The 7-Year-Old Genius

Submitted into Contest #151 in response to: Write about a character who keeps ending up in the same place.... view prompt


Fiction Kids

“Marcus, dinner’s ready!”

The warm smell of burning bread wafted from Mom’s kitchen, and he felt his stomach rumble. But it would take much more than hunger pangs to ruffle the feathers of Marcus Angelico, the 7-year-old genius of Sausalito, CA. He felt a cool breeze blow through his thick, uncut hair as the grass tickled and stained his bare feet. The elements, however, could do nothing to break his concentration. This was a boy with a mission: a mission to the moon.

His natural workshop, generously provided by Mom, gave him the perfect amount of space for any project he could think of. This particular night, his project was a rocket, which he was putting the finishing touches on: cardboard exterior--check; cardboard interior--check; big circular window--check. And last but not least, Name of Rocket printed in red crayon--check. This was the most important bit, as any 7-year-old genius knows. How else would NASA know that he made it to the moon? 

“Marcus, come inside!”

He heard her voice raise ever so slightly. He’s been through this routine before: Mom yells, he ignores her, she yells louder, and so forth until someone breaks. It was always Marcus who broke first; even 7-year--old geniuses have to listen to their mothers. But tonight he was determined. Tonight he was gonna fly! And it didn't matter if Mom came rushing out to drag him in; tonight he was going to be a million miles away.

Marcus stood before his completed creation. The construction paper flames really were a nice touch; he was glad that he added them to the design. The rocket was finally ready to soar. Marcus Angelico stepped into the seat that he so wittingly created for himself, though not before strapping on a helmet. Every 7-year-old genius knows that you can’t go to the moon without a helmet. He felt the breeze toss his hair a little harder as he began his countdown:

“T-minus 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…” 

He closed his eyes in anticipation. 

“3…2…1…blast off!” 

Marcus Angelico, the 7-year-old genius, felt himself soar through the air! He felt the wind grow stronger and colder as he moved higher and faster. He heard the treetops, the birds, and then nothing at all. He could even smell the burning of his rocket as it exited the atmosphere.

Wait a minute. His rocket! It couldn’t burn yet, how would he ever get home? The 7-year-old genius made a couple of quick calculations and determined that he would never fix his rocket with his eyes still closed. He opened them with caution, expecting to see a terrible case of destruction and fire (the non-construction-paper kind). What he saw instead was even worse: his own natural workshop.

Strange, he thought, that the moon would be so similar to his own home. But after a few more calculations, the 7-year-old genius realized that he had never left home at all. The wind he had felt before had grown stronger on its own behalf, and the burning he had smelled before belonged only to Mom’s fresh bread.

“Marcus Angelico, get inside NOW!”

He had to get to the moon fast, or he’d be in big trouble. It’s tough on a 7-year-old genius to be in big trouble. So without hesitation, he started another countdown, this time a little faster than the last.

“T-minus 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!”

He thought he felt the cardboard engine rustle, but it was just the wind, which was now taking pleasure in blowing leaves through the air. The 7-year-old genius briefly considered transforming himself into a leaf, but he didn’t have time. He needed to be in outer space now.

“T-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”


“5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”

A promising jolt, but then again, just the wind, now willing to blow the rocket ship in sudden gusts.

“3, 2, 1!”

Zip, zero, nada, none. The 7-year-old genius felt the chilling wind wipe a tear from his face. This wasn’t the first time he had tried to leave, of course, although he was originally just trying to find his dad. Sure, Mom was alright. But living in a 3-bedroom house with 4 older brothers was tough for a genius, or at least for a 7-year-old. Besides, Mom always burned the bread, and he wanted to try it evenly baked for once. 

His first idea was to walk around Sausalito, CA, asking if anyone knew his dad. But when the cops brought him home an hour later, he knew he had to take a different path. He tried to ride the bus to LA once, but hadn’t realized how much money it costs to get there. His feet couldn’t reach the pedals of Mom’s car, and none of the neighbors wanted to chauffeur him either. Boats were too hard to steer, planes were too big to build, and he could never design a catapult to hold enough weight. Still, he kept pushing himself to leave. He stopped trying to find his dad and focused all his energy on just getting away from home. His brothers always bullied him for his age and his genius, and his mother was always too busy burning bread to stop them. Sometimes it felt like nobody cared at all, and all he wanted was to go somewhere that someone would care, a little. Maybe even care a lot, if he was lucky. But every time he thought he got away, he always seemed to find himself back in his natural workshop, standing on a useless piece of cardboard junk that never would’ve worked anyway.

The rocket didn’t fly tonight. It didn’t even move. It didn’t even try. It was the kind of rubbish that only a 7-year-old genius could think to come up with. He would’ve beaten it to a pulp out of rage, if the wind hadn’t gotten it first. 

As a sudden gust of wind blew through Sausalito, Marcus Angelico watched his rocket do what he never could: fly away. And there, in his empty natural workshop, the 7-year-old genius was alone.

“Marcus, where have you been? Dinner’s been ready for almost 20 minutes!”

Mom startled him a bit when she stormed out of the back door, but he put on his bravest smile. “I know, Mom,” he said, “I could smell the bread.”

“Then why aren’t you inside eating it?” Mom asked, although apparently she meant it rhetorically, because before Marcus could answer, his mother was dragging him by the ear to eat his dinner.

Sure, he should’ve been afraid of the trouble he was in for. But all he could think about now was his plans for tomorrow. He had a new idea to get out of Sausalito, and it didn’t have to wait much longer. By this time tomorrow, he’d be a million miles away. 

June 20, 2022 05:51

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Connie Elstun
01:54 Jun 30, 2022

A boy needs his Dad! It seems to me I might have had Marcus scream that at the top of his lungs! I like to read kiddo stories sometimes, but find it’s terribly hard to write them. Good job, however you could have used some of your expository details within more dialogue for young Marcus.


Show 0 replies
Jim Hirtle
00:10 Jun 30, 2022

This is a good story, especially for young readers. I wanted to like this kid, a kid who never complained about burnt bread, but I think the over use of the phrase "7 year old genius" sanitized the character into one I could neither like or dislike. I do look forward to reading more of your imagination.


Show 0 replies
Ava Raim
01:30 Jun 28, 2022

Oh man, I really felt for the 7-year-old genius, and I'm quite sure this is the beginning of a successful astronaut's story - little Marcus' perseverance and optimism are remarkable and truly quite inspiring :)


Show 0 replies
Sara Crabbe
09:29 Jun 27, 2022

I loved this story and the way it read. Very clever.


Show 0 replies
Rabab Zaidi
17:38 Jun 25, 2022



Show 0 replies

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.