Article: The Fish and the Cup Bearer

By Cody Skahan. To be published in our forthcoming Summer edition.

“Staring at it isn’t going to make the decision any easier” Percy was startled out of his daze by Caspar’s cold hands on his shoulders “Besides, you don’t graduate for another 3 months. You can pick a grad school then…Why don’t we go look at the stars for awhile?”

Turning his attention away from his laptop, and to Caspar, Percy sighed and said “You’re right. Is it that cold out?”

Percy followed Caspar as he squeezed himself out of their bedroom window and onto the roof of the house they were renting. Laying down next to Caspar, who was enamoured with the constellations above, he began to think about the first time they had met.

Percy was a Biology major, but he had to take an Anthropology class to fulfill one of his general requirements. He managed to put it off until his sophomore year, but his advisor reminded him that it was best to get those classes over with before he got too far into his major.

So, he enrolled in Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, and Caspar was the TA for his discussion section. Percy quickly developed a huge crush on Caspar. Caspar had a way of speaking that was just so enthralling and convincing, that, combined with their memories together, made it so that Percy would do or sacrifice just about anything to stay with Caspar.

Unfortunately, that reminded Percy of his present predicament.

Turning to Caspar, he asked “I know making the decision to stay here was easier for you because of your mother’s health, but how did you decide on K-State anyways? I would love to stay with you, but I don’t know if I can say no to MIT…”

For answer, Caspar glanced at the stars. “I took a look at my astrological chart.”

Anticipating Percy’s withering look, Percy clarified  “Well, I didn’t completely let astrology decide for me, but I did use it help me make the decision. It has a sort of fuzzy logic to it that helped me sort through the facts and everything in my subconscious, and eventually, the decision kind of came to me intuitively.”

Percy responded. “Well personally, I like to rely on concrete, logical facts that I know I can count on to make decisions. Besides, I don’t like how much you let it control your life. Ever since that Eclipse last month you can’t stop talking about astrology…”

“I don’t let it control my life, but guide, it actually allows for a lot of human agency and is kind of comforting.”

Turning to Percy, Caspar said “You should let me read your chart, I think astrology could provide you with a lot of comfort as well.”

“No.”

“C’mon,” he nudged. “It’ll help.”

“No.” Percy repeated as he stood up and looked down at Caspar. “You know I don’t believe in any of that.”

Later that night, not being able to sleep, Percy eased himself out of bed carefully to not wake up Caspar. Opening up his laptop, he checked out the websites for K-State and MIT for perhaps the thousandth time.

MIT was obviously the much better school, and better for Caspar’s career as an aspiring microbiologist, but it would also be the first time Percy lived somewhere that wasn’t Kansas. It is not that he was particularly attached to the state, but it was all he ever known, and most of his family and friends lived here.

Being honest with himself, the decision would be a very simple one if not for the fact that Caspar was going to be attending K-State.

He looked over at Caspar, who turned over in sleep as if somehow sensing Percy’s thoughts and eyes. Before Caspar, Percy’s life was straightforward. He was going to go to MIT like his dad had, get a job as a microbiologist, and focus his efforts on his career. As a microbiologist, he wanted to study viruses like COVID-19 in order to prevent the possibility of a future pandemic. In his eyes, the best way to stop a pandemic was through science and technology.

Now, it was more complicated. Caspar had a different way of looking at problems that made him rethink the social aspects of pandemics. For one, there was the fact that Black, Indigenous, and other people of color were at an increased risk from COVID-19 because of systemic health and social inequality­. Additionally, there was the problem of people who refused to wear masks or get vaccinated. There was the way the news talked about the pandemic, the deepening mistrust in science, people spouting off fake cures…

Before he met Caspar, these were things he thought science alone could take care of. Percy really did not care that much about these sorts of details, yet Caspar did, and through Caspar, he learned to care. And the more he learned and cared, the more he cared about Caspar. They had moved into together earlier this year, and between Caspar and their friends at college, Percy felt he had joined a new, happy family. He desperately did not want to let go of that happiness.

Sighing, he shut his laptop, got up, and put on his coat. He decided to see if a walk would help clear his mind.

Not too far into his walk, Percy was drenched from the rain. Only a few blocks from his house, it had started pouring. Fast enough to drench him within seconds, but steady enough to indicate it would not let up for some time, Percy decided to continue his walk.

Besides, he really liked the way the lights from the cars that passed him looked through the rain. Every once in awhile, a car would drive through a puddle and throw another wave of water at him, but its not like he could get any wetter.

