In this collection, the reader will find stories that vacillate between SF and more literary pieces in a tremendous variety with a lot of surprise endings.
Excerpt from Patricia:
The sun sank beneath the horizon. It seemed to trace a pattern of some kind, as if the revolutions of the earth were unhinging it from the universe, plunging it into an alternate reality where earths and suns were only imaginings, only existing in human minds, a place where a paradise would be composed of darkness like a finger pointing in the direction of heaven without ever really believing it could be there. The ancients believed the sun was divine, that God rested on the disc of the sky and only deigned to touch that which would dissolve, recede, and thus pull all of reality into a nothingness that resisted the concept of space and shape as if the universe could be contained in an idea framed by an artist, where, hanging in a museum, the eye could survey it under the lowly light of a forty watt bulb. So this is where it begins and ends, thought Joy, whose mind stumbled upon this rumination as she stood beside her husband staring ahead blankly, as if the presence of a sunset were nothing more than a picture in a book. Joy looked at Herbert, who did not seem to enjoy the moment, perhaps merely tolerating it the way he put up with unruly students in a classroom. Joy felt a need to clasp his hand, but she was afraid of rejection. Herbert was not given to shows of affection, and so Joy just stared straight ahead, feeling the pulse in her throat count off the seconds before the sun would be extinguished under the weight of awkward silence.
As they retreated from the summit of the mountain in the growing gloom, Joy felt tears welling in her eyes, her unfeeling eyes. She glanced sideways at Herbert, who was staring at the ground as he walked. She noticed a slight grin flash across his down turned face. His head swiveled as he said, “feeling better then?” He must know of the torture, Joy thought. He must know that there are more than just atria in the heart. But she doubted whether he could process either her or even his own emotions. He is the one who is supposed to live in the head, she thought, so why am I the one who calculates, who intellectualizes, who finds the poetry, the sense of things even when there is no sense to be made? She just pulled a mask over her face and responded, “feeling just fine, Herbert, just fine.”
Now they were entering their house. Herbert retreated to his study and began poring over the papers he had to grade for his class on Greek classics. Joy knew he would lay this aside for the work on his book. He only wrote academic tomes on subjects eight or ten people in the world really cared about. Right now he was trying to get Nietzsche and Augustine to quibble over the fact of a dead god, and enter a dialogue that would end with the atheist getting the better of the theist, since it was an axiom of the life of the mind that death was more important than life.
Joy picked up a book while she sat on the couch, but the words on the page didn’t make any sense. It was as if they were shifting meanings like some kind of gematria where numbers swayed in a pool of reasons that only the ordained of God could make sense of. She laid the book aside and reached for the remote for the television. Its one unwinking eye gave her no pleasure, though. But then again, she found it hard to find pleasure in anything. Some dark force had possessed her mind and refused to unclench its talons from her disorganized thoughts. She had an appointment with a psychiatrist in the morning, her second visit after enduring a battery of tests the first time she saw him. She pulled a blanket over herself and just shrunk into the folds of the couch unable to sustain anything resembling focus. She just resolved to stare at the ceiling and wait for the onset of sleep so that she could wake up to the clarity of a morning sun.
The next morning Joy endured more silence from Herbert as he drove her to the doctor’s office. They had long since decided that Joy shouldn’t drive since her admission that the car felt like it had a life of its own, ready to swerve in any direction fate wished to send it. They passed through several stoplights and then pulled into a parking lot next to a building. Herbert dully followed Joy into the rotating door and then they took seats in the waiting room. Herbert picked up a magazine, a New Yorker of course, thought Joy. He would only read “intelligent” material as if something like People magazine were some kind of contamination. He looked up briefly and cracked a smile as if to comfort Joy with a little piece of recognition, but she could feel the bare fingers of stigma emanating from his eyes. I don’t want to be here anymore than he does, she thought. He thinks he’s the one suffering, having to tolerate the possibility that I’m half-baked. Maybe I am. But maybe it’s a punishment for Herbert. He’s the one constantly going on about how stable his life had been. He did it right in front of me once. That day the headache got the best of me. He just handed me the Tylenol and said something like, it’s all in your head, ha, ha. Joy looked up to see the receptionist motioning towards her.