Spacing Out
CHAPTER
1
Personal Space
Space exploration isn’t amateur hour. It never has been. Up there, up in the deep abyss, the place where the stars are closer, your death is closer, and danger is all around, it’s a place for the experienced.
At least...that’s what Bree thought. Before the assembly. Before the book. Before the crowds. Before— any of it.
Before any of it, she had wanted to be one thing, the thing that she had built her life around. After it, her reality was shattered.
It happened to be an announcement from the canceled Space Program. The Space Program that had continued to do private research, but never spoke to the public.
It all started as she was watching the news to know what to wear. She was sitting in her dusty living room, which no one bothered to keep up due to how busy they were. Bree sank herself deeper into the grey couch, the couch that had once been yellow and not covered in patches. Greg, the usual newscaster, suddenly stopped reporting on the weather. He ran his hands through his salt and pepper hair as he looked at the next piece of paper that he had to read. And then...a huge grin erupted all over his face. Bree was about to turn off the program when Greg began to speak.
“The Space Program is being renewed!” Bree heard, from her television, “One final mission. A mission to explore the Goldilocks Planet of Siecles. We need astronauts. Six of them, to be exact!”
For a second, Bree’s breath caught in her throat. There was another mission from that Space Program. The same Space Program that had inspired Bree to become what every kid wanted to be, until they turned eight—a bona fide astronaut.
She pressed the grey button on the remote and turned up the volume to listen to the gregarious newscaster.
“The only requirements are that you’re over sixteen, you are able-bodied enough to go into space, you must be willing to stay in space for as long as DOSI needs you to. And one more thing. No professionals are permitted to apply for this prestigious mission. We want amateurs to send in their resumes.”
Greg broke character for a second, and shouted at the camera.
“I’m going to space!”
Bree didn’t even bother to switch off the television. Instead, she sprung up from her patchy, raggedy couch, and raced towards her room. Her bare feet bounded across the grimy carpet, and she screamed as loud as she could, into the toaster waffle scented air. No one else was home, her mother was at her job already—even though the sun hadn’t even risen. Her mother was always gone, at a job, on a date—she was anywhere except for at home. For once in her life, Bree didn’t care about the neighbor’s—she could make up a story, later. But she couldn’t contain her excitement; she couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She had a chance! She had a chance at her impossible dream. And she decided, right then and there, that she was going to get in.
Unfortunately, that was the same thought that thirty million had.
Bree knew that. But she had the upper hand—she was a writer, the head of the school newspaper, and had been grooming her resume for years to fit the Space Program qualifications. After all—that was her dream.
As she stepped into her room, filled with posters of her favorite bands, stickers, and books, she saw the lone Neil Armstrong quote that she had penciled into her bedside table. Her one piece of hope that was still there after the Space Program was canceled. That hope had just ballooned. She grinned as she saw that quote whilst reaching into her drawers. Bree tore apart her clothes, looking for her favorite outfit out of a sea of thrift shop garb.
For a second, Bree panicked, wondering if she had lost it. But no, there it was—her skirt, covered in yellow, glowing stars, and her blue shirt that read:
DOSI
Department Of Space Inquiry
Bree threw on her clothes, trying to pull her shirt over her head while making her bed. She knew that she had to dress to impress. The other students were going to know about the new mission, and they would be vying for the previous six spots. Teachers could write letters to recommend students for spots, for basically anything, and she needed one of those. She had to knock everyone away with her passion for space, or she would be another name on another rejection letter.
Looking at her reflection in the cracked mirror, Bree realized that she didn’t look like her her mother at all. She looked prepared. Ready to take off. She put on a smudge of lip gloss, and the image was complete.
Looking around at her home, she realized how false that image was.
But she didn’t have time to reflect. She looked out her small window, pressing her face to the glass, and saw the bus stop...three students were already standing there. That could only mean one thing. The bus was coming, and she had get grounded. Bree took ten deep breaths, and scurried out of her room.
As soon as she got out the door, the rusty hinges squeaking, Bree immediately heard two people chatting about how they were going to get in, about how qualified they were. They were her neighbors, fraternal twins Lottie and Mike. Bree ignored them—they were both failing a class. She couldn’t get intimidated by them, they had no shot. Of course they weren’t going to bother her, but still...
She fluffed up her thick, textured hair, and proceeded to smooth it out over her earthen skin. It was going to rain later, based off the dark clouds, but that wasn’t going to ruin her image. She gave the twins a glare, and sat down on the hard, plastic bench.
The games were about to begin.
Was she ready for the Space Race?
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