The aching in her stomach wouldn’t stop. She sat in a lawn chair and stared at the sky, breathing in the frigid morning air, watching the horizon for signs of the rocket.
The sky was blue, pure azure. Not the brilliant indigo of May or the faded cornflower of late summer, just January blue.
The twisted throbbing in her abdomen continued, like poison butterflies had been let loose inside her stomach. She wrapped her jacket snugly around her neck to ward off the chill air and compartmentalized her feelings. Why was she so on edge? She couldn’t find words to describe it or to explain the dread wrapping its tentacles around her subconscious. She closed her eyes and took in the quiet of the morning, trying to calm her beating heart.
A low, resounding rumble took the place of the silence. She shouted over her shoulder toward the house and he came outside to join her, glancing away from the sky momentarily to look at her tight face. ‘You alright?’
She nodded, took another deep breath. ‘The smoke looks different this time, don’t you think?’
He shrugged. ‘Looks like smoke to me.’
They watched for a minute longer; they had always liked to see the launches together. He said it was part of the fun of living in Florida, to see history being made, though a history they never expected was waiting to take place.
Next all they saw was that fire. The instant, deadly tongues of fire shooting out of the shuttle. It wasn’t the fire of the rocket boosters she’d seen before, those had been different. ‘What was that?’ He asked, but she couldn’t hear him. Now smoke was pouring out, materializing out of thin air, engulfing the entire scene and blocking the shuttle from view.
Two streams of smoke continued in their trajectory, tracing across the sky, but something was arcing its way back down to the ocean.
With a start, she comprehends what’s happened. She’s just seen death, and for the first and last time in her life, a scream of terror escapes from her bloodless lips.
In memory of the Challenger Disaster.
Lately my head’s been in the clouds so you’re all being subjected to my fictional jaunts. I hope you all have a grand weekend!