by Jamie Wallace
mocha latte : sweet, creamy goodness, with a little sting of espresso
He would miss the colors of Earth the most: the emerald waters of the river cutting through sandy banks, his wife’s favorite coral pink lipstick, the orange autumn leaves against a stormy sky. The moon would be toneless in comparison. On the patio, Steve sat with his back to the green Florida foliage but kept a sharp mental picture filed away for future use.
Steve cleared his throat. Waiting for the countdown of his launch was like suffering the last moment of a perfect first date: the moment of deciding whether to lean in for a kiss or quietly walk away. His watch ticked off the seconds.
Sitting across from Steve was his wife, Clara. “Time’s almost up. What do you have left to do before you go?” she asked.
Everything was packed, all words had been said, there was nothing left to do but wait for the jingle of the telephone. Steve’s skin crawled with bottled up energy like ants on a forgotten piece of food.
“I just want to take in the colors,” said Steve. The hotel room was on the other side of the open patio door. The color scheme of burnt orange and avocado green spun like a kaleidoscope.
A light pink telephone sat on the bedside table, mocking him with its silence. Ring, dammit, ring, he thought. His fingers drummed a staccato rhythm on his pant leg.
Clara smiled and shifted in her seat. When her polyester pant suit slid across the vinyl of the chair, it was like a bow skimming across a violin string. A soft breeze blew a puff of her scent, and he stole a lungful: Chanel No. 5 and Aqua Net. The ticking of Clara’s fingers on the side of her glass vibrated through his brain, and as she hummed ‘Hey Jude’, he hummed along. The blue of her eyes swept him away like the ocean tide. With the blush of her cheek, bedroom memories rolled through his mind like a movie reel. An escaped piece of sunshine yellow hair swayed in the breeze. Time didn’t matter anymore.
Steve grasped Clara’s hands. A bit of dirt had wedged itself under her pinky nail. A half-smile played across his lips. “Didn’t like the gardening gloves I picked out?” he asked.
“I love the feel of Earth in my hands.”
The telephone rang with a shrill echo in the silent room.
Clara trembled. Letting go of her, Steve rose and walked into the room. Clara followed.
The telephone rang, again.
I don’t have to answer it, thought Steve. Wavering thoughts rushed through his mind. Walk away with Clara. Be together. Start a family. Stay.
Rocket to the Moon. Make history. Give back to the human race. Leave.
The hum in Steve’s mind calmed at the sound of Clara’s firm tone.
Clara’s lips were pressed in a hard line. Her eyes, bright with tears, were large. Without hesitation, she walked to the bedside table.
The telephone stopped mid ring.
“Hello? Yes, sir, understood.” Hanging up the telephone, Clara turned to Steve. “It’s time.”
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