By: Liam Cuddy
“Who the heck are you?” the disgruntled boy wearing an astronaut helmet asked as he peered through the open door at Robby.
Robby tried to think of how he could explain himself, none of the options seemed plausible in the moment. “I’m Robby… new kid on the block.”
“Mhm. I’m Tom, the loser. I’ll save you some time, go find a different friend.” he said as he shut the door.
“You like time travel?” Robby blurted out as fast as he could.
Tom stopped the door with his foot and looked back at Robby through the corners of his eyes. “Why do you ask?”
Robby cracked a slight smile looking back at his mother. The conversation was short and sweet. There were no tricks, no deception, just enough facts to keep young Tom wrapped up in wonder. Enough facts to encourage him to follow Robby back to the schoolyard where the dumpster sat waiting.
“We shouldn’t be here…” Tom said nervously.
“Listen to me.” Robby urged as he turned to his father. “I need to leave you, and none of this will make sense but… you’re going to grow old. And you’re going to look back on your life and think… did you follow your dreams? Or did you try to fit in? You live the life you wanted to live? Or did you just give up. I believe in you, Dad. One day you’ll see what’s important…”
Robby’s mom sat silently within the dumpster, waiting for the cue to press the big blue button.
Tom stuttered, “Wait– I don’t understand!” he said as the dumpster began to flash and flicker.
“You do!” Robby shouted over the noise. “You can’t give up, that’s when they win!” with those final words, Robby scampered into the dumpster.
Tom wanted to follow him, but a flash of blue light left him alone in the dirt, teeming with wonder…
“Mom… did it work?” he asked quietly as they sat in the dark.
“You were perfect, but we’re about to find out.” she pushed the hatch open and the two of them fell back into their yard.
After a moment of staring, they had their answer. “Why is our house gone?” he asked as he gazed on at the tin mobile home where their modest house once sat.
“Good question…” she replied, just as confused as he was.
Within the mobile home were stacks upon stacks of papers littered with algorithms of every sort. A television flickered in and out of reception, and Tom Walsh was nowhere to be found.
“Maybe we were wrong?” she sighed, trying to stifle tears.
“I don’t think so…” Robby said with a gasp as he examined the papers.
She peered over his shoulder at the note he was so captivated by.
Dear, Robby and Rebecca… trying out model 38, gimme’ a wave if you see me. You know where to look…
Without hesitation they ran to window and watched with glee as the rocketship soared on through the sky.