Eventually, he walked past the restaurant where he and Caspar had spent their first date. He paused for a beat, and then walked up to the building, wiping the glass front with his sleeve to get a better look inside. Yep, he could see the seat at which they had sat, and the rain on his hands reminded him of his sweaty palms from that night.  Stepping out of the restaurant, neither Percy nor Caspar had wanted the date to end. So, they decided to walk around downtown a little, much like Percy was tonight. Percy couldn’t remember which one of them had initiated it, but before he knew it, they were holding hands.

His mind still in the past, Percy stepped away from the restaurant, and attempted to retrace their path through the city.

First, they had walked to the city park. They did perhaps ten, twenty, thirty laps of the park, talking about their childhood, lives, and dreams. “I want to travel the world as an anthropologist, visiting cultures all over the globe and learning from them” Caspar had told him.

“I would love to travel as well,” Percy responded, “there’s something so fresh and exciting about seeing the world, as long as you have a stable home to return to at the end of that day.”

“So where is home for you?” Percy remembered Caspar asking.

“Well, if you’re asking where I grew up, I grew up in Kansas City. But it doesn’t really feel like home to me, as much as I love my family. Where’s home for you?”

“I’m not sure, I guess I’m still kind of looking for a place to call home.”

After that, they had walked to go get coffee because Caspar loved coffee, and the night was getting long. He knew a diner that was open all night with “the best coffee and apple pie in town.” Since then, they had spent many nights in that diner during late night homework and studying sessions, or just when they felt like getting out of the house.

“What is the Mitochondria?” Percy asked Caspar.

Rita, the waitress who usually had the night shift had said in passing “Even I know that one, and I’m a high school dropout!”

“Seriously Percy,” Caspar assented, “it’s so easy, just move on to the next one.”

“Oh, if it’s so easy, then what is it?” Percy teased.

“The powerhouse of the cell!” Caspar said with characteristic theatrical flourish. 

Percy chuckled in the present, to this day he would sometimes ask Caspar what the mitochondria was just to relive that moment.

Recently, neither of them had felt like leaving the house as much, and it had become less safe because of COVID, so they hadn’t been to the diner in awhile. Percy considered going in just to say hi to Rita, but he didn’t see her in there, and he didn’t want to get water all over the place and give her more work.

Their last stop that night had been the hill overlooking town. It was quite the jaunt, but they were fueled by coffee, and the desire for the best view of the sky in the city.

The view seemed even more spectacular that night, with Caspar pointing out the constellations he knew to Percy. He asked Percy when he was born, and so as to not ruin the perfect evening they had been having, Percy, humored him.

“That makes you an Aquarius, so I’m going to say you’re analytical, intellectual, and full of ambitious dreams. Am I right?”

“Wow, that’s not bad at all!”

Not too far off, but at the time Percy had privately written it off as a vague and lucky coincidence.  Percy’s opinion towards astrology became less negative over time, but he has still maintained what he considers a healthy skepticism without offending Caspar. That was before Caspar was super into astrology, so all he could tell him was his sun sign, and their compatibility.

“I’m a Pisces, so there are definitely better matches out there, but do not fret, it could be worse.”

“You had me there for a minute, Caspar, I was worried this ship was doomed to sink before it even really set sail.”

Percy was more likely to be somewhat “emotionally distant, but constant” and Caspar was “emotionally invested, but inconsistent.” To some degree that had been proven to be true, but Percy became more and more invested over time, to the point where it hurt so much to think about losing Caspar, even if he was chasing his dreams.

Thinking about the parallels between that night, and his current predicament, Percy decided to make the long journey up the hill to perhaps gain some clarity.

Just as Percy was about to crest the first rise leading to the top of the hill, he heard a yell behind him, and saw a flash of light in his eyes. A car was hydroplaning towards him faster than it should have been. The car was only a few feet away, and Percy felt rooted in place as time seemed to come to a stop. He imagined he could see the panic in the driver’s eye and the useless attempts to stamp on the breaks, but that would’ve been impossible because of the blinding headlights.

His vision went white.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

Just before the car hit him, Percy felt an impact from behind. He landed on the grass next to the street, as the car continued uncontrollably down the road. Percy watched as the driver finally got the car under control, and continued on its way. Just then, he remembered the impact he had felt. Turning to his side, he saw Caspar lying near him.

