I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this!
Alissa Robertson was in the bathroom, locked in a stall. She was sweaty and pale. She had thrown up 3 times, and she still felt terrible.
Takeoff was in 3 hours. She wasn’t ready. She will never be ready.
“Alissa?” A soft voice called from the other side of the door, knocking. “Are you there? The Daily Galette and other newspapers want to interview you. This is your big day!”
“Umm, yes.” Alissa’s shaky voice said. “I-I’ll be out there in a second.”
“Okay Alissa. Just call if you need anything.”
That person was her best friend. Her name was Helen. She had been training with Alissa for over 5 years. But it wasn’t her day.
It was Alissa’s turn.
Every year, one astronaut was to fly to the moon. In the past few years, none of the astronauts made it. For example, last year, an astronaut named Darren Hocksight flew. He had to abort, because the engine wasn’t working properly. His ship had exploded in the atmosphere.
Alissa had wanted to be an astronaut ever since she was a little girl. It had been her dream. She had started training when she was 21, and she was 26 now. It was her time. It was her day.
Alissa walked out of the stall, washed her face and her hands, and strolled out into the hallway. She was calm, but she knew what would await her when she got outside.
She was right. There was a crowd of reporters, wanting to interview her.
“How are you feeling?”
“You know that most astronauts in the past few years had to abort their missions. How does that make you feel?”
“You are the youngest astronaut to ever attempt to go to the moon. Will the lack of experience be a major problem?
Alissa tried to answer the questions the best she could. She was flustered, because the different reporters kept shoveling microphones at her.
Finally, the chaos stopped. It was time. Well, almost.
T-minus 2 and a half hours.
Alissa then had to change into her big, bulky space suit. It was hot, but she was used to it. She had practiced and trained in it many times before. It took a while to put it on, though.
T-minus 2 hours
It was time. She had to say goodbye to her family.
“Bye mom and dad.” Alissa’s voice was cracking. “I love you guys so much.”
“Bye Alissa.” Her mom was blinking back tears. “I love you too. And you know, honey, you are the love of my life. I am so proud of you.”
“We are so proud of you.” Her dad cut in. “You followed your dreams, and here you are. I love you, kiddo.”
“Thank you so much, mom and dad.” Alissa said. “You were always there for me.”
She stepped up and hugged her parents.
They were too caught up in the moment to speak.
Alissa turned to Helen.
“Oh Helen. You are my best friend." She said, hugging her. "Thank you for supporting me the whole way.”
“Alissa, you encouraged me to follow my dreams. You are awesome. Have fun on the moon.”
Alissa smiled, and went into the car that would take her to the spaceship. She turned to have one last look at her family and friends.
“I love you guys so much.”
T-minus 1 and a half hours
Alissa got into the car. It started to move towards the big shuttle that would be taking off shortly. Last minute checks and diagnostics were going on. Alissa knew it was time.
Alissa got out of the car and into the hall that would take her to the shuttle. She had to climb the stairs all the way to the top.
When she got to the top, some people were waiting for her to help her into the ship.
“Thanks guys.” She said quietly.
“No problem.” They all replied.
They helped her get into position. Her position in the ship was basically sitting while laying down. It was uncomfortable, but she was used to it.
She had to stay in that position for a little bit longer.
T-minus 1 hour
Alissa’s mind was racing with all the thoughts that were going through it.
One side of her brain was thinking:
You got this. Don’t forget all your training. You won’t die.
The other side of her brain was:
No! I can’t do this. The past few years nobody has ever made it! You will not be the first.
“Be quiet!” She told her brain.
She looked at the clock.
T-minus 45 minutes
Alissa fiddled with her thumbs. She thought about when she was a little girl.
“Mommy,” Little Alissa asked. “How do you get to the moon?”
“Honey,” Her mom answered. “You take a spaceship. You know that.”
“I’m going to go there someday.”
“Alissa,” Her mom was looking straight in her eyes. “You can be anything your heart is set on.”
When 7 year-old Alissa heard those words, she wanted to become an astronaut. She made cardboard spaceships and had a space themed bedroom.
All those memories came back to present-day Alissa in a rush.
T-minus 30 minutes
She knew America was watching her. It was always on television. She had watched every single space mission ever since she was 8. She celebrated when the first walk was made on the moon.
She had space birthday parties every single year. She was obsessed. When she got to college she knew what she wanted to study.
After she graduated, she knew she would have many more years of training to go. She got with NASA to become an actual astronaut. It took 5 years of hard work. And even then, people were critical about having such a young astronaut to go to the stars.
T-minus 10 minutes
She was the only one who passed the test. The test that would see who would go to the moon.
But even now, she was having self doubts about it.
Is this what I really want to do? Is it my dream?
“Yes.” She told herself. “It's what I want to do.”
It was time.
T-minus 1 minute.
The engine started firing up. Big blasts of smoke were shooting around the spacecraft.
T-minus 30 seconds
Alissa’s training took over. Her microphone was turned on so she could communicate with the people who were controlling it from the ground.
“You okay Alissa?” They asked.
“Yeah. I’m fine.” She answered.
T-minus 10 seconds
The rumbling of the ship was almost distracting Alissa. She ignored it.
T-minus 9 seconds
“I love you mom and dad.”