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Darkness Rendered

Von, Rog and Em sat without talking, each lost in their own world as they waited for the doctor as children wait to hear their name read from gifts under tree. John had had his bandages removed the day before and his sight was now as it was before. Today was their turn.

The nurse called Von. He entered. Sight restored. Next she called Rog. Again, darkness was left behind. Last was Em. She entered in darkness, and after what seemed to Von and Rog like a awfully long time, she returned still in darkness. Smiles turned south. Laugher vanished quicker than the snap of fingers. Em stood, her arms by her side, her head struggling to maintain posture.

“Frail the doctor. I will regain my sight.”

Von and Rog stood speechless.

Em held out her hands. “Let’s go. These frailing aliens don’t give a shiott about us,” said Em using language Von and Rog had never heard her use.

Von looked at Rog and Rog looked away, his face bloodless. He had his sight back. Em did not.

“Von,” commed Kyra, “how’d it go?”

“Not good.”

“What happened?”

“Em is still blind.”

“Oh my Janus. Is she okay?”

“It’s not Em I’m worried about.”

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Stains of Scarlet

Trev woke. He showered. Shaved. Ate breakfast. Returning to the restroom, he spend the rest of the morning puking his guts out. When there was nothing left to vomit, he worked his abs until they ached with dry heaves. His throat burned with his own acid. He tried to blow his nose. The smell refused eviction.

“You okay in there,” asked Mairi as she banged on the door in her silk robe and bare feet. She wore nothing underneath. Her red hair, like the rest of her, looked pert.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” His response seemed oddly strained.

“Trev? Open the door.”

“I said I’m fine. Please leave me alone.”

Mairi quietly leaned forward. Putting her ear to the door she heard nothing but her own breathing. “Trev? Oh my Janus!” She felt it first. Something warm, slippery yet sticky, not water, thicker yet thinner it felt at the same time. There was a moment, a gap, between the scarlet ribbon slipping under the door and between her toes and the recognition of something terribly wrong. The gap was less than a second but seemed long enough for a thousand thoughts to race through her mind.

Trev coughed, a cough deep, a cough sounding more like gurgling than the dry heaves of a moment before. The sound of Mairi’s voice seemed distant, reminding him of his mother calling his name at the pool as he swam underwater. He didn’t want to come up. He was in another world now. Land and sea. How could one understand the other? And so he floated on waves of consciousness untouched, feeling a gentle pulling as if the hands of Janussaries (Hynerian angels) were carrying him away.

Mairi pounded on the door. “Open the door. Now!”

She couldn’t touch him now. He was in the water. She wouldn’t follow him into the deep. He felt warm. Hues faded to pastels and sound lost all range of high and low. He was in the flow now and the flow would take him wherever the flow went.

Mairi’s heart raced. Taking a step back, she hurled herself against the door, her feet bloody with the life of Trev, cells dying in step with hope. Images of stains filled her mind. Stains of the body, stains of the mind, stains of the soul. Janus she hated stains. Her small lithe body was as feather pounding rock against the door. Falling to her knees in step with tears down her cheeks she began to sob as mothers sob for children, her head heavy in her hands as if guilt were lead. In anguish she cocked her head to bang the object of resistance and fell forward as the door swished open and where there was one bloody body upon the cold stone floor, now there were two.

Interview with Yul (from Earth): Part 2

T: Ready to continue?

Y: Always ready.

T: I would expect no less (smiles). Tell me what happened when Rog walked in the door.

Y: You know how when in hospital they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10?

T: Yes.

Y: Well, on the pissed scale, I was about a 15. Beyond pissed, beyond anger. It was an odd place, emotionally. I felt like I was in the eye of a storm. Hell had happened and I had a feeling hell was going to happen again, but in this moment I felt the strangest sense of detachment. When he walked in that door, I felt nothing.

T: Nothing. At all?

Y: Not a damn thing; and it scared me to death. He sat there with his pathetic eye bandages, and I felt nothing. I didn’t even feel numb. He was like a book I had once read and at one time liked, maybe even loved, but now, it just looked old and yellow and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why I had ever felt the way I did. He didn’t look the same. I almost felt embarrassed.

T: (dumbfounded look)

Y: What?

T: I’m sorry. I was not expecting this and my mind is running, trying to grasp what you are saying.

