When I most need light, it’s a night sky that comforts me. Look up: see that matrix of stars, the spaces between? Empty or burning, there’s purpose – and therefore possibility. One more candle of hope kindles whenever I look up.
I close the albums. The variations of your smiling face, posing frozen, become painful afterimages. Blinded, I shelve the books by feel.
You recur unpredictably. Sometimes I wish you were a ghost. A haunt can be exorcised; memories can’t.
They almost saw me during the reception. We were dancing. I smiled wrong; I couldn’t remember the right smile, so I displayed a fake, scrounged from clouded memories of expressions. I’m empty where emotions were, so I impersonate. Sometimes I even wish they would notice.
They’d spattered crimson on the piano, but she was playing, indifferent, when he returned with their lily.
She unfurled a minor chord. “It’s relaxing.”
He knelt, avoiding the blood, and wrapped the dead fingers around the lily’s stem.
They were gone before the chord died away.
“Can you see anything?”
The streets are scorched. The buildings we once inhabited are gray shells. The ashes fall lightly on me. I pretend it’s snow.
“There’s nothing to see.”
They knew they were losing, and they couldn’t tolerate us returning to our homes. First they stole our resources, then our people, now our futures.
Our son lifts a case from the rubble: Grandmama’s seed stash, overlooked in its humble box. Inside, the colorful packets aren’t even singed.
“Isn’t that something.”
“Of course I am.”
He wouldn’t take the pamphlet from her hands. She folded it to her chest.
“It’s one-way,” he said. “Why would you go?”
Her footprints in iron oxide dust; her name writ in discovery’s legacy; new stars, herself among them.
“Because,” she whispered. “It’s Mars.”
Our stars are gone. These constellations feature cryptic mythologies, strange heroes, beasts whose silicon fossils disturb our archaeologists. We located the Milky Way – a distant glimmer – but I kept searching.
There, above the rose-gold aurora: a golden pinpoint, our new North Star.