Small Steps

My mother was crawling on the floor. Jerry craned his neck when she got between him and the TV, doing his best to ignore her.

He was used to her hysterical bids for attention. She grew jealous of anyone or anything which detracted from her. He noticed this trait first in the hospital whenever the doctor would come to check on my father and she would intercept him with her mouth wide open complaining of a sore throat or unbuttoning her blouse to put the doctor's stethoscope on her chest. Usually he would give in to her demands, but this was too important to miss. He urged her to watch it with him, but she was intent on reaching the door. I wasn't due for another month yet but she knew the signs.

"Nonsense," Jerry said, working his way down the large green bottle of Becherovka, the high-octane Czech herbal liqueur which was purported to "cure all gastric disturbances." He poured a shot which he forced on her. She leaned against the TV, dangerously close to blocking the screen. He helped her onto the couch so she wouldn't block his view and poured her another drink. She fell off the couch.

"If it hurts so much go out to the car, but you will miss something really special." She dragged herself to the door. Really, he thought, she is taking things too far.

She fumbled with the chain on the door. "It's coming," she pleaded. "Any minute...Any minute," he said. "They are about to open the airlock." She went limp for a moment to gather her strength, a gesture which Jerry mistook for interest in the landing. What an hypochondriac. For the last month every time she had gas she claimed it was labor. And always when he wasn't paying her enough attention. What a coincidence.

She struggled with the chain on the door. On the moon an airlock was painstakingly opened. A door swung open out into the void, and an estimated one billion viewers held their breaths.

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