John W Partington
Suspend disbelief - have an adventure

Lettes to God

The Moment

It was 1986, and my entire grade school was crowded into the gym to watch the launch of the Challenger. Shuttle launches were a big deal back then. Astronauts were cool; the height of physical and mental perfection, mad skills in advanced sciences and practical engineering. It was every kids’ dream to be an astronaut, even the ones who wouldn’t admit it in public.

Our principal, a middle-aged dude, who had failed out of flight school and ended up in the public school system, had just finished giving a very passionate speech about how if we applied ourselves we could all become astronauts. Challenger lifted off, thick plumes of dense smoke billowing from its thrusters. We all cheered as the screen showed the shuttle lifting ponderously into the sky. Every kid in the gym wanted, at that moment, to be an astronaut.

The shuttle exploded seconds later. They never found more than a finger of the seven-person crew. That finger was burnt, so identification was impossible. It shook the nation, the entire planet. For the first time we all realized sitting on top of a half million gallons of rocket fuel, and then igniting it, might not be the most successful of survival instincts. I wanted to be an astronaut more than ever.

I want to know what happens:

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