Sleeping Positions (A Basil and Zoe vignette)

Robot head looking front on camera isolated on a black background“You don’t sleep.”


We’d just been intimate – sexually intimate – for the first time, and while there’d been some pleasant pillow-talk before and some flirtatious talk during, after had me feeling a bit off-kilter.

“You don’t sleep,” I repeated. “I mean, I know people don’t always spend the night after sex, but skulking back to my mother’s quarters isn’t my idea of fun, ever, and especially after…”

“Have I done something to cause you discomfort?” Concern filled Basil’s voice, and when I turned onto my side to look at him, I saw that it was evident on his silvery features as well.

“No, not at all. It’s just… you don’t sleep, and I’ve never… I mean all my other experience was in summer camp dorms or at home, hoping a parent wouldn’t show up at an inopportune time. I don’t know the protocol for…this… especially with you. You don’t sleep.”

Basil reached out and brushed some of my hair out of my face. “It is true that I do not require sleep,” he said in a gentle tone. “But I am capable of sleep. However, I do not believe that is your real concern. You have ‘crashed’ here many times while I was working or writing.”

“Yeah, but none of those times ended up with us naked in your bed.” I pointed out. “It’s different.”

“It is,” he agreed. “And it is not.”

“Now you sound like me.”

“Zoe, dearest,  if I ‘sound like you’ it is only because we are spending significant time together and your patterns are becoming integrated into my own. However, we are digressing from the issue at hand. If you are truly uncomfortable remaining here, I will not be offended if you return to your mother’s quarters. It will not be ‘skulking,’ however, as we have nothing to hide.”

“O… kay?”

Basil continued. “I would much prefer that you remain here, though.” His silver features softened into a vulnerable expression. “I have never had a sexual encounter last through the night. I’ve also  never had a lover wake up in my bed. I find I want both.”

“With me?”

“Yes, with you.”

I relaxed back into the bed. “So… your programing prevents you from hogging the covers, right?”

“I am afraid we will have to discover that together.”

I couldn’t think of an adequate response, so I just curled against him. “I can live with that,” I said. “But if you decide to experiment with snoring, it’s grounds for a break-up.”

Basil didn’t answer me. Instead, he just ordered the computer to dim the lights for sleeping.


Labyrinth Photo by Kathy GreyShe walks, following the pattern of the stones. Her feet sink into the soft earth and when she’s on the outer rims of the shape the evergreens reach out to snatch bits of her hair, letting go with only a little reluctance.

The only sounds she hears are the birds above, and her own breath. The ground is clear enough, soft enough, that her bare feet make no sound.

She traces the switchback paths with her whole body, one quadrant at a time until the circle is complete. The sun is partially occluded by lingering morning fog, but she likes it that way. It makes this place feel more mystical.

A smile curves the corners of her mouth upward; she is amused by her own whimsy.

Half-way through the ritual, standing in the center of the circle, she pauses to reflect. Unlike the story, there is no spool of thread to guide her out if she loses her way. Instead, the only tether she has is the one that binds her to friends and family. A mixture of love and obligation, of belonging and duty… life isn’t ever purely one thing or another, after all.

There isn’t a great beast waiting in the dark to prey upon her. Sadly, David Bowie doesn’t lurk here waiting to escort her to a different world, either.

But there are still monsters.

There are always monsters.

These monsters, though, aren’t tangible. Rather, they go by names like Fear and Doubt, and they travel with impish sidekicks like Impatience and Annoyance.

She moves on, into the last quarter of her journey, and considers: no king created this collection of stones. She’s pretty sure most of the maintenance on it is done by women. And she likes that notion.

Women’s hands, women’s work creating a sacred space for all to walk, and think, and just be. She wonders if they sang while they worked, sending their energy into the rocks, trees, and soil. She hopes they did. She imagines they did. She thinks she might hear the echoes of their voices blended into the whispers of the trees.

The end of the path is met with a sigh. She has completed the circle, and emerged back into the light, and maybe no big decisions were made, or problems solved during her walk, but maybe that isn’t the point.

Maybe it’s enough that she walked the trail with her monsters and left them behind to make their own way out, shrinking in the sun – as such creatures are wont to do.

She wonders how long it will take them, then smiles at the thought.











Mermaid Meditations 001 – The Reef

Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay

“She looks so natural,” I hear my aunt say.

“I can’t believe she’s only two hundred,” my grandmother replies.

“That color really isn’t her best look, though,” my mother adds, and she’s right, because where once our dearly departed was rosy pink and bright orange with streaks of green and blue, now she’s a dismal, ashy grey.

“Why do we keep coming to these things?” I hear my father mutter to my uncle.

“Family obligation, I guess,” my uncle answers back.

I move away from the crowd, end up crashing fins with three of my cousins. Bubbles are suddenly everywhere, and it takes me a moment to re-orient myself. One of them, Red, a couple of cycles older than me, waits to make sure I’m alright. The other boys swim off, giggling. I guess it’s good that someone can still laugh.

“You okay, Starfish?”

“My name is Estrella,” I remind him.

“Estrella de Mar,” he responds. “Star of the sea… but in one of the human languages, they say ‘starfish,'”

“Human languages are complicated,” I grouse.

Red grins. “Humans are complicated. They claim they love the ocean, but then they do this…” He waves his hand toward the grey mass where the aunties are still gathered.

“Kill our reefs, you mean? I don’t think they do it intentionally. And a lot of them are trying to reverse the damage being done.”

“Yeah,” he says.

“Yeah,” I answer.

“It’s time!” I hear my grandmother announce.

“Let’s go!” Red grabs my hand, and we swim back into the school of merfolk.

“Mermaid tears,” Grandmer says,  “are the only thing that can heal a dead reef. Everyone, summon your sadness, but also summon your hope.”

One at a time, from oldest to youngest, we swim along the gray reef, and let our tears cleanse the water around her, bringing back the shrimp and krill, willing the restoration of color.

Some people say that the reef is the godmother of all mermaids. Some people think something about her let us become real, instead of merely existing in the tall tales of sailors and the dreams of children.

In this case, the only truth that matters is this: The coral reef is where we begin, and where we end. She is our first home and our last. The least we can do is give back what we were given.

Image by Leandro De Carvalho from Pixabay