Y: (sighs) I wasn’t expecting it either. It happened in an instant. The door opened. The nurse walked him to a chair beside my bed. He sat down, looking all the much like the Jackassary he explained himself to be, and I just didn’t care. If fact, I felt a strange sense of boredom. Only later did the eye pass and the second wave of hell overtake me. To be honest, the meeting with Rog, well, even saying it was anticlimactic, is overstating the case. It was a non-meeting meeting. He looked whipped, like a pampus with his tail between his legs. His shoulders drooped, his voice had no power and he seemed very uncomfortable not being able to see. I don’t think he really knew what he wanted to say, not that there was anything he could have said that would have made a difference.

T: I want to come back to this second wave of hell, but before we move on I want to bring closure to your meeting with Rog. My understanding is that when he came out of the room, the only thing he could tell Kyra that you said was “either/or.”

Y: (laughed) Not sure we really talked about much of anything.

T: But he was in there for an hour or so, right?

Y: Probably.

T: What did you do for an hour if not talk?

Y: I think you are missing the whole scene. We talked, but about nothing, at least nothing that I remember. But the words were only words. They didn’t mean anything. You see, there was only one thing to say. We both knew what it was. He didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t feel I needed to say it. He had made a choice. Right or wrong and that choice was, to put it bluntly, to leave me to die. I don’t frailing care what the circumstances were. I was dying. He choose to be elsewhere. Ain’t no words gonna reconcile that.

T: (silence)

Y: So, I told him. Either you get your sorry arse out of my room or I’ll find someone who can. He sat for what seemed like the longest time, almost like he didn’t comprehend what I said. Then he stood, again, just standing there like I was going to say something else. The silence must have just killed his soul, especially not being able to see me. Next thing he heard was the call button for the nurse. She escorted him out.

T: (sighs)

Y: Look. I never said I was some frailing Janussary.

T: True.

Y: And would you want to frail me as bad as you do if I were?

T: (hesitates)

Y: Still struggling to be bluntly honest.

T: (starts to speak)

Y: Look. Frailing is a waste of time without an absolute commitment of unadulterated openness. If there is anything, and I mean anything, between you and the other person, any idea, concept, thought, hope, belief, dream, whatever, then the frailing will suffer. You must bring all of you to the frail. And the same for the other. (pause) All of you. And nothing but you. Otherwise . . .

T: Otherwise . . .?

Y: Otherwise, the pieces won’t fit.

T: I’m not sure–

Y: Of course you don’t. You don’t speak my language. You see, the problem was not Rog and what Rog did. The problem was me. As soon as he left the room, the second wave of hell came, slowly at first, but with a relentlessness and a force, I suppose I can say this now, that was beautiful to watch in its power and intensity. And it was pure hell. Now stand up.

T: (stands)

Y: Take your pants off and show me what you got.

T: What?

Y: Take your pants off. Now.

T: I–

Y: Sit down. Why would I frail you and all your baggage? Drop the baggage and then come back and see me.

T: I don’t think you understand–

Y: No, I don’t think you do.

(to be continued)

Morning

“Good morning Kyra,” said Papa.

“Good morning Papa,” yawned Kyra, still rubbing the sleep from her eyes. No matter how early she rose, Papa always seemed to be up and he always looked perfectly manicured. His white tunics were nothing but pristine, each fold easy and crisp, the cut looking tailor made.

“Have a seat and join me.” With a grace that even a child could notice, Papa lifted his off-white cup of snizzle to his tanned lips, took a sip, and as effortlessly allowed the cup to float back to the table. A cool morning breeze rolled in from the ocean, palm trees bowing as servants in the wind, their broad leaves whispering approval. The ocean looked warm, inviting. The waves were gentle but not calm and the hue, forever changing, shown with a turquoise sheen rarely seen with such clear brilliance. Colors blue and green shifted in the sun as a kaleidoscope, patterns morphing to the limit of the imagination with shapes and values light and dark, rich and light, inviting and forbidden. Golden sand basked in sun and water, silent in private joy, as comfortable in solitude as a welcome mat waiting patiently for the patter of guests seeking solace and renewal. “Close your eyes and take a breath.”

