On Saturday night Mum won the lottery. One million, seven hundred and seventy seven dollars and seventy two cents!
On Monday, she paid all the bills until there were none left to pay.
On Tuesday, we went shopping for new clothes and a red station wagon.
On Wednesday, we bought a nice little flat for my Grandparents to live in. Their old one was always leaking and very noisy.
By Thursday, Mum was out of ideas.
‘That’s all the official stuff done,’ she said. ‘Now what shall we do with all this extra cash? You can choose one thing each.’
‘Can I visit our cousins in Australia?’ My sister asked.
‘I’m going to enrol for sky diving classes!’ My brother said excitedly.
I had one thing that I had always wanted to do. ‘I want to go into outer space,’ I announced. ‘You said I could go if we ever won Lotto’, I reminded Mum.
‘Wouldn’t you rather get a pony…’ she asked.
‘No way! I want to see Earth from space. I think that would be way cool!’
‘I think a pony would be safer…but okay my little scientist, I’ll look into it,’ she finally said.
On Friday there was a glossy brochure sitting next to my cereal bowl.
‘Space Sensations: For people who want to see it all.’
It cost a lot of money. ‘Are you sure Mum?’ I asked her.
‘Of course. It’s your dream professor. You must while you can!’ She picked up the phone and booked me a place on the next flight. I went upstairs to pack.
An astronaut in a spacesuit met us at the reception desk of ‘Space Sensations’.
She shook my hand with her shiny space gloves on. ‘Are you ready for an intergalactic experience?’ she yelled through her space helmet.
‘Yes, I think so,’ I yelled back to her. ‘I wasn’t sure what to pack though.’ She laughed, fogging up her mask. Mum signed some papers and we went to find my room.
The next morning, a whole bunch of doctors checked me over and over and over.
‘Breathe in here.’
‘Run on this.’
‘Read this chart.’ After several hours of poking and prodding they agreed I was ‘fit as a fiddle and ready to go’.
I also had to take classes with the other passengers on my flight. We had a few things to learn. Like all about how gravity was going to push right down on us when the rockets boosted the spaceship up. Also, we had to know how to control ourselves when we were weightless.
It took three whole days of listening and training before the launch day finally arrived.
‘I can’t believe I’m actually going to break through the Earth’s atmosphere!’ I told my nervous mother.
‘Are you sure this is quite safe…?’ she called after one of the pilots on his way to the bathrooms.
Eventually–looking somewhat more satisfied that the spaceship wasn’t going to burst into flames on the runway–Mum gave me a really tight hug and a big smooshy kiss on the cheek before I went to get suited up.
There were two pilots and five other space passengers. We all had specially designed silver spacesuits that made us look exactly the same–that is, like aliens from a science fiction movie.
‘Easy up the ladder space explorers,’ a steward warned us. It was a bit like getting in an ordinary plane, except that there were fewer people and the steward stayed outside instead of offering us water and headsets.
I sat in a banana shaped seat. It was really comfortable. I fastened the seatbelts and took a few deep breaths.
‘This is it! I’m off to capture the aliens!’ one loony passenger joked. At least I think he was joking.
‘Welcome aboard everybody. This is what you’ve spent the last few days preparing for.’ The pilot’s voice came through the speakers in my helmet.
‘You don’t say,’ said a surly old passenger with a frown on his face. ‘This better be worth my retirement fund.’
The professional astronauts came and checked our seats and restraints.
‘Is everybody ready?’ The pilot asked. I held up my thumb, as did all of the other passengers. ‘Okay. Time for lift off then!’ I felt the shuttle move along the runway. It still didn’t feel any different to a normal plane. I was starting to worry that it wouldn’t be. Then, suddenly,we took off.
The shuttle was freed of the mothership and became vertical.
‘Here goes!’ the Pilot yelled through the headset.
There was a sound like that of a skyrocket on Guy Fawkes but A LOT louder.
‘We have official take off! The rocket boosters are firing!’ the pilot said, sounding a little toosurprised. We shot up, up and up. Right through the Earth’s atmosphere! It was like a super-roller coaster. I was thrust back against my seat with such force. I felt like my big brother was sitting on my chest, pinning me down in one of his wrestling moves. After a few seconds, the pressure lessened. I let out my breath, not realising I’d been holding it in.
I had done it. I had broken through the top of the sky.
