D Minus 39

Visual Art by Austin Starr King

Dante Yardas is student at Idyllwild Arts Academy. His poem was selected as a winner in the Parallax-Online Apocalypse writing contest.[/box]

— Dad?
— Yeah, buddy?
— How many stars are there?
— Eight hundred thirty-two.
— That’s a lot of stars.
— The people at the star factory put them there.
— The star factory?
— Remember how there’s the food factory, and the clothes factory, and the water factory, well, there’s also a star factory.
— How do they make them so bright?
— Just like how they make fireworks.

— Dad?
— Yeah, buddy?
— What makes the grass green?
— Pixie dust. Magical pixies sprinkle shiny dust on the grass to make it green.
— How come I haven’t seen them before?
— They always do it in the nighttime, when everyone’s sleeping.
— Well then, why is the grass so brown then?
— They’re on vacation.

— Dad?
— Yeah?
— How come we always eat food out of cans?
— Because the best kind of food comes out of cans.
— How come we used to eat food from the market, but now we don’t?
— Because the market closed down.
— How come we didn’t eat food that came out of cans before the market closed down, but now we do?
— …
— How come we aren’t magical?
— We are magical. We are very, very magical.

— Dad?
— Yeah?
— Why don’t you work any more?
— I don’t need to.
— Were you fired?
— No, the boss decided to shut the whole thing down.
— I don’t understand.
— You don’t need to understand, it’s adult things.
— Well, then why don’t you work any more?
— Because I wanted to spend more time with you.

— Dad?
— Yeah?
— Where’s Mom?
— She left. She couldn’t take it anymore.
— Where did she go?
— We don’t know.
— Why don’t we know?
— Because she hasn’t contacted us since she left.
— Will we ever see her again?
— Yes.

— Dad?
— What?
— What’s the day today?
— D minus 39.
— D minus 39? That’s as old as you are!
— Tomorrow it will be D minus 38.
— And the next day it will be D minus 37, and then D minus 36, and then D minus 35…
— Yes.
— What does the D stand for again?
— It stands for days.
— But days don’t go backwards. They go forwards!
— It depends on how you look at it.

— Dad?
— Now what?
— How many stars are there?
— I just told you. Eight hundred forty-two.
— You said there were eight hundred thirty-two. Where do they come from? They don’t come from the star factory, do they?
— Who knows.
— Have you been lying to me the whole time?
— Not the whole time.

— Dad?
— Yeah, buddy?
— Will I ever become a star?
— Soon. Very soon.

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