As pilot of the inter-planetary academy shuttle, I sometimes have my passenger list updated, meaning I need to find the safest and most efficient way to reach a different pod at the appointed hour. I was apprehensive about picking up Gigi because I feared she would be another complicated adolescent on a crowded one-way space duct. Those complicated kids know they can’t refuse academy attendance but they can dawdle until the shuttle leaves without them and then attempt to shift the blame for poor attendance on me.

I felt pangs of guilt when I saw Gigi’s mom guiding her out to the shuttle. They walked together like one creature with four legs, the mom using each of her legs to guide the disabled and stiffened legs of her child. Step, by step by step they crossed in front of the shuttle to the entrance in what appeared to be a slow and painful dance. When I opened the portal for Gigi to enter, I was awestruck by the serenity of her smile. If it had taken me that long and that much effort to travel such a brief distance I would have been scowling, not beaming.

Her mom chatted with me and Lieutenant Velma as Gigi made her way ever so slowly up the steps of the shuttle. Her muscles were so uncooperative that her speech was hard to understand, yet she chatted with me the whole way to the academy. I should probably tell you I am wary of my own tendency to daydream and what a threat that is to my continued employment so I talk my way through the run in the hope that doing so will keep me grounded, so to speak.