Smiles to Go
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Ninth grader Will Tuppence is in control.
He plans everything obsessively, from the perfect stargazing night with his crush, Mi-Su, to the regular Saturday-night games of Monopoly with his friends. He's even planned his entire adulthood: career as an astronomer; mint condition, black 1985 Jaguar XJS/12; two kids. . . .
But everything changes the day Will learns one startling fact: protons—those tiny atomic particles, the building blocks to the building blocks of life—can die. The one thing that was so certain in this world to Will has an expiration date.
And Will's carefully planned-out life?
Not so certain, either.
defense. Did I want to sacrifice my queen to open up the board? Or take the safe route and capture his knight? My eyes kept drifting to the back row, to his king and queen. But that’s not what I saw. Instead of the royal couple, I saw Mi-Su and Danny Riggs, dancing in a black-and-white checkerboard ballroom. “Daddy! Come here, quick!” Tabby was at the door. Dad and I were locked in my parents’ bedroom. It’s our Tabby defense. She knows chess takes concentration, so she tries to disrupt us
is…how she looked at me…she knew…” “Knew what?” “Taking Black Viper. Going down Dead Man’s Hill, like BT. She knew exactly what to do to get back at me.” Mi-Su wagged her head wearily. She pushed herself up from her chair and walked slowly upstairs. I followed. She stopped at the doorway to Tabby’s room. “I just wanted to see…,” she said. Her voice caught. “Oh…poor Ozzie. All alone.” Ozzie the octopus was flopped forlornly over Tabby’s pillow. When Mi-Su turned to me, her face was glary.
again?” Today she wears something I’ve hardly ever seen her in: a dress. It’s green. It doesn’t quite match her eyes. Only one thing does. It finally came to me about a month ago. I was in the dormer when I smelled it drifting up two flights of stairs: pie. And suddenly I knew where I had seen her eye color before, in the kitchen, my mother slicing Granny Smith apples. And the sweet apple oven cloud carried the only poem that’s ever visited me: Imagine my surprise— She’s got Granny apple
time, all these numbers go by, when the last iota of stuff in the universe—the last proton—finally winks out, will Forever still be? Does Forever continue on beyond the last zero? My answer (my prayer?): of course it does, because Forever means endless. So… If Heaven and angels are non-stuff… If the stuff-me becomes after death a non-stuff angel-me… If Heaven and angels exist in a timeless medium we call Forever (“Hey, nobody here but us angels!”)… Then…guess what?… There will be no end of
second. In the time it takes me to say “per second,” light zips around the world more than seven times. So figure out how far light travels in a year (which has almost six trillion seconds), then multiply that by 2,000 for the distance to this spiral galaxy. How can something that big be so far away that it looks smaller than my little fingernail? Pretty soon I knew all the scopes that were viewing galaxies, and so I just galaxy hopped. I was in heaven. I bumped into Mi-Su. “Ships passing in the