One Man’s Account of the Columbia Disaster
The garbage was double bagged, but I could still smell every piece of rot in there. God, I’ve never known kids to be so lazy, Joe. There I was, running to the road in my pajamas at nine in the goddamn morning, while my strapping, young, able-bodied boys sat in front of the television set, watching some stupid space shuttle land. Man, I bet Ward Cleaver never had to take out the trash. So, half-way to the end of the driveway, with the bag leaking all over my house shoes…speaking of leak, fill ‘er up, Joe. Thanks. Anyway, I happened to look up, and I saw it.
There was something in the sky…and it wasn’t God, my friend. It was like a falling star, but bigger and brighter.
A piece broke off and then another and then a few smaller ones. For a second, I wondered if it was the boys’ shuttle. But I really didn’t think it would be breaking apart like fuckin’ birdshot. Those things are supposed to be indestructible, aren’t they?
All of a sudden, there was this blinding light, and I heard a noise like a Lambo backfiring, but worse, you know? Louder. Longer. The smoke is what really convinced me, though. There was so much of it. And stuff kept falling and falling. I just knew. Just like I know this next shot of Bulleit is gonna’ do the trick.
So, I dropped the trash, right there in the middle of the driveway, and ran into the house. My kids were still watching the screen with big ol’ eyes and these gaping fish lips. Kind of a ridiculous sight, if you ask me, but kids don’t care about appearance when they’re that hopped up about something. I looked at the TV, but there must have been a lag. No news flashes. No breaking news. No this just in. The screen was just sort of…blue.
My youngest turned to me and said all excited-like, T-minus sixteen minutes, Daddy!
God help me, I told him to keep watching. I guess I was thinking witness history in the making, right? But, in retrospect, I wish I’d just changed the damn channel.
Seconds later, the reports started rolling in. NASA confirmed the shuttle had exploded, but they didn’t know the cause, and they didn’t know the condition of the crew. Later on, they found human remains all around Texas. Hearts and fuckin’ torsos and stuff. I guess by then they knew the condition.
Wow. Just remembering it all makes me…Joe, would you mind…? ‘Preciate it.
I just….when I think about the astronauts’ families. How their kids were probably glued to the screens too. Like my little boys.
What’s that? Hell no, I’m not crying. It’s just dusty in here. Anyway, I should be crying over this here empty glass. How ‘bout a double, Joe? Thanksh.
Lannie Stabile is a finalist for the 2019/2020 Glass Chapbook Series and semifinalist for the Button Poetry 2018 Chapbook Contest – has her first published collection, Little Masticated Darlings, now out with Wild Pressed Books. Her works are published in Glass Poetry, Pidgeonholes, Okay Donkey, and more. She is a Pushcart nominee.