I remember my dad always told me he’d love to fly, just float freely in the sky with not a care in the world. My dad and I were always close and because of this, his desire to fly was passed on to me. I spent my childhood yearning to soar. Every day, at breakfast, my dad and I would share our thoughts and dreams of a new flying device, something that might somehow lift us up to the clouds.
The other kids never approved of my childhood dreams to fly. “Maybe if you ever figure out how to fly, the sun would burn you up so we’d never have to look at your face again!” they said. I wish I could say it didn’t hurt, but it did. Every day, they’d wait for me. At the sight of them, a chill descended through my bones; I started to shiver. I distinctly remember this cold, and how much I dreaded it. The sun never seemed close enough or warm enough. If only I could get closer…
After graduating high school, I committed myself to the world wide search for a means of human air transportation. Over the years of my study, there had been many attempts at flight, many instances where my dream could’ve come true. Yet, sadly, none successful. Our funding started to drop, and dreamers like me lost hope. The fire I once saw burning in their eyes started to wither away, only to leave husks of the people they used to be. They had no passion, no goal in life anymore. But not me; every day when I woke up I had new ideas, possibilities, and the fire that left their eyes burned even stronger in mine. I felt excited about the future, I was going to make my dad proud.
Then the idea came. I don’t remember exactly where I was or what I was thinking but when it came, I knew it was right. In my mind I saw myself again as a small child, dreaming about flying to the sun. I feverishly ran into work, quickly sketched out some blueprints and ordered it to be produced. I watched over every detail of production and made sure everything was perfect. Every weld had to be exact, every measurement precise. I knew that this was going to be the one.
Two weeks later, it was done. When I first set eyes on it I was speechless. Everything I had imagined was there, the gleaming domes, the hardened glass, even the paint job was exactly to my specification. But of course, it was. Without me, the human flight program was worthless, I was the real genius here.
There was only an hour until test flight now and I was suited up and ready to blast. As I triple checked every one of the blood red knobs and dials I thought of my father. I remembered our early morning conversations over breakfast, I remembered the fire in his eyes every time I mentioned flying. I thought of when I first told him I wanted to dedicate my life to the passion we both shared. I remembered at that moment how his mouth slowly grew into a smile, the tips of his eyes twisted slightly upward, and it seemed like he was floating, almost like both of us had always dreamed of.
In the distance I could see the flashes of cameras and the stoic faces of my remaining colleagues, praying that I’d succeed. This was our last chance, if this went downhill, we all knew we’d be out of jobs.
I heard a crackling through my headset. “This is it, 20 seconds until launch.” A tingling sensation started at my toes, slowly moving up the ladder. “5…4…3…” I heard a loud rush as the engines turned on below me “2…” it was deafening now, I could barely hear myself think “1…” and I was in the air. Everything seemed to slow to a crawl and below me, I saw millions of eyes open as wide as the stars I was going to touch, mouths dropped open as I hit fifty feet.
Sadly, everything didn’t stay quite so positive. Immediately after launch, I felt a jolt rattle through the cabin. I looked behind me in alarm and saw one of the four engines that were keeping me up had burst and fuel was leaking onto everything. Slowly, the rear of the cabin began to burst into flames as the vicious mix of highly combustible fuel and the high oxygen level made its way towards where I was seated. In my heart, I knew what I had to do but I couldn’t bring my fingers to hit the ejection switch. This couldn’t have happened! Everything had been so perfect! The flames were licking my heels now, hungry for the taste of my flesh. With the little strength I had left, I pressed down on the ejection button which sent me rocketing out into space.
I clearly remember falling and watching my hopes and dreams burn away into nothing. The flames had almost fully engulfed my craft when I hit the ground and blacked out.
All I remember after the incident was waking up in a hospital bed. I was alone, and surrounded by white linen sheets, “get well soon” notes, and the drawl of a TV news host in the background. Suddenly it all came rushing back to me, the launch, my elation, then the fire. Weirdly, I wasn’t sad, or mad, or even in pain. In my mind, the last image of my craft alight was seared into my brain. It was seared so strongly that I felt that fire inside my gut. It was pushing me, urging me, forcing me, to get out of that bed and get back to work to do better. To this day, I feel that fire inside me and every morning it drives me to get up and get to work. New ideas are constantly popping into my head because of that fire inside of me, without it, I would be nothing. That fire is pushing me to achieve my goal and one day, I will.