Courtship Dance – Bryant O’Hara

Bryant O’Hara

“I love the way your body shines in moonlight, Cordelia.”

My array of eyes adjust to the darkness, and what, eighty years ago, I could never have seen before, blooms into focus. The tattoos, filled with naughty, steganographic memories, flare in the ultraviolet.

And you wear ultraviolet so well.

“You fucking dilettante,” you mumble in the midnight of your soul, “You’re too hollow of a man, Raymond. Put some meat between your talents. I’ll marry you when you’ve lived some…become what you’ve always wanted to be.”

You made no sense then, but now, with enough power and time, mass and energy, I understand, and I accept your challenge. I’ve hocked my body for cosmology, baby: stuck my nanotubed ass in diamond, hopped a railgun, and gone to see that part of the universe called Croatan.

Just you wait. I’ll show you the sights I’ve seen.

You yawn, “Wake me when the show starts,” and turn yourself to dust..

A hundred years pass, and I open my array to you. I howl my observations like a horny monkey – of mottled, distant gas giants; rings tilting at rakish angles; and lonely, burning dwarf stars.

Seeing your reply – your vision of yourself stretched out on a chaise lounge in space – stirs that special package.

“Come back again,” you say.

And the package goes back in the box.

“That’s all just data. I can see that crap myself. There’s a glut of eyes ’round these parts. I got eyes on my ass seen more than that.” Her “ass” was on Triton, and she pinged it every decade for something interesting while she slept. “Come back again, sweetheart; you didn’t get my point.”

So I order up another mountain of parts, grumbling to myself (I thought I commented out that habit…). I remember you in human form, bathing in real milk on your 67th birthday – again in moonlight, minus the ultraviolet illustrations; I remember what we did and said the rest of that night, that month, that year. And I remember why selling my meat for love and science, my soul for the promise of eternity with you, seemed a grand idea at the time…I promised I would show you, and damn all if I don’t…

A hundred hundred years have passed.

“Hellooo, Cordelia!” I add echo for effect (wormholes kill the drama of being distant). “Hey there, baby, how’ve you been? Quiet enough out here?”

“I’ve been in stasis for ten millennia, jackass.” That morning smirk, even now, even virtual, warms the cockles of what I now call my heart.

“I’ve been around, my little dust fairy, yes indeed, I’ve been around a bit, and here is what I’ve seen.” I open up my array to her and sang of – literally, the moons and the stars. I tease out rhythms, sprinkle in some wisps of organized noise, riff off of algorithms hinting at the universe’s mysteries.

And for the finale, the jewel of my observations: a fleeting green star.

You give me the finger…in binary!

“10 millennia you’ve been puttering around the universe, and all you bring back are show tunes? When are you going to give me something I can truly value? Bah!”

So once again I hock a couple of science instruments; remind myself of why I signed up for this; try to remember what you expected of me…it was so, so damned long ago…

…To become what I’ve always wanted to be…

A month around the rings was all the time I needed.


“You’re back early.” That was all I let Cordelia say before I open my array to her and show the two of us floating in the atmosphere of a lovely gas giant orbiting Wolf 359. We hang there for a thousand years, letting the hydrocarbons build around us.

“Have I mentioned that you glow in every part of spectrum? No matter how I look at you, what era I see you, what form you take, you are my beacon: you are my way home.

“I have shown you my observations. Now, I want to show you my dreams.”

We build ourselves some beasties, wild things built for, with, and of this world around Wolf 359.

“We will split again, you and I, but only for a short while – nothing like before. All our children will have pipes to sing with, minds to compose with, and a universe as an audience.

“And they will build their starships, as our ancestors before us.

“And they will leave their cluttered husk of a nest, as our ancestors before us.

“And they will build their dream worlds, as their parents before them.

“And then – then we can dance, one more time, before our new world drags us into its core…and takes us to our core…

“Damned dreamer.”

You open up your array to me.

The courtship turns to…

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