She Turns the Final Page
by Kevin Lankes
A collection of gas and dust, molten metal, and the promise of more; a picture of an infant Earth sits comfortably in a frame on the edge of the Moon’s Tycho crater. “Those were the days,” says Earth, opening the photo album resting on her bedside table beside the frame. Earth takes out a picture of her first orbit around the sun and traces the words written on the back: “Baby’s first road trip.”
Earth remembers learning to breathe oxygen after flipping to the tab labeled Puberty, when her fur sprouted in all shapes and forms. “Your chemical composition is going to go through some changes,” Jupiter had told her. She thinks back to the shifting color of her glowing aura, the soupy green transforming into a rich lapis lazuli.
“And change you did,” says Jupiter, leaning over the hospital bed. Earth holds a picture of the drifting plates of her once-whole outer crust. She smiles remembering that this was around the time Venus began to notice her. Now Venus only looks on with a scowl, arms folded in the corner, the flickering lights of medical equipment painting her in a rich epileptic haze.
Earth holds a new picture and sighs, gazing at skin covered by thick green fur. A spectral trill runs through her at the remembered sensation of the regular footfalls of sauropod dinosaurs, nibbling amongst the greenery. How they ran through her flowing hair and sent shivers of joy down her spine.
“Your growing ecosystems were the envy of the solar system,” Saturn tells her through the gorgeous vistas of his mighty rings.
Now Earth groans as she flips by pictures of the first marks left by man. Her gaze shies from the barren patches of upturned soil, her primordial skin excised for purposes that would serve to poison her. Tears fall for the smelted veins transformed by mechanical beasts and made to float above her like dust mites in the darkness.
“We have paid the price,” says Helios, face clouded in a brilliant halo, “for trying to save you.” Earth peers down at the white coat falling around his knees as the rhythmic beeping of some new alarm finds her as if through a dream.
Earth closes the book with an effort, and as it’s taken from her hands her once luminescent blue sky clouds over with a dark sulfuric rain. Her pores erupt with the molten blood of four billion star-crossed years.
“It is time to say goodbye,” says Jupiter.
The pure barren wastes of Mars call to her. “You will soon be like the rest of us,” he says. “Really, it isn’t so bad.”
Published January 28th, 2018
Kevin Lankes studies creative writing in the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College and pens content for clients primarily in the science, tech, and healthcare industries. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Owl Hollow Press’s Pick Your Poison anthology, Here Comes Everyone, and The Big Jewel. He grew up in a small town in the Allegheny Mountains and splits his time between central Pennsylvania and New York City. In his lifetime, he has toured the U.S., lived on couches, played in a professional polka band, and survived cancer.
Lindsay Comstock is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer. Her work has been published in The Atlantic, American Photo, ArtCritical, Art Forum, L.A. Times, PDN, and Wallpaper*, among others. She is currently editor of Graphis Journal.