I’d intended to submit this one for the weekly contest over at Thursday Threads but couldn’t hit the deadline due to a bedtime-resistant pre-schooler (that’s probably redundant). Anyway, the prompt required us to use the line “You know he’s coming back” in a 100- to 250-word tale. Here’s what I came up with.
“To the Left of Orion”
Bastian works his markers over the spaceship poster, crimson comet tails, ice-blue planetary rings, purple rocket exhaust. His lines thin as his focus wanes. You clutch your mug. Dread churns your stomach.
“Where’s my daddy?”
“Three stars to the left of Orion,” you say because that’s what you’ve woven into his lullabies. And because it’s true. More or less.
“When’s he going to visit me?”
“He can’t, buddy.”
That’s not true at all. You know he’s coming back. That’s why you’ve tucked your life into the mountains. That’s why you wake up gasping and clawing at the quilt.
Jade-green eyes blink human innocence at you, but a deeper wisdom has started to harden them, and you wonder—not for the first time—if he knows.
You haven’t seen the father since the second trimester. The day the documentary premiered. Your fry dripped cherry yogurt on your belly as you gaped at the footage.
Though Jimbok seemed humanoid enough for a romp, the Rekkessi coming-of-age departed significantly from nursing a tequila hangover. Your gut lurched as you watched the jerky sleepwalking movements of the offspring. Your keys were in hand the moment the Rekkessi sire unfolded its torso flesh and enwrapped the boy, forever.
No way was your baby getting re-absorbed into Jimbok.
Bastian caps the orange marker. “He can, Mommy,” he declares, his voice light years away. You stifle the wail threatening to tear apart your chest as he takes oddly spasmodic steps toward the bay window. “He has to.”