Kyra pulled up a chair and sat at the table, her feet not quite reaching the aged wooded deck. Closing her eyes she took a deep practiced breath, just as Papa had taught. Silently, she breathed in to a count of four, her focus on the flow of warm ocean air on the tip of her nose. Holding the breath for a second count of four, almost swirling the warmth in her chest, she gently released the exchange back into the breeze with a third count of four.

“Give me your hand and we’ll do this together,” said Papa. Without opening her eyes, Kyra held out her small white hand and into the leathery mitt of Papa’s palm, like a baseball in a mitt, her hand disappeared in his. Together, in silence, the two breathed in the morning, heart-rates slowing, seeking and finding harmony as large drum to small drum might. His hand felt large and warm and somehow tender in strength. His breath, its rhythm and pace, felt as a rope, a belay, holding her in a safe place, a place where a touch said more than words, where a breath brought peace and a heartbeat conveyed love. Their breathing synchronized; and slowly their hearts. From a window Grand looked out and smiled. The love Zeke showed to Kyra, so consistent day in and day out, so kind and gentle and loving, as one might show a delicate flower that needed just the right amount of sun and water to flourish, that love she thought, was Zeke. He didn’t try. He didn’t plan. He simply was. Where love began and Zeke stopped was as difficult to separate as the point where one body of water became another. The two were simply one and the same. And so Grandma Kyra stood and watched and smiled through eyes that had never lost their wonder. She would leave Hyneria before him but not without him.

“Kyra, I love you,” said Papa.

“I love you too Papa.”

“Do you know where we are?” he asked, his eyes, like hers, still closed, his tone as soothing as warm honey, the grip on her hand neither too tight nor too loose.

Kyra smiled with lips closed. “Here. We are here Papa.”

“And what time is it my dear child?”

“Kyra smiled again. “Now. It is now Papa.”

“And when we sit here tomorrow, and look over the glorious ocean, tell me–“

Kyra cut him off. “Here and Now. Our appointment with life Papa.”

Papa smiled and held her hand a little tighter as if to emphasize his approval. “And when we love someone?”

“Oh Papa, you know the only time you can love someone is Now and the only place is Here.”

“Open your eyes Kyra and look at me. I want you to listen to me very closely.” Papa took her other hand in his and pulled his chair up to hers. Their knees were touching. “You are a very special child and I love you very, very much.”

Kyra smiled, pulled her hands from Papa’s and launched herself into his arms, her whole body fitting in his chest as arms and legs wrapped around him. “Papa, I love you too.”

Papa stood and twirled her around as if the two were dancing center stage with the sun and the breeze looking on at love manifesting itself in the natural order, the way it should be. Grand had seen this scene played out a hundred times and for the hundredth time she raised her right arm and wiped her eyes with her sleeve.

Curves

Von: Want to talk about it?

Rog: Nope.

Von:(waits a few seconds) You sure?

Rog: Yep.

Von: Okay, if you–

Rog: What was I suppose to do.

Von: Is that a question?

Rog: No, not really.

Von: (few more seconds go by) How’s your snizzle?

Rog: Good.

Von: Good.

Rog: You know what I miss?

Von: What?

Rog: Curves.

Von: (laughs) Curves?

Rog: Yes, curves. (no response from Von) You know. Curves.

Von: What kind of curves?

Rog: Two kinds.

Von: Really?

Rog: Yep.

Von: (says nothing)

Rog: Well?

Von: Well what?

Rog: Aren’t you going to ask?

Von: About what?

Rog: The frailing curves.

Von: Okay. What are the two kinds of curves?

Rog: The kind you see and the kind you feel. Before my Jackassery, I never understood that the two were not one and the same, but when you lose your sight, everything looks different. (laughs at himself) Looks different. Get it. (laughs some more)

Von: Yea. Funny stuff.

Rog: But after awhile, you start thinking and you know what I thought . . .

Von: I have no idea.

Rog: Got any snoot?

Von: (belly laughs and pulls out a bottle) Now render unto me my due.

Rog: What?

Von: Just tell me what you thought.

Rog: Right (takes a sip). Well, when I lost my sight that is when I realized that there were two kinds of curves, not just one. You see, before, I thought a curve was a curve.

Von: Pardon me but what the frail are you talking about?

Rog: A curve Von. You know.

Von: (laughs in a non-laughing manner) Pretend I don’t.

Rog: A woman Von. The curves of a woman. Take Yul for example.

Von: You sure you want to go there?

