I received my copies of Café Macabre II today and they’re gorgeous! This is an anthology of short horror stories and art by women, curated by author and editor Leah McNaughton Lederman. It includes my short story “The River” which is about the terror of death and the horror we face in life. Beautifully illustrated by Keyla Valerio.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, please visit the following links:
Tree removal is a violent act, even when done by a skilled arborist. There’s something hardwired into me that knows we shouldn’t destroy something that provides for life on so many levels. When I was a child, I would cry and obsess over the sight. Imagining the tree in pain, and the animals being hewn down along with it.
I especially worried about the birds that’d made nests in the tree, imagining them cowering as the machines whirred, watching the blades get closer and closer. I couldn’t conceive of the fact that the noise and the movement and the vibrations triggered an innate avoidance of danger in them, and they flew away.
I listened to chainsaws every day and tried to survive them by being very quiet and sitting very still.
The stars are a fragile constant. Their permanence only an illusion. A trick performed by size and scale and time. Ghosts in the sky.
Our sun is in main sequence. Main sequence means our star is of average size and luminosity. A flickering candle, glimmering in a cathedral at midnight. It’ll take billions of years for it to decay to the point that, when swollen, it absorbs us.
Our minds aren’t made to contemplate time on that scale. Our lifespan, laughably short, stunts our comprehension of it. It becomes an abstract. Knowable but unknowable. Unreachable epochs looming in the deep. Shadows and cinder forever on the periphery.
Light takes one hundred thousand years to reach the surface of the sun from the core. The density inside of our “average” star slows the progress. From the surface it only takes eight minutes to reach us. Standing outside on a sunny day, you are the recipient of something ancient, your skin bathed in relics.
You are also created with them. Calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, carbon, hydrogen, billions of years in the making. The ruins of a long dead star with breath and pulse and synapse and neuron. A cataclysm that laughs.
So, I’m reading about the potential end to theoretical particle physics. One quote struck me about the discovery of the Higgs Boson:
“According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Higgs Field should either have a value of zero which would not give particles mass, or it should have an extremely great value which is likely to give particles too much mass.
But this is where physicists are confused.
Instead of viewing a value of either extremely high or non-existent, experts have noticed that the Higgs field is just slightly on”, which is not as low or high as it should be.
Mr Cliff said: “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than it’s fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position.”
The article went on to mention dark energy predictions and potentially proving the multiverse theory to account for such wide variations, other universes having either too much mass or none at all, never coalescing or collapsing under their own weight.
How many times Have you fucking felt Like a light switch that Got stuck just before the off position?
Just slightly on
Ten thousand trillion times weaker than your fully on value
Time is considered the fourth dimension. A force of nature. It is also interwoven with the fabric of space, warped and wobbled by the gravity of heavy celestial objects.
Loss makes us acutely aware of the passage of time, the weight of it like water pouring over us and carrying us away.
The last time I saw my father is at a fixed point in spacetime. That moment hangs suspended, immovable, immutable, and a part of me with it. We have sped away from that point at 130 miles per second for 18 years.
We are now 73794240000 miles from the last I love you. The Milky Way flung from the singularity, inexplicably, irrevocably.
Loss leaves us separated not only by time but an unfathomable distance. My grief, our grief is the long walk back.
There are eighteen Between you and I, Times around an Unflinching sun. In that time stung With cat o’ nine tails, I have been in love twice, And three human beings Brought through me. Baby’s breath from a funeral wreath In a vase by the sink. Baby teeth from A boy who looks Just like me. In summer’s insistent Crematory, You would hate to Spectate silently While my worlds end. And If your bones could weep, If they could bleed Or fight, or if you could Throw yourself Again into the fire, You would, To save me from The Moirai. Six thousand five Hundred and seventy days Since your heart Gave out and I’ve been Pinned against The indifferent earth, Having forgotten The gravity In your voice The last time you Said you loved me. Weak force Fighting Weak force.
When you stare at the stars long enough they start to do this silly little swim. For a moment, maybe a millisecond, you believe what you’re seeing is true. Your heart jumps and you rub your eyes and you try to refocus them. What did I see? Why? Between one star and another, you see that there has been no change in distance or location. You breathe deep. You may be still, but you are always making micro movements. Your heartbeat, inhale and exhale of your lungs. Your body is a chorus of stirring. Stillness is just another state of movement. Logically you know this. But your mind keeps being dragged back to that initial feeling of belief. because it exhilarates you. Because you want to make a home in the feeling. Fires in a Black Sea swirling just for you.
Of course you want more. You always want more. so you are drawn to believe what your eyes have told your mind they see. You wait and you stare and you speak softly to yourself: “this is Arcturus.” It is fixed. A landmark. You’ve aimed telescopes and your heart toward it for years. For ages before you, there have been legends, poems, splendid things inspired by the light it gives. Eons before human existence, unseen, unloved, it never ceased it’s shimmering. 37 light years. 11 parsecs separate you. But it dances and you’re dizzy in your foolishness and love and it suddenly feels within reach. A living thing. It breathes. Maybe you’ve dipped your longing in and stirred the sky. What hubris. Van Gogh knew what I mean.
You can suddenly perceive the spinning, the roll of the earth along the path it has carved in spacetime, Falling toward the sun. And how we sail blindly. All of it. Ever expanding outward. How it has started to decay. Moving ever toward entropy, half as luminous as it was 2 billion years ago. Lights slowly going out one by one. A carnival at closing time. Your minuscule life laughably short. An iota. A grain of time.
And what if it has already collapsed in on itself? Arcturus. The guardian. The last gasps still hurdling toward us, 370,000 years late. Corpse light in a haunted sky.
Nothing lasts. Rather than being dismal, this is heartening. It elicits bravery.
I will love in full measure.
I will love in full measure when it is returned and even when none is given me.