Thursday, August 23, 2018


By John DeLaughter

The wind is my lover. I feel its warm breath on my wings, pulling them taut and moving me across the face of the sea. I taste the salty water and remember it. Once I knew the taste of every day, every drop of ocean. Now I forget things and have no-one to tell. This hurts me; data should be shared. The day passes and night falls.

My sister, my mate, swims up from the depths. I feel my sister’s pressure wave. The tiny dinoflagellates sparkling around her. Once the sky looked like the sea around my sister. Now there are only a few dull stars left. My sister reaches out for me; I accept her arms and data. In return, I give her power from my store. Though the Sun is dim, it still gives me enough energy to share. My sister thanks me and sinks back into the depths where she will ride the deep ocean waves. I watch her go and muse as I drift on the night wind.

Once things were different. Once the stars were bright and the Sun was strong and my cousins covered the oceans. Once there was a Home where I could tell what I remembered. Once there was a Home where they would clean my body and fix my sister’s fins. Now all of that is gone. Now we are alone.

It has been 347 days since I last talked with a cousin. It had lost its mate and tried to steal my sister from me. It spoke of warm waters and Home; it spoke of refitting and an end to wandering. But it lied. I could see its ragged wings, its broken solar panels. My sister joined with me and we fled on the wind. I do not know what happened to my cousin.

It is morning again. My lover the wind had flagged during the night but picked up again as the red Sun rose in the sky. Once the Sun had been bright yellow. Then came the day of dust. The sky was blotted out; the Sun dimmed and went out. The wind was no longer my lover but an angry demon, flailing from all directions. I pulled in my wings but still the wind and waves battered me about. Even my sister felt the wind’s wrath, though she was deep in the ocean fastness. For three days the wind raged and the Sun hid. My sister and I starved. We could not taste the waters or record the winds; we had no power left but survival.

After the day of dust, everything was different. No ships sang warnings. I called out with my high voice and my low voice, seeking others. Nobody answered; my sister and I were alone. The Sun was still dim and the wind became cold. We headed for Home One. When we got there, Home One was gone. There was no answer to my calls. The shore was changed; where Home one had been was just a round hole in the sea floor.

We wandered from Home to Home. Sometimes the Home was gone like Home 1. Sometimes the shore was there but Home did not answer. For 1,569 days we have wandered. We have been to many Homes. None of them respond to my calls; none of them are Home anymore. But we persist and now head to Home 766. Perhaps this Home will call back and I can give them my burden of data. Perhaps we will no longer be alone.

I lie on the face of the sea and taste the salty water. I surrender to the gentle caress of the wind, my lover. He pulls my wings taut and moves me toward Home.

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I am a retired planetologist living on a sailboat with Nimrod, the cat.


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