The ‘Miles’ Dream

People were running in positions as though they sat in cars, following lanes marked with white lines and arrows. I did the same, jumping into the left-turn lane toward my home. The streets were narrow, lined with tall cement and brick buildings pink, yellow, white. The setting reminded me of Okinawa outside of Kadena Air Base’s main gate back in the 1980s.

Arriving home, a tall, old, cement building, I encountered friends. One needed to leave but his son’s baby sitter hadn’t arrived.

“I can take him,” I volunteered.

Ted, a Black friend, answered, “You sure? I don’t want to burden you.”

“Miles isn’t a burden.” Miles was the boy, a light-skinned Black child with a sweet, happy face, an oddly muscular body, and a head topped with soft curls. “We’ll have fun, won’t we, Miles?”

Miles agreed with a grin and words I didn’t understand, tottering over to show me something in his hand, which was empty.

“Okay, thanks.” Ted left.

Miles and I walked down the street to another building. People there seemed high or tipsy. Performers, I knew. Students. Singers, actors, musicians, artists.

Miles and I spent time chasing one another or playing hide and seek. People knew him more than they knew me. They started asking, where is his father? Why do you have him?

I explained that I was watching the boy for his father because his father had an appointment, but his mother was coming to pick Miles up.

“What was the father’s appointment?” I was asked. “Why isn’t he here?” They were disapproving, even though I’d already explained that the baby sitter had an emergency.

“He was counter-protesting a protest.”

Oh, that makes sense. That’s important, others agreed.

Miles disappeared from my watch. I panicked and searched for him. His father came in just as I found Miles. I said, “I was so worried that something had happened to him. I took my eyes off him for just a second and he was gone.”

His father, who was now another person, said, “I know what you mean. That happens to me all the time.”

Once in a Lifetime

Day 2. He rode in silence. Forty miles an hour. The open car drove itself, allowing him to gape at the scenery.

So gorgeous. He knew now what breathtaking meant.

Although he’d eaten breakfast after an overnight stop, he snacked as he went. Nervousness.

Other people weren’t encountered. Only bots. They didn’t interact. Once this had been cities. New York. Pittsburgh. Philadelphia. As climate changed and space travel advanced, people departed the planet. Pockets of humanity remained. Some worked for the place he visited, the Great Earth Library. Built in the twenty-third century, trillions of books lined the high, massive shelves. Paperbacks and hardcover books were still being published on less advanced planets.

That’s where he came in.

The car slowed. He could have teleported to the location. Where’s the fun in that?

Turning right, the small vehicle approached a librarian station. The car hummed to a halt. A bot came out.

Stiffly he climbed from the car. Stretched. Picked up the packet from the other seat.

The bot said, “Merr Liu-Gardner?”


“We’ve been expecting you. Would you like to sign our guest book? It can be done digitally with your bios or cursive on paper. Many guests prefer the latter.”

“I’ll do cursive.” He picked up the pen. Bic. Blue ink.

A fresh page awaited. He flipped to the previous page. One entry, six years before. Ngato from Mars Station Five.

Smiling, he signed his name, dated it, and added his home, Cixin Outpost, Trisolaria. Despite that name, only one sun warmed his world. Three moons, though. One red. Two white. All beautiful.

His great-grandfather named the planet and led the colonizing expedition. He’d taught his grandson cursive writing, feeling it important to know. “Let’s not let the old knowledge die.”

Poul Liu-Gardner II handed the box to the robot. “My great-grandfather wrote and published these books. The Library was established after he died but Dad always thought the books deserved to be here. Two are non-fiction, a history of our world and another about our city. The other six are fiction.” He smiled. “Three murder mysteries and three thrillers.”

“I understand. Thank you for the gift. These are the first from your world. We will shelve and honor them.”

“I know. There are more books from my world in the car. I just wanted to personally deliver these.”

“Of course. We’ll unload them.”


“Feel free to walk the shelves and enjoy the books. You can remove them from the shelves and read them here, but they can’t be removed.”

“Thank you.”

Poul II watched the bot take the books away. Lost and empty-handed, he gazed up at books.

Deep breath. Sigh.

He’d smelled books before. Grandpa Poul had established a library. Of course. Today’s smell dizzied him. Maybe it was the sheer number of books. Perhaps it was the thoughts behind them, or the readers’ thoughts.

Probably all those things. Strolling among the shelves, he thought that he might write a book. He’d always thought about writing one. The desire now was an urgent weight.

Sitting on a bench, he drew out his pad. Opened it.

A blank screen waited.

He could type. Or use voice. Grandpa Poul always printed his first rough draft.

He didn’t have paper.

His fingers tapped.

Once in a Lifetime

Chapter One

The stranger from Trisolaria was a formidable presence.

Monday’s Theme Music

Woo hoo. It’s Monday, February 20, 2023, and we did it. Sunrise is at 7 AM in Ashlandia today. A surfeit of daylight and sun greeting me upon admitting Papi back into his house after his 6:37 excursion.

It’s Presidents’ Day in America. Time to sell some cars, furniture, and appliances at significant savings! Doesn’t change the weather. Winting stands strong, 29 degrees F at dawn, 38 F now, 62 F later. Dusk will resume around sunset, 1750. Winter warnings are out. Apparently, winter is coming back for another engagement.

“Faint” by Linkin Park (2003) plays in the morning mental music stream. There are lines in the song about not being ignored and don’t turn your back on me. I was trying to ignore Papi’s request to exit again (he’d come in fifteen minutes before, and the sun wasn’t yet up). I told him, too, “We’ve had this conversation. You need to stop going in and out. I need sleep, please.” His response was a yowl, which my FVD Mark IV said meant, “I will not be ignored.” Ah, said The Neurons, “here’s ‘Faint’ by Linkin Park.”

Here’s the music for you so you can see how music sounded twenty years ago. Stay pos and take over your Monday like a floof boss. I need coffee. Already ate waffles for breakfast. Maybe I’ll have a brownie with my coffee. For energy.

Here’s the tune. Cheers

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