The spring this year in Roswell comes as a softening. Even when it’s cold there’s no bite to it. Some love it and some dont because it portends the brutal heat and torrential rains and flash floods of the summer. I’m one of the latter.
But it’s still February and this morning’s still muggy and cold. Walking to school past weeds frozen into ice pipettes and dry husks of seed pods sheathed in glass webbed shells of old ice spanning the ditches and the wrought iron trees along the desolate walkways seized with hoarfrost. My steps tired and wonky from the cold outside me and inside. Alienation and lonely desperation swelling in my stomach like a malignant, growing egg.
Liz is here. It seems she has always been but i’ve known her more than in passing less than a year. She is what i need but not enough. What i need is to stop running and stop being afraid all the time but that may never happen and even if it does i may already be too maimed for it to matter. Maybe i already am. Why do i have to keep running like Richard Kimble after a one armed man that may not even exist? You may as well ask me why it rains.
Hey, dushka, i say in a strange voice.
Max, i have to talk to you, she says.
Well. After these make out sessions i’ve started to have er…visions.
Visions? I say.
Dont say it like that! She snaps. Visions of time and space and maybe…maybe home. Your home.
Later we sit outside in the grayness. Voices around us muted as though eaten by the strange humidity that makes it both too close and too cold. I see my reflection in a flat of water on the sidewalk and i look unearthly to myself. And for a panicky moment i see a comic book version of ET and wonder if i am actually seeing myself for the first time and if this is what i really look like. We dont see things the way they are but the way we are? True or false? I sure hope not. I shake my head violently like a dog shedding water and frantically blink my eyes a few times and everything looks right again. I guess i am overwrought and depressed. Nearly getting killed by Hubble didnt help.
You saw stars? I say to her. Like they guy said in 2001?
I was…we were moving into a starfield that looked like a ship going to warp on tv. There were these…red stars but they didnt seem right. And finally i could see Earth as we moved toward it. It just expanded and the vision stopped. I looked it up because i thought i’d seen it before and i have. Look at this, she says as she hands me some electronics.
You saw this when you looked it up on a search engine?
It didnt take long. I’ve seen it before.
This is the Whirlpool Galaxy. It’s a double spiral like the Milky Way but we’re in a position to see its top or bottom, same thing. Is this what you thought might be my home? It’s unlikely. About 23 million light years away. Why not look closer to home…
What about those red stars?
I sigh heavily. I say, If it were red giants or red dwarfs you could only see them from relatively close so maybe you did have a vision. You drew something from my mind that i didnt know was there. But then there are plenty of red giants and red dwarfs.
But whatever it was i saw is maybe real?
It’s probably real, i say miserably. Like you took it it out of my mind.
But i was close to something else, Max.
And it’s just after making out that you get these? Well. That’s what the eraser room is for, i say.