(Fiction) On Every Planet I Have Lived

On every planet I have lived, and in every time, there have always been women chasing the broken wastrel.

They make no secret of it. In fact, the more a man sings of his pain, or writes bad poetry – and the more people hear it – the more falsely cocksure he is, the more compulsive, the more addicted, then the higher the bounty she can claim.

For the trauma must always be in greater proportion to her own, lest it fail to serve its purpose, as if it were possible to grow one garden by tending another.

After a time, when her youth has faded and she can no longer command a high crop, she will tire of her sterile toil and seek a man whose garden is well fruited, and thence populate her own barren plot with seeds and cuttings until his is not half what it was.

Seek not, my son, such women as these, for there are ample others. Though she be less susceptible to your flatteries, oftentimes less comely, her deficits will match your surpluses, and contrariwise the same.

Seek her in places high and low, where she will often be reading or otherwise keeping her own company. Do not sing of your weaknesses, but do not hide them either. Rather, provide her reason to notice your strengths. Do good, such that you may be a candle to the beneficent.

And do not – ever – consort with liars, even those not maliciously so. She may call it innocent, a game of hide-and-seek with her self, the setting of a travail through which you must pass to discover the secret flower at her heart.

But no matter how enchanting, a cavalier woman is reckless and shifting, and can do naught but pour ruin over your soul.

-advice from the Grand Dame of Alturth to her grandson on the occasion of his father’s cruel murder at the hands of the Asteroid Witch

Prior to these last few years, when I learned to yoke it, whatever inspiration befell me landed in a digital junk drawer: character names, half-birthed premises, fragments of books that would never be written, such as this, which I came across yesterday while looking for something else.

cover image by Michal Dziekan