IN 1964, National Geographic promised your old man a moon base. Domes buried in the lunar dust. Sturdy. Inevitable. American. Cut-away illustrations showed the innards—steam pipes and closets and a med bay and a vegetable garden and a low-g ping-pong match in the rec room. Vivisected. Alive and revealed. The girls by the pool wore bikinis, baring the rise of their breasts but not their navels. Everything was avocado and sherbet, just like the new kitchen. Your old man wore the magazine thin. He kept his grades up. Showed the sticktoitiveness of an Eagle Scout, though he couldn’t afford the uniform or the handbook. He worried he would be too tall. That he wouldn't make it as a test pilot if he grew as big as your grandad. Always sat with his left hand in his lap at the table. The only place your old man ever saw banquette seating was in a Martin and Lewis picture, so he mistook the moon base’s mess hall for a night club. Mistook the explorers' weary eyes for determined, their mouths drawn thin for grit.
Mistook the crescent earth for home.
JW Bell lives in Illinois.