Percy’s heart stopped. He stood up as fast as he could, and dashed over to look Caspar up and down. There didn’t appear to be any cuts, scrapes, or bruises, and Caspar wasn’t making any noise. In fact, he was smiling.

“Are you ok?” he half asked, half whispered

“I feel great, I’m just glad I got here in time” Caspar responded.

“How did you know to follow me, or know where I was?”

“Easy,” Caspar responded, pointing at the sky, “there’s a full moon, and it told me to follow my guts.”

Percy , then chuckled. He helped Caspar get to his feet, saying “I guess I ought to let you read my chart, then.”

“It appears that way.”

The following night, Percy sat on the floor across from Caspar with his stack of books, Percy’s natal chart, a few candles, and other miscellaneous esoteric paraphernalia scattered around him. Caspar smiled at Percy, and lit the large candle sitting between them. Percy found the whole scene a little dramatic, but he had decided to completely suspend his judgement and go along with whatever Caspar intended to do.

Caspar began to give Percy a crash course in astrology and chart readings. “Astrology has been around for thousands of years, dating back to at least the Greeks. Despite this vast wealth of knowledge, astrology is a faith-based science. The astronomy is the absolute science part of it, everything after that is a leap of faith.”

Caspar paused a moment for emphasis. “Are you ready to take the leap of faith?”

“Yeah, about as ready as I ever will be.”

Caspar smiled at Percy. “Great. So, do you have any specific questions?”

“I mean, besides anything that might help me with picking a grad school, not really.”

“Ok, well in that case we will start with a general chart reading, and then later on we will look at the 4th and 9th housesbecause they deal with college and higher education. They helped me a lot when I was making my own decision. I found interesting placements and aspects with Mars there, which is the planet of desire, conflict, and passion, so I listened to my heart, and picked K-State.”

“Hey, I thought this was supposed to be about me, not just an excuse for you to have an ego trip and talk about yourself the whole time.”

Caspar laughs “Fair enough. Alright, well first off, your sun is in Aquarius, which you already know…”

“Tell me something more interesting.”

“Patience, young padawan. Astrology is all about patience. Your moon is in Libra, and the moon refers to you inner, emotional self. This means you have a need for balance and harmony in your life extends from your personal environment to your social life, and all the relationships you have with others. From what I have seen, you are good at seeing other people’s perspectives, and giving an objective and fair-minded approach to things–”

 “I like to pride myself on being—”

“—except when it comes to things outside of STEM. You are much better than when I first met you, but your ego gets in the way of seeing the beauty and knowledge of the collected wisdom of humanity.”

“I’m trying, but there is just so much out there that makes me question them.” Percy argued passionately.

“Admittedly, there are people who view astrology as completely deterministic of human action and personality, and don’t really think too much for themselves. Sun columns give astrology a bad name.”

“Anyways, it is hard for me to see the value of anything that isn’t based on rationality and logical considerations of thing” Percy said, calming down a little. “I can understand why other people might find it helpful or interesting, but I do not think its for me. I want to learn more first, though, if for nothing else, than for you. Keep going.”

“I know, and you have been doing great. I just know that there is something to astrology that could help you a lot, even if you don’t fully believe in it. It’s a useful way of thinking about things and making sense of the world” Caspar admitted.  “Anyways, to round out the big three, your Ascendant happens to be in Libra as well, actually within only two degrees of each other. The Ascendant is the mask that other people see you as, which interestingly lines up with your inner emotional self in this case.”

Percy puffed his chest up a little at this “Well, that’s got to be pretty rare, hasn’t it?”

“Well, not really. The odds are about 1 in 12. If they were the same degree, that would be 1 in 360. But it’s nice to see you get so excited about astrology.”

Percy grumbles “Yeah, well, whatever.”

Chuckling, Caspar continues to read Percy’s chart, going through the placement of his other planets.

After Caspar finishes listing off the placement of Percy’s houses, Percy asks “Well what does that houses thing you mentioned earlier mean?”

“Well, each sign and planet is placed within one of the 12 houses. The house corresponds to specific areas of your life. But, we’ll talk more about that tomorrow night, I think that is enough for tonight. Until then, I want you to study each of the planets, and investigate the meaning of which sign and house they are in. Eventually you will be ready to get into aspects, the Midheaven, the nodes, and some other things.”

“Like eclipses.”

“Yes, like eclipses.” Caspar says, blowing out the candles leaving the two of them in darkness.

