Narrated by Mary A. Turzillo
by Mary A. Turzillo
A knack for reading minds:
mostly of children
(“that baby’s tummy hurts”)
(“he wants you to scratch his ears”)
but one day she saw blue tulips
that had mouths
and a butterscotch sky with green clouds
and she knew
the other mind lived far far away
too far ever to visit.
So this mind lived with her
they became friends
talked about hunting parties
(the blue tulips had wheels and tasted like—
well, delicious, with a mirnish tang)
and how you could float straight up to the pring
if you just closed your elibs and let go
and there were colors so beautiful
quite beyond the red to indigo of earth.
She told the other mind
of the world she saw with her senses
and that mind marveled that creatures,
could live in gas,
could talk with bursts of sound,
could make copies of themselves,
made patterns of sound called music.
Everyone knew she was strange
they thought maybe epilepsy
or maybe a touch of schizo-something
but she was harmless
and since she had no children of her own
and a monotonous job
they let her be
and she stopped talking
about her telepathic knack
because the things she saw
were not what folks at the factory
wanted to hear about.
And one day the other mind
said, please, help me, please, I’m yugling,
and it won’t stop and it hurts
they both knew about hurt
but she couldn’t help
and her friend hurt even more
and called out again, again, again.
So she stayed home from work,
and wept with shared agony
and the horror of seeing her friend going
going going going going away
the next day, the hurt stopped
it all stopped
the blue tulips
the wonderful butterscotch sky
and her knack went away
she went back to the assembly line job
and wished she could hear dogs and children
but inside, she knew,
she was dead.
AUTHOR BIO: After a career as a professor of English at Kent State University, Dr. Mary A. Turzillo is now a full-time writer. In 2000, her story “Mars Is No Place for Children” won SFWA’s Nebula award for best novelette. Her novel An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl was serialized in Analog in July-Nov 2004. These two works have been selected as recreational reading on the International Space Station.
Mary’s Pushcart-nominated collection of poetry, “Your Cat & Other Space Aliens,” appeared from VanZeno Press in 2007. Her collaborative book of poetry/art, Dragon Soup, written with Marge Simon, appears from VanZeno in 2008.
Mary’s collection Lovers & Killers, in addition to winning the Elgin Award, was also on the Stoker ballot and contains “The Hidden,” second place winner in the Dwarf Stars award for 2012, plus two Rhysling nominees: “Tohuko Tsunami” and “Galatea.”
See http://www.duelingmodems.com/~turzillo/ and http://maryturzillo.livejournal.com/ for more information