Rosalyn Hunter recently wrote an initial draft of the novella version of
“No Children in Space” as part of NaNoWriMo. We’re planning to offer
print and e-book copies as part of our upcoming crowd-funding campaign.
Here’s a couple of brief excerpts from the story.
Excerpt from the novella “No Children in Space” by Rosalyn Hunter:
When they left, there were people all around, people with cameras
snapping pictures of Georgiana learner, the “space girl”. She could hear
people saying those words — “the space girl” — everywhere that she
went. She found it odd as she had never been to space herself. She had
only been to training classes. The closest that she had got to anything
like space was when they let her put on her space suit and walk around
the base of a swimming pool.
That had been fun. They dropped rings from the surface and she would
walk forward and try to catch them. It was slow, moving that heavy suit
in the water, and she had pushed her legs as fast as she could, but even
with weights at the bottom, she sometimes fell forward and landed on
The first time that she had done it, mother had rushed forward,
concerned that somehow she would break the seals of her suit, but she
had only laughed, the sound echoing dully in her helmet as she climbed
back to her feet to try again jumping through the water this time.
Georgy was used to blue skies. She had seen them all of the seven
years that she had been alive, and she didn’t know what it would feel
like to live in a place where the sky was always black. Daddy told her
that things are never just better or worse, they are different, and
although she would lose the blue sky, she would gain a sky full of more
stars than anyone on Earth had ever seen. She looked forward to seeing
that, and to seeing Daddy again. She hadn’t seen him for most of a year,
unless you counted calls on the Grid. Her last call had been just two
days ago. Mother had smiled wide and said, “Honey, we’ll be there soon,”
in that voice that she seemed to keep only for him. Georgy hadn’t said
much of anything.
The trip was a blur. She spent so much time thinking about
all of the details that she didn’t appreciate the trip. Sometimes she
wished that she could simply be like Georgy and enjoy the experience,
but then again even at Georgy’s age she hadn’t been the sort to simply
sit and enjoy things. “Driven” — that was how they had described her
as a child. She was driven to excel, to finish things.
At Georgy’s age, she was living in the United States and traveling around the world every Summer.
Dad would introduce her to things such as rappelling. She would be
hesitant at first, then she would repeat the experience as many times
as it took to be good at it. Daddy always got a kick out of that,
paying for tickets so that she could try again and again until she
completed her goal. She remembered when she had first learned wall
climbing in a sporting goods store, and she had stayed there for hours
until she finally had been able to ring the bell on the ceiling. Father
had laughed out loud at that, proud that his daughter was not only a
self-starter, but a finisher too.
Mom was less forgiving. “Put that down right now and come to dinner”,
she would say. Despite the fact that she professed to hating the rigid schedules
that her mother had imposed on her, Mom was a woman who liked order and
doing things at the right times. Hiromi was always being chastised for letting time run
away with her as she obsessed over her current project.
When they moved to Japan, grandmother had solved the problem by getting her a
very demanding piano teacher. Music class before had been a chance to
tinker with lots of different instruments. She had begun piano lessons
because she liked the way that it sounded, and the teacher had
commented favorably at how she was able to pick out a song on the keys
the first time that she had touched one.
Her new teacher had taken her to a concert on their third lesson together.
She had pointed to the stage and said, “Your goal is to be there on a stage winning a
competition before you are eighteen.” She had done it at eleven,
winning the All Japan Youth Piano Competition and basking in the glow
of completion only to realize that every ending is simply the start of
Becoming Japan’s best child pianist had only shown her that there was a larger
world where Japan was only one country among many. There was also the fact
that she was only the best “child” pianist. Two more years and she could enter the “youth”
competitions. There were ones for adults as well.
She changed piano teachers and dropped out of school, her grandmother going through
the tortuous regulations to allow her to miss school as she traveled
the world to compete internationally in competition.
Unsurprisingly, her mother did not like it. She felt that Hiromi needed a more normal
life. A life with games and friends, watching movies, and internet
chat. It was the odd fact that her father and grandmother were in
agreement that allowed her to continue with this strange, expensive
obsession. How many teenagers regularly see a chiropractor and a hand
surgeon for repetitive injuries from sitting at a bench all day.
Besides the challenge of it all, Hiromi didn’t do friends well. She had never
really been good at people. It was an odd thing, because she was
relatively pretty, and people called her sweet. It’s just that her
obsessive nature made people call her a show off. Most people didn’t
like it when they introduced a game to someone and ended up getting
soundly beaten by a little girl who had just started playing that day.
They got angry. They avoided you. They called you a braggart even if
you never said anything about it. They learned to hate you.
Hiromi solved the problem by not playing with them, she would observe quietly
while others played. It kept her out of trouble, but it also kept her
on the edge of friendships instead of in them. There was a boy that she
had liked when she was ten. She was still going to school then. Shiro
was his name. The two of them had been showcased as stars of the school
in an assembly because she had started winning piano awards, and he
was a chess whiz. There was a luncheon or a dinner, and some kind of
after school club that they had attended. Shiro had offered to teach
her to play chess, but she had declined. God knows she didn’t need
another obsession. He had felt offended that she had snubbed his game
despite the fact that she went out of her way to watch him compete —
one time almost missing practice when his game ran long. She had run up
to the stage and congratulated him before rushing off to class to get
scolded for tardiness. He had simply remembered that she hadn’t stayed
to watch him get the trophy. He had stopped talking to her after that,
and she had stopped imagining that she would ever have a boyfriend.
She had taken the anger and disappointment that she’d felt, and she had
channeled it into intensity on that Rachmaninoff piece that had been
giving her trouble. In his own way, Shiro had helped her win that
competition because the judges had been simply blown away by the depth
of emotion expressed by a girl of only eleven. So often, children
succeeded in the technical precision of a piece but not the feeling.
The pounding beats of her childhood disappointment and thwarted dreams had
translated into tears in the eyes of the judges and thunderous
applause. She continued to get such inspiration in all of her
celebrated youth. Not going back to school. Not going to field day. Not
making the middle school graduation ceremony. Not being in town for
her former best friend’s birthday party. Her emotional range never
faltered except for a comment when she was seventeen that she lacked
joy and playfulness in her Mozart. She had cried when she got home that
night. Her teacher said to ignore the comment. It was one negative
thought in a sea of praise, but it hit home because it was true. Piano wasn’t as fun as it had been. She had begun to wonder if this would be her entire life.