Over the Horizon, Across the Sky

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Years after he was gone, she still waited for him every night.

Submitted: January 23, 2014

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Submitted: January 23, 2014

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She would still buy his favorite cologne. At night, just before she went to bed, she would sprinkle a bit on what was always his side of the bed. Some nights, she would take a couple of pillows and place them under the sheets, carelessly throwing her arm over them where in the darkness she could still snuggle up with his memory.

It helped her get through the night. Oh, she kept a brave face. She had to. It was expected. To be an astronaut took an extraordinary man but to be an astronaut’s wife took an exceptional woman.

David had always told her she was exceptional. Even when they had first met many years ago.

She was just out of college with a nursing degree. Landing a job at a hospital that had contracted out with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to be the health center for all of NASA’s employees. Including their most well known employees, the astronauts.

She had been excited about her new job, what 21 year old wouldn’t be? The glamorous image of working with the men and women, who pushed the boundaries of the sky more than made up for the actual boring, day to day routine, her job actually encapsulated. But she had loved it. And she loved what she saw the first time she saw David.

He had come into the nursing center looking for the results of some routine tests he had taken earlier in the week. That evening she happened to be on desk duty. She hardly glanced up when she heard a confident, deep tone of a voice ask her where  they kept the medical records.

“That would be over in building C. Medical Records Department,” she casually answered, not taking her eyes off some paperwork she was completing.

“Building C?” the voice, tinged in doubt replied, “I was over in building C and I didn’t see any Medical Records Department.”

She glanced up. His rugged good looks bellied beyond his look of confidence which, at this exact moment, also seemed to be mixed with a look of confusion. She smiled goofily.

“The Medical Records department is just past the hallway, when you first enter,” she instructed, trying to keep her cool, “it’s the first door on your left.”

He smiled back, “Oh, then I guess I missed it. I was all over the place there.”

She noticed his deep blue eyes. Catching herself thinking, A girl could get lost in those eyes very easily, if she chose to. Even if she chose not too, as well. She subtly giggled at that last thought.

“Are you snickering at me?” he asked, sweetly.

“No, not at all,” she tried to reply stoically, but quickly felt her face turn ten shades of red on the embarrassment scale.

“Maybe I could further help you if you could tell me what kind of medical records you’re looking for?” she professionally inquired, in an attempt to regain her composure.

“Sure,” he replied, “it's for some routine blood tests. I was told to pick them up and personally deliver them to the astronaut’s office.”

“Oh, you an astronaut?” the words quickly came out of her mouth. It was too late. She couldn’t take them back. I’m such a dweeb! she thought.

“Yep, good guess,” he subtly teased in reply.

“So let me get this right,” she returned the tease, “you can fly into space and back but you get lost over in the medical building?”

“Yeah,” he answered, “but in space, I have ground control guiding me every step of the way. But here….” he leaned over the desk counter and mischievously smiled….“I only have you.”

Whatever smart ass reply she could of come up with quickly melted away.

“Tell you what,” returning his mischievous smile with one of her own, “I need to deliver some files over there anyway, so gimme a minute and I’ll take you there myself.”

“A-OK, Ground Control,” he replied, laughing.

So began their first little inside joke between them and the first little nickname he gave her. From then on, whenever he would need to ask her for directions, whether it would for locating someplace around town or what to pick up at the grocery store, he would call her ground control. It may not have been the most romantic of nicknames, but it always reminded her of the first time they met.

After she successful guided him to the correct medical office, they met the next day for lunch. The first weekend for dinner. One month later, he asked her to marry him. Six months after that, they were married.

It was tough being an astronaut's wife. He would be gone for weeks, sometimes months for training. But she had loved him so much, it was always worth the wait when he returned. Well worth the wait!

One year later their son, Matt was born. Two years after that, Shelly. By then David had flown twice into space. Short hauls, really. One week apiece. The kids grew up fast. Matt wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Shelly was interested in tennis while David was still interested in returning to space. He got his chance in April. A six month stay on the space station.

At first, she didn’t like the idea. A long time gone. But David said this was probably his last chance to fly. He wasn’t getting any younger and due to some of the budget cutbacks, as well as the elimination of the shuttle, there weren't many more missions availaible.

David promised her, using those magic words every astronaut’s wife secretly longed to hear, “I’m going to retire, right after this mission.”

So it went. She and Matt and Shelly were at the Cape, when David and his crew rode the roman candle and lifted off for a rendezvous with the orbiting station.

She and the kids were always in awe of the power of the rocket, as it lifted off. However, this time she kept her fingers crossed. She was always told by the other wives that the last mission was always the hardest. They were right.

So she kept busy the next six months. Running the household and working part time at the hospital. While always watching over her two teenaged kids.

Once a week, NASA would pipe over a call from David in orbit. She and the kids would talk to him via a Skype-type hook up. She thought David looked a little thin since the last time she spoke to him just a week before, but other wise he seemed in good sprits. He was scheduled to return to earth that next week.

After saying goodbye to the kids, he told her he’d be seeing her soon.

“You think you can find me?” she laughed.

“You’ve always seen me safely home before, ground control,” he answered, with a big smile on his face, that took her once again back to that time they first met.

“Goodbye David, I love you!” she managed to say, just before her eyes teared up.

“Bye, sweetheart,” David replied, “love you, too. See you soon!”

Then the screen went blank, as the station drifted out of transmission range.

It turned out to be the longest week of her life. She hadn’t realized it at the time but it would turn out to be the longest week forever.

She and the kids didn’t go down to mission control that last time. The kids had school and she figured it would just be routine. She would wait for the call that he had landed safely. But the call she eventually received was not the one she expected or anticipated. For there had been a problem.

David and his crew had successfully dislodged from the station, but during their second orbit, just prior to beginning the retro burn that would begin their re-entry and return to earth, something had happened

Somehow, the capsule lost pressurization. The rapid lost of air had resulted in the suffocation of the entire crew. David was dead.

It took awhile for it all to sink in. She was in shock. She didn’t remember much after that. The following weeks were all a blur.

They had a memorial service for David. Of course, there was no body. David remains remained in the capsule still in orbit.

The years passed by. The kids became adults. Matt became an airline pilot. Shelly married and had two kids of her own. She knew David would have been so proud of them all. And after all these years she still made a point to visit David every night.

She would always go out, just after sunset and sit in a lawn chair. She would then glance at her watch as she waited for David.

Soon a pinpoint of light would appear, just over the western horizon. It would rise ever so slowly and majestically, seeming to float across the cloudless night sky. She would then intently watch the pinpoint that contained her husband and let the tears flow freely. She would keep an eye on that light until it gradually disappeared below the eastern horizon.

“Good night, my love,” she sorrowfully whispered, “I miss you so much. But I’ll wait for you again tomorrow night. I promise.”


© Copyright 2018 Felix Fossi. All rights reserved.

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