69.

“Don’t spend your life waiting for the light to shine.” “Why not, Dad?” “Because the darkness has lessons it can teach us, and your brothers and your sisters have been lashed by the light’s silver tongue, and have all gone.” “Don’t blame the light, Dad, you always blame the light…”

grh

 

63.

“It is now, and in this world, that we must live.” The little inscription fell out of the crescent-shaped cookie when she broke it in half. Her squad mates scoffed at it, trampled the box, thumped her head, and ordered her to pick up the pace; too soon would the raiders return to camp, too soon would the dust storms descend. She clipped the fortune under her helmet, her mind hungry for weeks — what other voices lay hidden, trapped, inside their stolen rations? 

grh

61.

Car for sale. Minor dings and scratches, new snow tires for season. Left side mirror shows past, right side the future, 5 years either way. Accepting immediate cash offer — discrete location preferred.

grh

52.

Her pupil’s fingers played the piano like they were discovering new lands — prodigious leaps over entire valleys of sound no ordinary child should have ventured. “Wonderful, Edgar,” she praised, touching his shoulder, “you’re on perfection’s edge!” She let his music carry her to the world outside the studio, to the masses, virulent with deaf-rendering parasites, patrolling the soundless streets, barricaded from the conservatory and its denizens. Edgar played on, numb to the beauty abounding from his performance; the last Listener, his teacher, wept against the bolted window.  

grh

51.

She set the cake on the counter to cool, double-checking that she had everything the frosting recipe called for. For hours she adorned her creation with the sugary attention her imagination desired — it was more than the customer asked for, much more, but she knew he’d be thrilled beyond measure. Even now he remembers that cake, his last birthday treat before the planet ate itself alive. His mind often wanders from the squalor and meagerness around him to her artistry, its taste, the legacy of the world sweetly dancing on his tongue.

grh

43.

The little girl finished her lunch and brought her plastic purple plate to the sink. She splashed soap around, rinsing her dish with an adorable little girl negligence, then racked it before tumbling back to her dolls on the floor. “She’s perfect,” the woman said, watching the demonstration behind a one-way mirror. “Tell the boys in production to start another twenty thousand.”

grh

42.

“Say it with me — ‘insatiable.’ Wonderful, isn’t it, when you find a word that sounds and feels like a full meal of meaning? Oh, but I’m frittering my breath: you’ve barely mastered learning to make a simulacrum of the Human oral cavity, let alone attained appreciation for their primitive tongues and jaws, the ways such flukes produce nuanced, scintillating utterances. Perhaps another invasion the poetry will find you, yes?”

grh

39.

“Welcome to LifeSwap™ Station 7-B Alpha, a subsidiary of Existence Enterprises, LLC and the ReincarCorp Genetic Catalog! LifeSwap™ prides itself on developing robust suites of proprietary psycho-physical casings and emotional registers guaranteed to last up to 85 years or half your genetic code back! Our records indicate you have reached your contractual limit for LifeSwaps™ at this time (35): Your current incarnation will expire in four months, nine days, sixteen hours, and eleven seconds. If you feel your Time On Earth© has been unduly curtailed, that you are the victim of LifeFraud™, or if you wish to file a Deity-of-Your-Choice Appeal, please contact our legal department at the address provided (Average Response Time: 5 – 7 months).”

grh

33.

You know when you reach for a pencil, botch up, then realize you’ve accidentally written in pen? Then you rummage for more paper but discover, of course, the last sheet’s the one you’ve butchered with ink, and there’s still no pencil, and now you have an ultimatum to face? I’m now confident time travel adheres to the same principal. So if you’ve found this apology, Future Earth, please take note of the eraser marks.

grh