Adrift

Author: Debra Cazalet

That’ll be you out there floating free in the crush of space, the sea of stars
between thought and the heaviness of absence

when all here spins, insentient and weightless
objects collected by Pater_on, the one who commissioned
your thoughts, who allowed your limited self-learning, who died
as mortals die. Another Cy:Bod would have tilted it’s head in the way of logic and said, ‘a human would have cried. Tears are fascinating aren’t they?’ And you, you would tilt your head in perfect symmetry and say Fascinating as if tasting the word for the first time because you

would

be tasting the word for the first time, with no receptors for the flavour but
in any case you are alone so you’ll not be tilting your head
you’ll only scoop up the lifeless Pater_on who kept his collection of artefacts
in this churning-clump-of-cosmic-clutter and

be watching his ejected limbs look strangely rubbery, colliding, flailing, bouncing through the gaps in the expansive array of detritus
not knowing how fascinated your imaginary Cy-Bod companion
might
have been

instead you’ll wander the ship for days, weeks, years not knowing so many other things, like
your raison d’être or the meaning of it all

instead you’ll check the list and check the list and check the list and

smile each time as you were programmed to do and walk the ship
and walk the ship and
look through viewing portals at the great infinite
and walk the ship, and walk, and walk and sometimes
be anchored and drifting outside to patch the ailing vessel and
the thing is, you’ll not stop talking because you were programmed
to talk and words come whether Pater_on is there or dead and crushed by space, so you’ll recite the list as you look upon it, verbally announcing the presence of each item
of each manoeuvre performed
of each object that presents itself to your field of vision

you’ll say, ‘hatch B ahead, walking through hatch B, to my left; viewing portal, stopping; checking view’ and

you’ll be ceaseless and faithful. The cosmos holding you as
you recite the list, recite the list and
^glitch^
and ^glitch^ the list

‘checking,’ you’ll say in modulating tones ‘item catalogue reference such-and-such’

‘automaton torso, sixteenth century
walking to display cabinet, corresponding artefact sighted, no visible signs of additional disrepair’

and one day, you’ll continue with ‘next item on my list’

as somehow it’s stopped being his and you’ll continue down the list in this way, alone and smiling-by-command-string until the last object
which bears the label
Melancholia

archived in your memory will be

words

ferreting blindly as baby kittens to the teat, the words – love and betrayal, freedom and loss

you’ll smile that inorganic smile watching the globe of swirling translucent liquid form the undeniable limbs of Woman – as she does – though you won’t use the pronoun as Pater_on did and you won’t know how this little fragment of living glass came to be in your collection, for somehow it has stopped being his and
has become yours

along with the list and the ship and
the diminishing view of the once-blue planet and
knowledge of what is to come
of what is to
to come
knowledge
of
[]

[] and

you’ll never know this but if you were that other imaginary Cy-Bod, you’d smile with no prompt while delicately, inquisitively freeing Melancholia from her case

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