Ask Your Father [Short Story]

There are two ways to go faster than light.

The first is to have less mass than a photon. I’ve yet to hear about a diet that manages this, but I think that’s just the modeling industry being secretive.

The other method involves a cardboard box, an aluminum foil space helmet, and the words “Please, daddy?”

Laila was an experienced space adventurer. She knew all the best routes to visit Mars, Pluto, and Trappist. Also Ribbock, Spist, and Fumlan, which NASA might never find, but somehow Leila knew about when she was three. Weekends were especially busy for space travel.

“Mommy, can I go to space now? Please may I please?”
“Ask your father…”

And with those infamous words, I’d fire up the Dad Engine, prepare for liftoff, and away went Laila to visit some new world.

She saved the space-bunnies from an erupting volcano.
She met friendly tree aliens and climbed their branches.
She had tea and cookies with the Emperor of Spist, who forgot the cookies and had to return to his grand palace for some.

“Hon, what are you doing?”
“Can’t have a tea party without cookies, dear. That’s just blasphemy, and the Emperor of Spist is no heretic!”
“Oh, alright. But don’t let her spoil her appetite, dinner will be ready soon.”

When she turned sixteen, the Dad Engine was officially retired — although it had lost most of its thrust years earlier — and replaced by an internal combustion V4. The rest of the vehicle, she compared rather unfavorably to the cardboard box, but we made do.

“Remember kiddo, no opening the doors to fly. That only works on die-casts and Hot Wheels.”
“I know, Dad,” she answered impishly, “but where’s the button for the hover conversion?”
“Only Deloreans have those. And you’re too young for time travel.”
“Fiiine. I feel like I’m in the age of dinosaurs anyway. What’s this slot for?”
“That’s the CD player. Because your dad still listens to physical media sometimes.”
“Stop being Old at me.”
“Hey, some day you’ll appreciate my Old!”
“I’d appreciate the keys more.”
“Adjust your mirrors first. Then you can have the keys.”

Tears gathered at the corners of my eyes — teaching her to drive had felt like our last big “adventure” together. Then the organ music started up, chasing away the memories, and out came Laila, radiant as ever in her white dress. My little girl, not so little anymore, prepared to take on her greatest adventure yet.

As I walked her down the aisle, I realized how quickly it had all flown by.

She really had gone faster than light.

Republished with permission from the author, KieveKRS. Image created using Stable Diffusion.

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