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Marge was standing as motionless as a small statue when I arrived. Her arms were folded against her thin breasts as
she stared at the evening sky; a breath of October wind blew past her and she pulled her sweater tighter before brushing an auburn lock of hair from her face. When I got
out of my car she gave me a distracted glance and a slight wave then turned her attention back towards the sky. stood next to her and said nothing. “It seems like he’s been gone forever,” she said quietly. “It almost seems like he was never here.” I dug two fingers I
“A lot of us miss Tony,” I said.
into my breast pocket before remembering that I had quit smoking several years ago. “He was the best of us all. He No more I
just don’t understand why he accepted that mission. could have just as easily retired. No more risks.
flights to the Moon, or Mars, or anywhere. stayed here. Earthbound. Safe.”
He could have
I scratched my whiskers.
“But, Marge, you have to remember, he is still listed only as missing. We never confirmed that his ship broke-up. That’s all. He could We
just lost communication with him. still be...” “No. He’s not coming back.
Besides, he belongs up
there,” she said, her eyes glistening in the dusky light. “He always said that he could almost see Heaven when he was up there, between the stars.” She drew a deep breath then
sighed a long sigh, and asked, “I wonder what it’s like up there? It looks lonely to me.” I watched
“It’s...it’s different up there,” I said.
the stars as they began to yawn and blink and stir awake. “Up there, there is no sound. Only calm. it to. No smell. No up or down.
Everything moves as fast or as slow as you want
You almost forget who you are -- where you are. There is so much to see -Part of you
You find yourself overwhelmed.
just one more galaxy, one more solar system.
wants to go home and part of you wants to find another moon, another planet. Sometimes you wish you could just
stay there and float forever, from star to star, in your
little titanium and steel shell but the automatic pilot overrides Telescope/Gamblin/page 3
your controls because you are low on food or water or fuel.” I exhaled a tired breath. “Of course, these days And hundreds
they use nuclear power to reach light speeds.
of planets have been cataloged that have plenty of food and water. Everything else you need for a fifty year flight
can be packed in a suitcase.” The sky was now as dark as deep water; stars were spread and shining like diamonds scattered on black velvet. It was getting late and I had my own life, my own realities to return to, so I asked, “If there is anything Sarah or I can do for you...” “Oh, I’m just fine,” she said with a wave. “My
daughter stops by now and then, helps me manage my bills. Tony was careful to make sure I was taken care of. always made sure of that.” He
A tired smile crossed her face. She held
“He kept on buying me all kinds of silly things.” out her hand with fingers spread.
“He bought me a guitar And a
right after we met because I had long fingers.
vacuum cleaner that buffed shoes and sharpened knives when all I needed was one that vacuumed floors.” She let out an
laugh, and said, “Why, just before he left he bought me a ...” mouth. Her eyes opened nearly as wide as her speechless She took a few tiny steps towards the house before Then she ran
begging me to wait just one more minute. inside.
I heard a closet door open, a few boxes and
possibly an umbrella hit the floor, until, finally, she came outside, dragging a very large and very long box behind her. “He said this was the most powerful one made,” she said, breathlessly, as she laid the box on the ground. “A telescope,” I said. “Yes,” she answered. “He was going to set it up Something to do
before he left but he had to leave early.
with the weather,” she said with a shrug as she opened the box. The telescope lay there wrapped in plastic and surrounded by molded foam; it was indeed the most powerful one made -- you could probably spot a golf ball on the Moon
How did Tony managed to get it past security?
But, it really did not matter because there it was and Marge was struggling to get the tube from the box. “Will you help me put this together,” she asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“But can’t it wait until tomorrow?
It is kind of late and ...” “Oh no!” Her words were nearly panicked. “It may be
cloudy tomorrow -- even raining.
Or the Earth may have Who She
rotated just enough so that I won’t be able to see. knows? But I can’t afford to waste another night.”
pulled the legs of the tripod out along with a bag of nuts, bolts, and screws. I checked my watch. some tools. “I guess I could run home and get
I can be back in about an hour.”
Marge got to her feet as fast as her stiff joints would allow, and said, “Tony has plenty of tools in the basement you can use. Now run down there and get what you I’ll even call Sarah and I did not argue
need and I’ll make some coffee.
tell her that you’ll be a little late.”
with her as she hurried off, she was as happy as I had seen her in months. It took me over an hour to finish because government telescopes do not come with instructions. But when I did
finished, its polished, black tube was pointed to the sky and ready to capture Mars or Venus or Neptune in its giant eye and deliver their image to whoever cared to peek in the eyepiece. I was about to look when Marge let the screen Telescope/Gamblin/page 6
door slam behind her.
She moved slowly towards the
telescope, which pointed to the far reaches of her wonder, of her imagination. Her fingers brushed its smooth surface
lightly so as not to disturb its angle. “Would you get a chair for me,” she asked as her eyes still studied the telescope. I helped her into her chair, adjusted the telescope’s height and watched her peek into the eyepiece. She barely
even waved as I wished her a good night, she only sighed, and said, “I can almost see Heaven.” And I believed her.