The Butterfly Nebula: Two Fragments from Part 3.

January 31, 2018


Laura often brought Wyatt-Edwin into Brainchild Scientific. Everyone loved him, watching as he dashed around among the optic wheels, rock polishers, and model dinosaurs. Wyatt-Edwin spent most of his time playing with optics experiments, also with books on stars and planets, and I believed that the store was where the convergence of science and art had begun for him. The store also became the place where we had gotten to spend time together. The boy looked up to me, because I ran the store and knew a lot about the kits, the games and gadgets, frozen creatures, taxonomy, telescopes, mechanics, electricity. My employees, most of whom had never seen Beatrice and knew that Laura was a lesbian, suspected that Wyatt-Edwin might have been my son, but they could not make the connection with Laura, and they never spoke of it. They certainly never said a word whenever I brought Ramona to the store. Though Ramona and Wyatt-Edwin attended different grade schools, Ramona had met Laura, and she and Wyatt-Ediwin may have talked about the store on occasion.

In my son’s excitement, in his serious intention to learn, I saw his mother seven or eight years earlier, and I wondered too if Wyatt-Edwin’s strange and powerful affinity with Brainchild Scientific hadn’t something to do with the fact that he’d been conceived here.


I used to question whether they telepathically knew, whether some tic or quirk in one’s behavior might somehow clue the other one, resulting in a brief, curious stare for no apparent reason, locking the eyes across an auditorium or playing field, the unwitting, impolite looks that kids were inclined to do before adult mores repressed the behavior. Ramona with her long dark hair and brown eyes and perfect smile, her braids, or braid, dangling, flapping as she walks toward the school with girlfriends . . . chatter, giggles, shrieks . . . Ramona almost like a Mexican girl standing in front of a mission chapel . . . and Wyatt-Edwin, fair, blue-eyed, the one who’d inherited both Beatrice’s and my Swedish genes . . . Wyatt-Edwin running on the soccer field with his friends, horsing around, seemingly happy though masking the pain of his mother . . . my blue-eyed son and brown-eyed daughter invoked Beatrice and her heterochromia, as if, in spite of Gladys’ maternity, these two loomed as manifestations of Beatrice and her otherworldly eyes. Kids like a binary star, circling each other from the relative distance of separate schools, their orbits occasionally moving closer on the playground or during a school program. But like most kids, they’d been aware of each other more than I had though.


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