The Traveller bites their lip and nods their appreciation. After a second’s hesitation, and without another word, they join the Keeper at the line and begin hanging the wash. Their fingers linger on the fabric, so soft and shimmering, woven from starlight and space dust. Her home traps so much light, so she spins it into threads. It’s satisfying for it to go to good use, and the robe looks lovely on the Traveller, their warm brown skin emerging from the amorphous golden-white wraps.

“Thank you,” the Keeper says. The last time anyone volunteered to help was eons ago. Two million, five hundred sixty-three thousand, four hundred and eighty-nine days ago, to be exact.

The Traveller nods again and drapes a sheet with deft, practiced movements. When they speak again, there is a wistful tone in their voice. “I used to help my mother with the laundry. We hung it outside in the summer, and by the fireplace in the winter. Fourteen sets of clothes, every week. I’m sure you can imagine how long it took to match the socks.”

“That’s the benefit of living alone in the bottom of a black hole. No one cares whether you match your socks.” The Keeper gives them with a conspiratorial wink, and hikes up the edge of her skirt just enough to show the different patterned footwear.

Today I’m sending out the second edition of my quarterly newsletter! I’ve decided each new email is going to include an exclusive short story, and I’m excited to share this one with you. “Matter” is part of an anthology called the Real World Sequence, which crosses genres between science fiction and magical realism. It also gives me the chance to play with some fun, tangentially related concepts. These stories exist in a space between the worlds of Laoche and Runaways, and act as crossroads for characters that may later show up as cameos in the other works. I’m expanding my fictional universe, and I’m happy with how this story turned out!

For those of you already on the mailing list, the email should be in your inbox shortly. Also keep an eye out for a special announcement about Runaways. 👀 For anyone new to the mailing list, you’ll receive a separate welcome email with a link to download both “Matter” and my other poem short story, “Jack of Fables.” If you enjoy reading my articles and want to see more of my work, signing up for the newsletter and sharing my site is one of the best ways to support me! If you already subscribe and support my writing, I really cannot say thank you enough! Comments and shares let me know that someone finds all my hard work valuable, which means the world to me. I hope you enjoy reading 🙂

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