Me and You on Regis-132 by Nick Gregorio

There’s a planet just like ours. But nothing like ours.

Regis-132 is fourteen hundred light years away. Or so.

And right now, through our telescopes, we’re staring at its past. Whatever, whoever was there will have lived, died, and been absorbed into planet’s atoms to make something new. Something spectacular.

Of course, from here it just looks like another space rock. Like here does from there.

But it’s different.


And we, me and you, we can go there. We can go there for good.

For an ending.

We’ll rip a hole in spacetime, step through the tear, and come out on the other side with nothing but you, me, and a planet named after Regis Philbin, but not really named after Regis Philbin—you know my sense of humor. Or lack thereof as you say with a smile and a finger to my love-handles.

Think about it.

It’s like this.

We’re old. Earth’s gravity’s hard on our bones.

Over there we’ll weigh a quarter less than we do right now. We’ll be able to jump and float and land nice and soft in the purple, downy grass. More dandelion seeds than grass. Less allergies than dandelion seeds.

Think about it.

It’s like this.

We’re finished. No jobs. No debt. No kids. We’re not beholden to anyone or anything on this planet anymore. And even when we were, did any of it really matter? Really. The short answer would probably be more of a combination of Yes and No, the longer answer would make things all shimmery with nostalgia, bitter with regret.

Over there there’s no history. No human history anyway. Not a single blue, green, red, or purple-glowing native will have anything to hold against us. They won’t come around asking us why we haven’t come back to the newly-rebuilt church even though you can still smell the ash in the air around it. They won’t stare at us gliding down the anti-gravity streets like we’re planning to do something to them despite our canes, our grays, our plastic shoes. They won’t ever tell us how well-spoken we are, won’t wonder about whether or not our degrees are legitimate, won’t dare say they’re the ones who are underrepresented.

They’re super-advanced lifeforms who travel the starways in fantastic, faster-than-light ships. No way else to do that than having their heads on right. Or wherever-they-keep-their-brains on right. Makes sense their society works just as well as a Twin Miniature-Blackhole-Powered Spectrum Engine.

Think about it.

It’s like this.

It’s more likely we’ll be gunned down than die of your smoker’s cough or my early-stage Dementia. On the street. Or at a restaurant. Or on a bus. Or on a traffic stop. Or in our own damn house. Because if nothing else things have gotten worse and life for you and me has gotten more tenuous. And it’s not about a fear of dying at this age. It’s more a fear of how I’m going to die and how my death will be misinterpreted.

Over there, because of the technologies that allow buildings to stand so high you can see them from orbit—the pinnacles poking out into the black of space—wonderment is more important than anything else. Than property. Than money. Than some ridiculous sense of self-defense.

Wouldn’t that be something?

To go outside every day and just marvel.

At the trees that are more or less giant mushrooms that perfume the sky with pink mist every hour pollinating animal-flowers and making everyone smell like cotton candy.

At the skyways that weave through the cities, over the red forests, and bring everyone to their front doors in seconds through the Spectrum Tubing.

At the soft rainbow glow of a population unafraid to be outside at whatever time.

The view of Regis-132 from space is more a pulsating infinite-colored atom, the buildings and tubing and people making the view something everyone could only hope to ever see before they die.

Think about it.

It’s like this.

You’ll go outside and be astounded.

You’ll go outside and cry over beautiful things.

You’ll go outside.

You’ll walk through that hole in spacetime we’ve ripped open with exploding hadrons. You’ll feel that nervous flutter in your belly you get during the exciting parts of fantasy movies. You’ll be bathed in the orange light of that Spectral Class K sun that’ll be warm but not too warm all the time. And then I’ll come through and together we’ll shake hands with all sorts of people who won’t be put off by us because differences are treasured there.

Think about it.

It’s like this.

We’ll walk through that portal, me and you, together.

We’ll live with dignity, me and you, together.

And we’ll end, me and you, together, as foreigners from a land that is eating itself, in a home our neighbors will have helped us build, smiling at all of the colors shimmering through the windows as we pass.

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Nick Gregorio lives, writes, and teaches just outside of Philadelphia. His fiction has appeared in Crack the Spine, Hypertrophic Literary, Maudlin House and more. He is a contributing writer and assistant editor for the arts and culture blog, Spectrum Culture, and fiction editor for Driftwood Press. He earned his MFA from Arcadia University in May 2015 and has fiction forthcoming in Third Point Press and 805 Literary and Arts Journal.

Photo credit: Terri Malone


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