“Why were you so dramatic with the candles and everything last night?” Percy asked Caspar. “You just printed my chart off from the internet, too, which I thought didn’t fit the same aesthetic or vibe.”

“It feels right. It may be cheesy and silly, but I really think that it makes the reading more immersive, and maybe more proper?” Caspar responded, a bit sheepishly.

“Well, it does make the experience more interesting and almost fun.”

“Exactly! I think before you were going about it all wrong, trying to approach it from a strictly scientific perspective. It’s sort of a light-hearted spiritual experience, intended to be very subjective and personal.”

“I really do like the idea of that. I must admit I am kind of looking forward to tonight. What do you want to do today? Any big plans?”

“I think I am just going to stay in, and prepare for tonight. You know what would be fun? You could run to the store and we can make dinner together. Then, we eat out on the deck and have a romantic dinner together, just the two of us.”

“That sounds pretty great. I do have a bit of homework to work on for class, and I have a biology test next week, but I could use a study break for sure.”

“Sounds like a plan, Stan.”

In response, Percy groaned.

For dinner, Percy had bought a bunch of different vegetables to make into a stir fry, and Caspar had prepared a cheese and fruit platter for them snack on. To really set the mood Percy had brought home a bottle of wine, and Caspar brought out the candles they had used during the reading the night before.

The overall intoxicating atmosphere caused by the lavender scented candle, delicious food, and the few glasses of wine Percy had put him in a very pleasant mood, and looking at Caspar, who almost seemed to be glowing in the moonlight as they sat outside on the deck, Percy could not imagine the evening going any better. At this thought, he felt a pang in his heart, and knew that if anyone asked him right in this moment, he would unhesitatingly commit to K-State so he could stay close to Caspar.

“Not to completely kill the mood, but how’s your mom doing?” Percy asked Caspar who had curled up beside him after finishing dinner. There really wasn’t room for two people on the chair, but Percy did not mind too much. Besides, Caspar’s skin was actually quite cool to the touch, a welcome balm from the humidity.

“Oh, you know, about the same. My dad has hardly left her side for the past few weeks, but she doesn’t seem to be getting worse or better.”

“Well…things could be worse. Do you mind if I tell Spencer and them? They have been asking about her recently, and you know how much they loved tacos she used to make for them.”

“Yeah, of course. I would say they can visit, but the hospital still has the COVID restrictions in place, so only family members can visit. Besides, I don’t think she would recognize them right now.”

“Man, that is tough. You are such a trooper for staying and taking care of her. It’s nice to know that when I go senile prematurely, you’ll be there to take care of me.”

“You mean like I already do?”

“Ha, ha, so funny.” Percy said, wrapping his arms around Caspar. Percy dosed for awhile, until he was awakened by a gentle gust of wind across his face. Caspar had already started clearing away their plates, replacing them with his astrological books.

After cleaning up from dinner, Percy arranged himself across from Caspar much like the previous night. Despite this, something felt different to Percy than last night. He couldn’t tell what it was, but the air seemed charged with energy.

“Right,” Caspar began, “let’s get started. I was pleasantly surprised at some of the questions you asked me earlier today. Obviously you did your research.”

“Well you know me, I want to learn as much about something I disagree with so I can refute it as completely as possible” Percy responded, knowing that Caspar would pick up on the irony.

Percy and Caspar had talked about astrology while making dinner together, and Percy had bombarded Caspar with questions about what various planets and signs meant in particular houses on his chart.  He had to admit that astrology was much more sophisticated and intriguing than he thought.

He saw tonight as the real test. If Caspar’s observations of Percy’s chart could reveal something that he shouldn’t or couldn’t have known about, it would go a long way to convince Caspar about the efficacy of astrology.

“So first off, let’s start with the 4th and 9th houses. Your 4th house has Neptune in Capricorn, as well as the Sun, Mercury, and Uranus in Aquarius.”

Interrupting him, Percy said “Yeah, I was reading about that today. The Neptune thing means that I am complex, original and introspective, as well as sensitive and indecisive. That actually makes a lot of sense regarding my current predicament. What would you advise?”

“My, my Percy, I daresay I am impressed. Well the advice I would give is that you need to spend more time on yourself to understand what the question means to you. You have already looked at the two schools for who knows how many hours, but why is the question so hard for you, beyond the obvious?” Caspar inquired.

Percy mulled this over in his head for awhile, taking his time to answer. “Hmm, that’s a good point. I feel like that I have been so concentrated on this decision that I haven’t really been able to zoom out, and understand how it affects the rest of my life, and my future. I’ve focused a lot of time on how it affects me in the immediate future over the next few years, but nothing really beyond that.”

