We stare intently at the flaming orange ball, through squinted, watery eyes. ’10 seconds to launch Sir,’ Jim informs me.
I turn to my second in command. ‘What do you think our chances are?’
‘Good,’ he lies. He is sweating as much as the rest of us.
With an almighty roar the ball catapults into space. There is a whooshing in my ears reminiscent of the time Dad taught me to swim. No matter how many times I slipped under the grabbing waves he never let me go. I managed a few strokes with tired arms and emerged triumphant from the ocean, running to our picnic spot to be encircled by a dry towel and my mother’s pride.
We silently watch the ball’s progress on the monitors. The control room feels suffocating, too full of silent prayers and regret. I remove my tie and try to loosen my top button with shaking fingers.
The ball approaches the target but instead of colliding they miss each other by millimetres. Our one chance to detonate the alien craft vanishes into deep space along with our hope. We take a second to slump before the crew rush to the evacuation pods where spouses and children are already waiting.
‘Sir?’ Jim shouts as I stand transfixed by old memories. There is no one waiting for me in the pod. My parents are 60 miles away. I remember the feel of my father’s hands supporting me in the water. Never letting me go no matter how roughly the waves tried to snatch me away. I grab my car keys and run toward the door.
Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. A story inspired by a photo prompt.