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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

A Star Falls

Lisette Alonso is a native of south Florida and earned her MFA from the University of Miami. Her poetry has appeared most recently with New Letters and The Lune.

You don't expect him to be beautiful. You don't expect him at all, but still he waltzes down on a beam of light that shoots from a spaceship disguised as the night sky, striations of indigo reflected on its hull, periwinkle brushstrokes mimicking the cirrus clouds.
This alien looks like he should be an actor. He is a heartthrob. If you were thirteen instead of thirty-five, you'd have glossy magazine pinups of him papering your bedroom walls. You look at him and it makes you think of cascading waterfalls, the sun setting on a calm ocean, fawns frolicking in a forest clearing. You are already so lucky just to be able to glimpse him. How more than human he seems. His delicate cheek bones. His long tapered fingers. Just enough facial hair to look rugged but not unkempt.
He is in your backyard on what could be any Monday night, which is now extraordinary because of his presence. You are taking out the trash in your pajamas as he descends, watching him with your mouth open and your hand on the lid of the garbage can. You wish you could think of a way to impress him, but the yard smells like dog turds, and your hair is unwashed, and there is a chocolate stain on your shirt collar from where you dripped brownie batter while you were licking the beaters clean.
The alien man blinks at you and his eyes are emeralds flecked with gold, his eyelashes curl out like butterfly wings. You feel unworthy. Inside the house your kids are fighting over the remote control, over the last Capri Sun in the fridge, and who gets to sit in the leather recliner instead of the loveseat with the broken springs.
You feel a stinging shame, but your alien is empathetic. He wants to understand all your earthly idiosyncrasies. He speaks English with a slight British accent and quotes interplanetary poetry that touches on the universality of your existence.
He says, "Tell me about your life."
And you do.
Sitting in a lawn chair on your darkened patio, you tell him about your birth and your childhood, about growing up and falling in love, about raising your children. He holds your hands in his, peers into your face, reaches a finger to brush away an errant lock of your greasy hair, and this encouragement means everything.
Then you find yourself unable to stop.
You tell him you're a hostage in your own skin. That sometimes you feel invisible. That the routine of every day is killing the small voice inside you that once dreamed of exploring the galaxy like the crew of the Starship Enterprise. You tell him your husband divorced you for a cocktail waitress when you were eight months pregnant with your youngest child. You tell him you set fire to all his belongings on the front lawn while your children watched through the bay window. That you stole his new wife's Chihuahua one morning and drove it to an animal shelter two counties away, though you considered strangling it with your bare hands. That for the past week you've fantasized about abandoning your children at the Wal-Mart down the road, then driving to the California coast where you could start over under an assumed name.
Still the alien radiates understanding, but there is also a strange tugging in your mind you hadn't noticed before, like a thread being unspooled. You know that he is reaching inside you somehow, picking at the ugliest bits of you as if opening a scab to expose the pink skin underneath.
You want to tell him you don't mean it, that you love your life, that your history has shaped you. You want him to know you adore your children, how the littlest sneaks into your bed to bury her face in the soft bulge of your belly. But in this moment nothing seems truer than the dark thoughts he's drawing out of you.
You beg him to abduct you, to transport you to his spaceship with a hot laser, to dissect you on a metal table while his brethren whisper softly to each other in the operating theater. But he has already laid you bare, the thoughts and memories you work every day to tamp down exposed only for him. He kisses your forehead, then suddenly you're sitting alone, rubbing at a tender spot between your eyebrows, and feeling more tired than you've ever been.
From the outside looking in, your living room could be anyone's living room, your children anyone's children. You have the sudden impulse that they are and so you back away, slowly until you bump the gate with your hip, then you turn and walk off barefoot into the night.
For weeks the authorities will search for your remains. That you left your shoes and your purse, your cell phone and your car keys, will be seen as evidence of foul play. Your husband will be the primary suspect. His home and vehicle will be inspected for drips of blood and bone fragments. Nearby lakes and canals will be dredged.
There will be no trace of you, but you'll be someone else by then anyway, a woman with no regrets, navigating always by the shifting night sky, talking to anyone who will listen about the night you were taken.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Author Comments

This flash blossomed during the summer doldrums as I fought to keep my children from disappearing into their respective device screens. While I never had the impulse to murder a Chihuahua or abandon my family, this story emerged from that impulse all parents feel on occasion to simply take their own time-out, preferably in silence and with brownie batter at the ready.

- Lisette Alonso
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