Second Place – Hank S. (6-8th grade category)

Second Place – Hank S. (6-8th grade category)

The Rocket – Hank S.

The night is cool, the air crisp. I lay in bed awake, my stomach grumbling. Outside, the stars shine as bright as the sun. I get out of bed, even though my whole body wants me to stay back in its warm embrace. I make my way into the small kitchen, looking for something to settle my stomach.

“Unable to sleep?” asks a voice from behind me.

From the corner of my eye I see my grandfather, George. “Yeah,” I reply, turning back to the kitchen. Grandpa George is one of the quirkiest people I have ever met. One thing he does is whenever he sits down, his right eye twitches and when he gets up, his left. Also, every time he leaves or enters a room he farts. On purpose.

A great rumbling coming from outside interrupts me. I look to my grandfather, but he is just standing there, beaming. I dash outside to our tiny backyard and can’t believe what I see: a sleek, white rocket ship is hurtling into space.

“Oh my god! I—, this is—,” I am speechless. I stand there, awestruck as the mechanical marvel lights up the sky.

My grandfather comes up beside me and puts his arm around me as the rumbling starts to subside. We stay out there for a while, our eyes glued to the bright light of the ship’s engines, slowly fading out into the morning fog, until it disappears from sight.

Finally, after some shooing from George, I make my way back into my bed, and close my eyes. The image of the rocket, now long gone, fills my eyelids as I drift off into a peaceful sleep.

 

20 Years Later

I hear the booming voice of the announcer counting down the seconds until we launch and leave the protective arms of Mother Earth.

“T-MINUS: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5,” I look over at my fellow astronauts, hoping one will make eye contact with me, but I look in vain.

“4, 3, 2, 1,” I make an attempt to brace myself for the ignition of our rocket’s two enormous boosters, but it’s no use. The engines are too powerful.

“LIFTOFF!” The retaining arms release, and suddenly we are rocketing up into the air. My face hurts and I think it’s from the violent shaking of our vehicle, but then I realize that it’s cramping from smiling so hard.

As we climb higher, I think back to that little boy standing at the edge of his yard, watching a rocket take off. I think back to my grandfather, quirky as he was, and how he financed my dream of going to space. I wonder if he’s watching me now, on the top of this rocket. I call to him, knowing that he is out there, in the vast emptiness of space.

As we reach the edge of Earth’s atmosphere, I close my eyes and see that the rocket of long ago has now lifted me into space.