Coop’s gaze was transfixed on a brilliant blue star just above the edge of the horizon. He stood on his tiptoes, head craned back, leaning against the balcony. His short legs made it hard to see the star over the railing edge.
“Coop, what are you doing out of bed?”
The boy jerked back from the railing and spun around.
“Sorry, Mom, I just wanted to see the star again.” Cooper raised a tiny index finger towards the night horizon. “I like looking at it.”
His mother crossed the balcony to him. Her bare feet padded dull thuds on the durasteel flooring. She slipped off the cloak that covered her silk night dress and put it around Coop’s shoulders, leaving her arm around him.
“Does this mean I don’t have to go to bed?” His voice held more than a hint of pleading.
His mother smiled. “You can stay up a few moments longer. Just don’t let your father know.”
She pressed an index finger to her lips, indicating it was their secret.
Coop grinned and returned to his previous position, overlooking the balcony’s edge.
“What do you think it is, Mom?”
“I think it’s probably a planet.”
“A whole planet? Can we go there?”
Her grip on his shoulder tightened ever so slightly. Her smile faded.
“Not all planets are places people like you and I can go to. I wish we could, honey, I really do. But we just can’t.”
“Cooper what are you doing out of bed?”
Coop and his mother turned to see his father walk onto the balcony. He crossed his arms.
“I’m sorry, Dad. I just wanted to see the planet.”
Coop’s small finger shot upwards again. His father’s gaze did not follow, remaining firm.
“You need your rest. What have I told you about staying up past your bedtime?”
“But the other boys don’t have bedtimes!”
“You’re not like the other boys Cooper. You’re different.” His father’s tone shifted then, grew softer. “It’s a good different.”
“No buts, Coop. You need to go to sleep.”
The boy sighed loudly.
Coop stepped away from the railing, dragging his feet as he returned indoors.
Coop’s father walked over to where his mother remained. He placed an arm around her and she huddled close, resting her head on his shoulder. Together they looked out towards the blue planet beyond the distant plexiglass.
“Did you tell him?” he asked in a hushed tone.
“No, he still knows nothing.”
“He needs to know. He was the last one born there. All the other boys he knows were born here.”
“I know. I would just hate to crush his poor feelings. I already had to tell him we can’t go there. Is there any harm in him just not knowing?”
“Coop does have a curious connection despite not having been raised there, but he must be told. The truth would hurt him far more if it didn’t come from you.”
She shifted her gaze from the planet to her bare feet.
“I know. I’ll tell him. Earth should still be in cycle tomorrow night.”
He turned to face her. “He needs to know what happened to our home. He needs to know who he is.”
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