Cast your eyes skyward for the jig.
Perhaps everything you’ve read of Else Tyroler’s story thus far has been at best colorful, at worst dull, and likeliest, failing to engross or merit credence. I, Else, prefer that this story register with you as true. However, as the dress I wear, like the pearls in my lobes and the necklace on my breast, belonged to my mother, the events of the preceding chapters, too, derive from her life rather than mine. We share but few things, primarily haircolor and general appearance, vocal tones, certain stubbornness and moods, but the rift between our experiences gapes wide as a planet gouged nearly to its core. Literally.
I miss Earth without remembering it. Focusing on breathing slowly, consciously, and deeply, I exhale releasing oppressive melancholy surrounding contemplation of my life, a single sequin clinging to this tattered costume we collectively don since 2020 for our existential charade to proceed indefinitely.
Our family, just three strong then, permanently left its native planet in the aftermath of the Tieremoto to occur while I yet toddled, so I make Generation Z by a hair to foil my brother born here a legitimate Cuáquerano. Unique evidence of human adaptability (among numerous other examples to arise from our species’ supreme epic catastrophe): that a rather immature and irresponsible twentysomething — moi — should today naturally cogitate “native planet” despite the absurdity of thought in such terms in the teens when my newly-married parents established a modest Chicago apartment home to welcome me into. Pluto yet stinging from its fresh ousting as the ninth planet, astronomers remained largely ignorant of the exact nature of this massive orb we presently, humbly reside within, hopeful of the privilege to continue thus for another century or two. You perhaps learn with surprise that human psychology and physiology pose the chief challenges rather than territorial conflicts, despite the intellectually-superior giants preceding humans in habitation of this stone world.
Please refrain from wailing of my overwhelming you. I, not you, contend with the surety that if I become a mother, any child of mine shall grow up expecting never to live a day on Earth, and potential grandchildren, too, though mercifully, great-grandchildren Cuáqueranas and Cuáqueranos the calculations and projections currently favor for returns. You read this by way of practical magic in computing and transmitting capabilities developed during my life and perfected in collaboration with the aliens we now regard as outsize brethren, albeit cautiously. Timidity and neuroses plague us survivors dwarfed by inventive extraterrestrial creatures and by the apocalyptic circumstance launching us into their midst; humans advance through history virtual rabbits. Daily confrontation of sobering reality turns life to dream and nightmare often indistinguishable. I nearing exhaustion crave my book as escape before sleep.
Relinquishing my favorite fantasy (that of imagining my life on Earth, tapestry woven of my reading and yarns of those who arrived here with memories) impoverished my heart more than I anticipated. Little can I, cozy underground, justly complain, when souls on Earth know untold strife and agony without promise of relief, some consigned to fates worse than death in suspended terminus to scientific befuddlement. Studies yawn before us beneficiaries of our species’ inheritance: limbo.
My mother withstood urban winters, inhaled the perfumes of rose bouquets, heard the twinkling of upright pianos, sniffled with head colds, lavished in the passenger pleasure of train journeys… she’d three decades third world from a star. The sensation of sun upon my skin and idea of its hue and quality as envisioned within my mind, doomed to elude my discovery as real or fabricated contrasted with recollection, haunts me, I fear, endlessly.