Friday, June 29, 2012
When he rode in their spaceship he was given the MVP treatment. MVP, they called it for him, because he was only 9 and it had more enchantment than VIP because of little league. They set him up with a tv with flickering cartoons, sugary rainbow colored cereal, and gallons of blue Kool-Aid. It was maybe a week into summer vacation, that year of cicadas, their shrill dying chirp. It was also the year of his parents falling apart, the nights of silent rooms, the only comfort the hum of air conditioning units. He looked through the ship windows but all there was was black, distant specks of starlight. The aliens onboard were different shapes and sizes and colors. Some were stout and green. Others were tall and yellow. Some looked almost like humans. Others were more like cartoons, bulbous masses, multi-headed. None were scary. They watched him like they were being amused by his presence. The circus-like noises of the shows filled the cabin. They didn't speak but had a screen that posted brief responses in English when he asked questions. Where are you taking me? Out and about. How long will I be gone? For a bit. Are you real? Yes. Do you have popcorn? No. Do my parents know I'm gone? No. Do you have a bathroom? To the right and down the passageway. And, after some more cartoon cacophony and silence, is it my fault, which was met with multiplying ellipses. So, after a bit, he woke up in bed at home, hazy morning sun through his window, the neighbors having their oak tree cut down at 8:00 A.M. Downstairs he could hear clanking dishes, his mother's voice, words indistinguishable. How long was he gone, and did it really happen? In later years, after mom had been remarried and widowed, and dad again divorced, and he'd bounced back and forth between the two and their strangers, he'd tell his therapist about his time on the spaceship. She would listen, nodding her head as if she understood and believed, but inevitably, there would be more sessions, more prescriptions, more breaking down of the overarching metaphor, as she called it. Even as he lost jobs and fumbled through doomed relationships and buried his father and left a child in some different stepparent galaxy, he thought, come back to me, let me go with you, just for a bit.