Heat

Earlan looked on in horror as the sun spat out its tendrilous rays, thrashing the Alsviðr. It bent, parts of it expanding, parts turning to blackness, parts of it dripping into the liquidy globules they’d remembered seeing gallium make in water back on Earth.

Their number two put a hand on Earlan’s shoulder, trying to pull them away.

“Captain, it’s been hours since it happened. There’s nothing we can do,” Kamya nudged, her dark lips attempting something like sympathy.

“You ever see anything like it?” Earlan managed after a few minutes pause.

“No, and I don’t want to ever again,” their number two shivered.

There was a knot in Earlan’s throat, the culmination of the twisting insides that defied all the laws of physics. They’d never see Pocovus again. The two of them had spent years baiting eachother and joking via communicators. He was Earlan’s closest friend – always separated by too much dark matter. When was the last time they’d even seen each other in person?

Earlan tried to push the thoughts aside. They closed their eyes and immediately regretted it. Forever imprinted, literally burned, into their vision was that sight of the Alsviðr: metal twisting and screaming and dripping and expanding.

Loops

I hate it: the screaming, the wind scraping at your face, the way your insides twist about. How do people ride roller-coasters for fun? I felt sick. Anna laughs like a lunatic at my side, gleefully taking in the sharp twists and turns. There’s some preteens in the seats in front of us, and a kid which I’m sure didn’t actually meet the height requirements behind us with their punk-ass looking dad.

It’s nighttime, and I’m confident this whole experience would be hell regardless of the hour. Maybe when I wasn’t on the Thrasher it looked almost pretty, with the green and blue and white lights glittering enticingly. Maybe when I wasn’t on this hell-beast, I thought the night added a sweet sort of ambience to it.

I’d never ridden a roller-coaster in my life before tonight. My father hated them and my mother didn’t want to go without him. Our family was too small and we didn’t make friends easy growing up, so there was no one else to take me.

Anna loves roller coasters. She loves theme parks – the thrill and the adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I love adventure, too, but if I wasn’t madly in love with the woman, I would never have gotten on this death trap.

“Natalie,” she laughs, pulling on my arm, “the ride’s over. You have to get off.”

I look to my right and see the impatient park patrons glaring at me right along with the harangued ride operators. Slowly, my limbs regain life and I lift myself out.

“Wow, you look like death,” she laughs as she drags me out the exit and towards the next instrument of my death: the 3-loop coaster that faces at the ground.

I’m going to die. Is love even worth this?

Crooners

Bella looked at herself in the mirror, trying to smooth out the wrinkles she’d accumulated in the last sixty years, widening her eyes to brighten them, switching between smiles and a pouty face – trying to figure out her best presentation. Henrietta would be there in three minutes, and Bella had waited her entire life to find love. She repressed so much of herself because of her family, hidden the part of her that always knew she loved women. She married a man or two, had children, but never really loved the men. It was for protection, or safety, or duty. It was boring.

Bella met Henrietta on a Golden Oldies night at the senior center, with a young man who crooned jazz and swing standards. Their eyes had locked from across the tables and Bella blushed and looked away. Henrietta didn’t. When Bella looked back, Henrietta had started pushing her walker towards Bella’s table. Her heart raced, her mind raced, and she wanted to race out of there as fast as her rickety hips would take her. She just didn’t know where to go. But before she could react, there was Henrietta with her silvery hair and her glittering green eyes and her thin little smile. Henrietta was the first to speak, of course, and the girls chatted on like old friends on their first meeting. Henrietta had casually mentioned her wife had passed and it almost shocked Bella to hear it spoken about so frankly. She knew she grew up a little sheltered, and that the times had changed over the years, but to hear another woman her age be able to identify as a lesbian made her heart rush. Henrietta reached out a hand to Bella’s and whispered in her ear something that Bella had never expected to hear from another woman in her entire life.

So here Bella was, 60 years old and getting ready and anxious over her first date with a woman like the brave, young girl she wished she’d been.