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Bashar Mati: Apocashitstorm Tour, day 7. I was three months out of rehab when we went camping out here. Wyatt went to sleep early, so it was just the two of us when we stayed up and watched the Perseids. After, as we talked about the stars and space tech, I suddenly knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Transcript

Hi Ma,

It was August. Summer school had wrapped, and I'd aced my courses, so I was heading back to tenth grade with a good head of steam. As a reward for my studies (and my sobriety), you and Wyatt gave me a Fullerton Labs AstroProdigy and took me camping to watch the Perseids at their peak. I was amped!

Wyatt spent all afternoon struggling with a "self-constructing shelter" he'd bought for the trip, until finally he gave up and built the damn thing manually (well, the sleeping pods, anyway) while we made a fire and cooked dinner. It must've taken a lot out of him, because Wyatt was nodding off at dinner and went to bed soon after.

As night fell, we sat and watched the meteors streak across the sky like fingernail scratches, marveling at their abundance, laughing our delight. After an hour or so you asked me to teach you the constellations, so I launched the AstroProdigy and played professor, spouting off about each star group as the drone magnified them.

Later, I had it zoom in on the Odyssey, which was still being constructed in orbit back then (it was another year or two before they abandoned it). We could actually see the robots building it, zipping across the hull like little fireflies. So I jabbered about that, which got me started on yammering about the robots that Faro and other corporations - even Metallurgic - had begun sending up to mine helium-3 from Luna and metals from the asteroid belt.

The more I spoke about space tech, the more excited I became. But I was getting cold, too - deserts at night are like that. So I sat back down next to you and we huddled under the camp blanket. For a little while we were quiet; I wanted to say what I was thinking, but it felt ridiculous. But then Wyatt snored explosively from inside the shelter, and we giggled, and our laughter seemed to make an opening for me to just go ahead and say it: that I - your delinquent son who'd almost flunked out of high school, who'd nearly died of an OD at bashcore concert - wanted to be an aerospace engineer and make the sorts of machines we'd been talking about: robots to gather resources in the solar system, maybe even ones that could travel to other stars and colonize new worlds.

You looked at me and smiled. "Then that is what you will do." And then you looked up at the night sky and said, very plainly, as though it was a simple fact. "You will write the story of our family across the stars."

School started the next week, and I never looked back.

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