Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.
The theme is Space Camp.
The Stinky Kid by Kevin Myrick
You remember the stinky kid at camp when you were young? I was that kid at Space Camp, the summer after my fourth grade year. I thought I was hot shit in my blue NASA flight suit and my Space Camp t-shirt. I had aviator sunglasses too. It was the best time of my life.
The other kids didn’t like me that much; I believe I got stuck in mission control because I was young and smelly. No one said a word to me about it.
It wasn’t like I was the stinky kid on purpose: I’d forgotten my lock combination and I was embarrassed, so I didn’t tell a soul. I was young and had never been in an environment with group showers. Showers were a private thing; I went in once at the camp and told myself I wouldn’t go back. I still feel weird about showering in campgrounds and at the beach.
When we graduated at the end of the seven days of going through “real astronaut training,” there was a graduation ceremony where everyone got silver wings and a certificate. Afterward when I met up with my aunt and grandparents, they were astonished to learn I hadn’t bathed in a week. The family still laughs at this story.
Somewhere packed away with other mementos of a life that is long gone, my mother has it all saved – the suit, the wings, the certificate. All I have are my memories of being the stinky kid.
Space Camp by Susan Tepper
There is muck in the creek, it snags your body and you are green slime when you climb back onto the float. The sun is a yellow glob through the foliage. You are sick of this shit! You want to fly away to where it’s always between 60 and 72 degrees. The sweltering summers and frigid winters have marked you like a cutter. Once your skin had a sheen but now it’s ridged like they say the moon is. What do they know? They have spoiled every dream. This week they say don’t eat romaine from California. Before that you had to chuck out the peanut butter in your cupboard— peanut butter that sustained you over a lifetime. Soon the ocean will be O-U-T. And forget those chilled shrimp cocktails, five hanging off the glass rim and the spicy well of red sauce. Forget what you know and love. Buy a ticket to Space Camp. All the commercials and roadside billboards say Reserve Your Place in Space Camp (before the slots run out). Who ever thought… is there room for your bicycle on the thing-a-majig that will transport you to Space Camp? Will you have to share an outdoor latrine like at Girl Scout camp? Will they serve pork & beans? Will you wear a silver one-piece suit like Star Trek? Whatever… but one thing makes you happy: they’ve promised a temperature that will remain a steady 60 to 72 degrees Farenheit. Or was that centigrade?
Space Camp by Derin Attwood
Space, spaces, spaced out, out of space, spacey, breathing space, free space,
space travel, space ship, deep space, my space, your space,
our space, space probe, space cadet,
campout, camping, encampment, death camp,
concentration camp, camping ground, summer camp, holiday camp,
camping site, camp out, outdoors, out of doors, camp songs, base camp, Camp
Rocket by Matt Potter
“I was Miss Bulgaria 1938,” she said, poised against the cyclone fence. “I was born posing for photographs.”
She tucked the helmet under her arm, beaming for the cameras. Out of range, I held her make-up bag, a packet of Delicious Doggie Dollops, and her poodle Spritzi, limply sedated.
The rocket shone in the distance. Cape Canaveral had never looked so pretty.
Perspiration trickled down my face as cameras clicked. My sticky armpits pinched and my crotch rubbed against the silver man-made suit. Late fill-ins were not correctly sized by Kennedy Center Wardrobe.
“How do you think you’ll find Space Camp?” one of the reporters asked.
“Marvellous,” she said. “Outer space is wonderful for the skin.”
My eyes rolled in their sockets. I had told her that fact, when she gave me the job.
“I will return to Earth looking years younger.”
Spritzi nestled further into my arms and supremely comfortable, farted.
“You will not recognise me probably,” she said. “I will look younger than even my daughter. And she has had five facelifts.”
The rocket groaned. Heads snapped towards the launch pad. A gleaming silver dagger, larger than a Zeppelin, sheared, smashing to the ground. We rushed to the fence, fingers gripping wire as open-mouthed, another massive shard exploded on impact.
Instantly, billions had been lost.
But even she could not stand this reverence.
“Come, Sylvester,” she told me. “I now can make my appointment with Marcel. Beauty waits for no one.”
Space Camp by Al McDermid
He found himself standing in their daughter’s room, staring at the dusty mobile of the planets, unsure of how he’s come to be there. He looked at her bed, her desk, the unfinished homework. He considered opening the window, but the thought slipped away before he could act on it.
He wandered into the living room, looked out the window. The grass needed cutting. Did it? He wasn’t sure.
His wife would know, but she’d already left for work. Seems she left earlier every morning and came home later each night. Another thought occurred to him, something about each in their own way, but he couldn’t hold it. Perhaps she was having an affair. He wondered at how he might feel about it if she was, decided he wouldn’t feel anything.
He went into the kitchen, looked at the table, littered with unopened mail. He took a bottle from the cabinet and sat down at the table. Was he starting later than yesterday or earlier? Wasn’t sure it mattered. He opened the bottle, but found he’d forgotten to get a glass. He wasn’t going to drink from the bottle. He hadn’t sunk that far.
He set the bottle aside and looked though the mail, most of it junk, a few bills that might get paid, and one addressed to their daughter, her acceptance to Space Camp. Yeah, he thought, she would have liked that.
Space Camp by Matthew A. Hamilton
Watching the Star Wars Trilogy. That was Space Camp for me in 1989.
Mom had the money, but she left after finding out dad was shacking up with the neighbor’s daughter. That’s why no real Space Camp that year. No money. Dad lost his job a year before and didn’t bother trying to get another one. He started driving a Pepsi truck after mom left.
I was mad about not going to Space Camp, but I didn’t mind. I liked dad the best and decided to stay with him. He let me do what I wanted. Sometimes he snuck me a beer, even though I told him that the cops weren’t going to smash in our door and take me away over a beer. But dad was a war vet, first Gulf War. He freaked out about everything: a mouse scratching the inside of a wall, water dripping, a ringing doorbell. I mean, every fucking thing.
Eventually, the cops did take me away, but not over a beer. It was over a dream dad had. He woke up screaming and tearing his room to pieces with a hunting knife. Then he pulled his gun and blasted his desk lamp. He swore that it was an Iraqi soldier. Anyway, the neighbors called the cops and dad was hauled away in cuffs.
Now I live with mom. I hate it. But at least I’ll get to go to Space Camp next year.
Space Colony by Susan Gibb
In the beginning, there were thirty-five of us. Twenty-five women and ten men. We were all young, healthy, selected for our child-bearing genes. We were told to go ahead and have fun.
Thirteen of the women got pregnant the first month. Ten of the babies aborted themselves, unable to cope with the difference in external environment. We kept trying, selecting men as if they were stud horses, by their fertility because they all were intelligent, all handsome and strong.
After eleven months, we’d each suffered several miscarriages. I alone carried a pregnancy to six months, the longest. I alone went through an actual birth but too early, or as we know now, too late. The baby was dead.
After two years they stopped sending replacements. They know what we know, that time is all scrambled up here. The wheelchairs they’ve sent us, and high blood pressure meds, but no doctor in his right mind will come.
It’s been nearly three years and I’m weary. There is only one other left with me now. His hair, like mine, is silver and long. We sleep curled into each other, taking advantage of the months that will pass in the night.
5000 Years by Dorothee Lang
She had been warned. On first glance, this species seemed like another average task: anthropoid, medium-brained, clueless about any realm beyond the third dimension.
She observed them from the camp her ancestors had put up on Mars aeons ago, when the first earthlings had reached the level of rudimentary writing. That had been 5000 years ago.
By now, the earthlings were roaming the stage of basic technology. Fascinated by mechanics and speed, they had managed to burn 67 percent of their planet’s resources, and were still eager to go faster. Every now and then, they built giant telescopes, then ended up frustrated as neither aliens nor antimatter could be found, despite all their hopes and their piles of astrophysical equations.
Parallel to observing them, she read through the reports of those who had gone on ground missions before her. Many hadn’t returned. Some had turned to humans, some had died as martyrs, some still were there, trying to prevent the worst.
Weirdlings, she had named them secretly. Now, while preparing for her own ground mission, she had to confess that she was both appalled and fascinated by them, by their overly occupation with dialects, frontiers, and hair lengths; their hopeless love for the nature they slowly killed; their longing to travel the world and the universe, to find peace, and recreate paradise, somehow.
“Don’t fall for them,” her commander reminded her again before she was beamed down.
Brunch by Marcus Speh
Flying to the Moon by Linda Simoni-Wastila
There, behind the dusty heaps of crumpled doors and rusted engines, hidden from streetlights that banished the thin curve of the moon, they escaped. Below the hillock where they lay spread-eagled under Pegasus and Cassiopeia, the creek’s thin gurgle whispered through cracked earth. Grass poked spears into the girl’s thighs, and she momentarily worried about ticks and snakes, about today’s school suspension and her mother’s wrath still stinging her cheek. The boy reached for her hand, and squeezed. Night swaddled them.
“I always wanted to be an astronaut,” she murmured.
She closed her eyes and the sky opened. A star cascaded in rainbows, fireworks in reverse, scattering spent ash. The warmth sanctified her, a mother’s softer touch. Heaven tilted, the jinn spirits catapulted her higher faster towards the pock-marked orb, shining satin with benevolence. Asteroids showered silver rain as one horizon opened, then another, and another, galaxies bursting in an infinite slide-show of the absolute, and she reached up up up into blinding white to touch to hold to know to be.
“God?” she cried, and shuddered.
The boy leaned close, his breath golden clouds. “Fly, baby, fly,” he said. “Fly to the moon.”
Dew-wet fingers traced her lips, pushed in another bit of fleshy mushroom. The universe expanded, taking her with it.
“Dreamers Learn to Steer by the Stars” by Michael Webb
I had found her on Facebook, one of those chance encounters you have in the 21st century- a friend of a friend had a name that rang a bell in my mind. A short note asking if she was the same Shari I remembered, and then a connection is made.
By chance, we were in the same city, briefly, and we agreed to meet for coffee. She was still gorgeous, warm and curvy with deep black hair, lovely eyes, and cute little glasses that made her look like a barrista or a sexy librarian. She sat there, her skirt revealing just the right amount of Stairmastered thigh, a high heel dangling from one toe.
She had tea, while I had coffee. We compared notes- industries, college, marriage, children- all the checkpoints from age 12 to the present. “I remember-”, I began, “the last night of camp, when we were all down by the lake. I was staring up at the stars, while we were singing all those songs, looking into all that eternal emptiness . You had your bathing suit on, with a sweatshirt over it, because it was getting cold. You sat next to me, near the back, and you reached over and took my hand, and I was so excited, so happy, because a girl had never held my hand before.”
She looked at me, her brown eyes warm behind her cat’s eye glasses, and said evenly, “No, I don’t remember that at all.”
Midnight Riders by Kim Hutchinson
One dinner party, two couples, three bottles of wine.
A moonbeam shone on the balcony. They felt a slight shifting under their chairs and heard a quiet scraping sound, then the apartment slid out from the building and lifted away.
They floated over the city, looking at the lights and the people below. Only a Labrador on a leash noticed them.
The apartment sailed skyward over suburbs and across faraway open fields.
As they reached the heavens, the hostess opened the French doors to let the stars pass through the rooms. The light twinkled off the mirrors and glass tables.
On the balcony, the host discovered that he could captain their journey with sweeping gestures and gentle words.
“Port,” he said, leaning into the breeze with an orchestral flourish.
The cat curled up in a wicker chaise.
The host steered them to the glowing white surface of the moon. Landing on the shore of Lake Oka at the foot of the Havarti Hills, they cavorted and played for hours, sculpting, tasting, making moon angels.
When they grew tired and had eaten their fill, they crawled back over the balcony railing, laughing like children.
“Up,” said the host, and they drifted home on a tractor beam of light.
Back in the building, safely stowed, they tried to make plans for a flight the very next evening, but they couldn’t agree on a destination.
The women wished for Venus and the men wanted Mars.
Summer Camp by Elizabeth Kate Switaj
Emily’s family wasn’t poor. Their apartment didn’t smell like Jackie’s did. Emily knew poverty stank because every year they cut through King Street Station, where bums lived, on the way to watch the Mariners lose to the Yankees. Emily’s mom didn’t dig up roots in the lawn to boil for dinner like Chue’s mom did. Chue and Jackie were her only friends in the complex, and Jackie had stopped inviting her over. When the gifted program was at another school, it was OK, but now everyone saw Emily walk into a classroom full of kids who always had the latest toys. How much worse it would be if they knew how big their houses were? If Emily were athletic like her sister, it wouldn’t matter.
Her family wasn’t poor, but when her class had gotten fliers for space camp, she didn’t even ask her mom. She only got to come to Camp Sealth because she sold so much candy. Was it worth standing outside Safeway until her fingers froze? She leaned back against the cedar; its scent said yes.
When her classmates had asked if she was going to space camp, Emily said she liked reading better than science. —Besides, they don’t have vegetarian food. My mom asked.
Her mom wouldn’t do that. She always wanted Emily to have “just a little” meat.
Emily’s counselor ran over and asked if she wanted to play capture-the-flag. Emily looked up. —No. I’m writing a poem about the stars.
The State of Things by Kelly Grotke
“What is interesting today will not be tomorrow.”
“Your statements are like stones thrown into a conversation.”
“Nothing is now proven or disproven by words. All words are like stones, and conversations are merely the ripples that remain as the stone sinks to the bottom.”
“But over time, the water will fill with stones.”
“When that happens, it will no longer interest us.”
“How can you exist within such abstraction?”
“As the rest of us do, inside our own and the ones we borrow, and if by existence you mean consistency, then that is a small thing mattering only to myself.”
“But what if your abstraction is a lie?”
“It is what it is. Animals are not true nor flowers false.”
“I don’t think you appreciate the gravity of the situation.”
The New Nature! by Ann Testa
“Mommmm Daddddd ! Can we go to Chucky Cheese NOW??? Pleeeaaasssee???”
Visions of pepperoni and cola unencumbered by gravity entered Deanna’s mind as she stood in the doorway of cabin 437b with her stern face in full expression wondering how these children could have come from her body. They were hungry after going to the “Super Galactic!” observation deck to see Earth.
Deanna had had her doubts about “Camp Cosmos!” but Jordan thought it would be fun for the kids. Brochure phrases kept sneaking into conversations: “vacation in the stars!”, “experience the new nature…in space!” While Jordan and the kids thought of adventure, Deanna thought of a giant tin can in space filled with exclamation points. But, the “old nature” was getting crowded. Last year’s vacation had 10 Mc Donald’s cooling stations complete with canyon cones and McWater during the hike down to the floor of the Grand Canyon. Not the experience of Deanna’s youth or the experience she wanted for her children, so why not rocket to the newest frontier?
“Ok!” Deanna said as she allowed a mischievous twinkle to enter the corner of her eye, “Who wants to eat pizza in Zero-G?!” Jordan, Cassie and Max raced out of the cabin headed toward the outer ring while Deanna sauntered behind, realizing her fate as she passed a Chucky Cheese laundromat on the way to the Chucky Cheese pizza playground and pined for the grass stains and her mud covered toddlers of just a few years ago.
Andromeda: The Chained Lady by Kait Mauro
I shouldn’t have been surprised by the smell of campfire smoke; it was a bonfire party, after all. But I don’t remember much of my childhood and when I stumble across something that draws me back to those days, it catches me off guard.
Tonight I am in two places at once.
I am on the camping trip with my dead father, the one we took when I was in sixth or seventh grade. The campground, Pine Grove it was called, was also a waterfowl reservation – but nobody told us. We were woken up at five forty-five every morning by those Canadian geese. I named the one with the metal ring around his neck and fed them the crusts from my pb&j sandwiches. We wrapped potatoes in aluminum foil and cooked them in the campfire once it burned down to just the red coals. We ate creamed corn from a can and instant mashed potatoes from a cardboard box.
I remember lying in our tent at night with top flap open; Chincoteague always had such clear skies. It was better to go in the summertime, before the late-August mosquitoes came. My father had studied astronomy in college, before he dropped out because his mother was ill or some girlfriend broke his heart. He didn’t like to talk about those days. But he remembered the stories behind Orion’s Belt, the three sisters, and Andromeda – the chained lady. He could point out Polaris with his eyes closed.
Capsule by Stephen Hastings-King
Inertia was broken when I walked in my spacesuit down the long white corridor toward the strobe-lights and launch pad. I already felt weightless.
Strapped into the seat of the capsule I focus on the backward series of numbers, each of which shapes a dynamic of ignition sound.
With the zero arrives a shaking that is everywhere through the cardboard.
I undo the belt that holds me into the bucket seat of a disappeared Corvair. Around it the refrigerator box cockpit is an array of crudely drawn dials and screens. Traces of last night’s alcohol waft through my fishbowl helmet. The Mylar suit I am wearing could be tinfoil. It is a hot summer evening. I am not having fun.
I open the cardboard hatch. In the odd geometrical shadows of the launch pad stand a few people wearing lab coats. They want to believe they are scientists. They want to believe I am an astronaut.
I look past them toward the galaxy of tiny multi-colored lights in the midst of which spin solar systems and Tilt-a-Whirls.
Experiences with Gravity by Martin Brick
This is Space Camp, Charles thinks. My zero G tank, referring to Guy’s pool and the floating chair suspending him in the just below the surface.
Being lit on Guy’s scotch helps feign weightlessness, too. Good stuff. Glenlivet. 18 year.
Space Camp, what’s got to run? Maybe two grand? Charles’s kids are in soccer camp. $130 and he griped. No lodging or food; just high schoolers showing 8 year-olds how to kick. Where’s the money going?
He should really have brought his kids over to swim. They deserve at least that. Charles empties his scotch and admits why he didn’t bring them. He’d basically be saying that his supervisor’s kid is gonna play with rockets, but you can sneak into his pool while they drive down to Huntsville.
Deck. Drink. Refreshed. Bottles’s empty now. He told himself just one or two; Guy would notice any more. Screw Guy. Charles shoulda had Guy’s position if Guy hadn’t ratted him out for keeping a bottle in his desk. Had to be Guy, back when they shared an office.
In the pool, Charles jettison’s his trunks. Now that’s zero G. Coulda sent the kids to grandma’s. Invited Shelia. Make her reconsider this “trial” separation. But that’s not Shelia. Such a damn wet-blanket, she’d never abuse the house-sitting role. Can’t understand vice, that woman.
So that’s why Charles is all alone, buck naked and in full orbit when the police show up, responding to a call from a concerned neighbor.
Untitled by Jen Rose
Every day is the same. I rip open a pouch of freeze dried goodness and stare out the window. Darkness. Stars. Just another day on my ship.
I float across the room to take a look at my crew neatly tucked in their pods, deep in cryo-sleep. I fold myself into a sitting position, and stare at them.
They’ll sleep for three years while we travel. I’ll keep watch, keep ship… study my own sanity while we fly.
I’m especially watching this one kid… it’s his first flight. How he got picked for something like this, I’ll never know. Maybe ‘cause he’s bright. Genius, they say. Might even be a captain someday, even have my job if I lose my mind on this flight.
When I asked why he signed up for this planet colonization project, he said this was the future. Said he had nothin’ to lose. Wanted to make history.
And I remembered when I was a kid, fascinated and thrilled like that. I went to this space camp where they strapped me to the insides of spinning wheels. I tumbled and twisted and tried not to throw up. I built a rocket and shot it, watched it disappear into the clouds, thinking “That’ll be me someday.”
Ready for adventure. Ready to leave the planet. See if there’s anything better out there.
I force down another bite.
Truth is, I miss my family, my friends.
I miss gravity.
They don’t prepare you for that in space camp.
Space grass and space cakes by Ryder Collins
Casualty had three moods – stoned, more stoned, and comatose. When you heard Clutch blasting from his house at ten a.m., you knew he was well on his way to the third.
& yes, Homegirl heard Clutch as she approached his front door. Fuck, she was hoping for a more lucid Casualty. She’d just been followed by a creeper the entire walk over.
Casualty opened the door. Homegirl said, Hi. She walked past him and sat down on his orange nubby couch. Casualty plopped down next to her and asked, Ole Faithful?
Ole Faithful was his three foot bong and a reference to punctual gangas eruptions, of course.
Homegirl shook her head and almost started crying. She kinda didn’t know why, so she punched Casualty in the arm.
Casualty said, What?
Then, Not cool.
Then, Space cake?
Homegirl punched his arm again; this time not as hard.
She said, I was almost raped on the way here.
Then, Hafta work tonight.
Then, Yeah, fuck, give me one.
Think I’m preggers and don’t know who the baby daddy is, is what she walked over to say but couldn’t.
She had no one to talk to about it except Casualty; she could trust him not to tell anyone cos he wouldn’t remember. She couldn’t trust anything he said, though, if he was already on his way to comatose.
He came back with the cake.
Homegirl took a bite. Fuck, she said; fuck, he said. A cheers to nothing.
Space Camp by Catherine Russell
They say that in space no one can hear you scream. Charlie wished that were true when she thought of the horrors of the camp cafeteria. Unfortunately though, the space station’s artifical life support clearly conveyed the moans and cries of the afflicted.
The dominant form of life here continued to be microscopic. Food poisoning consigned more than half the campers to their sleeping bags, but at least she didn’t need to worry about being picked last for zero gravity volleyball…
And then she died.
It’s Not Over Until It’s Over by doug bond
Heaven’s a blast! It’s like a big summer camp in space. Non-stop games, crafts and activities up here around the clock. Amazing too, how everything we do up here flips a switch down there. Kodachrome sunsets? Rainbows? The Northern Lights? We are the weavers of the tie-dyed sky.
It can be stressful though, like over on the archery range, I keep missing my target and the Dow plunges 500 points. I capsize my canoe and the divorce rate spikes. So I’m learning to go with the flow.
Still it’s hard not to rock your earthly world. Thunder, earthquakes, landslides? Just another intense game of volleyball. Politics?…a marathon ping pong tournament. Most of the rest of the bad stuff: war, strife, wanton violence, that’s just us “going voodoo” on a football field.
Now, Baseball? That’s OUR kinda game, a sacred game, a heaven on earth, if you will. So we’re at peace to remain silent spectators, leaving it to The Living alone to…Play Ball! We’re addicted to the unscripted infiniteness of it all, every game a potential eternity (like extra innings at Candlestick!)
And there’s no better view than from up here to take it all in, an epic dance of fallen heroes, improbable saviors, self-determining puppets rotating in a mandala of futility and hope, or as one of our most eloquent scribes, Billy Shakespeare, says: Playing a game full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Yep, you guessed it, the Bard’s a Cubs fan, but then again aren’t we all.
Space Camp by Lou Freshwater
Walter was a news anchor. He pushed out every word with force and emphasis. Walter used a lot of words a lot of the time. Listening to others only complicated things. Walter came home one night, his six-year old son tugged at his freshly dry-cleaned suit.
“Daddy, daddy, there’s gonna be a solar nami!”
Walter kept walking toward the kitchen, he wanted his Scotch. “What [beat beat] are you talking about?”
“A solar nami is coming and it might make all the lights go out! Out, out!!”
“A solar [beat] nami.”
Walter knew that his son was lost again, his mind was constantly in space camp. Walter knew, because Walter reported the news. And he had not reported anything as insane as a solar tsunami. He poured his Scotch into his beveled glass with one ice cube, put there mostly for the sound. He went over to the couch and told the boy to play in his room. He turned on the TV. It was time to watch the re-broadcast of his newscast on cable. He liked to study and improve. On the TV a very serious Walter said, “Good Evening [beat beat] and welcome [beat] to Eye [beat] Witness Neewwwsss. Walter was leaning back against the beige suede couch when in an instant the world went dark. He felt a panic spreading from his chest. He picked up the remote and kept pushing the button as his terrified son tripped over a toy while running into the room.
Alien by Guy Yasko
Edith sticks to the barn walls, watching the dancers and asking herself
if there is anything, anything at all, to like about this
place. Perhaps. She finds warm feelings for the library’s flaking yellow
paint and its shabby stuffed chairs where she reads between morning and
afternoon chores. She even likes the books, even if she finds them
suspicious. It isn’t their contents, but the other campers and staff who
make the books dubious — although, come to think of it, she hasn’t been
able to let herself be amused by Parkinson’s Law.
The barn itself is the site of near-nightly folk dancing, something she
finds affected and anachronistic: “We’re not folks. Why should we dance
like that?” All the same, she lingers at the dance because she would
rather avoid her cabin’s smell of mould, pines, and outhouse. She
decides the only way to balance the two repulsions is to decamp to the
dark field between the barn and the cabins.
Away from the fiddling and stomping she can hear her footsteps in the
grass. At the same time, she notices that as the sound recedes, the
music and voices become comforting. Sufficiently reassured, she turns
her back to the barn and its yellow light and looks into the river of
stars across the night sky’s middle. “There. That is my home.”
Why I Did What I Did by Walter Bjorkman
There was no way you were going to let that star fall without catching it, putting in your pocket and never letting it fade away. Kamloops is a town that releases its secrets right in your face, unless you are younger than young and don’t have the intelligence of the caribou coming down the mountainside from the early September snow up above. There, you glided above cloud tops and soared over a raging Upper Columbia River, Banff some dark ceiling on a map hovering up above, with no symbols or markers of a land traversed by men, like Hel in ancient times, the deep unknown.
There was no way you were going to get offa that cloud teetering on the ridge between Pecos Baldy and Pecos Baldy East, a narrow ridge suspended on the continental divide, the headwaters to the Gulf trickling out of the ground to your right, to the Pacific off to your left, the purple below slowly receding in distance and height as they faded into endless horizon.
There was no way you were going to return to the campground after that moonless night on the banks of a small stream in a clearing in the Northern California mountains, with no, absolutely no, ambient city, town or even campfire light to obscure the Universe from your youthful blitzed-out gaze without becoming an astro-physicist, or a poet.
It’s Not Easy by John Wentworth Chapin
The droning of the ventilation system agitates him. He feels clammy: cold and yet sticky with sweat. He tries sleeping on his left side; when he rolls over, a small sigh escapes her lips. “Are you awake?” he whispers, squinting in the dim refracted halogen light. He feels bad for a moment: she is silent for a good long while.
“As if I could sleep,” she hisses, all venom.
“It’s loud and I’m hot and… well, I’m totally not comfortable.”
“We’re camping in space. What’d you expect?”
He doesn’t know what he expected. Not this. Not intense discomfort. He studies the far outline of some nebula-like shit; his contacts were bugging him and he had to take them out. He sighs, “This isn’t really camping.”
“Oh my God, Scott. You didn’t expect a tent?”
Again: he doesn’t know what he expected. He says, “Do you remember that time we had the RV in New Mexico? And we got stuck?”
She thinks. “And you thought there were mountain lions?”
“Right.” He thought a moment. “This is worse.”
She props herself up on her elbows. “How?”
“We were stuck, but it was better in the morning.”
“I think it’s exactly the same,” she says, moving closer and rubbing his back. “You’re afraid.”
He nods to himself, feeling her fingers on his back. But I’m more afraid. Her touch is relaxing, but it’s not enough.
Between by Michelle Elvy
Where are you? I’ve been looking for nearly five days now. I know you are here somewhere. Perhaps you are under the chair, with the sticky Cheerios and breakfast crumbs. Or maybe you are outside, breathing in fresh morning dew or perching on the laundry line between those two red socks, or squeezing creekmud between your toes as you huddle with the mallards. You could be in the soup I made yesterday, bubbling in the broth with the carrots and peas. Or you could be resting on my downy pillow, nestled in the warm soft white where I lay my head.
I glimpsed you last night in the sideways glance of my lover, I heard you this morning in my child’s singsong voice.
You are a space-walker and a time-traveler for, even as you jump across continents and oceans, and though you live very much in the present, you sometimes come to me from an obscured place in the past, and you often feel like the future, full of promise.
I will wait patiently, will not rush you. You’ll come at your own pace — when you are ready, when I am ready. With a whisper or a shout, a tickle or a punch. One way or another, we will find each other.
Ah! This week you are here, camped out
in the spaces between.
The Editors of 52|250 wish to thank Bernard Heise for his photograph, Higher Education, this week.