Our Journey Begins

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Post Written By Aisha Moretti3 May 2249

We were minutes away from liftoff. And then the warning lights started coming on. I was up in the cockpit with Blake. The kids were watching on the screen at the back of the ship.

"What the hell?" It's not like Blake to make an exclamation like that. He tapped his fingers on the readout."What is it?" I asked."A whole bunch of systems are going offline. I've double and triple checked all these systems over the last week. There's no way it could all just fail like this.A lump formed in my throat. We'd built up so much anticipation about today. Our launch day. The day we would leave Earth behind and begin our new adventure.Would this delay us? For how long? Was our new shuttle a dud? Would we have to call the whole thing off?I don't often panic, but this hit me pretty hard. The truth is we've had a terrible year so far. We needed this.I took a deep breath."Okay. Let's step back and think. Maybe it's something simple.""Maybe," Blake said. "I'm not gonna figure it out in here." He grabbed his tablet, stuck it under his arm and left the cockpit.I made my way back to the rear of the ship and let the kids know we had a setback but Dad was looking into it.It was mid-afternoon. We'd planned for a big lunchtime departure. We'd said all our goodbyes to Blake's parents.I went looking for Blake and found him down on the lower deck. He was looking at screens, tracing cables and glancing at his tablet."It makes no sense," he said. "The readout on in the cockpit says inertial dampers are offline but they're stable. It says so right here.""So could it be the readouts that are faulty, rather than the systems?""It's looking that way."I followed him to the hatch which took us outside. The shuttle feels small when you're inside it, but it's a pretty imposing structure from outside. But elegant. Perhaps I'm a little biased, but I think it's a beauty to behold."That your ship?" It was my in-laws' neighbour. Not sure of his name, but he's a grizzled old guy with rough white stubble on his chin."Yes," Blake said."Seen some kids hanging around it earlier today. Looked like they were up to no good.""Not our kids?""No. Never seen 'em before."Blake and I exchanged a knowing look."They was underneath."Blake took a few steps back toward the shuttle, which is as yet still unnamed. There's a maintenance crawlway just behind the cockpit that allows external access to the underside of the ship. It's a tight squeeze. Blake ducked in and I squeezed after him.My heart clenched at what I saw. Painted in tick bright blue letters was the phrase Does Jackson practice being that ugly, or was he born that way?After I got over the shock, I felt my fists begin to clench. My son has been the victim of a great deal of bullying this year. It's one of the reasons we decided to leave Earth behind. They couldn't even let us have this day without one final insult. They probably left this here as a surprise for us to find weeks from now.I wanted to find those kids and pummel them half to death."I think I see the problem." Blake spoke so matter-of-factly. And that only made me angrier."Are you not seeing this?" I asked."I see it. Kids being cruel. Look here." He pointed to a bunch of plugs and wires. "They must have bumped these out while they were down here." He plugged them back in."What's going?"It was Jackson's voice."Oh, uh..." I stammered."Vandals bump out some cables that drive the monitoring systems," Blake said."Really? Who would do that?""Don't you worry about that," I said, trying to disguise the intense emotions running through me.""Seriously, Mum?""Looks like it was kids from your school," Blake said.Jackson poked his head in as far as he was able. With two of us already in the crawlspace, he couldn't get in but he got his head in far enough to see the paint."What does it say?" He voice went hard."It doesn't matter. Let's just get back in the shuttle.""I want to know what it says, Mum.""Might as well let him look," Blake said. "He won't stop thinking about it all trip otherwise.Reluctantly, I stepped out of the way and let him in. He stared at the graffiti for a good thirty seconds."I'll go find something to help you wash it off, Dad."My eyes welled with tears. If you're a parent, you know what it's like to see one of your children hurting. My heart broke as I watched him retreat back up the ramp into the ship.I went back to the cockpit to confirm that the readouts were showing green now. They were.When I returned, I found my husband and son scrubbing the paint off together."Jackson—""It's all right Mum. We're about to leave. They can't do anything to me once we're gone. Let's just start the trip and forget them."I knew he was feeling as hurt as I was. I could see it in his eyes, but I was proud of his determination to not let it get him down. How could I do less?A few minutes later we were back on board, and everything looked good for liftoff."Let's do it," Blake said. He was never one for ceremony. The shuttle vibrated as it lifted off the ground. It rose higher and higher, as Blake's parents' house got smaller and smaller in the window. Then Blake fired the main thrusters and I was momentarily thrust forward against the dashboard before the inertial dampeners kicked in. Next thing I knew I was staring at planet earth from orbit. I've never seen such a beautiful sight. The way the curve of the planet glowed blue, that thin little later of atmosphere, which was all that had kept me alive since the day I was born.Blake laid in a course.Rather than try to calculate a warp jump from near-Earth, Blake wanted to head into the outer solar system before we went interstellar. I figured, if we were going that way anyway, we should make our very first stop on Titan, one of Saturn's moons. I've always wanted to see it.It would take us about 8 hours at sub-light.The kids and I are all tucked up in bed now, as the day draws to a close. Blake has spent most of his time in the cockpit, monitoring everything. He wants to keep a close eye on the ship during our maiden voyage. I hope he allows himself some sleep, though. The ship is quite capable of flying itself.As I prepare to sleep, I can't help but think back on that moment, as we sailed away, and I watched Earth get gradually smaller in the window. I was leaving behind all our problems. Those kids who had mercilessly bullied my son. The people who had wronged my husband so badly, and cost him his job.It was time for a brand new beginning. And I was more than ready for it.

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