The 7th round of the Music Be The Food flash fiction event is upon us. The new song is “Golden Sunlight”, by 311 and the next piece of fiction is by R.N. Drum. Listen to this particularly uplifting song and read R.N.’s wonderful story.
Patrick Bailor was dying. Not today. Probably not next week either. But he was, without question, dying. His cancer was moving quickly. The radiation and chemotherapies had given the people around him more hope than it did to him. He eventually gave up on treatments. He was getting tired of feeling miserable while dying.
Thursday night had rolled around and the forecast was for clear skies, so Patrick took himself out for a treat. His first stop was the drive-through of the Dairy Hut and picked up a hot fudge sundae, no nuts. He didn’t mind nuts with ice cream, but his teeth had become more sensitive lately and he was starting to eat more soft foods. His second stop was the most important of the night.
The personal observatory was twelve miles away and up in the hills. The drive there was usually easy unless it was in the dead of winter, so he had made sure that the shack had solar panels and a generator so he could run a heater along with the coffee maker. He wouldn’t have to run either tonight, though. The summer had been pleasant so far, and the low was supposed to be around 64 degrees.
The view was just as awesome as it had always been. Patrick parked the truck next to the domed shack. He couldn’t see much of the landscape, but still paused and scanned the countryside while he finished the last bit of melted ice cream. He had seen the hills and valleys of Montana for most of his life and even though he couldn’t see them at this late hour, he knew what lay around him. He was more concerned about the view above. He had spent every night for the past month on the hill, and tonight was special. Jupiter would be visible all night, and he would be able to see her.
Patrick had chosen the hill, dubbed Emily’s Point, as an ideal spot for his observatory. The people over at Blue Mountain had been nice enough to offer help get him up and running. Jason Dixon, a technician and astrophysics student, spent several hours with Patrick, teaching him how to use the computer to aim what he called “an unreasonably large telescope for a single person to use”. Jason had also encouraged Patrick to take photos of his planetary targets, but Patrick brushed the idea aside.
“I’ll be up here enough that I won’t need to take any pictures home,” he said. “Besides, I’m not going to be around long enough to appreciate them even if I did.”
Patrick opened the door and flipped a switch, which turned on a dim red light. He unlocked the dome and pulled the lever that opened it to the sky. Everything he wanted lay just beyond. He could already spot Jupiter without the telescope, and this brought a smile to his face. Something that he didn’t do very often any more.
Now where is she?
Patrick found the Aquila IV after thirty minutes of searching. The large solar arrays glowed with copper brilliance, but it was still hard to find. It didn’t really look as though it were moving, but Patrick knew that it was hurtling a crew of six towards Jupiter at… how fast? He couldn’t remember. He pressed his eyes hard against the stereo eyepiece of the telescope. He imagined that she was looking back at Earth. Back at him.
I wanted to be so much more, he whispered as he watched his daughter fly so far from home. His view became clouded with tears and he wiped them on his shirt sleeve.
I wanted so much for you, and you found it, little girl. I couldn’t give you what you needed, so you went to find it on your own and I couldn’t be more proud. I only wanted to see you happy.
I tried, and I’m sorry that I wasn’t the man your mother needed me to be.
I’m sorry that I wasn’t the father that you needed me to be.
I wish for you.
I wish everything for you.