Pluto 1/5


Last Planet Out

No regrets. Some people still think of me as a renegade from a chatter of asteroids, but I have more layers than that.

Think of me as the boundary between what you know and what you have to dream. Gateway to the universe. I could slip away from the back row at any moment, and none of you would notice. I may still do that.

A god? I suppose I am. Who else could memorize a thousand names for darkness? My orbit is my harem, and I can choose whatever shade suits my mood.

OK, I did have a fling with Persephone. But the Earth was all seeds and swelling fruit before that, and they say a change of seasons is as good as a holiday, so I packed my own ice.

She had it all: a throne of precious jewels, her name vibrating the strings of every lute I could summon, the wandering eye of my most lusty knights.

I asked but one thing: loyalty. If she could just forgive the blue tinge to her skin and give up all thoughts of sweat, I would grant her more happiness than she could ever know.

Gradually her blood slowed, and she consented to eat a few pomegranate seeds to seal our love. If only Demeter had not pleaded so well with Zeus, she would be mine alone and not have to waste her energy melting so much snow each spring.

But all that was long ago in Earth-years and now that planet has memorized the tides so well, the machine of seasons kicks in on its own.

No more excuses, my sweet – it’s time to settle down.

Grave with a View

Lennie’s grave was only a stone’s throw – admittedly a long one – from my other parents’ grave. How strange is that? You think there is only one tiny section of hallowed ground in a cemetery that can relate to you then suddenly your loyalties are tested. How could I go to Lennie’s grave without paying my respects to my father and Frieda?

Lennie’s grave had a fine view, and there was a mob of Canada Geese down below. They must have waited in line for this spot, I thought, but I didn’t mention that to Elaine as she gazed on the marble slab.

Her name and birth date were inscribed next to his. A small photograph of him added a personal touch, and Elaine gently rubbed the back of her hand against it before breathing on the glass.

She didn’t look back at me. Did she think I wanted to cry? I was sad that I had never met him, but that distance drained away any show of emotion. I whispered a few words of good-bye to him – wherever he might be now – and left it at that.

Had he loved my mother? Had he wondered about me?

I thought of coming back after dark to ask him, but what was the point? He’d already dug himself in deep enough.

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