint. Piles of pipes, knobs, valves, wires and lights. He dusted off tanks and straps, nuts, bolts and glass, and started to build. He wasn’t old, that was true, but he did know how to work hard and smart and after some time, he stood back to look at his work.
Any astronaut from NASA or cosmonaut from Russia would have been far too big to fit inside, but that was okay, because it hadn’t been built for them. It was made just to fit one small boy.
Upstairs he went to pack himself up a sandwich, some peanuts and a juice box or two, and brought them all back to his space ship. He opened the bulked doors, pointed his ship at the sky and then carefully climbed in.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6 “ignition sequence start” 5, 4, 3, 2…
He never got to 1. He was too busy yelling, “Wooooooooo HOOOOOOOO!”
Up into the sky he raced! Clouds flashed past like blurs and the power of the tiny rocket pushed him deep into his seat. The roar was thunderous and the whole ship shook as he flashed along toward the edge of the sky. And then… silence. Outside the window turned black except for the bright and brilliant stars. Below him, the earth slowly turned.
He was in space!
The boy took out his lunch and ate it carefully. He took extra care not to make crumbs with his sandwich and though his peanuts tended to float everywhere, he ate most of them too, even the one that got stuck for a moment in his left ear. The juice boxes he slurped dry so as not to let any droplets of apple juice float free. As he enjoyed his meal, he gazed out at the most amazing view few ever get to see, and he smiled broadly at the joy of it all.
After eating, even with his amazing view, he was starting to feel sleepy. What he really wanted, he realized, was a nap. His problem was that his spaceship was too small to stretch out in. What he needed, was some room. He began to look around. Out in the far off distance, just above the horizon, he saw something. At first, he thought it was a satellite, but it looked too big. As it got closer, it grew bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER! It was huge! “That,” thought the boy “would be the perfect place!”
As carefully as he could, the little boy nudged his ship up to the Space Station. Ever so gently, he brought it up to an airlock door and with perfect precision, docked. He pumped air into the airlock, turned the handle and opened the door. Inside the space station, cosmonauts and astronauts looked up with amazement as the little boy floated in and said, “Hello! I always wanted to go to space, but everyone told me that I had to grow up first and work very hard. Well… I know how to work hard and study. I just didn’t really want to wait. So here I am. Could I stay a while and perhaps stretch out to have a rest?”
The crew on the space station was so impressed with what the little boy had done, that they happily let him in and gave him a sleeping bag to nap in. They tucked him in, Velcroed him to a wall, just like they did, and left him to dream as he floated in happiness.
After waking up a few hours later, he eagerly joined the crew doing experiments around the station. He chatted with them all and looked out the windows and reveled in the joy of being in space. Finally, after sharing their dinner, he realized that he really should be getting back home. By now, his parents would be getting worried. And so, his new friends helped him back to his ship, re-supplied him with juice boxes and snacks, closed the airlock door and bid him a safe return home.
Aiming his ship back toward his house, the boy streaked across the sky like a shooting star. Hotter and hotter his ship grew as it fell through the atmosphere and the wind roared past the windows with the sound of a jet engine. Finally, when the moment was right, POP! Out came the parachute and lower and slower he went until softly and with a slight bounce, he landed… right in the old elm tree in his very own front yard. It took him some time to climb down safely.
When the boy opened the front door to his house, there stood his parents, arms crossed and brows furrowed.
“Where have you BEEN? We’ve been looking for you everywhere! We were so worried!”
“I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. I’ve been to space and it took longer than I expected. I even visited the Space station!” His parents didn’t look pleased.
“You shouldn’t tell stories, you know. We need to know we can trust you. Don’t make things up like that, please. Just tell us the truth.”
So, without a word, the boy took them each by the hand and led them out the door and simply pointed to the top of the tree. There, cradled in the upper branches, sat the spaceship, too small for a grown-up, but just right for a little boy who loved space and knew how to work hard. And they knew in that second, that he had told the truth.
“How was that?” I could see, even in the grey dim light, that he was smiling right up to his ears.
“That was great, Dad.”
“Good night, Buddy. I love you.”
Filed under: family, funny, happy, home, Humor, Kids, space shuttle, Writing | Tagged: bed time stories, ESA, home made rockets, ISS, kid's stories, Kids, NASA, rocket boy, son, soyuz, space, space boy, space station, space travel, stories |