It is a powerful word.
It can open the mind to a world of possibilities, depending on what follows it.
Hypotheticals. Speculations. Dreams.
Dreams. I said it. You didn’t think this was going to be an unrelated story did you?
Or maybe you did. See what I did there? Add the word, and suddenly anything is possible.
Maybe there was a boy, born in the same year Robert Goddard launched the first liquid fuel rocket, who grew up in rural Indiana. Maybe that boy was the son of a railroad signalman, a job that puts a man to work using symbols to direct the flow of vital cargo across the nation. Maybe the symbolic had always been in his blood.
Maybe that boy grew up on a street named Baker, that you wouldn’t find on a map anymore, because they changed its name, after he grew up, to honor him. Maybe be delivered papers, joined the Boy Scouts, and played football with the other kids.
And maybe, just maybe, this boy fell asleep at night, eyes on the wide moon beaming in through his window, arms wrapped around a stuffed bear.
Maybe this boy would spend his delivery route earnings on lessons at a local airfield, his love of the sky turning to a love of flight. Maybe this boy would finish high school, join the military, fall in love, fall on hard times, and return to school to try and earn a degree… to make a way for his family.
Maybe, all that time, that bear he hugged so tightly to him stayed at his childhood home. Tucked away in a chest or a drawer, or set on a shelf in the attic. Maybe it never forgot him. Or he it.
That boy, now a man for some long years, opted to pursue his love of flight, maybe, and joined the newly formed Air Force. He might have, if we allow ourselves to believe it, flown jets, fathered children, and even went away to war.
And, maybe, all this time, his bear sat gathering dust, until it was finally cleared out of the attic: bagged up along with other toys and old keepsakes, it was dropped off at a local charity drive in a nearby town.
This boy, now a man, now a warrior, finding himself back from the war for some years, may have received a message, telling him to come to the Capitol. Maybe this message was Top Secret. Maybe he was told to speak with no one.
Far fetched, I know. But maybe not so far fetched.
Maybe back in Indiana, while the warrior packed his bags for Indiana, the bear he had clung to sat on a shelf, a fresh coat of dust collecting on his fur, facing the shop window. The light from the same waxing crescent moon that the former boy now slept under in his barracks room in Washington D.C. also falling on the bears eyes, just as it had all those years before.
Maybe, sitting on that shelf, year in and year out, unpurchased and only occasionally touched for cleaning, that bear continued to watch the moon. And maybe, though they were never in the same place ever again, that bear saw the boy once more… catching him in a reflection too small for any human to see in eyes made of glass.
Maybe he saw his boy circling the moon.
It is a slim possibility, this idea, but perhaps less so when we remember that we’re accepting as true that many men have been around and on the moon. The maybe becomes… perhaps less strained.
Maybe that boy turned astronaut had many adventures in the void. Maybe he was seen as a hero. Maybe he perished a terrible, fiery end on the ground rather than in the sky.
Maybe, decades later, when that boy-who-had-become-a-man-had-become-a-warrior had met his end, and the bear still remained, almost forgotten as the shop changed hands… its only existence in memory an inventory entry in an old ledger, some men on a ship went looking for a craft long surrendered to the sea. Maybe it was a craft the boy had been in, and almost been sucked down to the depths with. Maybe some keepsakes were recovered from that craft… a few dollar bills and a coin or two for each week of the year. Maybe they were moved around a number of times, a coin gone missing here or there, dropped between cabinets, or palmed by the would-be historian, as interested in keep sakes as the boy-astronaut had been.
Maybe that bear’s mark in the ledger was finally seen, and a collector juussstttt enamored enough with the idea of “maybe” purchased it, wondering if the entry in the ledger, “CKG”, might not just be the initials of the boy-astronauts mother, who had dropped it off all those years before.
And maybe one of those coins, so legendary in both good and terrible ways in the history of trips out into space, came into the hands of the same collector. Bear and coin and legend of boy-astronaut, all combined, all in the shadow of a TERRIFIC number of maybes. And maybe, if you’ll allow just one more, all those maybes were passed along to the collector’s kid when he passed away, and on to his grandchild. A grandchild who seemed to have had some nightmares before he got the old bear, but who now seems only to have strange, amazing dreams of travel to far off lands.
Unlikely? Certainly. Impossible? Maybe.
There’s only one source who can ultimately confirm or deny the tale… and Virgil the Space Bear certainly isn’t talking.
(The above is a slapdash attempt at role reversal for Lewis and I. This time, I got the art, and the concept, and had to work backwards from it. Hope you like it.)