Word Count 499
By Mike Cecconi
“Gramma,” Jasmine asked, “one more tonight?” “All right,” her grandma pretended to chide but was happy to oblige, “one more then your mom says you must sleep for school tomorrow.” “Oh-kaaay,” the girl responded, propping herself higher with pillows, disappointment directed toward her mother in the next room over, “just to humor Ma.” Her grandmother laughed despite herself as she unfolded the holo-pape in her lap and gestured at another story. “This one I wrote myself as an homage to something my own grandmother read for me when I was a little girl like you, it is sort of about us and I call it… Goodnight Earth.” Jazz shifted up a little further on her pillows.
“In the lunar colony known as New Perth,” Grandma started, “there’s a videophone in a dome of great girth… and a window that shows satellites circling the Earth… there are endangered koalas playing with an impala…” “My toys on the shelf!” Jasmine interrupted. Her grandmother nodded toward them and then she continued.
“A space suit made of rubber and an oxygen scrubber… and a little toy rocket that fits in your pocket… a tree in the city’s arbori and some sushi in nori… and a little old lady who wrote her grand-daughter a story…” she smiled down at her grand-daughter and she smiled back up too.
“Goodnight to the place of your grandmother’s birth,” and she gestured a flip of the virtual page, “goodnight Earth, goodnight satellites circling the Earth, goodnight all in the dome of great girth, goodnight koalas, goodnight impala, goodnight suit of rubber and goodnight to the scrubbers.” “You think a lot about oxygen scrubbers, huh, Gramma?” “They’re how we breathe, you know.”
“Goodnight solar panels and goodnight pajama flannels, goodnight little rocket… and goodnight pocket… goodnight replacement hearts and titanium knees…” she tapped her heart then one of her legs, “goodnight to the nori… goodnight trees… and goodnight to the lady, the girl and their story…” Jasmine giggled at the mention of the two of them once more.
“Goodnight distant stars…” her grandmother couldn’t help but look away from Jazz for this, out at a planet below and galaxies beyond, “goodnight recirculated air, goodnight wandering humans everywhere!” then closed the holo-pape as punctuation. There was a long thoughtful pause, there in the dim nightlight’s glow, before the girl finally spoke.
“Gramma?” she asked, “That’s lovely but isn’t it more of a parody than an homage? Mom’s read me Goodnight Moon before and you copied the structure almost verbatim.” Grandma could not help but laugh again, “Our future’s safe in your nimble mind and hands, my Jasmine, goodnight Earth, goodnight moon, goodnight you…” then turned out the light and closed the door, leaving her to sleep beneath the shadow of Earth’s distant eerie blue. As the incumbent governor of the New Perth Colony, her grandmother had a busy day tomorrow too. Getting those repairmen to work double time on fixing the damn oxygen scrubbers was like pulling teeth, after all.