Another Low Lit Memory
The rocket sputtered, sparks coughing themselves to death and fading to black before ever reaching the grass.
Wendell ran the numbers in his head. Thrust, gravity, heat, each measurement held up against the others. At this point it was simply a matter of scale.
Wendell had always loved rockets, ever since he first saw his father’s retro alarm clock, with it’s gleaming silver, manned-missile and countdown base. That Christmas he had been given a model rocket set. His mother insisted the boys wait until March to set it off, when they would be able to chase after it without losing it in the snow, but his father snuck him out after dinner one night, telling Wendell’s mother they were running to the store. At the football field, under the glow of the moon, the rocket took flight.
It proved difficult to fish out of the bleachers, but there were three more engines in the package, and Wendell wanted to use them all.
It wasn’t until four summers later, when he left for the vacation following his sixth year of grade school, that Wendell discovered his other love: Sarah Meenon.
Wendell, who had always found himself at something of a loss for words around beautiful women, owing largely to the fact he had only recently discovered they existed, hidden among and replacing the girls he had gone to school with for years, blossomed in Sarah’s presence. She laughed at his jokes, even though he suspected they were the types which only father’s tell, involving bad puns and gentle elbows to the ribs. She demanded he tell her stories, both fact and fiction. He blended the two artfully, and told her tales of rockets and knights, cowboys and fishing boats. He told her of a snow fortress he had built once, and it’s epic counterpart he had imagined it to be. She insisted that someday they’d live there, as she slid her glasses back up her nose.
At the end of the Summer, he realized why he hadn’t seen her before. Her family were snowbirds, leaving the chill embrace of Michigan for the balmier climes of Florida. The night before she left, Wendell took her to the football field, and overcame his reluctance on two fronts. As he held her hand, he held out the launcher. She pressed the button, and the rocket streaked into the nightsky, becoming another star until it popped, and parachuted safely home.
“It’s fun, but it can’t take us anywhere.”
Wendell was not heart-broken. Sure, she didn’t think rockets were the coolest thing ever, but that was alright. She thought he was pretty cool. And besides, rockets could be useful.
Running the numbers again in his head, Wendell began to set up the rows. One-hundred yards, degrees of inclination, and a ridiculously convoluted launching mechanism, with thousands and thousands of branching wires. If he launched them all, the force, according to his doodles that filled the margins of every page of his textbooks, should slow the Earth’s rotation, and slowly force it, ever so delicately, the other way. He was sure of it. He had to be sure. He had scraped every dime and quarter, cutting lawns and delivering papers for 9 months.
Once he had Summer all year round, he’d have Sarah too.