In the year 2059, Freddie Brian Rogers is born. The delivery room is miniscule, barely large enough for the medical staff attending his mother. The nurse declares, “It’s a boy!” even though the new parents have known for months. She wraps Freddie in a yellow blanket and hands him to his mother, Alice.
Later, Freddie’s grandmother stands at Alice’s side and strokes the baby’s head. Bittersweet tears slide down her cheeks.
“He has Dad’s eyes,” Alice says.
The grandmother nods. “He does,” she agrees. She bends and kisses Alice’s forehead. “Your father would be so proud.”
At three, Freddie has heard all of the stories about his grandfather. The stories come from Gram, because Alice was so young when her father left, that she has almost no memory of him.
“The ship sailed out into the blue and sunny morn,” Gram tells Freddie for the umpteenth time. Still, he’s enchanted. “It was the sweetest sight I’d ever seen. A score of brave souls, your grandfather among them. I was so proud, Freddie.” She stares into Freddie’s bright eyes: her husband’s eyes. “So proud.”
Alice fastens the clip-on tie to Freddie’s collar and says, “I was just your age when Grandfather went up in the ship, you know. Twenty-five years ago.” She sighs and drops her head, hiding her puffy red face from Freddy’s view. She stands, offers her hand. “Let’s go, sweetie. We’ll be late for the memorial.”
Gram kneels beside her bed, hands folded, unaware of Freddie watching her. He’s seen pictures of children kneeling like that in history class, from back before religion was banned. Curious, he watches his grandmother as she whispers, her face turned towards the ceiling.
“Please, David.” Gram’s voice is choked. “Don’t you hear me calling you? Please, David, come home.”
Freddie creeps in, wrapping his arms around Gram’s shoulders. She holds him fast. Her misery flows from her, silent.
When he tells people that he wants to be a lawyer, every one of them thinks of his grandfather. Some think of David and are disappointed in Freddie, shocked that he’s not doing something more impressive, heroic.
The others think of David, and don’t blame Freddie one bit.
At thirty, Freddie helps Gram mount the stage to sit with 19 other families. He stares at the crowds that stretch for miles, watching him on the Megascreens.
The president of the International Coalition for the Discovery of New Earth takes the mic and clears her throat. “We thank these courageous people,” she said, “who sacrificed their loved ones for the sake of us all, fifty years ago today.”
Freddie can’t remember the 25th anniversary memorial, but he imagines it was slightly bigger.
A week later, Freddie watches his mother place Gram’s ashes into the Mass Mausoleum slot she reserved years ago. The one beside remains empty, waiting, David’s name engraved below.
Freddie tells his granddaughter about David Rogers, the hero who embarked on a mission to save the world.
“He was your great-grandfather,” Freddie says, tugging on the little girl’s pigtail. “He wanted to find a better world for you to live in.”
“Did he do it?”
“…I don’t know, darling.”
Every screen in the world tunes in to watch the ship. As the twenty men and women exit, Freddie can’t breathe. He glimpses it before the camera moves: eyes exactly like his peering at what the world has become.
When Freddie is finally allowed in, David is not filled with the same light as when he’d stepped off the ship. The good news of a world so newly born was crushed under the weight of his heavy heart.
His greeting to his 80 year-old grandson is, “It’s 2139. I’ve been gone a hundred years.”
“You have,” Freddie affirms.
“So many years have gone, though I’m older but a year…” David shakes his head in amazement. “You’re my grandson,” he continues. “Your name is… Hold on, I know it. They told me… Freddie?”
Freddie nods solemnly. “Yes."
“You have your mother’s eyes.”
“She always said they were yours.”
Laura Condon is sixteen years old. She attends Pittsburgh CAPA, a creative and performing arts high school. She has won multiple gold, silver, and honorable mention Scholastic Writing Awards, the Carnegie Mellon University and Citizen's Bank Martin Luther King Jr. writing awards, and has been published multiple times in A Celebration of Poetry. After participating in the National Novel Writing Month challenge in 2013, she self published her first novel, Mikayla's Guide, which is available for purchase on Amazon.com. Her "writer crushes" are Tommy Donbavand, Mark Gatiss, and Cornelia Funke.