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Visiting the Star-Crossed


Visiting the Star-Crossed

It was late, and my mother and I were out walking and enjoying the night skies and the light, whispering breezes that told of the change of season. Autumn had come at last, and we were resolved to enjoy all of it. We paused a moment to drink some water from the crystal tumblers we carried. Mother’s had no ice in it, at her own insistence. She is odd about that, sometimes.

“Look at Selene,” she said, indicating the moon with a nod. I followed her gaze, noticing other notable entities in the night sky.

“She’s the largest and brightest,” I said judiciously. “Although Jupiter is no shrinking violet.” She chuckled, an easy, careless sound, and pointed to other places in the sky. I knew she wanted me to name them, so I did.

“Saturn,” I said, looking at the bright spot close to Jupiter. When my eyes fell upon the red planet, I said, a bit more quietly, “Mars.” She turned her head to look at me.

“Are you afraid he might hear you?’ she said with an understanding smile. I shrugged.

“He’s not someone I ever care to offend,” I offered. “And you know he must be in a mood tonight.” She regarded the fiery red dot that was the God of War.

“Yes,” she said, with a bit more empathy in her voice for him than I might have thought she would have. “Venus will not rise until morning, when he’s on the other side of the horizon.” She sighed very lightly at some memory as she pulled a flask from somewhere unseen and added some whiskey to both of our tumblers. Her long, dexterous fingers transferred a single ice cube from my drink to her own. It made a lonely, clinking sound that reminded me that the holidays were fast approaching. Our eyes both swung towards Selene at the same time, and Mother nodded.

“Another tale with a sad ending,” she said, and took a sip of her drink. I heard the single ice cube melting in the glass. I nodded, understanding. Selene would be gone from the sky by the time Orion could rise in the early morning. Mother took a sip, then stood up a little straighter. I could not see her face, but her voice remained steady. “I have always felt it better to catch a glimpse of a loved one, even at that unfathomable distance, than to have to wonder if they will ever be seen again.”

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© 2023 by Alan Allinger