"Stars" and "Why" are homonyms in Vietnamese
Winner of the space-themed, 100-word micro-fiction contest by Thread, L.I.
Inspired by an old locksmith who grinded us new keys every other month.
When I was young, a locksmith set up shop in front of my house. A rickety cart attached to a half-bicycle, the pedals powering a grindstone that shaped bronze sheets into keys. He told me about the infinite sky and how god created an entire world above. He talked about how his son is an astronaut and he’s travelling there soon.
A couple days later, he returned. A thinner frame, a heavier soul. He told me that his son finally traveled to the stars.
A photo of a young boy sat by the grindstone. A smile. An unanswered “why”.