Kaleidoscope (Bradbury)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A group of astronauts were scattered into space after their rocket exploded. As they fell towards their inevitable deaths, they communicated with each other, revealing their true selves.

A rocket ship exploded in space, scattering its crew members in all directions. The men, wearing their space suits but without their force units, were left to drift aimlessly in space, each heading towards a separate and inevitable fate. As they fell, they communicated with each other via radio, expressing their fears, regrets, and even some bitter confessions.

Hollis — astronaut; regretful, lonely, and desperate.

One of the men, Hollis, was told by another crew member, Applegate, that he had sabotaged his career years ago.

Applegate — another astronaut; initially hostile but later remorseful.

This revelation initially filled Hollis with anger and despair. However, Applegate later admitted that he had lied about the sabotage, leading to a sense of relief and acceptance in Hollis.

As the men continued to drift apart, their communications became fainter until they were completely cut off. Hollis, realizing he was heading back to Earth, contemplated his impending death and wished he could do something good to make up for his wasted life.

I’m falling. Good God, I’m falling.”

As he entered Earth's atmosphere, he burned up like a meteor, his final moments observed by a small boy in Illinois who made a wish upon seeing the "falling star".