Brooks C. Mendell

Aliens Want Space, Too

“Dad, there’s no way we’ll ever have a space station on Mars,” said Daniel, slinging the football toward me. The ball tumbled through the air like an empty milk jug, landing six feet away from him in the grass.

“Why not?” I asked. To hide the disappointment of my son throwing like an Ewok, I looked across the street to watch the Martle twins wrestle in their yard.  

“Someone blows up in our house every day,” said Daniel, stepping forward to palm the ball. “How could you stuff fifty people into pods and expect them to make it? Someone will take the last lollipop or forget to flush. They’d eat each other.”

Instead of throwing again, Daniel walked over to me. Together, we watched the fraternal twins battle. The boy bearhugged his sister off the ground. She responded with a fluid shoulder roll to free an arm, get her feet down, and spin her brother into a half-nelson, riding him to the dirt. 

“Pretty slick move for an eight-year-old,” I said.

“Yeah, she can throw a spiral too,” said Daniel. I looked at him. “Seriously. She’s impressive.”

Behind us, the screen door opened. “Hey, boys, we baked some cookies,” said Katina, holding the door for Mom, who carried a plastic bowl. 

I watched my wife and daughter come down the front steps, one a mirror of the other, and wondered at the emotional mixology of cloistered and chaotic families and tribes. Which approach, what ingredient or flavor, brings people together rather than blowing them apart when life gets real?

“Chocolate chip!” said Katina, loud enough for the Martle twins to hear as Mom handed over the bowl and blew me a kiss. Then the two of them headed back into the house arm in arm.

“How long will the peace last?” asked Daniel, nodding toward his mother and sister.

I waved the Martle twins over to share in our bounty and play catch. “Long enough to eat two cookies.”

“So, eat slow?”

Looking around at my world, I took a bite and chewed deliberately. I stopped myself from recycling a speech about controlling what you can and living in the present and smiled at the idea that we could delay the inevitable and create for ourselves moments of space and peace — and hoped that it was true. 

Brooks C. Mendell writes and works in forestry near Athens, Georgia. His stories have appeared in venues such as Storgy, Maudlin House, DSF and The RavensPerch.