The Lonely Astronaut

Got the idea from a writing prompt.

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1. The Lonely Astronaut

The astronaut sat on the bench in the park. He removed the helmet of his suit. He put his head in his hands. What if she doesn't show up?

"Hey mistah. Are you an asthronauth?" 
There was a little girl standing in front of him. She was smiling, showing the gap where she had lost a tooth. She had a pink dress on, holding a teddy in her arms. 
"Why yes I am, little girl." he said smiling. The girl was so innocent, so kind. He couldn't help but smile. 
"Whath's ith like in space?" she asked. Her lisp was cute, obviously caused by her missing tooth. 
"It's beautiful." he replied, thinking about the awe of space. The girl jumped up onto the bench beside him. 
"Whath does ith look like?" she asked. 
"The Earth is beautiful from space. It's all greens and blues and whites. And you know everyone's down there, but you can't see them. Makes you feel small. That we're just one person, on one planet, in one solar system, in one galaxy, in one universe." he said, staring up into the sky. The little girl looked at me. 
"Bu-bu-buth whath abouth the aliens?" the girl asked sacredly. 
"Ooh, they're very dangerous." he said playfully. She looked terrified. "But don't worry. Me and the other astronauts keep them away from Earth. You're safe while we patrol space." he said, glorifying the role of an astronaut. 
"Whath are you doing outh here then?" she asked. 
"I was supposed to meet someone here earlier." he said.
"Did they show up?" the girl asked. 
"Yeah."
A moment of silence passed. 
"What's your name?" he asked her. 
"Danielle. Call me Danni. Whath's yours?"
"Matthew. Call me Matt. Where are your parents?" Matt asked Danni, worried about why a little girl was out on her own. 
"I don'th have any. I live in a fosther home." Danni said quietly. Matt felt for the girl. Alone in the world. 
"Did you run away?" Matt asked. 
"Yes." Danni admitted, head down in shame. 
"Danni, look at me." Matt said. "When I was sixteen, I ran away from home. That was the worst decision I ever made. The next time I went home, everyone who wanted to help me, to love me, was gone. You're gonna go back to that foster family, and you're gonna stay there." Matt said, looking straight into Danni's eyes. 
"Only if you walk me home." Danni demanded. 
"Ok." Matt said, taking Danni's hand in the hand of his suit. They walked out of the park, down streets, around corners, and finally arrived at the door of Danni's home. I knocked on the door. A boy in his early teens opened the door, and stared in surprise. He saw Danni, and grabbed her into his arms, holding her there. 
"She was in the park." Matt said. 
"Thank you. Danni, we've been worried about you." the boy said to Danni. 
"I'm sorry." Danni said, leaning into his arms. "Matth was thalking tho me. He's an asthronauth." Danni proclaimed. 
"I can see that." the boy said. "Run along inside." 
"Ok." Danni obliged, trotting off into the house. 
"Thank you. May I ask, what happened? Astronauts don't just appear." the boy asked. 
"Remember that this happened. Remember that I said this. This family, don't run away from them. They want to help you. They love you. You may think you're alone, but you're not." Matt said to the boy. 
"Wha-" the boy started. Matt saluted to the boy, and turned to walk down the drive. 
"Don't give up on your dream, Matthew. You'll get there someday." Matt shouted back to the boy. The boy stood, puzzled. 
"Matthew, come out of the cold." a fatherly voice came from inside the house. Matthew ran up to his room, which had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling, a model of the solar system, a telescope, and much more evidence of Matthew's love of space. Danni was sitting on his bed. 
"Danni! What did that man say his name was?" Matthew asked Danni. 
"Matthew. He said 'Matthew. Call me Matt.'."
And a thought hit Matthew. 
He sat down on the bed, gobsmacked, and said "I think I just met my future self." 

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