Rog: (Rog ignores him) There is the curve of her head, so frailing round you just want to roll marbles off the top of it. You can’t look at her head and not see the curve, how her long purplish green hair lies flat, how the light highlights the curve (takes another sip). I’m telling you, you don’t appreciate that curve until it’s gone.

Von: Marbles? Are you frailing kidding me. Marbles.

Rog: Shut the frail up and let me finish. This is my theory. You can talk later.

Von: Please professor Rog, enlightening me more on rolling marbles off the head of women.

Rog: You through?

Von: The floor is all yours.

Rog: Her eyes, they curve like rainbows in the tropics. Her cheeks, curve like mountains rising in the dawn and those mountains Von, are never the same. I swear she can smile a hundred different ways and every time, that curve is slightly different, frailingly intoxicatingly different, almost as if she knows, like she can manipulate the angle of her jaw to communicate the smallest nuance of desire. And then, when you see those cheeks and those dimples, you notice the curve of her nose, that upturned, I will get down and dirty and make you like it nose, that nose that curves in such a way as to fit in places, well, in places, you know, places.

Von: Yes, places. Curves and places. Got it. Continue.

Rog: Her lips Von. Don’t tell me you never noticed the curve of her lips. The upper lip curves intelligently down in a gently sweeping motion but the lower lip, oh my frailing my, Von, that lower lip curves sharply, levels out and curves again. If a curve could pout, that is one frailing pouty curve. Hot damn Von, you know what I’m saying.

Von: Yea. Curves. Intelligent and pouty.

Rog: It gets better.

Von: Oh I’m sure it does.

Rog: Nothing like the curve of her neck and the neck has several curves. The back of the neck, such a short curve compared to the lower back. When she lifts her hair and holds it above her head, both hands, that curve looks regal, almost like a Chatelaine. Can you imagine me with a Chatelaine?

Von: Nope.

Rog: That is a curve for you. See what I’m talking about?

Von: Have some more snoot. On second thought, I’ll have some more.

Rog: Then there is the collarbone. A complex curve and, for curve connoisseurs like–

Von: You?

Rog: Yea, like me. As I was saying, for a curve connoisseur like me, when seen in the right light, at just the right angle, the curve of the collarbone is as sexy as any curve there is. You see, the best curves are the ones you don’t think are curves, the ones she doesn’t think are curves. Call them hidden curves, natural curves, curves without machination.

Von: Machination? Do you even know what that means?

Rog: John loved word games and we had a long seven days on the way to bring your arse back. I got more.

Von: Like what?

Rog: Like, like, like I’ll use them when and where I please.

Von: I see.

Rog: Now the breasts.

Von: The breasts? Since when did you start calling them breasts?

Rog: Since about two days ago. Now listen up (Von laughs, hard). The breasts have two important curves. The upper curve and the lower curve and they have two dimensions, standing and horizontal. From collarbone to nipple is one curve and the one most unappreciated. See, the nipple, especially when hard, erect, distracts from a full appreciation of the upper curve. Now the lower curve, that’s the one every one knows. From rib to nipple, but you know what?

Von: What?

Rog: It is a subtle curve, not a gross curve (Rog paused as if proud of himself for the distinction).

Von: Really?

Rog: And the spot right at the juncture of rib and tit, that is the place.

Von: For what?

Rog: For appreciation to begin.

Von: (shakes head)

Rog: Speaking of appreciation, Yul has the most glorious arse I’ve ever seen. Now the curve there, magnus melodious like twin moons over a placid lake. And this takes me to confluence.

Von: Pray tell what is confluence?

Rog: You know. Where one curve blends into the next curve.

Von: For instance?

Rog: Lower back into the arse. Remember Neraj?

Von: What about it?

Rog: Well, that is where I bought Yul “the tool.” And that first night, we had moonlight so bright, so cool in its bluish shade, it felt like winter at noon, only it wasn’t cold. You remember the huge picture windows we all had in our quarters right?

Von. Of course.

Rog: Well, I showed the tool to Yul and she immediately wanted to try it.

Von: I thought the tool was a solo–

Rog: It was, is. Do you want to hear the story or not?

Von: Go on.

Rog: So we have this incredible moonlight coming into her quarters. She is on the bed and she pulls out the vial.

Von: You knew about the vial then?

