Decisions: A Vignette by Torn MacAlester



Nils heard Katie enter the room as he fin­ished typ­ing the let­ter and sent it to the print­er. He’d been using the back bed­room as an office ever since they had moved to Hous­ton. He’d set up a com­mu­ni­ca­tions cen­ter in the room so that Katie could keep in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with him when­ev­er he spent some time in space. At one time, he thought it would not have been nec­es­sary. It turned out it became unnec­es­sary, but for a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent rea­son than he imagined.

“What are you doing?” asked Katie with her heavy Texas drawl.

“I’m writ­ing my res­ig­na­tion,” answered Nils.

“Okay. Why?”

“Because it looks like they have no inten­tion of send­ing me to the Moon again.”

“And that’s bad because?”

“With­out going to the Moon, there is no point in being an astronaut.”

“That’s sil­ly,” she said. “There are oth­er destinations.”

“Not for me.”

“Alrighty, I’ll call Mom. We can move back to Dal­las after you resign.”

“What?” he asked, dumbfounded.

“Don’t expect me to live down here near the hur­ri­canes if you aren’t plan­ning to be an astro­naut anymore.”

“There haven’t been only three per year since Yel­low­stone. None of them have had land­fall with­in two hun­dred miles of here.”

“Good,” Katie said. “Now we won’t have to wor­ry any­more. And I can see Mom more than once per month.”

“Fine. We’ll move to Dallas—for now.”

“Great. I’ll tell Mom.”

“I need to get over there and give them my res­ig­na­tion, back by six.”




“I thought you said you’d be home by six,” she said. “Din­ner is a mess.”

“You didn’t get my text?” Nils asked.

“What text?”

“The one I sent you about five.”

“Oh, the one that said, ‘Milt and I are talk­ing, be home lat­er’”, she said. “Is that it?”


“When you said lat­er, I didn’t think you’d mean past eight.”

“What’s going on?” said Nils. “I don’t understand,”

“I want­ed to cel­e­brate you not hav­ing to risk your life all the time in space. It was your pas­sion, but it made me a wreck.”


“Now that you won’t be doing it any­more, I thought we’d have a nor­mal life.”

“You’re not under­stand­ing my inten­tions, Katie. I’m leav­ing the Space Agency, but I’m plan­ning to go to the Moon anoth­er way.”

See­ing the tears in her eyes, he real­ized he had destroyed her hopes by restor­ing his own. She would nev­er join him in space, like he had imagined.

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