“Round and round and round and round. When is this silly thing going to lift off?” Gage thinks to himself.
There’s daddy with the camera. Time to flash a happy smile. He thought that hopping on this spaceship would do more than just get him out of line. He thought it would get him out of the carnival and away from the circus tent. Away from the rocket man.
Every year, the Omenzi Brothers come to town, and every year mommy and daddy drag Gage along. Every year it’s the same: they go to the circus tent, and rocket man man gets shot from the cannon. Every year it’s the same: Gage cries. He hates that.
But this year, he sees a way out. It all starts with these spaceships. He convinces daddy that he wants to ride, and then halfway through, his ship takes off and he flies far away from the rocket man and that cannon of his. Maybe he’ll go to Paris. Or Cleveland.
Mommy’s waving at him, jumping up and down. “Wait until you see this thing take off,” Gage thinks. She’ll really be jumping then.
Any minute now. Any minute now.
For the past week, he’s been searching for a way to avoid this day. He’s considered running away to Nanna’s house. Maybe he could hide in the trunk of her car. All he knows is that he’s almost four now, and he’s NOT going to put himself through the rocket man spectacle again.
It’s not that he’s afraid of the rocket man, it’s the noise. It makes his heart jump into his throat, and he’s pretty sure that’s not where his heart should be. It makes his hands slap up against his ears, and he’s pretty sure his hands are supposed to be clapping, like everyone else’s And it makes his ears pop and whistle, and he knows for sure he doesn’t like how that feels.
He doesn’t care if the trip to the carnival means a stuffed animal, cotton candy, funnel cake, rides, games, going to bed after long after dark. It also means the rocket man, and that’s a deal breaker for Gage. For sure.
He wills the spaceship to lift off. It has to whisk him away to safety, changing his destiny.
He looks on the control panel for a button, thinking maybe he’s missed something obvious, and as he does, the spaceship slows. Then the spaceship stops. “Wha–?” Gage thinks.
And there’s mommy, scooping him out of his cockpit. “Time to go see the rocket man, Gagey! Don’t want to be late, do we?”
Gage knows his time is up. He’s tried to go gentle on them. He’s tried to be reasonable.
He throws the temper tantrum of his life. Kicking, screaming, crying, throwing in a half-hearted chomp on daddy’s wrist.
Before he knows it, he’s back in the car, strapped into the back seat, but now, he is the master of his destiny, happily on his way home.