Rog: No, no, no. I had no idea. I thought she was rubbing perfume on her wrists. Anyway, she was on the bed, on all fours and, maybe it was the vial–

Von: Wait a minute, what does the vial have to do with you?

Rog: Oh, she rubbed her wrist on my neck.

Von: When?

Rog: Between the–what the hell Von, your confusing me. Just let me tell the story.

Von: So she had the vial and she has intoxicated you with it and herself and you are in a chair and she is on the bed.

Rog: Yep.

Von: And where is the tool?

Rog: In her left hand.

Von: Continue.

Rog: Well, when she dipped her back and rotated her hips with a turn of her head that is when I knew.

Von: Knew what?

Rog: Confluence. Are you listening?

Von: Ahh, right, confluence.

Rog: And you know what else?

Von: What?

Rog: There are static curves, the kind you can appreciate in a photo and then there are curves that can only be appreciated in living motion.

Von: (holds his glass and inhales, lost in the image)

Rog: You know what I’m talking about?

Von: I think I do.

Rog: Von, when she turned her head and I saw that neck muscle catch the light, almost emerging from her collarbone in the bluish glow, and you know how lean and tight Yul is.

Von: I do.

Rog: Well, she looked so frailing feline in that pose, like a hungry predatory cat stalking prey, so lithe, so strong so frailing in control. Just prime Von. Just frailing prime.

Von: (smiles)

Rog: But that’s not what I’m talking about. When she turned her head and parted her lips, she spread and rotated her hips in a single motion, a fluid, effortless move, well, I would call it a dance but that wouldn’t do justice to the art of that move. I just wanted to watch and you know, I’ve never just wanted to watch. That move, if I never see it again in a thousand years, that move Von is as clear in my mind as if it had just happened.

Von: I can imagine.

Rog: Well, that is the first species of curve, the one you see.

Von: And the other?

Rog: (sounds more sober) The ones you touch and the ones that touch you (takes another sip). Well, after my jackassery I started thinking about curves and I realized that I might not ever see those curves again, but I could still feel them, touch them, caress . . .

Von: I get the point.

Rog: At least that’s what I thought. I can’t see but I can touch and if you had to choose–

Von: Touch.

Rog: Yes.

Von: And now?

Rog: Can’t see. Can’t frailing touch. So I ask you. I’m asking. What was I suppose to do?

Von: Depends.

Rog: For crying out loud, what kind of answer is that?

Von: Look. Do you want my opinion?

Rog: No.

Von: Fine. You wouldn’t have like it anyway.

Rog: Well.

Von: Well what?

Rog: At least I can still touch myself (suppresses a laugh)

Von: By Janus, yes you can.

Rog: Pour me another.

Von: With pleasure.


“M
ommy, is daddy in trouble?” asked Ariel.

“I’m not sure sweetie. But your daddy is a very brave man, a very, very brave man,” said Cait.

“Do you love him?”

“I’m sorry hon, what did you say?”

“Do you love daddy?” Slight pause. “Because I do.”

Cait was a strong woman. Tears flowed anyway. “Yes, sweetie, yes. I love your daddy. I love him very much.”

Ariel snuggled into her mothers arms. “Good.”

And so the two rocked quietly lost in their own thoughts.

“Mommy?”

“Yes dear?”

“Does daddy love us?”

After tucking Ariel into bed, Cait picked up the phone. “Sue, where is John? Okay, can you put him on the line?”

“Cait?”

“You [censored] [censored]!”

“Cait? Cait?” John shook the receiver. “Cait?”

The Score

Patterns


“John,” Sue whispered as if John’s ears and not his eyes were damaged, “the commander will see you now.” Standing, Sue took his arm, the two walking in slow step like mother and groom through the door to the solitary chair sitting quietly in front of the commander’s large ornate desk. Pictures, a virtual who’s who lined the walls between shelves of multi-colored tomes on topics of leadership and men, or war and not-war. John didn’t need his eyes, the room breathed history, decorum, tradition, right and wrong, black and white. Taking a breath, the familiar smell of spit and polish mixed with buildings academic, which was to say of government issued paint. Go to any military base on the planet and that smell was there, unmistakably, like some warlike god had marked his hallow grounds. And with that smell came the memories, the shouts, the triumphs and disappointments, the long runs and crappy food. The smell was not just a smell, the smell was military life itself. The sounds would come later as would the images of sweat and blood, but before them all, was the masculine aroma of wood and metal, of cleanliness and government issue.

