Mom on the Moon / a short story by Laura Gene Alpern
When Hazel landed on the moon, she figured she had been captured by terrorists. Hadn’t she told the children that Sunset Towers Home with its disregard for security was a perfect target for terrorists? Well, now they would have to believe her.
Thinking of her son and daughter nearly made her heart stop. Were they here and did they need her help?
She looked around as quickly as the bubble-like helmet would allow. It was an instinct, the way she always used to stretch her hand out to brace whichever kid was beside her in the front seat when she had to brake suddenly, before seat belts were invented. She still worried, though they were, let’s see, how old now?
Old enough not to want her reminding them of their age. That was how she had answered the snoopy doctor who asked her “And how old are you, Hazel?” She knew perfectly well that he was trying to trip her up so she had acted coy, “Why are you trying to make me remember, when I’m trying to forget?”
Now, what was she doing? Oh yes, looking for her son and daughter in case they were up here without bubble masks. Like the hostess always said on the airplane: make sure your own mask is on first before you go helping the children.
The children didn’t seem to be have been kidnapped, thank God. Nothing here but fields of gray moon dust. What next? Oh yes, she was going to try to remember their ages. This was worrisome, like a pile of uncorrected homework, back when she was a schoolteacher. Sums and multiplications, so many wrong numbers, all written in a child’s shaky hand.
Maybe first she should look for a way to get back home. Usually the minibus for residents was parked right nearby when you needed it and a nice social lady was there show you the way.
Hazel looked around and sure enough there was a space ship parked nearby, not a minute too soon, because it was getting dark.
When she reached the space ship she remembered that on the moon it is always dark, and this worried her because it might be morning on earth already and the Good Morning broadcast would come through the metal grill.
Except that if she was still on the moon, it would not cheerfully say “Today’s programs are: bridge at eleven in room three, bingo tonight at eight in the main hall,” (she could never remember the times). Today it would say “we regret to inform you that due to a terrorist attack one of our residents is now on the moon.”
Her son and daughter would be so worried.
Hazel entered the spaceship, sat down on the padded seat and said (loudly because she could not see anyone): “We’re ready for take-off now! Please take off!”
Nothing happened. Hazel studied the dials on the panel. Her son had shown her how to use the new computers just last week or maybe last year. There was a gray screen and a button labeled “zoom in to earth.” Any fool could see this was the one to press.
She pressed hard and zoomed in to her bedroom, where she was surprised to see herself lying peacefully in bed.
Uh oh, she thought. Her stomach took a little flip. If that’s me in bed, what am I doing up here on the moon?
It did not take long till she figured it out. She had always been good at reasoning, even though lately she was becoming forgetful, especially with dates and numbers.
A cheat sheet flashed briefly across the screen. 94, 62, 59, it said.
Those must be the ages, hers and the children’s, and it was nice, because it wound things up nice and tidy. But it didn’t matter as much as she’d thought.
What mattered was that the Hazel down there on the bed looked quite relaxed, almost like she was smiling in her sleep.
And that was sure to make things a little easier for her daughter and her son, when they found her there in the morning.