“Well, it sounds like you are on the right path. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to completely answer that and think about that as deeply as you should in one night, so I’ll let you make note of that, and then we can move on. Sound good?”

“Ok, yeah. So now the other planets in the 4th house.”

“Right. So there are some interesting conflicts here. Uranus says that you may struggle with your family or home life, and want to be able to leave and be more independent. On the other hand, the sun being here shows that you may be more predisposed to prioritizing your family over your professional life. I can see these two opposing forces affecting you.”

“……..I’m speechless!” Percy exclaimed, surprising himself a little with how loud and excited he was. “I read about Uranus and the Sun in the 4th house today, and it just did not make sense. How could two planets that were so different coexist? I thought it was simply astrologers covering their bases by not leaving out any possibility, but the way you explain it makes so much sense….I think my case is a little different because I see you and my friends here as my true family. I feel like we have been able to build a great home here, as opposed to with my real family. Now, that is being threatened if I decide to go to MIT…”

“Well the last planet may help clear things up a little more for you” Caspar interjected.  “Mercury in your 4th house means that you are likely to be adventurous, but that your home life is still extremely important to you, and you are always looking for something to occupy your mind with. You love education, and are always looking for new perspectives, being open to change your mind if thoroughly convinced. I can definitely see how you have grown into this over time, which shows how astrology sometimes points to who you are becoming, rather than who you are.”

“For sure. You have definitely been important in that transformation, and I feel like I have changed a lot since leaving home and coming to college. Being away from the influence of my dad has…allowed me to grow a lot in being more open. So, what is your advice, how does this help me?”

“Well, I can already tell you that there is a bigger transformation to come. Because of this placement, you feel more comfortable at pursuing at home. But you need to also work on feeling comfortable away from home, whether this requires going out more often, or leaving for an extended period of time. That’s how true peace of mind is found, culminating in a very powerful self-transformation experience.”

Percy let out the breath he was holding. “That’s…intense. I think I need some time to think this all over. I’m going to go for a walk, and see if that Rita has a fresh pot of coffee at the diner ready. Do you want a cup?”

“I think I’m ok, I’ll work on cleaning up everything here”.

“Hey, Percy, it’s been far too long!” Rita said when she saw him walk in. “I just made a fresh pot. The usual?”

“Yeah, that would be great. Thanks Rita!”

“Of course. Do you want it to-go, or do you have time to chat?”

“I would love to chat. Truly, I would. It has been too long, I have been much too busy recently, and I feel like I barely leave the house anymore. But, I got a lot of things I need to think about tonight. Maybe another night.” Percy handed Rita his payment, with the extra tip he was accustomed to.

Rita waved her hand at Percy “Nonsense, it’s on the house. I remember when you and Caspar used to come in here and leave me huge tips all the time.” There was a wistful note in Rita’s voice, but Percy hardly noticed because his mind was still on what Caspar had told him.

“I’ll keep you in my thoughts, and remember, you’re welcome here any time Percy.”

“Thanks, Rita, that means a lot. I’ll see you around.”

“Bye!”

Leaving the diner, Percy was comforted by the familiar ding of the bell on the door, and made a mental note to come back more often.

Percy blinked, and realized he had spent the entire walk home staring at the stars. Walking into the bedroom, he almost tripped over the books laying open on the floor. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw that Caspar had fallen asleep reading, and had not put everything away yet.

Percy pulled a blanket over Caspar, who must have been freezing, and picked up a book on the floor. He spent almost the whole night going over the 4th house, trying to understand what Caspar had told him.

The following day, Percy’s mind was swimming too much from the previous night to focus on anything at all. He finally began to understand why Caspar was so enthralled with astrology. Every time he tried to do his math homework, the graphs and symbols turned into astrology charts and signs, and his biology homework seemed to be strangely personal.

Eventually, he gave up, and looked for Caspar.

He found Caspar looking over Percy’s chart in their room. On hearing Percy enter the room, he looked up, saying “I have something really interesting to show you tonight. I think you will finally be able to put the whole grad school debacle to bed”.

“Great! I have been thinking about what you told me last night all day, but I think I need to do something to take my mind off it for now. Do you want to watch Netflix for awhile?”

“Sounds great, I’ll make you some popcorn, and you can pick what we watch.”

