This free fiction is part of The Infinite Bard project. A new story will be linked to the IB site every other week, so be sure to check back often!
When I was a child, I dreamed of space. Of marvelous ships that would take me to the moon…and far beyond.
When I was a girl, rockets were being launched on a regular basis as the super powers raced to leave the confines of our familiar planet. Unmanned flights broke through the atmosphere, followed by experimental shots with dogs and chimpanzees as unwilling astronauts.
How we cheered when those creatures returned to us unharmed.
Finally, Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth.
But though we had escaped the atmosphere, we had not yet conquered gravity’s pull. And then, in the summer of my fifteenth year, Neil Armstrong took “a giant step for mankind” and set foot upon the moon.
I still dream of space, and though I am no longer young enough to take that journey to the stars myself, I have faith that my descendants will.
Actually, I am blessed with absolute certainty, for I have seen the future … and it is glorious.
“Glorious?” you ask. I can hear the skepticism dripping from each syllable.
It’s hard to imagine right now when our race is suffering through the mess and pain of a difficult delivery, when the next phase of humanity struggles to emerge from the womb, to take its first breath of air into as yet untried lungs and scream its birth-cry to the stars.
But as women through the ages can tell you, no matter the pain, blood, sweat-drenched physical exhaustion, the child is always worth the effort.
So too will humanity’s next iteration be worth the effort when our current travail has passed.
* * *
I am part of that next iteration, humanity’s next step. I am a stargazer, and though I am doomed to live and die on the surface of only one planet, I have seen my race’s diaspora to the stars. I am content.
I have always understood my connection to Mother Earth, have felt the fluctuating pressures of her tectonic plates, understood the moody shifts of her ocean swells, reveled in the rhythmic flow of her molten core. She is my mother, and her steady heartbeat soothes and comforts me.
But my connection to the moon was a revelation.
The moment Neil Armstrong’s booted foot touched the airless surface of our nearest neighbor, my senses awoke. They have been expanding outward for nearly fifty years. Some days it’s very difficult to tether myself to this frail human body, but my time has not yet come.
My task is not to set plans and programs in motion. Mine is to ensure that the suns, moons, asteroids and planets that we pass will recognize us. That each will give its blessing and speed us on our way.
For each star that I gaze, each bit of the universe that my consciousness touches, retains a memory of mankind. I spread wonder and joy and the awe of exploration so that when my physical descendants arrive they will be welcomed and acknowledged.
My task is to dream; to imprint the universe. Others will design and engineer and build the means to achieve what I dream.
I am a stargazer, the first of my kind. And when the next of my kin arrives, I will pass on my knowledge, and then … and then I will untether my soul and fly free among the stars I have dreamed.