T & R Used Books and Curios by Angela Acosta
Tawdry electronic shops and video bars
spook neon nightlights across the supply depot.
Passerby come for a quick dose of dopamine,
some stay for the serotonin of late night eats and
the promise of fascinating liaisons with sentient bipeds.
T & R Used Books and Curios takes care
of a different sort of ache,
the kind that happens when you tire of the fast life
sprinting between cargo runs and the adrenaline of hitting
atmosphere as you promise your best friend lightyears away
that you’ll get your precious two Sols together in this millennium.
Established fifteen solar years ago, Tula and Reina
never thought much about being tied down to a relationship
or collecting all the detritus settlers leave astray on starships
that gets turned for a profit by some old friendly gays
in a supply depot whose name nobody ever remembers.
You never think it will happen to you,
until your myopia gets worse, the joint pain sets in,
and you’re out of luck trying to get the most lucrative of pilot jobs
and the person you’d been running towards suddenly gets a whole lot closer
so you evidently get married and say it’s for the financial benefits.
T & R Used Books and Curios is a whisper
of warm cats prancing around bookshelves,
of what it would be like to fall in love deeper
than you can imagine when your partner dumps
an entire solar array setup on your terran rugs
and the whole quixotic project leaves you belly laughing on the floor.
The store promises happy memories, a few useless trinkets,
and spellbinding adventures read between
sips of chamomile tea made fresh from the hydroponic farm.
Each visit is unique, for Tula and Reina handpick their selection,
sending the rest to public collection and the finest wares to
their own living unit, much to Reina’s chagrin.
Come visit when you’re full and well-rested but otherwise
depleted of human companionship. Reward yourself
with being well looked after by a lady and enby
who will ask you about your day, your mechanical problems,
and kindly ask you to sign the guest book on your way out.
Originally published in the June 2023 issue of Utopia Science Fiction Magazine.
Angela Acosta is a bilingual Latina poet and scholar from Florida. She is a 2022 Dream Foundry Contest for Emerging Writers Finalist, Rhysling nominee, and Best of the Net nominee. Her speculative poetry has or will appear in On Spec, Eye to the Telescope, Radon Journal, Space & Time, and Shoreline of Infinity. She is author of Summoning Space Travelers (Hiraeth Books, 2022) and Fourth Generation Chicana Unicorn (Dancing Girl Press, 2023).