Conversations with Christopher: Map Part 1

Sunshine and flowers peek through patches of mist. Pebbles on a familar garden path crunch beneath Christopher’s feet. He knows this path, this garden, yet it winds into a less trodden area, at least for him.

The mist clears, revealing rows of leafy green and fern-like fronds of ripening carrots in the ground. A stout woman with a dusty scarf wrapped around her head and long skirts tugs, pulling one of the carrots out of the earth. 

Map: (for it is Map) There. Not too much. Just enough to stay solid. To stay real. 

She drops the carrot in a waiting bag at her feet, wipes her dusky face. Wrinkles line her brow, reminding Christopher of the grooves in trees. Eyes as dark as the hollow of a trees filled with hidden sprigs of green fix themselves upon him. 

Map: Oh, it’s you. Gotten lost again, have you?

Christopher: I’m not sure. Do I know you? 

Map: (snorts) Forgot me again, did you? After all the time I spend looking after what you leave behind. 

Christopher: What are you talking about?

Map: Danyel and Tayel. You’d better not have forgotten about them. 

Christopher: No! Of course I haven’t, but how do you know them?

Map: How do I know them? Hmph! (She picks up the bag of carrots at her feet and starts trudging down the path.) Must be nice, being able to walk down any road, find any world you want. No worries, no responsibilities. 

Christopher: (hurrying after that her) That’s not true!

Map: No? You do just enough to stay solid, never enough to stay in one place. 

Christopher: I have a place!

He pauses to look at the roses blooming around them, a gazebo nearby. Yes, this part of the path is more familiar. 

Map: Sure. Sure you spent a lot of time here. Basking in the beauty of the flowers while they basked in you. 

Christopher: (brindling) Just what is wrong with that?

Map: Ever dig for vegetables in this garden?

Christopher: No. I don’t eat much. 

Map: You should eat more. Dig more. I’m trying to get my boys to that, but they’re too much like you. Wandering around the pretty flowers. Starting at shadows. Getting lost. 

Christopher: I’m not exactly…wait. Your boys. Are you talking about Danyel and Tayel?

Map: And their older brother.

Christopher: Have you become their mother?

Map: They already have a mother. Or they should. 

Christopher: What do you mean?

Map doesn’t answer at first. She keeps walking down the path, past the roses, past the tall rows of foxglove to a familar wooden gate. Christopher recognizes it from Omphalos.

Map: Too many people get lost among the flowers and shadows. Someone has to look after those left behind. 

She opens the gate. 

Christopher stops, expecting the familar street lined with dwellings up the cobblestone path. There is no cobblestone path. No dwellings except for a single cottage in a field dotten with flowers below an incline. Forest borders the field on either side. 

Christopher: I thought I recognize this place, but I don’t. 

Map: Yes, you did. This was Omphalos. And it will be Omphalos again, given time, villagers, and folly. 

Christopher: How is that?

Map doesn’t answer. She just passes through the gate and heads for the cottage. 

Curious, Christopher follows her. 

(To be continued next Monday)

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#RainbowSnippets: A Symposium in Space

Welcome to Rainbow Snippets!

Every Saturday or Sunday those participating share six sentences of LGBTQIA+ fiction on their blogs. It can be their own. It can be someone else’s. It just needs to be LGBTQIA+.

To sample different LGBTQIA+ stories, go to…

For my own, Pausania will answer the question Phaedra asked her in last weekend’s from A Symposium in Space

“If you feel the word is wrong, why do you keep using it?”

“Because I can’t forget it!” Pausania slammed the glass into the wall, heedless of the broken shards. They sliced her hand causing crimson wounds to bloom all over her smooth skin. “Men have committed crime after crime, started countless wars, preying upon one another along with us. We should never forget that, especially when we start considering offering them citizenship in the Intergalactic Democracy!”

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Lift Your Gaze to the Stars: A Party, A Trap Part 1

On November 10, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at a Wednesday Words prompt involving an old woman in uniform, a peace treaty, and a party.

This involved a freebie story in a work in progress I haven’t thought of in a long time, Lift Your Gaze to the Stars. I started writing this and it swelled to the point where I had to break it in two. This is Part 1.

The elderly woman sat at the fringe of the party. Not looking at anyone, Keeping her gnarled hands folded even as she clutched her knuckles. 

Few would have noticed her agitation. I was one of the few. Not to mention I was shocked by how much she’d aged in my absence. 

I sat down next to her. Not wanting to touch her. Not wanting to abandon. “Hello, Aunt Illya.”

“Hello, Dylan.” She glanced in my direction, allowing her weathered features to soften a bit. “Have a nice visit with your father and his mad Italian relatives?”

“Nice and yes, utterly mad. Of course they obsess over how to grow the best tomatoes while on a floating chiesa.” I smiled a little at the memory of La Madonna della Universa and the nuns who ran it. All of whom were my father’s cousins. “I only just got back.”

“Of course you did.” She smiled a little out of the corner of her mouth. “You always tried to take care of us. All of us.”

Her smile faded at the sound of silvery laughter drifting from the center of the party. 

“Aunt Illya, don’t do this.” I almost reached out for her hand. “We can go-“

“No.” She pressed her lips together in a thin line. “This is Marchen and Sasha’s chance to meet people. Yours, too, Dylan.” She fixed a watery gray eye upon me. “You should be saying hello to your mother. This peace treaty is her triumph.”

Bitterness laced each word as she gazed at the gleaming white figure, the center of attention for the crowd. 

Yes, Evelyn Stuart had engineered a peace treaty with the Ambience, brokering a new understanding with the alien race Aunt Illya, a.k.a. Captain Ilona Gambretti dedicated her life to fighting. Peace was like a slap in her face. 

Peace sounded well and good, but I didn’t trust my mother. She was up to something. Aunt Illya didn’t trust the Ambience. Their motivations for anything was murky. 

Inviting an old soldier like Ilona Gambretti, one who had once been Evelyn’s friend and lover was offering an olive branch exuding a stinging sap. 

“You should speak to her,” Aunt Illya said again, but her hands began to tremble. 

“If Evelyn Stuart feels a need to talk to me, she can come over here. This will force her to talk to you as well, Aunt Illya.” I locked my gaze with Ilona’s, forced her to look at me. 

I decided to reach out. 

I took one of her hands, pressed it gently. “Besides you’re my true mother, Aunt Illya. All Evelyn Stuart ever did was give birth to me. I’m half-convinced that in itself was an experiment. To see if she possessed any maternal feelings. Or any feelings at all.”

“Dylan!” Aunt Ilya scolded, but her gray eyes twinkled. She was amused by my words even if she wouldn’t admit it. “No matter what else Evie might be, she’s still your mother. Show a little respect.” 

“Delighted to see you’re at least attempting to teach my son manners, Ilona, even if he stubbornly refuses to learn.”

I froze in the shadow which fell over us, the shadow of many people looming over us. In the forefront was my mother. 

Her silvery-blonde hair was swept up on the top of her head by ambience diamonds. They lined her white cowled tunic. Not a line touched her smooth brow. Evelyn Stuart refused to show any touch of weakness or humanity, including age. 

No one else dared to wear white, although almost everyone around her dressed in similar tunics of dove-gray. They gazed at Aunt Illya and myself with wide, eager eyes. Just waiting to see what the outsiders might do. 

One of Evelyn’s lackeys, standing slightly behind her was Marchen Gambretti, Aunt Illya’s own daughter. She ducked her head, avoiding looking directly at her mother or me. 

Evelyn gazed at us both in slow appraisal. It was like being caught in the gaze of a space serpent.

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