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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Love or Mars

 This is for Romantic Friday Writers. The prompt this week was the most difficult yet (and I've found them all difficult) "Up, up and away". Hopefully you enjoy it.

In youth Suzie boasted that she dated a guy who worked for NASA, training to be an astronaut. She dreamed of the day she could say "My husband works up in space." 

Howard celebrated passing his Astronaut Test by proposing to Suzie, marrying her a just few months later. A year later Suzie gave birth to Jake and life was perfect, until Howard's job kicked in, forcing him to travel into space on a regular basis.

For seven years he would leave for a few months at a time, working with a team repairing satellites orbiting Earth. He was only back from a three month absence a month when it was announced; NASA wanted Howard to captain the first human expedition to Mars. This gave him the choice, his wife and child, or his career. It would last twenty years, too long to force Suzie (thirty) to wait loyally.

He met some friends at a local bar to discuss his predicament. They were equally as split as himself. The eternal glory of being the first man on Mars or raising his son into manhood with his beautiful wife. He decided it would be best to talk to Suzie and get the perspective of someone he loved and loved him in return. Suzie could choose for him as she would know what was best.

Howard returned to an empty home. On the table sat an envelope labeled with his name in Suzie's handwriting.


I love you more than I can say, so I'm leaving. Sorry I didn't stay to tell you in person but I couldn't allow myself time to change my mind. I know you want to go to Mars so I decided to wave the white flag for Jake and myself, allowing you to go. Don't think I'm happy to be rid of you. I'll weep rivers every day but I believe that if you have considered, even for an instant, to leave us and go to Mars then that says enough. You should go. Remember me and remember Jake. We're proud to have been a part of your life and you will be forever in our dreams as you live out your own.

All my love


The letter concluded with a kiss, her lipstick printed on the page. He kissed the image of her lips and wept. She was right... but that didn't make it any easier.

Word Count: 401
I'm sure we can allow one word. I unfortunately wrote 580 first draft. 

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  1. WoW! This definitely pulled at my heartstrings.

    What a predicament indeed!

    Speaking for myself here...I don't even like to leave my wife for a day, let alone 20 years, even if for the job of my dreams!

    Back to your story...If he stays, he'll always have a lifetime of what ifs & might end up resenting Suzie for his missing out on the job of a lifetime. If he goes, he'll miss his son growing up & what kind of a half-existence life would that be for Suzie?

    Now Suzie has left...making his decision even easirer... I wonder how he'll ever forgive himself for making her choose...a real conundrum indeed, Andy.

  2. Crumbs! I'm so torn! A lovely and heart-wrenching tale. She loves him enough to set him free to fulfill his dreams, yet will bring up their child alone but proud.

    This could be debated touchingly clever a piece of writing. Excellent!

  3. that is sooo sad:(
    choosing between family and career,that is indeed very difficult!
    but it was commendable on the part of suzie to let him go to fulfill his dreams:(
    but nevertheless it makes me sad!
    skillfully written!
    thanks for sharing..

  4. One problem with this story is - who's the protagonist, and whose POV? Seemed to be Susie, (she dreamed) in the beginning, but then we're off with Howard to the bar.

    Frankly, you've written Howard as a wuss, and I don't see a guy who is this outwardly indecisive as a successful astronaut (or anything else.) He can have inner conflict, but asking his wife to make up his mind for him, or his bar buddies, doesn't work for me.

    The premise is excellent; I think if you tune in more to Howard's POV, and show him conflicted about, perhaps, being in space when his son is born, making the choice to turn down Mars and coming home to find the note...? Just a few ideas.

  5. Hi,

    Oh lordy: a dilemma of win/lose lose/win, and no easy way out of utter cliff-hanger checkmate! Nicely written omniscient POV! ;)


  6. Awwww...... How sad.
    But, I think she is right. If he could even contemplate leaving her for even a 1/4 of that time period, he doesn't love either her or his child enough to want to be with them.
    Sheesh, made me feel sad now so, your words did their job well!
    A good read thanks for sharing

  7. I totally disagree with Beverly so please don't get discouraged by her comments. Sure there are some things that could be improved but the story is very realistic and I think this could be a real conversation that a wife and husband in just such a career would have.

    If you want critique advice I will be glad to offer it. Email me at: gillael at aol dot com
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

  8. Great job, Andy! My hub's former military. We knew several in the astronaut's training program - it's a demanding program. What you wrote it very realistic. I know of a situation where something similar happened.

    You know, of course, to ignore Beverly. She's a troll.

  9. A real dilemma for both husband and wife, and filled with complex internal conflict. Interesting read!