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AROUND THE WORLD WITH OCTAVIA



‘When?’ she asked. This was in the early days.


‘Soon,’ I would answer.


‘When is soon?’ she would reply.


‘Soon.’


Then she would lower her chin and say, ‘All right,’ and on we’d go to the next airport, to the next destination, to the next hotel.


In those days, she was patient. She never objected to my plans. She never resisted when I dragged her to some tinkling temple or rearing statue or teeming restaurant.


Nor did she complain when we hiked through steaming forests, or along swarming rivers—she with her lame right foot, her frail body, and her pale vulnerable skin beloved by stinging insects.


‘When?’ she would plead. 'When?'


‘Soon,' I would reply.


And on we’d go.


But she changed when I started work.


In hotel and motel, in cafe and bar, in humid climates and when the snow piled on the window ledges, she sat beside me, hands in her lap, her eyes focused on the blinking cursor while it pushed out words such as galaxy, faster-than-light travel, warship, invasion, ancient gods, looming crisis, and Lieutenant Sinistra.


‘Aren’t you bored?’ I asked. ’Don’t you want to see the sights?'


‘No,’ she said. ‘I’ll wait.’


‘You don’t have to.’


‘I’ll wait.’


‘But what about fresh air? What about sunlight?' I said. 'After all, you’re so pale, and you’re … .’


‘I’m what?' she said. 'What am I?’


‘Nothing,’ I said.


And on we’d go.


In Japan, in Indonesia, in Hong Kong, in old suites with mosquito netting, in business hotels with their compendiums and universal adapters, she watched and she waited.


Then she changed. Oh, how she changed!


‘I wouldn’t do that,’ she said one day, crossing her arms. ‘No, I’d never do that.’


‘Never do what?’


‘That!’


She raised her chin at the paragraph on the screen, the one describing the first scene with


Marine Captain Ranant aboard the Herculaneum, the story’s enormous starship, loaded with weapons and soldiers, grinding its way toward the distant and helpless blue planet, Hyacinth.


‘Why not?’


‘I just wouldn’t. I’m not like that.'

‘How do you know?’ I said. ‘You don’t know yourself.’


‘I know more than you think, Mister.’


‘Mister?’


And on we’d go, while housekeeping came and went with their vacuums and trolleys and towels, or waiters and waitresses dipped with coffee mugs and pint glasses.


And destiny watched from the corner.


When the story was nearly complete, we were in Europe. I was exhausted. She glowed with confidence and health.


In her new shoes, and blue military-style twinset, and with immaculate posture, she stood almost as tall as me.


And her hair, previously oily and short, was now lustrous, flowing, and golden. I’d seen the people gawk as she strode beside me—the women glaring, then looking away, then looking back; the men who dared, trying to meet her eye.


‘Hey,’ I said, using her old name. ‘Where are you going?’


‘Don’t call me that,' she said. 'Don't ever call me that again.'


‘All right,’ I said. ‘Where are you going, Octavia?’


‘Out. Away.’


‘Why don’t you stay? We can go somewhere, see the sights. We'll go wherever you want.'


We were in Rome, where the emperors of antiquity were made.


Suddenly, a great shadow passed over the city, blocking out the sun. People on the streets

ran inside. Everything shook. Flames shot down into the ancient forum.


Octavia looked down at me over her shoulder. Her chin slowly rose.


‘Not a chance,’ she said.


And she strode outside, into the shadow of the great craft in the sky.


Then, she was gone.

_______________________

Where did she go?

Find out in the pages of ‘OCTAVIA.'

You’ve never read a story like it.

But don't take my word for it. 'OCTAVIA' is already rating high with readers.

It's early days, but on both Amazon and Goodreads, 'OCTAVIA' is rating almost five stars out of five.

Goodreads! That's where the toughest critics post their reviews.

Here’s the link.

Best regards,

M.M. Holt

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