One City One Story 2016 Writing Contest: “A Vivid Memory”
Category 2: Grades 6-8
by Brianna Granados
Southmore Intermediate School
Alfred wanted to be an astronaut. When he was a kid, his parents would smile warmly and encouraged his dream. They bought him dozens of constellation posters, let him cover his bedroom walls in glow-in-the-dark stars, and for his tenth birthday, bought him a telescope.
To them, it was all just a silly dream he would grow out of. They would make sure he didn’t get too hurt when he realized that he would never be an astronaut.
On Alfred’s twelfth birthday, he was asked what he wanted to be. “An astronaut!” He had replied cheerfully. The other kids snickered, and a nervous expression spread across his teacher’s face. He didn’t know why she had made that face until she put a hand on his shoulder and smiled a smile filled with pity and explained why he could not be an astronaut.
When he arrived home, his parents held out his cake; huge smiles spread across their faces. He knew it was a silly thing to get worked up about. After all he was twelve now. His cake didn’t have to be filled with designs or cool toppings.
Still, his stomach churned as if he had eaten something bad, and he felt it was hard to breathe. His cake was plain white, a strawberry on each corner, but that was it. It wasn’t space themed like the others had been. He couldn’t help but think his parents had stopped believing in him too. After he explained he had a rough day at school, his parents let him retreat to his room.
He looked through his telescope, sighing wistfully at the stars and planets he saw through the glass. The gadget made his dreams seem so close—as if all he had to do was reach his hands up as far as he could manage and he’d touch the moon, see and study stars, and discover planets.
It seemed like such a plausible thing if he just stayed determined and tried hard enough, but everyone told him it just wouldn’t happen.
He looked down at his wheelchair feeling the tears from his built up frustration blur his vision. He clenched his fists and hit the sides of his chair.
That was the first time he remembered feeling such pure hatred towards the world. He sobbed into his hand, angry at himself for crying when he was supposed to be older now, angry at the world for kindly asking what his dreams were, only to tell him he couldn’t.
It wasn’t his fault he couldn’t walk. He had been doing everything just fine before, hadn’t he? His disability had never slowed him down, he never felt any different. He was simply Alfred, a boy with dreams too big for this world, and no one had bothered him about it before. So why now? Why could he suddenly not be what he wants to be? He was only twelve, is that what had changed?
After a while, Alfred managed to calm himself down. He felt so exhausted. Just as he was about to call his parents to help him get ready, he glanced up at the dark sky and the stars spread across it. A lump was caught in his throat as he saw the fleeting light of a shooting star.
He adjusted the telescope as fast as he could, and felt his worries be swept away at the sight of the falling piece of rock. Alfred decided then, that just because everyone else was willing to give up his dreams for him, he’d just try twice as hard.