This one’s for Ginny and Andrea.
by Marian Allen
Hugo Lucas had been hearing the song in his head all day: “Cheer up, sleepy Jean….” Daydream Believer, a song by The Monkees, a group broken up and its members all dead long before his birth. It was practically his mother’s theme song, though. She even persuaded Hugo’s dad to let her give him the middle name Davy, after her favorite member of the band.
It was following his daydreams, encouraged by his parents, then by his mother, after his father passed, that got him where he was.
Alone, true, but alone on the moon. And he wouldn’t be alone for long. He and two robots, one of which was also transportation, had just set up the last of the lunar satellite outposts. He’d occupy it for three weeks, doing twice-daily inspections under camera surveillance fed to the mother colony and back to Command Central on Earth. When it was clear that all was in top working order, he’d be joined by the last group of colonists, who had been waiting in “Luna City” for the go-ahead.
So far, everything had checked out. All the parts and electronics had been flawless and, after having set up fifteen previous outposts, he and both robots knew a few tricks specific to this design that even the designers didn’t know.
Meanwhile, he waited for the time to pass, pulling routine maintenance, testing the emergency fall-backs, watching over the hydroponic garden and the meat cloner, reading, and thinking.
He thought a lot about his mother, which was probably why her favorite song had been stuck in his head. Jean Marie Lucas had loved every girl and woman he had ever brought home to meet her, just as she had cheered him on in every personal choice he had ever made. She had accepted every failure as “a learning opportunity” and had helped him see what it had taught him about himself and the world.
The only thing she hadn’t been able to accept was that he was born to be alone. Whenever he went somewhere, the last two things she ever said to him were, “Don’t forget your toothbrush,” and, “Meet somebody nice.” Those were the last two things she had said to him before he left for the Cape and this who-knew-how-long-exactly mission: “Don’t forget your toothbrush. Meet somebody nice.”
The song started in his head again, and he sang it aloud. He didn’t even need to pull it up on his player: he could hear it plainly. They were probably roaring with laughter in Luna Central and Earth’s Command Central, especially when he switched from melody to harmony.
He stopped singing, his breath catching in his throat. His mother had just joined the song.
Her voice was so strong, he couldn’t help looking around for her. And he saw her.
She stood in the doorway just by his elbow, wearing her favorite blue velour sweat suit, her eyes closed, her arms waving her conducting of the song.
When he stopped singing, the music in his head stopped and his mother opened her eyes.
“I’m so proud of you,” she said.
“Mom,” Hugo said.
“I just wanted you to know that,” she said. “You’re the best son anyone could ever have. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mom,” he said. “What happened?”
“Doesn’t matter. We all go, sometime.”
“I should have been there.”
She shook her head. “You were in just the right place. I was proud. I’ll always be proud. And I’m here to say goodbye.”
She tsked and said what they always said at parting: “When you gotta go, you gotta go.”
As she faded, Hugo cleared his tightened throat and said, “Don’t forget your toothbrush. Meet somebody nice.”
MY PROMPTS TODAY: