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Where in summer the thirsty earth sucks up the sprinklers and the ground is turning green, the sky blue. Where somebody has stomped one of them into a lilac-colored jam nobody will touch, drying in the sun. Where the water mains making the harbor are surrounded by the white flurry of imported wings.

Where in autumn we make out in one-person cubicles, thunder pattering on the dome and the radio talking about the benefits of a perfect seam. Where company regs are ignored. Where careless spacesuits grow too thin on the backside or lose an elastic and nobody cares 'cause the air's been worked out.

Where in the first winter this planet has known, we're light enough to stay on top of the snow's thick crust. From this distance we can't hear the snow's crust breaking under their feet, but we know the sound and see their footsteps' deep blue shadows and their occasional bodies and try not to think about it.

In our dreams our bodies are lighter than they should be, our heads heavier, as though we've stared up at the sky for too long and can no longer tell whether our feet touch the ground or there's even any ground to touch, as if the sky just goes on and on.




Joanne Merriam lives in Nashville with her husband, three rabbits, and a reproduction sword. Her fiction has appeared in Escape Pod, Brain Harvest, and previously in Strange Horizons. You can find her at joannemerriam.com.
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