Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Transit of Venus (five very, very short stories)

Celestial happenings simply didn't interest him. As a schoolboy he had even been unable to locate Orion's Belt in the night. This made him stand out in undesirable ways. So he ignored the event and drove towards work, his visor pulled down against the glare.

He tried to watch the transit of Venus. Seven-thirty a.m. with a welding helmet on his head he stood on a table in his back yard trying to get closer to the sky. A cloud blocked his view for a moment and he gave up, went inside, put on his pants and ate Rice Krispies in front of the Today show. With a banana and two percent milk.

At seven-twenty-three she rolled over, kissed him, and said, "get up you moron, Venus is crossing." He laughed, pulled her on top of him. They missed the show and were late for work.

She parked her car at the "scenic overlook" by the Delaware Water Gap. Pulled the homemade contraption out of her trunk. Her father had made it for an eclipse of the sun twenty-six years before. She hadn't yet gotten over his death three years ago. Nor the death of her lover just four months ago. How to resolve the suicide of one you'd had sex with just fourteen hours earlier? The tiny movement of the black speck calmed her. The radio was playing "Tommy can you hear me?"

Ten minutes afterward he walked into the coffee place that pretended it sat on a far more sophisticated street in a far more sophisticated town than reality indicates. "I'm tired of living here," he mumbled to himself. "What?" asked Dan behind the counter. "Hey," she said, "how was it?" "A big Nicaraguan," he said, "like a little dot, but it was kind of cool."

copyright (c)2007-2010 by Ira Socol

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