There was a boy in my school who always wanted to be the best at everything. His name was Max, he even had the best name. He was very spoilt. He was an only child his parents were both solicitors, but his grandfather had been some kind of Duke who owned half of Yorkshire or something.
If I came into school with a Power Ranger action figure, he'd come in the next day with a Dinozord. One Christmas I got all the Dinozords, so I could make the Megazord, and I couldn't wait for school to start again so I could show everyone, but when I got there Max was standing by the school pond brandishing his Megazord, Dragonzord and Titanus! He could make the Ultrazord. My life as I knew it was over.
At lunch a few months later I was talking to my friend Kevin about how my mum was making me a trifle for tea.
"I love trifles" Kevin said. I could tell from his voice that he was jealous, but he
I knew that he was happy for me. He was my best friend. At that exact moment, Max was walking behind us, and he had heard every word.
"That's nothing" he said. "I'm going to eat a star". I explained that his words did not make sense. You could not eat a star. Even at my young age of eleven I had a good grasp of science and a genuine interest in astronomy.
"You just watch me" he said.
Over the next few months all anyone talked about was Max's plan to eat a star. My trifle was long forgotten. Two weeks before we broke up for the summer holiday, Max stopped coming to school. Our teacher informed us that he had gone off to train with NASA. On August 15th he became the youngest person ever to fly into space. It was all over the news.
September came after what had seemed like years. It was a summer dominated by one thing; Max's mission. As Kevin and I strolled into our first registration of the year we spotted Max already at his desk looking pale and nervous. He looked really ill. His hair had thinned and his skin had white burns all over it. It wasn't long before the returned traveller had drawn a crowd.
"So did you do it? Did you do it?" people cried.
"Yes" he said, but his voice was no longer that of an 11 year old boy. His voice had fear, it had pain, it had doubt, and above all it had wisdom brought about by a boy becoming a man in too short a period of time. The arrogance and cockiness of an over-loved child had disappeared. Whatever had happened to him had made him grow up faster than any child should. He said nothing more on the matter and never brought up his adventure again, and no-one dared ask.
I know I said you couldn't eat a star, it's impossible, but after seeing the change brought about in Max that cold September morning, I can't help but think that maybe he did.