This is it. The concluding chapter. The final phase of this fantastic tale Hopefully Not a Waste in Space. This is where our hero’s outcome and the outcome of her heroic journey are finally unveiled.
And in my attempt to liken this to a finely structured story, it’s broken down into bite-sized bits for ease of mastication.
We have had the Big Goal: This is where our protagonist—sweet child ‘o mine—launches her balloon—SkyHAB (sky high altitude balloon, carrying what I swear is nothing more than a giant cloud urinal) 100,000 feet upward, with fingers crossed, to capture space data – Episode One.
Next we came upon The Crisis: SkyHAB launched, but the GPS landlubbered. The balloon was untethered and unaccounted for. We petitioned the US Government for a reimbursement of paid taxes that went toward defective global spyware and are awaiting our refund which should arrive any day after the twelfth of Dream On – Episode Two.
Following that was the Recommitment to the Goal: WE LOCATED SKYHAB! … sort of – Episode Three.
At last we came to The Climax: The hunt for SkyHAB was filled with deadly peril. It ended with a heart-palpitating car chase and potential capture by Lizzie Borden’s grandson. Was this the end for the balloon and our young scientist with behemothic book smarts but space cadet street smarts? – Episode Four.
And finally, The Dénouement or The Reveal: I’d spill the beans, but then you may never read further then the end of this sentence.
So much tension you could practically string this story between two toothpicks and walk across it.
Ah, the makings of a tale that falls a few levels below Dreamworks, but a notch above your average 9th grade history newsreel. And one we can wrap up tout de suite. Because I’m sure many of you are wondering whether or not my child is still alive.
I was too.
For twenty minutes I sat staring at the phone willing it to ring, wondering and panicking at the thought that my daughter had been nabbed by a child snatcher who was following her as she attempted to recover her balloon, parachute and THE PAYLOAD in the middle of no-cell-hell. And every three minutes I phoned her with nothing but her snarky voicemail message to taunt me.
Hi, you’ve reached Chloe. Leave me your details and I’ll call you back … if I like you.
I paced. Did deep breathing exercises. Stared at Google Earth and its wretchedly slow updates. I made an award winning sculpture of the Hubble telescope with nothing more than plastic spoons and recycled tin foil.
Twenty-two minutes after loss of contact the phone rang.
“Hey,” Chloe said.
“HEY???” I echoed. “Hey? I was about to phone 911! What happened?”
“Oh, him? Yeah, he was weird. We may need a sizeable back up team. No worries. I’m on my way. What’s for dinner? I’m starvin’ Marvin.”
Two days later was the big senior project seminar. My daughter had to give a couple of presentations to explain her adventures and unveil her results. Well … no balloon equals no data, as all the data was in THE PAYLOAD. And THE PAYLOAD was somewhere in the Sandy River Reservoir. Camera footage, statistical calculations, motherboard bits and pieces that tell you the secrets of the universe were all gone. There go your hopes and dreams. Science shakes its head at you, tsking.
Still, the presentations were stellar. A lot of telling, but no showing–yet somehow still stellar.
The next day I received a phone call from some wild woman screaming. I finally recognized the dulcet tones of my child and asked her to pull it down a few decibels.
Someone found the balloon!
And not just someone. She said his name was Papa Smurf.
My mind immediately envisioned a small pack of blue forest creatures that lived near the reservoir where SkyHAB went down, and somehow, purely in the interest of furthering science, they managed to break their cardinal rule of no contact with humans and phoned the Department of Natural Resources to report a spacecraft landing.
Actually, Papa Smurf, aka, “Big Mike” is a Virginia fisherman who, in the middle of doing a little afternoon big mouth bass hunting, landed himself something a little less delicious but definitely fishy.
The writing on the side of THE PAYLOAD was smeared, but our last name was visible. Enter Facebook.
The rest of the story goes a little like this: My daughter ignores friend request – stranger danger – and Papa Smurf/Big Mike must get creative.
Facebook says my daughter interns at the university’s aerospace research lab.
Papa/Mike hunts down a professor.
Describes to professor the reeled in riches. Our professor texts his industrious intern. His intern explodes with exultation.
His intern calls her mother and begs for bakery goods to reward the fisherman with multiple monikers in exchange for THE PRECIOUS PAYLOAD. The trade is made. Strawberry pie is swapped for a lunch box full of cryptic clues to the cosmos and a few bits of water weed.
We are thrilled.
It is finished.
I am exhausted.
She is planning her next mission: Definitely Not a Waste in Space! Where one young scientist attempts to discover if Silly Putty can be used as insulation on homemade sub-orbital spacecraft.
Me? I might just back out of this next one quietly. I think it’s pretty clear that I ain’t no rocket surgeon.
Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.