She sat in the chair, staring into space, while the kids charged around above her, yelling at the tops of their voices. She wished she hadn’t taken this last assignment before her upcoming vacation. It sounded so easy and a good escape from her usual poring over numbers and detailed reports. The new Star Trek exhibit had generated so much buzz that the staff was worn thin trying to take as many groups through as possible, and the museum’s chairman had asked this one little favor….and now here she was, sitting in the captain’s chair while chaos reigned.
A small boy stopped in front of her and pointed a plastic phaser gun at her. “You are dead you Klingon!” he yelled. He squeezed the trigger and sparks flew out of the tip.
“Ugh, ya got me,” she said and slumped down in the chair. He squealed in delight. That was enough to motivate her to sit up straight and evaluate the situation. Or perhaps the chair was rubbing off on her. She cleared her throat.
“Listen up recruits!” she said in a commanding voice. “Sit down NOW.”
All the children promptly sat down. She was liking this. “Do you want to go on an adventure through space, the final frontier?”
Loud cheering from all the children and from a few of the scattered parents too. She pressed a button on the chair and the presentation started on the big screen, with stars floating by as the Enterprise moved out into space. She glanced around the room and noticed a boy curled into the crook of his father’s arm, not staring at the screen.
She got up from the chair and gingerly made her way over to them and sat down.
“Everything okay?” she whispered.
He looked at her and then away. His eyes were glistening. She sat there beside them and watched the screen. He finally spoke in a low whisper.
“His sister…well, his sister…P-A-S-S-E-D away a few weeks ago. This is our first outing since then. I thought a chance to get out….and he loves Star Trek so much….”
“I understand,” she said quietly. “I am so so sorry.”
She thought for a moment. “What is his name?”
“Hey, Josiah. My name is Carrie. You love Star Trek as much as I do…right?”
The boy looked at her and nodded.
“Would you like to be the captain? And sit in the captain chair?”
Josiah looked up at his father and sat up. “Could I?”
She stood up and put out her hand to him. Together they made their way back to the Captain’s chair and he sat down, a little smile on his face. In a low voice, she pointed out all the different buttons and what they did. He moved the chair to and fro and played with the buttons while his dad stood beside her.
“I can’t thank you enough,” he said. “You’ve been very kind.”
“We can’t stop bad things from happening,” she said, and paused to wipe a tear off her cheek. “But we can be kind to each other. We can at least do that. We can fill up the empty holes with as much love as possible, like repairing potholes in the road. Every single day.”
(written with love and tears for the lost children of Sutherland Springs…..Annabelle, Brooke, Haley, Emily G, Emily H, Gregory, Megan, Noah and Carlin.)