Like countless galactic travelers before him, he drifted toward our bright atmosphere, homed in on the glow of a city, then followed the flashing lights and siren songs of local ambulae to the circular drive of a hospital. When he saw my mom leaning against a concrete pillar outside the E.R, smoking a Salem, all seven of his hearts leapt. These days, multiple hearts discombobulate even medical types, but back then everybody and their grandmother raised chickens, and not for decoration—to chop, pluck, and disembowel. Dinner-eaters everywhere knew that birds (like many life forms) have copious coronae, which is my way of saying multiple hearts. Kids ate them on crackers with ketchup or a squirt of lime.
As it happened, my mom had just been jilted by the chief surgeon and could still taste his kiss even after black coffee with Listerine and, while she longed for Johnny Walker, she wouldn’t drink on duty (or her fifteen-minute break, which this was) but she was on the re-bound, and ready for something new.
And she’d always had a thing for drifters.
These days, they’d call that (coupled with the fact that the surgeon was married) commitment-phobic, but romantic notions are like scabs and my mom picked. When he asked if she’d like to take a ride, she said sure—as long as they’d be back in ten.
Mom prefers things up close, under a microscope, so she wasn’t impressed with the view, but she liked the engine, and he didn’t fuss about her smoking, which she appreciated. He offered her some of the air from his planet.
This is the part where Mom always giggles and then sends me to clean my room.
But I want to know. That’s why I always do my math homework first, and in my best writing. You need a perfect GPA to get where I’m headed, possibly as Valedictorian. Credentials open the door for ability, so I prioritize their remedial stuff and work on my rockets after. I don’t know what galaxy he’s from or how to find him. I get that I probably never will find him (if he’s even still alive), but I’m like Odysseus. I’m going. And I think Elon Musk is …. well, he’s not an option. So, I study business too. Because I’ll have to build my own rocket and that takes cash. Of course, I’m applying for that internship with NASA. I’d like to get my hands on their non-public data.
The bummer is I can’t be an astronaut. I’m the right size, and I’ve got the brains, but they test you like crazy and doctors are so backwards these days. They freak if a girl has even three hearts.