The poster bore an image of a tiny kitten dangling from a clothesline, hind legs kicking desperately against the abyss. HANG IN THERE, the caption read. Horatio Salazar, Westside High School Appropriations Officer, had hung the poster in an attempt to reassure the students who were summoned to his office. Occasionally, it even worked. Xinyu loved that poster, Salazar thought, back when she was Consuela. Back before her third strike. A sweet girl. But she should have known that piñatas originated in China, and that they only became “Spanish” through cultural appropriation.
Do I love?
Of course, Ship can love.
I mean, who the fuck are you to ask?
The October morning broke bright and sunny. A perfect fall day in the Northeast. The Jamison family was, as usual, scurrying around the house with kids getting ready for school bumping into adults getting ready for work. All in all just a typical morning in Paradise Heights… until it wasn’t.
Denise organized the chairs in a circle, each no more than six inches apart. She sorted the donuts on the tray so each had its own space, none touching. The coffee was positioned to allow for steady traffic and conversation.
Denise smiled and watched each person enter the room, grab donuts, gulp coffee, and slid chairs out of position. She stayed silent, reminding herself this was part of the healing process.
I was chosen to write the history of the survivors of the destruction of earth that happened hundreds of years ago. First, a few of us escaped by rocket to the planet of the Azari people for what seemed like three earth years based on the amount that we aged, but we may have been aging faster on a planet that does not match our biological cycles. We can’t be certain. Our atomic clock either broke or was sabotaged, so we could not judge the passage of time. It didn’t help that Azari was illuminated somehow so it was never dark and the temperature was generated internally and remained consistent. I might not have survived it if I didn’t have Sapphire Hendrix, the companion that I had met during the planning for escape from a doomed earth.
Gleipnok wakes to discover that sometime while sleeping she transformed into a big, hairy Earthling. Legs already hanging from the end of her once roomy sleep pod, she wriggles out and reaches with her mind for her crewmates. Thinking things like, “Ah!” and “Help!” and “I’m a big, hairy Earthling! How did that happen?”
This story deals with subjects that some readers may find upsetting.
I’m willing the old lady to take her seat already so the driver can go. Come on, come on, old girl, just pick a seat, any seat.
“Please take mine,” I say and stand. She smiles a paper-thin smile and eases herself onto the damp fabric. I hold onto a pole as the bus shudders onwards and we’re off again. I take out my phone and replay the message. “Miss Hart, Tabitha is unwell again. Please come and pick her up as soon as possible.”
The way Tabby’s teacher lingers on the word “again” sends a painful throb to my stomach.