“Thank you Sue,” said the commander. “That will be all.”

John sat, his back upright at attention, bandages over his eyes. He heard the sound of a chair skirting across the floor, of heels clicking on wood, of papers lifted and placed, of heavily starched clothing resisting the tug and crease of measured movement. John marveled at how quickly his sense of hearing had developed, as if a whole world he had never taken notice of before was dancing before his mind, delighting in the attention as children before relatives. The commander breathed and John felt his heavy bulldog eyes settle into a pregnant gaze. Whether the commander paused for effect or simply because he didn’t know what to say to his most decorated soldier, John could not tell. Either way, the silence was unnerving.

“John, as a career military man, I’ve been taught all my life to look for patterns, that patterns don’t lie. Men lie. Men rationalize. Men plot and plan, scheme and dream and change their mind more often than women, but one thing remains true–the patterns of a man’s life, the decisions he makes over time. Free will; that is bullshit. We aren’t free. We are programed, from birth. Me, you, and everyone else on this god forsaken planet. You understand what I am saying?”

John shifted slightly in his chair. “Sir, I’m afraid I don’t quite follow you.”

The commander picked up a folder, flipped through it like a professor bored, and placed it back down on his desk. “I’ve known you for more than twenty years. Saw you graduate first in your class, the best fighter pilot our academy has ever produced. Then I saw you enter medical school. Graduate in three years with honors as a world class heart surgeon before you reentered the academy and virtually rewrote our leadership training. I’ve got an entire filing cabinet of your exploits since. Not a single solitary blemish. On a personal note, I attended your wedding to Cait, was present at the birth of Ariel, and have enjoyed having you as our guest on many dinner occasions. You see John, I know your patterns. I know your choices. I know you inside and out, probably better than you know yourself. What you did John, fits no pattern that I know.”

“Yes sir.”

“You know, there are limits to how far I can go to protect you?”

“Yes sir, I understand.”

“Damn it John, do you? Do you understand the trouble you are in? And I’m not just talking about your career or the thought of prison, I’m talking about Cait too. Do you know how many times she has come to me. Asking me what was going on and I had no answer? Do you know she loves you like you were the last man on world? Do you know the pain and anguish you have put her through? Not to mention Ariel.”

John’s head bows as the weight of a sigh forced itself free.

“Well? Do you son?”

“I do.”

“I do? Is that it. I do? Care to elaborate? I’m all ears.”

One hour later . . .

“So her name is Kyra.”

“Yes sir.”

“And I should believe all that you have said?”

“Sir, at the risk of sounding sarcastic, what does my pattern tell you?”

The commander stood up. Without taking his eyes off John he clicked his comm, “Sue. Come in here, right away.”

The Yul Interview (Part 1)

Interview with Yul (from Earth)

T: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us this morning.

Y: No problem. What’s up?

T: I wanted to ask you about the time when Rog returned from the mission to rescue Bravo and–(notices strange look on Yul’s face). What?

Y: Go on.

T: You sure? You seem–

Y: Like a girl in the bathroom who hears a door open and a stranger walks in?

T: (smiles) Well, more like a girl in the bathroom who sees the stranger and doesn’t break eye contact but instead sits upright, chest out, eyes wide, lips slightly parted with a Mona Lisa smile.

Y: (laughs out loud) You know, I would frail you, how do you say it, just to be clear, and I would frail you right now (Yul seductively slides her spear-like blue tongue over her glistening upper lip, and her eyelashes, or so it seemed, swayed like palm trees in a gently breeze, glimmering and sparkling like the surface of the turquoise ocean they guarded and longed to reach.). What do you say? Be our little secret. Rog doesn’t have to know.

T: You know, you don’t really have to try so hard (deliberate pause), to avoid the subject. Just say you’d rather not discuss the matter. I understand if you don’t (shifts position).

Y: (laughs again, her eyes dropping, starring) Seems I’m not the one avoiding the question (winks). It’s getting a little warm. Do you mind if I take my shirt off? (starts to unzip her blouse, slowly, tilting her head without breaking eye contact)

T: (stares at her perfectly polished nails delicately and slowly pulling his eyes south with the metal enclosure, the valley of her feminine charm, fertile as fields before mountains, opening as flowers on the dawn, only the lush green replaced with an exotic, mysterious blue cast)

Y: (with a slight pout) The zipper seems to be stuck. Would you be so kind as to assist.

