CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
“That is a deal Kyara, we are certain that the book will do well.” The publisher and his assistant sit opposite me at a grand desk.
“Thank you very much!” I squeal trying to control my excitement.
“This is the contract, please read it, take your time. If there are any changes you would like to make, then do so and highlight them. Once you have read and checked everything we can go ahead and start the publishing process. Is one day enough for you to read through the book and contract? Could you come in tomorrow afternoon to sign the papers?” he asks as the assistant hands me a copy of the contract and a copy of my book.
“Yes of course. That is absolutely fine.” The sooner the better in my opinion. I take hold of the papers.
“Is four p.m. okay?” he asks.
“Yes, four is perfect. Thank you very much once again,” I shake their hands as I get up to leave.
“Thank you for such an amazing story. I hope the people empathize with it,” he expresses his gratitude with his hand on his heart.
I got the fricking publishing deal! I jump in the air on my way home after safely putting away the contract in my bag. Finally! Finally, everything is going to plan! Hard work and patience certainly pays off. I got one of the best publishers in the world! Thank you so much God! I love you! I hope it’s a best seller! I can’t wait to tell everyone! I can’t wait to tell Jen. This was her idea! This happened because of her! I race home to watch Jen’s arrival on earth. Life is finally on the same page as me.
“I’m late! I’m late!” I shout out loud to myself as I run up the stairs and into the apartment. I place my bag carefully on the kitchen counter and take out the papers to make sure they are there. They are. I then wildly look around for the TV remote searching all over and under the couch. I find it tucked under the cushion. I grab it quickly, point it towards the TV sensor. I bang on the power button three times until the TV switches on. I type in 101. The channel it is being broadcasted on. I wait. Then I see the sky. It’s dark. I see a red strip at the bottom of the screen with words in capital letters gliding across it. I hear gushing. Then, I see it. I see flames. Not the good ones. Not the ones that are supposed to be propelling off the spacecraft. Then… I wish I had gone blind before my eyes see what they are seeing. The spacecraft peels to bits. Parts wildly fly off it. An explosion in midair. I now see what is written on the red panel. I now hear what the presenters are saying.
Repeating. “The spacecraft has exploded! This is unbelievable. This has not happened in fifteen years. NASA have confirmed Astronaut Jennifer Kostigan, Mission Specialist is deceased. We can confirm, Astronaut Jennifer Kostigan is dec-”
My finger switches the TV off. I stand still in the middle of the living room, unable to think. My knees are weak. I take a moment. I blink my eyes a couple of times. Then, I laugh. I chuckle. To myself. No. No, this is not right. I probably got the wrong channel. Ha! God, you play some funny games. It’s really not funny, you shouldn’t do that. It’s okay. Jen’s okay. I switch the TV back on. The tragedy continues. The spacecraft now disintegrated as it gets closer to the ground. The presenter still says the thing I do not want to hear and the red strip still shows what I do not want to see. I turn it back off. I am stunned. I laugh again, this time louder. I am not willing to believe.
“No. What is wrong with you Kye?” I ask myself, politely giggling. “Jen is fine. I’m going to tell her I got the publishing deal. Yeah, I’ll call her in a bit. Give her some time.” My giggles turn sour, I lose control of the muscles in my face. I bite my hand and feel pain. I’m already awake. Tears travel from my heart to my eyes and excrete without me giving them permission to. “I’ll… call… her,” I stumble, unsure what to do. Unsure how to feel. “No! No! No! God no!” I scream, irritating the back of my throat. “What did you do? God, what the heck did you do! This can’t be happening, God please! Please!” I beg, shouting to the empty air that surrounds me. “Please tell me it’s all a lie. Please God!” I now weep still talking to the air. “God! How could you do this to me?”
I switch the TV back on and point at the screen in rage, showing God what I am talking about. Somewhere deep inside me, I still pray and I still hope that this is all false. I hope that God has turned this around. But as I see it again, the space craft is in pieces on the ground. There is further confirmation of… of… death. It is true.
“What is this, God? What did she do wrong! Huh? She had faith in you! I had faith in you!” I realize something, “This is all my fault! This is all my fault! If we never followed our dreams this never would have happened! If I hadn’t persuaded Jen to pursue her dreams and become an astronaut, this never would have happened! It is… all… our…” I grab my publishing contract papers in fury and scrunch them up, “… It’s all our fricking dreams’ fault!” I throw the scrunched ball. “Where did we go wrong!? Why, God? Why!? She was happy, living her dream!” My voice tires from shouting. My energy drained. My face soaked. My eyes scrunched with non-stopping water, leaking from them. Pain sores through my head. “Why, God?”
