“How long are you willing to chill before you get it? I know you’ve wanted this for a long time, dude.”
“I don’t know, but I’ll make sure it won’t be long. It’s been years and I still haven’t gone into space. I’m gonna snap if my superiors pick me over again.”
I’ve wanted to be an astronaut ever since I saw an ad for a telescope in a magazine as a young teenager. It wasn’t even a decade later when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. I’ve been part of the NASA program since I graduated from college. It’s been five years since that day. I’ve never been past 35,000 feet.
“If they won’t choose you on their own, you’re gonna have to speak up, man. Take the initiative for once,” said Jim, my best friend since grade school, and also the man who stole my heart. “If you go to them complaining, they’ll have no choice but to put you on the next mission.”
“I don’t know, maybe. I don’t want them to fire me for stepping out of line,” I glance at my shoes, sheepish. “I’ve been patient this long. I guess I can wait a bit longer. Launch day is only a few months away anyway. They’ll pick another crew after the mission is complete.”
“Danny, look at me,” I look up at Jim’s face. His features are set in a stern line. I can tell I’m about to get told off. “If you don’t speak up, nothing will change. They’ll keep you at the back of the line for the rest of your career, and I’ll have to keep picking up your broken pieces and putting you back together every time you get rejected. You’re my best friend, man. I hate seeing you like this. If you won’t do anything, I’ll do it for you. You deserve to be up there with the stars, not here on the ground.” Tears sting my eyes and I glance away. It’s getting harder and harder to hide my feelings. It’s always a bad moment to act on them, but he does this every time without fail. My heart can’t hold back much longer. When he gets like this, I have to stop him from doing something he’ll regret later every time. But, I’m at the end of my tether at this point. He’s right, I need to take a stand. I thought to myself, taking a deep breath as I make my decision.
“Okay, I’ll say something. I’ve been hearing rumors they’re gonna shut down the moon landings soon. I need to take my chance before that happens. I’m going to turn right back around, march in there, and tell my superior that I’m going to space on the next mission, or I’m walking out those doors and never coming back. I will be on the Apollo 17 mission,” I say, completely determined. I turn to face Jim again, some of my heart pouring itself into my next words. “I’ll only do it if you come with me, though. You’ve been with me through it all. You deserve to be there for this. I’m gonna need the support anyway.” Jim nodded.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Let’s do this!”
The meeting was lengthy, dragging on through contingency after contingency. Hours of negotiating back and forth about logistics and commitment to the project took place, but our mission was successful in the end. My superior agreed: it was time. Victorious, Jim and I left to return home.
“I knew you could do it!” Jim shouted, slapping my back in triumph. “You’re going to space, dude!”
“I am,” I said, a toothy smile on my face as we walked. My heart fluttered at the contact of his hand on my back. I should tell him soon, I thought. It’s almost my time to be among the stars, and I don’t want to have any regrets when I leave. Blast off is less than a year away, after all. I can’t stand to wait any longer.