Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

Congratulations to Marianne G. Petrino, Four Time Champion of the Science Fiction Microstory Contest

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message 1: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1278 comments Mod
by Marianne G. Petrino

“What’s new, Betty?”

The dachshund that the tall, thin man walked barked once. John delivered his question every morning with the same wide smile and toss of his dark locks; Tio Pepsi, on cue, barked in impatience of my reply.

I was tempted to answer with a scientific joke: C over lambda; but as with every day, I said, “Nothing much,” for that was an old lady’s truth, whatever she had enjoyed and had been in her youth. I drew my silken rose robe around me, admiring how it accented my black pajamas and slippers. I leaned back on my wicker chair perched in a spot on the porch to catch the morning sun. A breeze stirred the remaining autumn leaves. Winter whispered of death, making me shiver. I warmed myself with a sip of coffee from my chipped Carl Sagan mug and in the comforting regularity of our exchange.

Today, John wore a turtleneck that promoted a charity devoted to ending hunger. Its odd logo had rainbow cupcakes surrounding a globe, and a motto in a calligraphic font declaring: To Eat is Sweet! The black jacket he wore the day before supported science, and the organization was one promoting the fun of physics for inner city children. That I had yet to see his clothing repeat since we had started greeting each other on his morning walks with Tio Pepsi remained a small thrill of the unexpected. Perhaps, he was one of those millennial startup millionaires, who had decided to slum it by living in a working class neighborhood patterned with clapboard Cape Cods.

John disappeared over the rise. I scratched my chin and plucked a silvery grey hair. In which house he lived at the bottom of the hill, I knew not. I nodded to myself. Tomorrow, this ancient detective would find out.

My left eye suddenly tingled, jagged rainbows filling the orb. It was the third day that the migraine had returned, but I had no desire to hide in a dark house. “Fuck it!” I roared in defiance. I plunged through my front door and out the back door like a bullet going through Elvis’ shotgun shack.

An Okame cherry tree grew at the center of my brick labyrinth, its beating heart. I stood at the entrance, which faced east, and took several centering breaths. A stabbing pain sliced my brain in retaliation. Perhaps, this was not a migraine, but a stroke.

If they were going to find my body, let it be here where I had known peace, I decided. Traversing each of the seven circuits, I dropped sins like gems that could never be shattered.

To my surprise, the rainbows fled my eyes and gathered above my cherry tree, making a new canopy. The neighborhood had lost its color. A distance bark sounded. Could Tio Pepsi be Anubis, I wondered, the idea funny. Could I summon him and John to take me to the hospital to live another age burdened day, or to execute my funeral rites?

Seven paths beckoned back to life. But the cherry tree suddenly shrank before me, diving back in time to when it was a sapling.

I lightly brushed the branches of the glowing, skimpy twig I had planted so long ago. “How could I leave you, my friend,” I murmured, “when you have given so much to me.”

Rainbows bathed me and unstrung me.

I awoke with a start. The sky brightened with the dawn. Had I fallen asleep in the labyrinth during a migraine hallucination? I brushed my robe and pajamas free of fallen leaves. I bowed to the cherry tree in respect and gratefully retraced my steps.

In the house, I warmed a cup of coffee on the stove, life’s blood to a New Yorker born. I ran my free hand through my tangled hair as I went out to the porch.

My heart began to race. The leaf between my fingers still had the red hues of a maple in autumn decline, but the strands of my hair gathered had turned to the black of my spring.

A sudden motion made me snap to attention.

John smiled.

“What’s nu?” I said to the young man standing on the sidewalk.

“C over Lambda, of course,” he answered.

Tio Pepsi sneezed.

A second cleared away the cobwebs and spun new threads.

“How’s your latest equation on closed time coming, my wife?” he asked, joining me on the porch.

“Got a minute,” I said, taking another sip of coffee.

message 2: by C. (last edited Apr 28, 2018 07:01AM) (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Hey congrats, Marianne!

-C over Lambda (I like leg of lambda too. . .)

message 3: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments Thanks, C. I heard that joked back in the day in college chemistry ;)

message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1099 comments Congratulations, Marianne. Beautiful prose.

message 5: by Marianne (last edited Apr 29, 2018 05:31AM) (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments Thanks, Tom. I pays to take a power nap. I did this story right after one. ;)

message 6: by Paula (new)

Paula | 955 comments A great one, Marianne. One of the best you've done, or maybe the best--and that's saying something! I'm so glad it is getting the recognition it well deserves. A beautifully and brilliantly done story.

message 7: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments Thanks, Paula. It all comes from some place beyond the I.

message 8: by Justin (new)

Justin Sewall | 1046 comments I think you and Paula both drink from the same well of creativity. :) Great work!

message 9: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments Thanks, Justin. In vino veritas.

message 10: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 456 comments Congratulations Marianne! Great Story! :)

message 11: by Marianne (new)

Marianne (mariannegpetrino) | 401 comments Thanks, Chris :)

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