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Fiction - $8.00

Aurora - PUBLISHER’S STATEMENT

AURORA “Blurb quote.”

Author Name, author of Title of Book

“Blurb quote.”

Author Name, author of Title of Book

“Blurb quote.”

Author Name, author of Title of Book ISBN-10 098860775-1 ISBN-13 9780988607750 50800

9

780988 607750

m o n k e y p u z z l e p r e s s . c o m

Mittie Babette Roger


AURORA

Mittie Babette Roger

Monkey Puzzle Press Harrison, Arkansas


Copyright Š 2013 Mittie Babette Roger

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief excerpts. Printed in the United States of America.

Cover & Interior Design Nate Jordon

Cover Photo Billy Idle via Creative Commons

ISBN-10: 0-9886077-5-1 ISBN-13: 978-0-9886077-5-0

Monkey Puzzle Press 424 N. Spring St. Harrison, Arkansas 72601 monkeypuzzlepress.com


Table of Contents Aurora

1

Sight

14

Night Blooming Cereus

24

Acknowledgments About the Author


Aurora

Aurora Ivan often stands in front of the frozen window at Halley Station wondering what Mawson, Scott, and Amudsen must have felt when they first saw Antarctica. How the cold must have seeped in, numbing their bones. How they must have forgotten their names. Jon Davis and his men were the first humans to rest their swollen frost-nipped feet on this desert of ice, he thinks. Adjusting his telescope, he remains focused though he can’t see a trace of color in the June darkness. Winter has long since begun. And so has his research. He stares into the blackness. It’s a night that cannot end because morning doesn’t exist. It’ll be months until sun up. His bulgy eyes sweep the empty black palette, waiting for a hint of the reds or greens he expects to appear. “Aurora,” he half sings, “Australis,” knowing the other fifteen people on base are far from listening range. “Where are you tonight?” He rubs his thumb over a smudge on the glass. “Come on out, girl.” He loves her silent ways, how she dips into unseen shadows and reveals herself in bioluminescence. He understood his decision when he made it. There is no better place to study the weather patterns outside the exosphere than the South Pole. Beneath the Auroral oval, he has the best location to document the sun’s shifting lulls and tempests. That’s why he had to leave Katia. Counting the days. Expectantly. And now, in the trough of an Antarctic winter, he knows how she must pine for him in the summer heat over long cups of afternoon tea with milk and sugar, rubbing the rim of the cup with an ice cube. In the artificial heat, he shivers at the thought of what lies outside the door. The absence of bodies and breath. Barren rock and ice. Ripped from his thoughts by a flash of color, he drops his pencil and scrambles to pick it up. Aurora tends to slip out slowly, gracefully, she rarely catches him by surprise. And he, on the other hand, can’t deny his arousal at her consistency.

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Mittie Babette Roger

Aurora bathes the ice in her grassy iridescent light. When his pencil touches the paper, he feels he’s undressing her, robbing her of all secrets. She curls her voluptuous limbs around the body of the horizon and illuminates the surface beneath. A blurred shine of chartreuse light envelops his face and he slides his hand beneath his waistband until he grits his teeth. Ivan remembers when he first met Katia. She was smoking outside The Red Room without tapping the ashes, just letting them waft in the warm October air. Dusting the patent leather tip of her boot, she stared at him through charcoal rimmed eyes as he crossed St. Charles Street. He wanted to say something, but the words stuck on his palette like peanut butter. She pursed her lava red lips together and laughed. “Are you looking to get in this party?” Ivan said nothing. “Of course you are. But it’s invite only.” She let the half smoked cigarette fall to the ground by spreading her fingers. Twisting her shoe over the cherry, she walked to the door. Then pointing at him, she said to the doorman, “He’s with me.” Just like that she stepped inside. It didn’t matter that he’d had prior plans. He followed her like a meteorite being dragged to earth. Surviving the mesospheric burn. The interior of the club matched its name and he lost her in the two floors of black leather couches drowning in dark red lights. Pushed along between moving bodies, he looked back and forth in the glowing darkness for her. Finally, he found her upstairs situated between two bodies. One leg draped over a man on her right. Licking spilled juice off the beard to her left. It looked like cranberry, but then again, everything looked like cranberry. She peered directly into Ivan’s startled eyes. “You caught me,” she giggled, wiping the smeared lipstick with her forefinger. Ivan promptly walked downstairs. What was he thinking? He stood in front of the bar, his hands stuffed in his pockets. The bartender looked him over: outdated plaid flannel and stonewashed jeans. “What can I get you?” he asked. 2


Aurora

“Vodka.” The bartender waited as though he expected more, “Well? Top shelf ? Rocks? Chilled? Neat?” “Rocks.” “Lime?” Ivan nodded. He was thinking he’d laid down twice what he’d planned to pay for a drink in the dive where he’d been headed when she walked up next to him at the bar. “Having fun?” she asked. He looked away, squeezing a lime wedge in his drink. “Oh, you’re cute,” she said, turning to lean her back against the bar with her arms folded, “with those Buddy Holly glasses.” Straight brown hair fell in sharp angles around her face. “You like me, don’t you?” She reaches over her shoulder to receive a fresh cocktail, “but you’re shy.” She took his hand and led him to the bathroom. Occupied. She pulled his collar toward her with long, rectangular fingernails. He tried to avoid her eyes, but the magnetism was too strong. The door opened. Catching it with one hand, she pulled him inside the black tiled room. Black toilet. Black sink. She closed the door, submerging Ivan in crimson light. The weight of the color made his legs tremble. She wiped down the back of the toilet before taking a plastic bag from her pocket and emptying a fluffy white pile from it. His breathing quickened. With a credit card she groomed it, combing the powder into neat, tidy rows. Though he’d never been one for drugs, apart from Vodka, he immediately appreciated the delicacy with which she organized and measured the substance with her eyes alone. Rolling up a bill, she dove forward with flawless grace, inhaling a disappearing line. First one side. Then the other. She handed it to him. Waiting. He froze. “So you don’t talk and you don’t blow either. I must be wasting my time.” When she turned to the door, the way the Earth rotates away from the sun, she heard a hollow sucking sound. She whipped back around, witness to his bent over stance.

3


Mittie Babette Roger

“Ivan,” he said, glancing up. “Katia.” And with that, she disappeared into the pulsing club. Ivan stepped out, letting another slick frame slip past him and into the atramentaceous cell. Moving through the undulating wall of bodies, Ivan felt completely alone. His heart pounded against his frail chest. He surveyed the faces: mouths open and words falling out or half-worn disconnected smiles. Silhouetted shapes on the wall. No Katia. Ivan slunk out of the guarded double doors and paced beside the curb. Looking at his watch, he wondered if Aunt Tiki’s bartender had noticed his absence. Every Thursday he went there, sat alone, and scribbled notes in the margins of tattered hardcover books. He slumped on the curb, letting his eyes scan the reflective shine of purplish city lights on the horizon. The lack of stars. “You need a cigarette,” she said, looming above him. Her arm extended. He didn’t smoke, but took it from her hand anyway and rested it between his lips. She spread her legs as she squatted down with the lighter flame cupped in her hand. There was no wind. Only the two of them and the fiery glow of their cigarettes mirrored in the glass buildings. Reclining in the ergonomic laboratory chair, Ivan sighs, and lets his head fall back. Outside, Aurora is fading. Retreating into outer space. Ivan sometimes believes that’s where he and Katia belong. He slides his chair up to the computer and begins to enter the data into the simulation program, sipping a tepid cup of coffee. The idea of sleep is arbitrary. Nothing rises on the inky horizon but his thoughts and Aurora. Compared to the scientists who’ve come before him, his table seems empty. In the Antarctic winter, pictures become his company, though he only displays two. The first is Katia in a metal frame. She looks surprised as if the flash went off too brightly and blinded her for a second. Her mouth is left slightly ajar. He hadn’t warned her before he took it; the captured moment seems

4


Aurora

more genuine that way. The memory more clear. She’s picking her handbag off the table by the door. Leaving. The other snapshot shows the two faces of Douglas Mawson, both before and after defying death at age twenty-nine. When Mawson returned alone, missing the other two men and sixteen sled-dogs, a watchman at the base camp had to ask him which explorer he was. He changed after that. Mawson became someone else. Transformed by losing the first man (tethered to half of the supplies and a team of eight dogs) to a collapsing crevasse ledge and then, the other to vitamin A poisoning (after eating a few too many dog livers.) Not a single voice called his name. But he didn’t cut the cord. Even faced with the uncertainty of the capricious ice. That’s a hero. Mawson missed the boat, Aurora, and its slow departure from the continent. He was forced to stay the winter, dreaming of the woman who waited for him. When he finally did get back, Ivan imagined that flowers lined the streets and the echoes of cheers filled even the narrowest alleys. The weathered face in the photo was a stoic man with little need for words. Ivan knows Katia will celebrate his return. Lying on his back in bed, Ivan interlaces his hands across his chest. The obscurity in which he sleeps will be the obscurity in which he wakes. And so, he doesn’t yearn for sleep. What he longs for are dreams where he and Katia can exist anywhere. Limitless. The Aurora exists on other planets too, and he wonders what the view would be like from one of them. Flashes of the solar wind scatter across his closed eyes as his breathing sinks deeper into a weightless slumber. He finds himself falling through clouds of frozen ammonia crystals, their sharp edges cutting his flesh. The temperature rises as his feet draw closer to the metallic surface. Passing through the sizzling neon and helium rain drops, he lands. The orange and white clouds streaming over him elucidate his whereabouts. The

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About the Author

Mittie is a name most people ask her to repeat more than twice. Babette refers to a stranger in a foreign land. Through traveling, repetition and mystery, she has found her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. For more, visit her website at: mittieroger.com


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Fic tio n - $ 8 . 00

AURORA by Mittie Babette Roger is a feast for

the senses. Through balancing sound, imagery, and complex narrative, Mittie’s three compelling stories savor the untold emotions broiling in every household oven. A must-read if you have ever loved, or ever dream to.

AURORA

“Mittie Roger writes with physically radiant lyrical prose in these often chilling stories.” - Laurie Gough, author of Kite Strings of the Southern Cross and Kiss the Sunset Pig

ISBN-10 098860775-1 ISBN-13 9780988607750 50800

9

780988 607750

M o n k e y P u z z l e P r e s s . c o m

Mittie Babette Roger


Aurora  

A sample of AURORA by Mittie Babette Roger. AURORA is a feast for the senses. Through balancing sound, imagery, and complex narrative, Mitti...

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