T: (smiles wide) Yul, perhaps we should continue this interview another time.

Y: Another time, yes (pulls the zipper back up). Now, what was your question?

T: You sure you want to do this?

Y: Oh, I want to do this. The question is, do you?

T: You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?

Y: Like a cat with a ball of yarn. But I am making (drops her tone), things difficult for you.

T: No, not at all.

Y: Really? (looks down) To get the truth you must be willing to give it.

T: (turns to his aide) Turn the camera off and leave us.

Y: Thank you.

T: Do you want to interview or frail?

Y: Why does it have to either/or?

T: (bursts out laughing) Touché.

Y: Business before pleasure. Ask your first question.

T: After the operation, when you woke and you knew you were still alive, walk me through what you felt, what went through your mind.

Y: (sighs) You really know how to turn a girl on don’t you (her eyes water and her lids drop; she reaches out and touches his arm with her nails).

T: We can stop at anytime?

Y: No, I want to answer this question. Just not easy to go back there. Sometimes the past is best left in the past.

T: Easier said than done.

Y: True. Pain. That was the first thing I remember, the intense pain. I learned later their pain meds didn’t quite work as they should on our alien nerve centers. Every movement hurt. Breathing hurt. Laughing hurt. Lifting my head hurt. Moving my arm hurt. But none of those things hurt as much as waking up, in that white room, alone.

T: Was Mairi not there?

Y: No. After the operation, she went back to her quarters to get cleaned up, to recover, and I suppose that is when Trev appeared. At the time I didn’t know why Mairi was not there. I had no idea the trouble Trev had gotten himself in nor the extreme guilt Mairi felt, undeservedly, in my opinion, but then again, who am I to judge the burden another picks up, right? (laughs)

T: Can you describe the loneliness?

Y: You’re alive. A miracle has occurred. And you want to die. As painful as the surgery was, it was the moon to the sun of my mental torment. I suppose I was primed to feel sorry for myself. As I think you know, I was never “the one.” My sister (Yul pauses), can we take a break?

T: Sure.

Y: (wipes her eyes) Never mind, I’ll push ahead. My sister was the one. She got everything. I was passed over so many times, the scars, well, if I told you even today they were completely healed, I would by lying. So when I woke up and there was no one there, well, I slipped into an emotional free fall. Not exactly what the doctors wanted to see.

T: Keep going.

Y: (takes a deep breath) I knew Rog had made a choice to be elsewhere but I was not expecting neither Mairi nor Trev to be absent. I was angry, resentful, bitter, scared. I didn’t understand why they weren’t. I mean, how could they not be there! Frail, for Janus’ sake. How could they not be there! So you want to know what I felt. I felt frailing pain like you will never understand. Think of it this way. Imagine you walk into a bank and you present your life as a deposit and the banker looks over your portfolio and starts laughing. You ask him why he is laughing and he says there is nothing here. Imagine that. Your life is deemed worthless by those who know you best. You are on your deathbed and your lover leaves you. You go under the knife and when you wake your other two friends are not there. Do you have any idea, any frailing idea what it is like to wake in an alien hospital, attended to by aliens, your mind is drugged, you are disoriented, in pain, severe physical pain and they are whispering in a language you can’t understand while taking sideways glances at you, and there you are, rejected again, abandoned again, told, not with words, but with actions, that you don’t count. You want to know what went through my mind? I’ll frailing tell you. I thought of Mairi and Trev sitting in the sun having a leisurely breakfast and talking nonsense about what they were going to do that day without my name ever coming up. And then I thought about Rog, jacking off, and you know what. He wasn’t thinking about me. He was thinking about Kyra, about Em, in his quarters, wailing away. That’s what I frailing thought. And then I thought, frail them all. Just frailing frail them all. You know what I mean?

T: I had no idea.

Y: (Yul looked at him hard) Frail you.

T: Pardon?

Y: I don’t need your false sympathy. If you want to continue this interview I need you to be real, just speak the truth, otherwise we’ve got nowhere to go.

