Author: Richard M. O’Donnell, Sr.

Norman reached across the Golden Bowl of Mystery and tugged Saffron’s blindfold down over the corner of her eye. “No fair peeking, you can only touch the objects inside the bowl to guess what they are.”
Saffron pouted her lips.
“Sulking won’t work this time. I’m immune to your charms.”
“Oh, all right,” said Saffron. “No cheating.” She reached into the bowl until she felt something round and surrounded by icy rings. She lifted it up. “This is a planet.”
Saffron ran her fingers along the edge of the rings. “Too easy, this is Saturn.”
“Right again.”
She held the planet out to Norman. Every time she thought of Norman’s fiery orange nebula with its jet-blue corona, her heart quivered. “Quick,” she said, “put it back before the humans miss it.”
Norman plucked Saturn from her hand. However, instead of returning it, he slipped it into his pocket. “Try again.”
Saffron reached into the bowl and pulled out a cluster of six astro-bodies mutually tidal-locked together with her other hand. She caressed each on in turn. “Let’s see… Two dwarf planets and four moons… Mmmmm.” She smiled, triumphantly. “Pluto and Charon, and their moons Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra.”
“Right again! I didn’t think you’d get that one.”
“Most earthlings still don’t.”
“They’re learning.”
Norman put the double-dwarf planet into his pocket.
“I’m sensing a theme here.” She dipped her hands into the bowel again. “Ice, Titan. These pebbles are the asteroid belt. This big one must be Jupiter.” Then she felt water and she squealed with delight. She tore off her blindfold with one hand and lifted the Earth from the bowl with the other. The planet sparkled like a blue gem with white swirls. “Norman, you’re too sweet.”
“I remembered earth was your point of origin.”
“I was just a tiny particle when I left.” Saffron leaned over and looked inside the golden bowl. “The whole solar system is here!”
“I bought it just for you.”
“You mean I can keep it?”
Norman nodded.
“But how could you afford a planet with sentients on it?”
“They’re on the brink of extinction, so they’ve been put in the bargain bin.”
Saffron cupped the Earth in her hands. “You poor thing. I’ll hang you in a remote part of my nebula, far away from black holes and exploding stars. Maybe you’ll heal.” She kissed the thermosphere. “Even if you don’t, I’ll always treasure you.”
“There’s more.”
Norman pulled the Sun out of his pocket and dropped to one knee. He held up the bubbling yellow-orange orb to Saffron. “I selected this because it matches your nebula perfectly. Saffron, will you merge with me?”
Saffron sunset corona beamed like a lighthouse in space. “Yes, of course I’ll merge with you.” She held out her hand and Norman slipped the sun onto her ring finger.
They embraced and the Milky Way seemed to spin just for them.
“I love you so much,” Saffron whispered. “I would have merged with you even if you hadn’t given me the world.”

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