Space Opera


1. The Postcard


From the wreckage I salvaged my old metallic brief case yet since our arrival upon this strange new world I have not reopened the lid upon this tomb of memories. Not until my son started asking more about the past, of distant journeys through space and time and how we came to be here.


He is now old enough to not only compose delving questions but to require these observations and ideas to be quenched with absolute truth and not with his father’s disingenuous tales. Fantastical tales of love and honour, deliverance, hope and truth dramatised around the camp fires after the sun set has blinded our congregation with unsurpassed beauty.


To be truthful I had denied the containers existence, unconsciously pushing it as far to the back of my mind as it was amongst other possessions stacked in the deepest confines of the cave. Now, under increased interrogation I had been found lacking the responses that used to come so easily for these inquisitive minds. Now that the fairy tales had been exhausted, dissected and debated amongst the verve of children - the explanations simply fluttered whimsically away as the immature uprising grew with a thirst. Every father knows only too well this dread; this terror, this ending of innocence and with its passing the arrival of unrivalled desire for knowledge. And then much more...so much more.

As long as I extended the delusion I knew I would be denying them the experience of maturing and the ability to cultivate their own psyches but it was with reluctance that I let the oldest boys support my arms as they lifted me from my seat. The crafted stump was worn smooth and as I looked at the children gathered about on their mats, wrapped in the folds of blankets and wide eyed with anticipation, I could not help but wonder who would sit in this ‘throne’ when I was gone. It was growing ever darker and the valley spread out below catching with an iridescent sparkle on the back of the great river as it slithered between the quivering fronds of the jungle. This was a fine Kingdom and I hoped this land with its capable nurture would witness still finer Kings and Queens.

I walked past the primitive scrawls and depictions of life that the children had enthusiastically chalked upon the caves walls, animated as the flickering flames of the boys torches picked out deformations in the rocks. I could feel the tears begin to well with a mixture of pride and fury tumbling within my mind. At either side the boys watched my steps offering assistance when they thought I might need it. I took their help increasingly these days and felt reassured with firm hands upon my shoulders, as they must have when they first toddled on uncertain legs. Now I was learning; it was my time to learn, not about discovery but about passing. Further into the gloom, the glow caught the glint of alloy and I gestured to my boys; to retrieve the case nestled between the flight recording system and dented containment boxes.


As I sat in front of my captivated audience, a warm smile easily breached my lips while I looked over their keen unsuspecting faces – studying the tenderness of years expressed with fantastic wide eyes.  How I loved each and every one of these souls - my beautiful children. I trusted they would benefit from my stories and the reincarnations of a former existences lore yet equipped with the truths that I was about to reveal I was uncertain of how they would react.

A quiver passed along the tips of my slender fingers as the breeze whispered gently through my silver hair. I shivered, studying the bony digits wondering what past spirits I may reawaken from the intrusion. These were definitely the hands of an ancient man now, struggling to negotiate the combination of tiny numbers required to open the catch. This trembling persisted until with a satisfied ‘click’ of approval I was able to lift the lid and expose the treasures inside. Things taken for granted by most - pictures, money, memories, happiness.....simple tools and ornaments……and postcards. Each item was its own link to a time and place or feeling in the story being re-forged as I remembered it for the thousandth time. Cherished memoirs for me; and for the children the keys to unlock the previous ambiguity of my inquisition - the answers to ‘how, why and when?’ and possibly even absolution.

Displayed on the underside of the lid, still in the gauze wallet, was the creased dog-eared picture postcard that I received all those years ago. The scene depicted of a beautiful tropical beach, a fine loping palm lazily overhanging ivory sand stretching into the distance under the blaze of an invisible sun. On the reverse side of the postcard was written the following note:


Hello my friend

I trust that you are well. I have a proposition that should interest you! I have asked Janus to contact you. If you are not busy I would like you to come with him to meet me.



With my own thoughts shrouded somewhat by the passage of time, I find it difficult to accept the exploits that I undertook as a young man. Occasionally I yearn for my time again, an entreaty to age and frailty and for the opportunity to look upon life with no preconceptions. But it was an age ago now and there was no bringing back the past or the deceased to protract my final days. Both had been left far behind.

With the voyage spent but not properly consumed along the way I often reminisce with the children asleep or dozing between worlds and I struggle to comprehend the diverse effects of my own actions. Sometimes I just sit exploring the beckoning new horizon with my failing eyes; watching the glorious orb striking golden spoke’s as it bursts a multitude of hues upon the sapphire sky. It is mostly hot in our current climate and the children love to play and dance under the sun. When it is cold we keep the fires going and our beacons let the departed know we are still here. Sometimes we joke and laugh. Sometimes we yell and cry. Many evenings I tell the children my stories and as they begin to wander further each day in the footsteps of adventure, I guide them as best I dare. Tonight I will tell them what they want to know; yet perhaps not what they are willing to hear.  


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