Gladdis (part 3)

That night the god of deep sleep carried her into the arms of the tri-horned wapiti prince on his moonworld, but the prince did not touch her. He sat on the bed and looked at his hands. She waited, curled up on the floor like a cat, but he didn’t say a thing. He didn’t look at her. In the middle of the night he tilted his head to the sky which was filled with plummeting meteors and wailed in his wapiti language, which electrified her skin and woke her up.

The boy was still out there past the window, on the grass, in the moonlight. Now on hands and knees, peering between blades of grass like he was looking for a lost contact lens.

She went to the porch with a glass of juice and a tin of muffins.

“Now what are you doing?” she said.

“There’s an ant carrying a dead grasshopper.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“It’s like a hundred times his size.”

“Strong ant.”

“He’s dragging it through the grass,” the boy said. “Where is he taking it?”

“That thing could feed his colony for weeks.”

“Or what if they were friends when it was alive. Maybe he’s going to bury it.”

She set the juice and muffins on the bottom porch step. She tightened her robe and sat down on the top step.

There was a time she remembered when he’d thrown a rock at a younger kid riding by on his bike. How bitter and cruel he’d seemed to her then.

“It’s still dragging,” he said.

A star fell overhead, a long blue arc which would have been maybe three inches if you held your fingers out and measured it.

Gladdis cleared her throat and waited until he looked at her.

“Can I tell you a secret?” she said.