Suddenly, my seat leaned right back so that I was lying almost flat.
‘Is everybody wishing to lose some weight today?’ the pilot asked. More thumbs up. He then released our seatbelts. Amazingly, I floated straight up out of my seat without even trying.
‘Weeeiiiirrrddd!’ I cried out. I was weightless and it was the most bizarre feeling. I could have eaten ten steak and cheese pies before we took off, but I wouldn’t have felt it at all.
‘Watch this!’ One of the other passengers did a flip.
‘Try this!’ Another ran from one end of the cabin to the other quite awkwardly, as there was no air for him to push against.
I was so busy watching them, that I didn’t realise I was reaching the ceiling until…bump! That woke me up.
‘I can fly! Wahoo!’ I flapped my arms and attempted to fly around the cabin. It was an amazing feeling. I could do anything!
‘I can’t believe I almost forgot!’ I exclaimed, as I reached toward a zipped up pocket on my sleeve and undid it slowly. Out burst little red balls of chocolate! They drifted all through the cabin. I stuck my finger in the pocket and unwedged the passport photos of each member of my family. They giddily drifted around the other passengers.
‘Now we’re all in space!’ I laughed and turned some flips myself. It wasn’t easy and I knew I must’ve looked pretty silly. But hey, so did everyone else!
‘Already?’ I heard the surly old passenger moan through my earpiece. Sure enough an orange light flashed from the front of the cabin. That meant it was time to return to our seats. I was as far away from mine as I could be.
‘You have forty seconds to find your seats people, or you’ll be in for a bit of a heavy landing,’ the pilot reminded us. I tried to swim through the air, kicking my legs as I desperately raced back to my seat. I was hardly moving at all. Other passengers kept getting in my way and I was worried I wasn’t going to make it!
‘Hurry!’ someone said through my earpiece. I felt a hand against my back, and it gave me a shove.
SMACK! I hit the deck. Luckily, it was padded just in case this happened. I could taste blood, and realised I’d bitten my tongue.
‘Are you okay?’ the pilot’s voice came through.
‘A huh.’ I nodded pathetically weakly raising a thumb. I felt strong hands grip my arms and lift me into my seat, which was only a few inches away from where I had landed. How embarrassing.
I fastened my seatbelt, feeling my face redden.
‘Don’t worry about it. There’s always one!’ the Pilot gave me a reassuring hand wave.
‘Happy to oblige,’ I muttered to the giggles of my fellow passengers. I turned away and paid attention to the view. It was at that moment that I really discovered what ‘breathtaking’ meant. I literally sucked in my breath and held it, almost forgetting to let it out again.
‘Look how the Earth curves so perfectly!’ someone said.
‘The vibrant blues and whites make it look like a giant marble!’ someone else declared in astonishment.
‘It looks like a painting,’ I added. The stark black of space surrounding our planet just made it all the more beautiful.
‘See the colours of the Grand Canyon moulding into each other?’ the Pilot pointed out.
‘And is that the Great Wall of China?’ the surly old passenger asked.
‘No, you can’t actually see that from space. It’s probably just a carriageway or something.’
‘Oh. Hey…aren’t those the pyramids?’ he asked again, obviously starting to enjoy himself. He must have some pretty powerful binoculars to see the pyramids though.
I took lots of photos and continued to stare out the window. Before I knew it, we were heading back to Earth, and getting ready to land. We had literally gone straight up–and then straight down.
Everyone sighed with pleasure on landing.
‘Yeah! Wahoo!’ I burst into applause. The other passengers quickly joined in. We exited the cabin amidst excited chatter. We had experienced something incredible. Something most people only ever dream of.
‘So? How was it?’ Mum still looked concerned when I greeted her after some post-flight medical checks.
‘I didn’t like all the poking and prodding…’ I teased.
‘Well, if that’s all you’ve got to say…’ she began.
‘Mum, it was SO AWESOME! You HAVE to do it!’ I interrupted and then proceeded to fill her in on everything, even the embarrassing bits. Not the bit about how surprised the Pilot seemed when the rockets boosted though. I’m not that silly.
As Mum listened and I happily chatted, I decided right then and there, that I would start saving every penny of my pocket money. One day I would have to return to explore even more of what’s up there.
Or maybe I’d just convince Mum to keep buying lottery tickets!