Astronauts in Love
by Erin Somers
Issue #20 • July 18, 2014•Buy Now!
We’re on the bus from our school in Tallahassee to Kennedy Space Center, and I’ve got a plan. When Claire Collins comes back down the aisle, bobbing her shiny, brown ponytail, I will hand her the note.
I’m in the window seat and Travis is on the outside, picking at the seat in front of us, which is covered in grey vinyl and wrinkled like elephant’s skin. I’ve got the note in my hand, ready to go, folded into a little triangular football with her name on the outside, but when Claire actually passes by, I chicken out.
She pauses for a second, looks down at Travis’s head, at his greasy white-blonde hair that falls in scraggles to his shoulders. “You need a haircut,” she says and continues down the aisle, swinging her hips in those tight black leggings. Claire Collins, Jesus Christ. Just looking at her is painful.
Travis tugs at his hair, sniffing the ends, then sticks a finger deep into the seat gash, rooting around absently and pulling out nubbly balls of flesh-colored stuffing. He’s got a wispy, almost transparent mustache, and he touches it with the tip of his tongue.
“Why didn’t you do it, man?” he says, and I wince, cause he always calls me man and it’s starting to get to me. Hey man, how’s it going? Gruesome Sniper, man, that’s the best game there is. Oh man, man, why’d you kill the Doritos? To deliberately break my heart?
Erin Somers holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from Green Mountains Review, Slice Magazine, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn.
Patrick Ryan on Astronauts in Love
Ever wonder what would happen if a man and a woman who both happened to be astronauts fell in love and made a baby—while in outer space? Well, that’s not really what the new issue of One Teen Story is about. Close, but not quite.
“Astronauts in Love” is about a group of teens that goes on a fieldtrip to the Space Center in Florida. While they’re touring the facility, they learn about a baby that was conceived in space and was recently born at a nearby hospital. And one of the teens gets it into his head that it would be really, really cool to hold that baby. It might even be a great way to impress the girl he’s crushing on.
If that sounds like a recipe for disaster (or, at the very least, embarrassment), I invite you to dive into Erin Somers’s “Astronauts in Love” and find out firsthand. This story is funny from the get-go. It’s also a great portrait of an average guy who’s willing to risk it all for the sake of something that feels as meaningful to him as it seems quirky to his friends. Just don’t take too long to read it because, as one character puts it, “Space Baby’s not gonna hold itself.”
Q&A by Patrick Ryan
We adults walk around so obviously damaged, hemorrhaging from our flaws really. Our vulnerabilities are often immediately apparent to young people, who are much more perceptive than they are usually given credit for. Who wouldn’t want to distance himself from such a pack of screw-ups? I still see the logic of the TSOT. Yikes, no thanks, I’ll pass. I’ll make a little world with my friends here, and you guys can continue to get divorced and drink red wine and misunderstand pop culture or whatever over there.
It goes back to optimism, to the conviction that we will do better than the people that came before us. It’s possible that we need that conviction to survive as a species. Certainly we need it to survive adolescence.