It was her last day at work--could it really be his last day?--and the technology teacher looked around her classroom wistfully. The ceiling fans spun lazily.
She turned to all of the past students who had gathered for the sendoff party to which had invited them. She had delivered the invitations by drone, and when she sent them off and saw how far some of them travelled, she felt like a thistle that had spread its seedlings across the world.
So many students, and yes…so many women! All of them grown up now, recalling the times she had addressed them and said “I’m sure some of you girls see a space launch and think ‘I want to be a part of that.’”
Then she’d pause, and smile.
“And boys, I’m leaving you out. In fact those of you who aren’t intimidated by these little geniuses here--and especially those of you who are proud to work for them, because some of you will--are exactly the kind of folks we need.”
She noticed that some of the men from her classes pointed to their wives and girlfriends, who wore shirts from Cal Tech, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute among others. The women laughed and held their husbands and boyfriends tighter.
She opened the secret panel next to the emergency switch that cut off power to the room. A red button appeared.
“We don’t dream as much as we used to,” she said, pushing the button. The air conditioner now revealed its true purpose, and liquid oxygen began to flow into the massive thrusters below the room.
Doors above the fans opened. The fans moved upward, until they were outside, and the doors closed behind them. Their hum became a roar. The room broke free of the school and a nanotechnolgical replica took shape, replacing it.
“I look back,” she said, a tear running down her face, “and say yes, it’s been a damn good run.”
Heat sinks locked into place as thrusters emerged below the room.
Gyroscopic stabilizers clicked on, steadying the room for an aerial launch. Seats emerged from the floor as well, and she motioned for those gathered to sit in them, and strap themselves in, which they did with giddy, thrilled laughter.
And just before the heat sinks moved into place below the room, and just before the thrusters emerged and ignited, she whispered the single word on the sign that she had placed above the entrance to her classroom on her first day of work: