The stars declared the sky, a canopy to protect them
A place to raise their children in the ways of their ancestors
Live brightly, follow the herd, avoid collisions,
Expand until you burst but not too soon
Take care of your own planets and keep the in their orbits
But mostly fill the darkness with your light
He knew what the hand-written letter would say before he opened it. Most people would have sent an email or a text, but that wasn’t like her. Everything had to be personal with her. A Dear John letter was no different.
He sat in the kitchen tapping one corner of the envelope on the glass table-top. She’d picked out the table and chairs from a consignment shop. Everything had to have character, a provenance with her.
If he followed his normal routine, there would be a pot of coffee warming on the stove. No impersonal single-serve cups. The Peruvian beans remained unground. Time itself hung in the balance. The room devoid of any other sound save the tapping of the envelope.
The denizens of Haven have ignored and avoided this part of the city for as long as anyone can remember. It goes way farther back than that, all the way back to the resettlement period just after the end of the before time. The people who call this place home prefer the anonymity of their perceived poverty and crime. After all, misdirection is a hallmark of their kind and an important tool in keeping their secrets. Marcus excelled in keeping secrets, as teenager tend to do. Secrets from his mother, in particular.
Maps, scarce as they are, list this place as a blighted zone, which is a polite way of saying: stay out. Not that many would venture here. Yes, blighted zones are technically city-owned so everyone owns it, but the area is out of the way, inconvenient, and largely inaccessible. That is, unless you live there like Marcus does. He doesn’t mind the reputation this place has. The popular monicker of Trashtown serves to discourage scrutiny. Those who happen to call this place home know it as Book.
Marcus would do anything to avoid his birthday, but like anything, the inevitable is, well, inevitable. Still, as anyone from his close-knit community, he excels in avoiding people. Marcus isn’t quite as good at all of the techniques of his people, camouflage, misdirection, and most critical the art of cloaking, but he’s clever enough to stay away from home after school lets out. After all, jumping the wall to the outside city of Haven is as good a way as any for those who choose to live as insiders, separate and hidden from the unsuspecting.
At the small bookstore that Marcus frequents, he waves at the proprietor and places a small waxy envelope on the counter after checking his surrounds. No customers. Good. The proprietor wrinkles up his walrus mustache and stares at Marcus over his bifocals.
“This the same shit you brought in last time?”
Marcus raises his hands and tips his head. “Hey, I already told you I don’t know what happened. Flick promised me this was his best stuff. Besides, I paid you back for that batch.”
“Good thing you did too. I had a customer complain. Said I gave him the worst whack he’d ever had.”
“Take a look. You can see the ribbons of color.” Marcus pointed at the envelope and the proprietor huffed but looked at the iridescent elixir inside the small phial.
“Yeah, just like their soul blossoms.” The proprietor pocketed the envelope. “Store credit or cash?” He punched a few buttons on the cash register and the drawer popped open.
“Let me look around a bit. I might find something I like.”
“Suit yourself.” The proprietor slammed the drawer shut.