Coming in Spring 2012. But here’s the Wapshott and International Union of Mail Artists collaboration to illustrate the Issue 6 story “Expecting a Star” in progress (click on the collage to see a larger version on the artist’s IUOMA site:
Expecting a Star
“Expecting a Star” originally appeared in Golden Visions, 2009.
“I think it’s going to be a star,” she said quietly, answering his thoughts.
He only smiled, caressing her head. She still looked like a girl—slim and lithe, her shoulders buried in a golden waterfall of hair.
Last time she gave birth to a wave. Emerald green—just like the color of her eyes—and it added music to the ocean.
“The ocean is silent on the inside and sounding on the outside,” she had said. “It needs music…” She had not known she was pregnant with the wave.
She was unlike anyone he met, and his friends often wondered if their marriage would last long. All of them had stable families. His best friend’s wife, for example, gave birth to a vine. It coiled around their house, shading it from the midday heat. It grew quickly, endowing them with numerous other vines and sweet grapes. They always had grapes on their table in addition to a fine wine they learned how to produce.
“One day, you’ll also have something like this,” his friend had said proudly then. It was almost a light year ago. They had been sitting on the terrace, it was a hot day in July, and the setting sun resembled a mad sunflower from Van Gogh’s painting.
His own wife had smiled shyly, leaning against his shoulder.
“Lithia,” he had whispered into her ear, letting her know that her name was not a secret to him, anymore. Yes, her name was Lithia, it had occurred to him right at that moment, although they had been known each other for quite some time.
She had shivered and looked straight in his eyes, their undulating emerald color stunned him. He immediately realized that she was pregnant with something absolutely unique, something none of his friends could’ve had.
“I’m almost positive.”
“How do you know that?”
“It’s a feeling.”
“What kind of feeling?”
“Everything sparkles inside me…”
“Then it’s definitely a star,” he said.
“Yes… Just don’t tell your mother – she’ll be very disappointed. I can’t give you anything tangible…” She sighed.
“I won’t tell her, don’t worry.”
“Is it a star?” his mother asked, glancing over Lithia. She appeared out of nowhere, right in the middle of their conversation.
Lithia blushed. She never learned how to hide her true feelings.
“Why do you make such an assumption, mother?” he asked.
“Why? Are you kidding me? She’s shining from within! What else could it be?” She lit a cigarette and inhaled the smoke. “I’m very disappointed in both of you!” She exhaled a cloud and went away.
“What if it’s not a star?” Lithia began to doubt, noticing the decrease of the shine.
“Of course it is!” he tried to console her. “Even my mother said so… Besides, the shine is still there, it’s undeniable.”
“Well, Lola gave recently birth to a ten karat diamond, you know. She had also shone from within during her pregnancy…”
“It’s Lola, not you, baby! You can’t possibly give birth to a diamond! It’s not in your genes! Genes matter, at this point.”
The cloud didn’t dissolve.
“If it doesn’t go away we won’t be able to see when the star is born,” Lithia worried.
For the first time he kept quiet. He didn’t know what to say simply because he had no experience in a star’s birth.
He went to an astronomer to find out more about it.
“We’re expecting a star,” he told him, “but we have a cloud in the house. Can the cloud affect the birth of the star?”
“What? Are you serious? Do you really expect a star?” The Astronomer put his telescopic glasses on. “Where is she, your wife? Did you bring her for evaluation?”
“No, I didn’t. I came here without her knowledge. She’s been nervous lately about the cloud… and I decided to consult you because… I have no one else here to talk to.”
“You’re absolutely right! There’s no one here to talk about the birth of the star, but me! Anyway, I must see your wife as soon as possible. Would you take me to her?”
The Astronomer rushed like a comet along the streets, telling a story about his own wife.
“My wife only managed to give birth to a few meteorites, and after artificial insemination at that! Your wife didn’t have the artificial insemination, did she?”
“That’s good! Then you’re the father…”
“Yes, I am.” He barely kept pace with the Astronomer.
“What’s your name?”
“My name? Uh… I don’t know yet. She has not yet told me…”
“Oh! Is that true?” The Astronomer stopped for a moment, catching his breath. “Then she must be in a hurry! Stars must have their fathers!”
“We were mainly worried about the cloud…”
“The cloud? What cloud? Clouds don’t matter! Fathers. Fathers matter!”
“Lithia, this is the Astronomer. He says the cloud will do no harm.”
The Astronomer adjusted his telescopic eyeglasses. “She’s giving birth tonight,” he announced, beaming with excitement. “I can see it clearly. We just need the father’s name on the star’s birth certificate.”
“Lithia, we need my name on the star’s birth certificate,” he whispered to her.
She slightly moved in bed, and the streaks of light flashed on the walls. “Your mother called… She said your sister is pregnant with high stocks. The family is happy now. She wanted the cloud back…”
“The cloud doesn’t matter, Lithia. It never did! We need my name on the star’s birth certificate. You’re going to give birth tonight.”
“Tonight?” She looked at both of them with a surprise. “So soon?”
“Yes, yes, darling! We’re going to be parents again! But we do need my name on the certificate. Please think about it!”
“I’ve been thinking about it… and you must think about it, too. Are you sure you want your name on the star’s birth certificate?”
“Why are you asking? You know my answer, don’t you?”
“Oh, of course I do! Still… you should think about it. I failed your family once with the wave, and now the star’s coming… I’ll never give anything useful, anything you’d proudly show to your family or your friends. You still have a chance to change your mind… I can raise it by myself… If your name is on the certificate it’s forever! It’s not like with the wave. Do you realize it? This would be forever!”
That night she gave birth to the star. There were only two witnesses present—he and the Astronomer.
“So, what’s the name of the father,” the Astronomer asked, holding the birth certificate.
“David. The father’s name is David,” she replied, feeding the star with milk from the Milky Way.