My knees give way. I fall to the ground, questioning everything I ever believed in. I cry wiping away my tears but they keep falling. I still hear the news on the TV in the background. I listen to it and continue to weep, soaking my clothes. Fluids find a way out of my nose, my entire face is red and hot. My eyebrows hurt from the frowning. The more I cry the more I realize what has happened, and the more I realize what has happened the more my heart aches.
I get up, still crying and walk into my room. Jen’s room. Anger takes over me once again when I see her poster of the solar system. My body uncontrollably lashes out at everything. I throw things, smash things and crush things, turning the room upside down. One is so much more powerful when fueled by anger and sorrow at the same time. I push and shove things out of place. Objects tumble onto the bed and floor. I kick and stamp on things. I scream and shout until my lungs dry out. I fall onto the bed, hugging the pillow I cry some more. This cry is different. It’s not the quiet one that you try to hide from people or try to stop yourself from doing. This is the loud one. The one where you don’t care if people can hear it. The one with nothing to hide. It is not embarrassing. It is pure sorrow. Pure sadness. Uncontrollable grief. My whole body shakes as I wail. I huff and puff trying to catch my breath but I keep bawling. My life with Jen flashes past my closed eyes. All the good times, all the bad times. Our happy times and our sad times. The times we dreamed, the times we believed and the times we achieved. Now, all a memory.
* * *
Hours pass by, I open my tired eyes with a struggle. The wet tears have dried on my lashes to form a seal. I can still hear the news from the living room. It wasn’t a dream. I lay still. My dry, salt-burnt face lies on the soaked pillow. I move my hand to feel my face but as I do, I hit a small hard surface. I hold onto the object and slide it up to eye level. It’s a small hardback notebook, with a starry sky printed on the front and back. I flick through the pages. It is Jen’s diary. I read through it, with my soul still aching. Each new entry has the date and time written and each entry begins with ‘Hey Diary’. She wrote about all the things that had happened in the three years that we were at university. My memories illuminate from Jen’s point of view. She’s written about everything! The first day we met, her first sneaky physics lesson, her first literature lesson, my first audition, the mission, my accident, our fight, her project, everything! And in every entry no matter what it was about, she always wrote about our dreams without fail. Every single entry ends with ‘I have faith, that one day I will become an astronaut and Kye will become an actress. I just know it.’ In her last one she writes;
’… So, to summarize! We made it! We’ve all graduated. I’m packing for my NASA internship and I can’t wait to get started! I’m really going to miss everyone. I can’t believe it’s been three years! I love them all so much and I thank God for an amazing life. If I get to go to space while at NASA, my life will be complete. My dreams will have been achieved. That is all I want from my life. So, yeah, I hope I get to go to space soon! Now it’s Kye’s turn to publish her book, ‘A Dream within the Stars’ I still prefer ‘My Friend’s Dream’ but whatever. I can’t wait to see it on the shelves! Anyway, got to go, we’re having our last get together in this apartment. Good night Diary! I had faith that one day I would become an astronaut and here I am today – Astronaut Intern Jennifer Kostigan. And I still have faith that Kye will become an actress. I just know it.’
I close the diary and hold it close to my heart, finding breath through my swollen lips and blocked nose. Crying clears your mind. I know that. I’ve experienced it enough. And now my mind is clearer than ever. I kiss the diary and push myself up from the bed. My arms and legs are stiff. I know my Jen. She’d be disappointed with me and I know that this is what she would want me to do. I take it back, I’m glad she lived her dream. That is all she ever wanted. She lived it. She is happy. I will never truly understand why God did this, no one knows his ways. I will probably always question it, but I won’t ever forget that in the end, Jen lived her dream. I will never forget our journey and I will never forget what we both wanted. I use the walls to help me to the living room. The news now shows images of Jen when she first started at NASA. She looked so happy. I search the living room, but struggle to see through my blurred, sticky vision. I pick up my keys from my bag on the breakfast bar and switch on the torchlight that Rio and Brian bought me for Christmas. I shine it behind and under the couch to find what I’m looking for. My scrunched up publishing contract. I neaten it out and place it on the coffee table rubbing my hand over it to remove the creases. I find a pen on the table. For you Jen, we were and still are in this together. I draw a line through ‘A Dream within the Stars’ and write in capitals above it, ‘MY FRIEND’S DREAM’.