T: (sighs) Look, I understand the events, the time line. I meant I have no idea what it must have been like to be you at that point, not that I didn’t know there was pain.

Y: Oh, my bad. Won’t be the last time I put my foot in my mouth. Promise. Make it up to you later.

T: Don’t worry about it. So when did you know Rog was on his way to see you?

Y: About five minutes before he walked in the door but I don’t think that is what you’re asking is it.

T: Not really.

Y: Since the moment I slammed the phone against the wall and broke it into a thousand pieces, all I could think about was that moment when he returned and what I would say. Keep in mind, I had ample time prior to the operation to stew and mull and that soup burned under the blazing fire of eminent death. Not even Mairi knew she was capable of pulling off what she did. I could see the look in her eyes, same for the doctors. There was no light, no hope. The surgery, at best, was going to be a living autopsy. I was their plaything. Not of their kind. What the frail did they care whether I lived or died. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn they looked eager to open me up. Anyway, so before the operation, my emotions were running so strong, not thinking, but knowing I was going to die, and I was obsessed with how I could somehow pay that little frailer back for abandoning me. I mean what the frail. I’m frailing dying and he runs off to save someone else. Stop and think about that for a second. Put yourself in my shoes. How would you feel?

(to be continued)

Either/Or


Kyra, in black form-fitting Venusian leather, sat alone in the long white hallway, a solitary sterile way-station, a place neither here nor there. Above the white door was a clock; white face, black hands. With each minute, the long hand snapped forward with the rigid mindlessness of a soldier’s heels clicking to attention, the shrill metallic sound plopping in her mind as drops of water on the forehead, each, seemingly, successively louder, exponentially more urgent, pressing, suffocating.

After what seemed like days, the door opened. Kyra stood. Rog took a step and stopped as if waiting for his minder. Reaching forward, his palms turned upward, Kyra took his hands, her eyes flirting back and forth across his stone-like face. Rog stood stiff, upright, which was not the Rog she knew. A solitary tear slipped form the bandages around his eyes and she quickly moved her thumb to catch it. He tried to smile but his cheeks started a quiver that quickly spread to his lips.

Releasing his hands, she took his head into hers. “You don’t have to say anything.”

Her words brought worth a second tear. “Either/Or.”

“Either/Or what?”

“That’s what she told me, ‘either/or.’”

Commentary

I Know

“Rog, you ready?” asked Kyra, her hands holding his. She looked for a reaction, some sort of expression, which from Rog was almost a given. Maybe it was the blindfold or maybe it was fear that gave forth the blank stare. Either way, she felt it and it felt real, it felt solid, it felt like she could reach out and massage it; and she knew, the only way into that room, to see Yul, was through that fear.

Rog took a heavy breath. “Kyra–” He squeezed her hands and tilted his head slightly as if the words in his mind were leaning the ship as they attempted to escape.

“I’m here Rog and I’m not going anywhere. Would you like me to go in with you or wait outside?”

Rog sighed. “I thought this moment would be a happy moment. She survived. She is going to live–a miracle. Even the doctors said as much. So, it is a happy time. Right?”

Kyra leaned into Rog, wrapping her arms around him and whispered into his ear, “I don’t know what happiness is anymore. But I do know that door is a bridge, one we both must cross. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I’ve played it out, the decision, in my mind a thousand times. When you lose your sight, your mind just goes into overdrive, relentlessly thinking and it has been driving me crazy. I no longer know what is real and what is pure bullshiott.” Rog paused. Kyra held him tight. Only the sound of their breathing could be heard in the hallway. (camera pans from the back of Kyra’s beautiful black mane–she is dressed in her form fitting black leather–180 degrees as we see her sapphire blue eyes water as rain on glass and look down and to the left). “You know what I fear the most?”

A tear falls from Kyra’s eye and we watch in slow motion it fall toward the white floor. “Tell me Rog.”

Rog rolled his upper lip inside his lower. Kyra could feel his heavy warm breath on her neck and images of a braying horse in the start gate, lathered with uncertainty stuck in her whirling mind (she would later say the smell of fresh turned earth filled her senses as clearly as if she were on that horse). “That the Yul in that room is not our Yul.”

Kyra feels Rog tremble with the words and she hold him tighter. Camera picks up a wetness on his eye mask. She rolls her eyes upward. “I know.”

Commentary and Backstory