“Where do you want to go now?”
“I don’t know.”
Drifting stars sparkle and dance and sway around her head, kissing her cheeks and bouncing off into oblivion. We’re standing on the tip top point of a glacier. Sorry, false. She’s standing. I’m slumping.
“I used to love this movie,” she says, drawing pictures of cats drinking from coffee cups with her fingers in the hydrogen and helium gases passing by. “This is the movie that really got me into space exploration.”
“We’re not in the movie,” I say, “we’re in the videogame.”
“I know that, but it’s based on the movie so that’s why I’m talking about the movie.”
“Fine. I’m just saying.”
“Hey, dingus. What’s your deal?”
“I don’t have a deal.”
“Bullshit. You’ve been moping around ever since we plugged in this morning. You’ve been fine all week, now you’re pulling your old Morrissey/Smiths I’m-alone-in-the-world-with-a-twinkle-in-my-eye sad-boy routine. Aren’t you happy you found your super fucking bad-ass best friend after all these years and now we get to spend all this time together again?”
“I was hoping that I’d find you, then I found you. And Heaven knows I’m miserable now,” I sing. I laugh and jump a few miles into the nearest black hole.
I wait and listen for the pop of her following me. Years ago, before she relocated to a galaxy far, far away, I would never have been so bold as to be the first to run. It was always her running, me chasing. Always. I mean, literally, every time. The last time she ran–to that galaxy far, far away–was the first time I didn’t run after her.
The pop comes as I’m halfway through the wormhole and into another dimension. I fly out, heading straight toward a version of Earth where the oceans are swamps and the land is desert. I land onto a coastal region in the middle of an indigo and silver hurricane. The winds howl like coyotes, picking me up and putting me down like a parent moving their infant child who got in the way of something.
She flies in and does the superhero land right in front of me.
“You’re slow,” I say.
She rolls her eyes.
“Is there less gravity over there or is it something else that’s made you move like sludge?”
“Why are you being mean?”
“I’m not being mean. I asked a question. You still haven’t told me much about where you’ve been or what it’s like there. I just wanted to know is all.”
“You’re being mean, and you know it.”
Voices rise from beneath the winds, meeting in a perfect harmony before singing the same line over and over again in a language I’ve never heard before. Drum machines and synthesizers follow close behind.
“I don’t remember this from the movie,” I say.
“Let’s go somewhere else. It’s too loud here,” she says.
“No, wait. I love this song.”
She knows I’m lying. Her eyebrows flicker between neon pink and a violent maroon. The bright blue of her eyes dims to a greyish hue. I smile uncomfortably at her. Her arm rises, forming a carriage and horses out of the white desert sand.
“Fine. Go,” I say. “Nothing ever changes, I guess.”
“And just what in red hell is that supposed to mean?”
Bits of swampland flies over our heads. Some moss strikes the side of my face and spins out to God knows where.
“Maybe I think you’re impatient is all,” I say, not wanting to ruin the fact that she’s standing in front of me for the first time in years. “Just wait until the song is over. I like it. You know I like songs.”
“Yes, I know you like songs. Everyone likes songs. That’s a dumb thing to say.”
“How is that dumb?”
“Never mind. Please, continue telling me how much you like ‘songs’.”
“Whatever, I like most songs. I’m not a music snob anymore. I know I was, but I’m not anymore. Because I’ve changed.”
A laugh comes out so loudly from her that it masks the thunderclap in the background.
“What’s so funny about that?”
The blue in her eyes light up, her eyebrows stay pink. Her lips part that way they do when she’s wanting to smile but fights it. “I’ve missed you,” she says.
Shit. I clutch the letter in my pocket that I’ve been writing and rewriting for the better part of a decade.
I open the door of her sand carriage and motion for her to step inside. “You win. Let’s get out of here.”
She places her hand on my shoulder before she gets in.