It is July 31, your birthday, and I can’t reach you. I’ve been trying all day, but the cell networks are down, the internet is down. I even tried a pay phone–there are two left in town that I know of, and I collected all of my change and walked to the 76 in the village. It was on fire. I watched it for a while from a distance as it painted a brown, toxic streak across the sky. It was a long walk back to the house, or what’s left of it. My feet hurt, and it was too quiet.
Over the years, Tikka’s job as a Minor Propagandist for the planet Porcelain’s Bureau of Tourism had shaped her way of thinking. She dealt primarily in quintets of attractions, lists of five distributed by the Bureau: Five Major China Factories Where the Population of Porcelain Can Be Seen Being Created; Five Views of Porcelain’s Clay Fields; Five Restaurants Serving Native Cuisine at Its Most Natural.
Armor that was sleek and black and polished, and made not a whisper as Blair paced the lawn behind his mansion, passing a word here or there with one of his guests. In those days the most advanced exoskeletons were crude affairs, and Blair’s armor seemed decades, if not centuries, ahead of its time…
It might have been in Club Justine, or Jimbo’s, or Sad Jack’s, or the Rafters; Coretti could never be sure where he’d first seen her. At any time, she might have been in any one of those bars. She swam through the submarine half-life of bottles and glassware and the slow swirl of cigarette smoke… she moved through her natural element, one bar after another.
Now, Coretti remembered their first meeting as if he saw it through the wrong end of a powerful telescope, small and clear and very far away.
Betty waited there amongst the swinging, marbled yellow cow carcasses. The wooden butcher’s table was smooth under her fingertips, and solid as the earth. Knives glinted from the walls, each reflecting a tiny, seated Betty and the thin figure of Ma Flesh standing over her.
“Sit up straight,” Ma snapped. “And don’t scratch. It could lead to tragedy. I mean it.”
“I won’t.” Betty didn’t dare ask why Ma was so against scratching. Her head itched but she didn’t lift her hand. Ma had cut off Betty’s hair to stop her from being so floaty. She hoped the suitor liked short hair. If he was blind, he’d like it, she thought. She could lay her head in his lap and he could tell her mood by the bumps on her skull. He could stroke behind her ears, let his fingers drift up to her crown, slide down her neck–
“It isn’t Saturday.” Ma rapped on Betty’s head with the back of her shining metal hook. “No going floaty today, girl.”
“Mrs. Levine, it is hard enough for someone to find the right person to love in the world, even with all the people in it. For Yeshua, it is almost impossible. Would you have him fall in love with a human girl and pine for her until his heart broke and we would have to erase
the letter that gives him life? Reduce him back to a lifeless thing?”
This episode of the Drabblecast is about adoption. In the drabble, a grieving father performs terrible experiments with the comfort food brought by well-intentioned neighbors. In the feature, a fawning mother grapples with conflicting fears for her son, a golem, when he falls in love with a non-Jewish construct. Despite her distress, she must ask: In a world where options for love are severely limited, what role does faith play?
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