by Anna Spence
He left home early, when the world was still young, when the sunlight was young sunlight, when the leaves on the trees were as big as patio umbrellas and the oceans seethed, faintly phosphorescent with jostling, darting life. He flop-flipped on wet mud and, as his mouth opened and closed, opened and closed, and his body grasped for the alien air, he thought that maybe he should have waited for lungs, for feet. His descendants crawled over him when they left the sea, remembered him in their offspring who were born for many generations with tails and webs between their toes.
He pushed the boat away from the shore and clambered in among the gourds of water and fruit mash and grain wrapped in leaves. The waves shushed against the boat’s woven reeds. The stars changed above him. His bones were swept up onto a sandy beach somewhere, or swallowed by some toothy leviathan. His descendants remembered him in the way that their children stood, sway-backed, ankle-deep in the sea, their hands shading their eyes, and wondered what they’d find, if they went over there.
He gasped against the crushing love of the planet that held him so tightly that he could only escape by harnessing the fury of the atom. The blue sky thinned to black and the world let him go, but kept a finger of gravity hooked in this belt so he couldn’t really float away, not really. His descendants remembered him in the way that their children, scattered on a thousand worlds, continued to use the same word, earth, both for dirt and for home.
Anna Spence is an academic by day and a writer by compulsion. Her work appears in Ellipsis Zine and Elephants Never. You can find her on Twitter @MSSalieri