Christopher sits facing a young woman in an orange jumpsuit and short purple hair. Long bangs fall over her pale forehead.
Christopher: That’s an unusual outfit.
Phaedra: It’s the latest lack of fashion, according to Pausania. I’m dressed like the pilot of a ship even though I don’t have a ship. (She blushes a bit.) Well, I didn’t have a ship.
Christopher: I take it you do, now?
Phaedra: Yes, the Timea. I’m surprised I’m not at her controls now. What is this place? (She looks around at mists surrounding her, at Christopher seated in his stone chair opposite.) Some sort of transportation nexus?
Christopher: What’s that?
Phaedra: I’m not sure if I can explain it myself. It takes you out of your ship, transports you into a different part of the star cluster it’s part.
Christopher: And what’s a star cluster?
Phaedra: (grimaces) Something a lot fancier than a space platform or station. The only one I know anything about is the one Agathea created. She’s one of the richest citizens of the Intergalactic Democracy, so it’s not something just anyone can afford.
Christopher: I see…no, actually, I don’t see at all.
Phaedra: Neither do I. And why am I trying to answer your questions when you haven’t answered mine? Where are we?
Christopher: This is the Cauldron. It’s nothing like Agathea’s star cluster. Actually I’m not sure if it is or not. Both are creations of our scribbler. Maybe they are similar.
Phaedra: Why would they be? Who is this person you call our scribbler?
Christopher: Our creatrix, yours and mine. The creatrix of our respective universes. This blog, this Cauldron, this place is a space between universes where we can meet or interact.
Phaedra: Blog? Cauldron? Those are some old-fashioned words. Particularly blog. Rhymes with bog. Or frog.
Christopher: Blogs don’t exist where you’re from? Places where people post online?
Phaedra: Online? That’s another old-fashioned word.
Christopher: I guess you don’t do anything like that.
Phaedra: Maybe. I have shared poems on in the intergalactic web. Along with trains of thought or trails. Sometimes we just call them trains or trails.
Christopher: That makes sense.
Phaedra: Judging from your expression, you’ve never heard such an expression. Not for the intergalactic web.
Christopher: To be honest, I shudder a bit at the notion of an intergalactic web.
Phaedra: Why? It keeps all lifers connected.
Christopher: What’s a lifer?
Phaedra: You really don’t know? Lifers used to be called women back on Ancient Earth. It was a term for a girl when she matured to womanhood. Goddess, I’m using some archaic terms. You do still use the terms women and girl, don’t you? You’d still be referred to as a girl?
Christopher: (trying to keep a straight face) Yes, we use the terms women and girl where I’m from, but neither of them would apply to me. Not right now.
Christopher: I’m a boy. Sort of.
Phaedra: What? Really? (She draws back, taking a sharp look at him.) Wait, what do you mean, sort of?
Christopher: I’m made of shadow, scattered bits of memory. Some of them belonged to girls and women. Only my current form is that of a boy.
Phaedra: Wow, that sounds so weird! You must be the product of some extremely advanced science!
Christopher: Actually I think I’m the result of magic and will. My existence is a bit of a mystery.
Phaedra: I shouldn’t wonder! This explains why you don’t have even a trace of a beard.
Christopher: I don’t think boys had beards. Not in the Gardens I dimly recall once living in.
Phaedra: Gardens? That sounds lovely. I admire any world which emphasizes an active plant life. This is one of the few things Pausania and I had in common. (She looks sad.)
Christopher: That’s the second time you’ve mentioned Pausania.
Phaedra: Pausania almost became my lover. She wanted me to be her beloved. She was beautiful, charming, eloquent, interesting…only she was also irritable, constantly finding fault with me, and sucking all the cheer out of a room.
Christopher: Sounds like a challenging person to be with.
Phaedra: Oh, she was. I wonder if she wasn’t too challenging. (She lets out a sigh.) Being with her was stifling.
Christopher: You’re not with her any more?
Phaedra: I’m not sure. We had a fight and I walked out on her. Perhaps it was the wrong thing to do, but I really wanted to go to the symposium.
Christopher: The symposium?
Phaedra: A gathering in space at Agathea’s star cluster. I’ve never been anywhere like that before.
Christopher: Pausania didn’t want to go?
Phaedra: She didn’t want either of us to go. She wasn’t too nice about it, either. Not that it was just about the symposium. A lot of things which had been building up between us were finally said. There’s no way to unsay them. I’m not even sure if I want to.
Christopher: I’m sorry.
Phaedra: Don’t be. I’m having an adventure, perhaps the first real adventure ever, making my way to the symposium.
Christopher: Good luck in getting there.
Phaedra: Thank you.
How does Phaedra get there? What happens at the symposium? Find out in A Symposium in Space available at…
Nine Star Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/a-symposium-in-space/