Carrie-Anne at twenty-eight. Smiling at me. New Year's Eve 1999. Mirrorball's spinning stars around the ballroom at the Hyatt. We're dancing close, to I'll Get By. She's in the green silk dress flashing like wet paint. It slides over her under my hands. I'm dreaming. It's great.
April 15, 1970 - 02:01
Dammit, dad! He's humming Fly Me to the Moon, in a singlet, and carrying me in the bend of his elbow. The range hood light's bright over the bottle warming in the pot on the stove. The scene's reflected, glowing in dad's specs.
What is it with you and mom and feeding me in the dead of night, huh? HUH?
I smell the steaming pot, and dad, warm through his singlet by my nose.
It's a singlet tonight. The other night, after he and mom were done fooling around the other side of the wall, they appeared from the grey in my nursery doorway. Naked as Adam and Eve. Holding each other. Grinning in at me. I DIDN'T NEED TO SEE THAT, Y'KNOW, DAD?
Dad checks the bottle's temperature, flicks it on his hand. He grins, noticing me glaring into his specs where his eyes should be. I see only baby me in both lenses. "It's okay, Snoop. Don't mind at all. How's about the Snoopy story, eh? So you can sleep."
NOT AGAIN NO. I open my mouth. Dad plugs in the warm bottle before I can protest.
HE'S SQUEAKING IT. "Once upon a time, before Apollo 11, there was a little lunar module called Snoopy, who alll'most got to the moon first."
Dammit, I'm payload, along for the ride. Dad launches from the range light burning over the stove, and sets off through the grey and shadowed house between the kitchen and wherever the man is headed.
"Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Command-service module and our little LM. Together, Apollo 10."
I don't want the Snoopy story Dad's obsessed with telling me. I don't want Dad's glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling. I don't care about Apollo and Man in Space. None of it. MY AMBITIONS ARE EARTHBOUND, SOLID, DAD.
Dad isn't noticing me in the dark glowering at him past the bottle. "Charlie Brown was busy too. He orbited the moon and relayed telemetry, while Snoopy flew his important mission, down and down so low over the Sea of Tranquility Snoopy might've touched down. But landing wasn't the mission."
I HATE 1970. Hate the black and white news. Hate knowing so much bad is coming. Vietnam body counts. Cambodia. Kent State in May.
Dad's journey returns us under those pale green stars he likes so much he added more. He parks, as always, in the bedroom window. The curtain's drawn back. The quarter moon's over his shoulder. He's a smirking kid. "When Snoopy flew down to the moon, so close he could've landed, that night your mom and I made you. In back of the car. Under a blue star, heh."
I'M IN HELL. I'm kicking about on dad's arm.
Peering at me by moonlight, he unplugs the bottle. "Got gas, Snoop? Sorry there."
He flips me high on his shoulder. My nose inches now from the windowglass, that moon and mess of stars, the big tree and yard below. He's thumping my back.
Don't. Want. This.
"Better?" Dad settles me on his arm, plugs the bottle in. Again.
"Snoopy returned to Charlie Brown. John and Eugene and Thomas said Thanks, Snoop, you've flown a perfect mission." Dad's sounding grown-up again. "They said Good Bye. Snoopy had been a good LM. But he was made for the moon and couldn't come home with Charlie Brown. So they let him go. They pointed Snoopy on a big orbit around the sun. Snoopy's out there still. Maybe some night, if you know where to look, maybe you'll see him going by."
"...if you know where to look... ." I'm remembering something about dad's moon up there.
I remember. Nobody on Earth knew in 1970. Humankind gains its greatest kick-start since the first monkey burned its paw in fire and didn't run from it, because of the momentous future event only I know about. Apollo never sees it. The Soviets do, but the USSR implodes and they decide instead to race for the stronger economy. The European Union finds the alien wreck again. In 1999.
A plan shivers over me. It's brilliant. My future happens because humanity scavenges that alien technology, learns from it, applies it to everything. Regenerating batteries in smartphones. Sunnyside casinos on the moon. I can make my future happen sooner, I'm sure of it. Fix sooner...whatever I'll do wrong.
I only have to endure 1970, early '71 probably too, until I can grip a crayon and draw NASA a map where to find that treasure ship.
Dad's humming Fly me to the Moon again. He's sitting in the window, looking away at it, tipping my bottle just right. Apollo 13's trying to come home. Mom let Dad watch tv news during dinner last night. I can't tell him they'll make it home. I'm not escaping this bottle either. Milk's cooler than I like it.