Space Shuttle in a Bottle is our winning flash fiction entry. We were impressed by the nostalgic tone and sense of awe for the world above us. Congratulations Nelly. She receives our Principia prize pack. Enjoy!
“How do you get inside it?” I asked baffled.
My mum giggled. “You don’t, dear. It’s just a souvenir. It’s not a real ship. And even if it were, you wouldn’t fit in such a tiny space. You’re a big girl now.”
“Well, maybe not me, but a tiny crew could fit in. I just need to get this space shuttle out of the bottle first so it can properly go to space on a rocket, you know?”
As I climb up the ladder, I remember that first time my parents took me to the space centre. It was a very hot day and our tour was very crowded. I barely saw the miniatures and replicas inside the display cabinets. I just wanted to go home. Until I saw it: the colour of a space orca whale, a real Space Shuttle that had been into space several times, was now stranded forever on land. Before that bittersweet sight, I decided one day I’d become an astronaut.
We’re about to enter our Soyuz. The world has started to look very different from here. The rocket at our feet is huge. We are a tiny crew.
“Cosmonauts are like wizards. They have those wands they use to push buttons that take them into space,” I said.
“That’s silly. You’re silly. You and your silly bottle.” My cousin knew nothing.
“I swear! I saw it on TV! They use engineer magic! And rocket fuel!” Then I stormed into my room.
Our commander closes the hatch.
—All systems nominal.—
The first song mission control is playing is the one I chose. The one that was playing that day. In my memories, though, the music is mixed with the sound of braking glass.
I look up: it’s there hanging, waiting.
I hear a heavy sound. Then the vibrations. The weight that prevents my hands from moving. The weight. The burden. Then nothing.
I look up again: my space shuttle is floating. It’s free and so am I.