ARDOR Literary Magazine

ARDOR Literary Magazine - Issue Two, May 2013

Issue One, Published January 2013

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Page 41 of 55

SUPERNOVA A Short-Story By RAY SHEA Ben had us over, me and him and his boy, Benji, to look at the supernova. Ben was always coming up with these things with the telescope. Jupiter's moons, Saturn's rings. On his wedding night he made everybody stop dancing and run out to the golf course so he could show us that big comet they had that year. He grinned, said it was a sign, but we all know how that turned out. "I can't see anything," Benji said. He reached up to grab the eyepiece. "Don't touch, just look," Ben said. "Here, let me see. Aw, dammit." There had been clear skies and no rain for months but clouds show up when he wants to have one of his star parties. I grabbed the last two beers out of the cooler and handed one to him. Benji wandered off to look for bugs. Ben cracked the beer, took a swig and plopped down in the lawn chair. "They oughta clear out soon I guess." He bent and scooped up a handful of driveway gravel, and started zinging them one at a time into the brush. You could see where the whole part-time single-dad thing was taking it out of him. Usually he'd be grinning and giving one of his grandiose speeches, talking about the cosmos and the origins of time and matter in his Stephen Hawking voice. Tonight, though, he just side-armed those rocks and muttered to himself. Above us the cicadas cranked up their mournful cry. We both worked our beers. He'd already told me about this supernova we were looking for tonight, about how it was the closest one in a generation, some god-awful number of light-years away. I could get the gist of what he was saying, but I wanted to get his head back here with us, with the boy. "So," I said, "this thing exploded millions of years ago...?" "Right, right," he said. "See, this event, this massive cataclysm, it was all over, BOOM," and he whacked his chair with his palm, "like that, back before there were even cavemen. But the light is only just reaching us, so looking at it tonight is like time travel. Like getting to stare into history." Benji looked up from where he was grubbing in the dirt. "Are we gonna go back in time?" Ben laughed. "Yeah, kinda. If your mama doesn't come pick you up first." Benji went silent. It was a touchy subject. Ben's ex was batshit but he let her walk all over him where the boy was concerned. "Yo, Banjo," I said. "Why don't you run in the house and see if there's any more beers in the fridge?" Benji jumped up and smacked the dirt off his hands, then tore off toward the kitchen, little red lights blinking in his sneakers. Ben watched him go, then scoped the clouds again, looking for a break in the sky. "You know, Ben, you're probably tired of me saying so, but..." "Yeah, I am." "Look," I said, "I ain't saying she didn't have legitimate grievances, but the boy needs his father. You need to keep that in mind." (cont.)

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