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a SF short story

by John Argo


title by John ArgoIt broke my heart to learn that she was ill, that she was dying. Then Professor Meudon came along with his matter transmitter.

My Petra, my only blonde and thoughtful Petra, my warm and loving Petra, whom I met when we were both in college, contracted an incurable cancer in the second year of our marriage. We were so very achingly young, so long ago.

Meudon's mechanism was very complex, but the results were to be sweeping and simple, and therein lay Meudon's genius.

Ever since an autumn night long ago on campus, I have loved Petra. We chanced to meet on a quiet side street in the sallow glow of a street lamp.

Our feet shuffled in leaves. The air had that burnt-autumn smell. Maybe the lonely autumn night peace added its special favor; in any case, we were charmed by one another's eyes, faces, voices, smiles. I saw eternity in her eyes, her intelligent smile, her companionable voice. Autumn for us ended there; a summery love began.

Having finished graduate school, I took my advanced degree in literature and was immersed in the stark lives of the Greeks, winey romances of the middle ages, modern writers with their coffee cup rings and cigarette burns.

Petra spun around herself the complexities of the human mind, studying psychology. We dreamt together of leaving New England, of living out our lives together in some tropic place. That was before she became ill.

Autumn was there again for me, bitter and biting. Autumn air seeped cold and burnt through the hospital windows where she lay sleeping through those long last evenings.

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Copyright © 2018 by Jean-Thomas Cullen, Clocktower Books. All Rights Reserved.