The night Mom broke her leg, I slept through the whole thing. She fell down the stairs. Dad telephoned for help. The ambulance driver didn’t use his siren.
“Kenny, my boy, your mom and dad asked me to spend some time with you,” Granddad explained when I woke up the next morning. “They’ll be back when the doctor has your mom all fixed up.”
I stood by my bed in my pajamas with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
“Don’t worry,” Granddad said, giving my shoulder a pat. “She’s going to be just fine. You and I are having a very special breakfast.”
“What are we having?”
“Toast from outer space,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
The lump in my throat disappeared as I followed Granddad to the kitchen. He took four slices of bread wrapped in foil from a packet inside his jacket.
“That looks like ordinary bread to me,” I said.
“Oh, no. This bread was baked fresh this morning by real live aliens from Pluto!”
We both laughed. I opened a cupboard to get the toaster.
“No way!” Granddad exclaimed. “You can’t make toast from outer space in a toaster. We have to zap it in the oven.”
Granddad turned the oven knob to broil. Next he used a fork to scoop some soft yellow stuff from a wooden bowl. “This is softened sunshine from a galaxy far, far away. It had to travel six million years at the speed of light to get here!” He used the fork to spread the sunshine over the bread.
“Why don’t you use a butter knife?” I giggled.
“There’s a right way and a wrong way to make toast from outer space,” Granddad said with a grin. He cut each piece of bread into two triangles. Then he arranged them in a circle on a cookie sheet turned upside down. “I’m just following the directions,” he told me.
He slipped the upside-down cookie sheet into the oven. “You can’t use an ordinary earth timer for this,” he said. “We have to count, ‘One from Pluto, two from Pluto, three from Pluto,’ and so on.”
So we counted together. We got clear up to ‘ninety from Pluto’ before the toast was brown and bubbly.
When Granddad pulled the cookie sheet from the oven, he burned a finger. He dropped the toast on the countertop and yelled, “Jackrabbits!” before he stuck his finger in his mouth. We laughed again.
Then, from his shirt pocket, he took a small plastic bag.
“Sugar and cinnamon,” I said.
“This is star dust,” he whispered as he carefully sprinkled it onto the triangles of hot toast.
I quickly took my seat at the kitchen table because I was really hungry.
“We can’t eat toast from outer space at an ordinary kitchen table,” Granddad told me. “We must sit on the floor.”
He spread a clean bath towel on the floor and placed the pan with the toast, and a pitcher of orange juice, by the towel.
So Granddad and I sat on the ordinary kitchen floor, drinking ordinary orange juice, and eating toast from outer space. We talked, and Granddad laughed at my knock-knock jokes.
We had almost finished our unusual breakfast when the door opened. In came Mom and Dad. Mom walked with crutches. She had a big white cast on her foot and leg.
The lump in my throat came back.
“Don’t worry,” Mom said. “I’m all right. But I’m going to need your help for a while.”
Many weeks passed. I helped my mom. When the doctor finally cut her cast off with a little saw, things at our house were pretty much back to normal.
Then one day I walked around the block to see Alonzo, my best friend. I found him sitting on his front porch with his mom. They looked really sad.
“My dog, Poco, was hit by a car,” Alonzo told me. “My dad took him to the vet.” I could hear the lump in his throat.
“I have a great idea,” I said. “Let’s all go inside and make toast from outer space.”