After awhile, Percy fell asleep. Caspar was amazing at staying completely silent and still during movies, and Percy had not got much sleep recently. He dreamt about Ganymede, the beautiful son of the King of Troy who was abducted by Zeus to be his cup bearer. Zeus was entranced by the mortal’s beauty, and wanted to keep him to himself. This story was commonly associated with Percy’s sun sign, Aquarius, but for some reason, Ganymede had always reminded Percy of Caspar.  

Upon waking, Percy noticed Caspar staring at him intently with a smile. “What?”

“Nothing…you just look so peaceful when you sleep.”

Percy noticed that the TV had shut off due to inactivity. “Just how long have you been watching me?”

“Long enough. Look, it’s dark out.”

Percy turned to the window. “Yeah, you’re right. There was something you wanted to show me?”

“Yeah, let me go get the candles and set everything up. I found something really big in your chart.”

Percy’s back hurt a little as he sat on the ground next to Caspar for the third time in as many nights, but it somehow felt right. Sitting with is legs crisscross on Caspar’s “meditation pillows”, Percy was finally able to put a name on the energy he had felt the night before. It was a spiritual energy unlike he had ever felt before. He couldn’t decide if her was more intimidated or intrigued by it.

Percy watched Caspar for quite some time as leafed through a number of astrology books. The newer ones Caspar had purchased himself as he became more interested in astrology, but he also had quite the collection of old books he had received from one of his aunts. All of them were filled with Caspar’s characteristic scribble as he had circled certain sections, and written tiny notes all over the margins.

“A-ha!” Caspar exclaimed. He smiled sheepishly at Percy, who had practically left his body in surprise at the sudden noise. “I found it.”

“So,” he continued, “do you remember that eclipse we had a few months ago?”

“Yes, of course. How could I forget it?”

“Well, I have to ask you, did something happen to someone you love during the eclipse?”

Percy lost his breath for a second as he thought back to that day, the day he tried so hard to erase from his memory. “Well…yeah, now that I think about it, it was during the eclipse. How did you know that?”

“Well, it just so happens that the eclipse passed through your seventh house, where you have Jupiter in Aries.”

“Ok, what does that mean?”

“Well, you have Mars in cancer, which means it is three signs away from the Eclipse in Aries and your seventh house. That means the Eclipse squared your natal Mars. The seventh house is related to relationships, and as we know, Mars is the planet of passion, desire, and conflict.”

“I think I kind of know what you are getting at. I read that squares usually create conflict, or at least some sort of difficulty between the bodies and houses involved.”

“Right, and this one was especially powerful because it involved an eclipse. Eclipses are chaotic forces, disrupting the natural order, speeding up time, and open and shut doors of possibility. Since the eclipse was located Aries, which is ruled by Mars, and was square Mars, I knew that it had something to do with you someone you had a very close relationship with, and maybe even loved.”

Percy stared down at his hands in silence. He wasn’t completely sure how to respond. Caspar had reeled him in hook, line and sinker. He had never expected that astrology could be so precise.

So excruciatingly precise.

He could feel the tears stinging his eyes. Percy felt Caspar’s cold hands on his cheeks, drawing his face upward. Caspar’s eyes were only a few inches from his, and there was an intoxicating depth there that Percy had not noticed before. They seemed to be inviting Percy to dive completely into them, promising eternal wisdom and a solution to all of his problems. But that depth seemed to contain a hint of pain as well. The wisdom had a price, one that Percy was unsure if he was willing to pay.

“You need to let go.”

“I-I can’t let you go…”

“Percy, I died that night. There is nothing you can do about it. Sure, if I had seen the eclipse in your chart then, I might have known something was going to happen, but there was no way you or I could have stopped me from getting COVID at work. Staying here won’t change anything either. Go to MIT. Become the best damn microbiologist there is, and prevent something like this from happening again. All you can do now is move on, and use these books as guides. They won’t give you the answers, but they will keep you from getting lost in the turbulence along the way.”

Percy took the books from Caspar’s outstretched hands, the hands that weren’t really there, the books he wasn’t sure if he needed, and watched as Caspar seemed to disappear before his eyes.

The content of the books may be still questionable for Percy, but the books also contained part of Caspar inside of them, and so he determined that he would read them all.

Tears streaming down his cheeks, Percy blew out the candles to fully plunge himself into the darkness like the one he felt inside him.

The End.

Further Reading:

“COVID-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, December 10, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/health-equity/racial-ethnic-disparities/disparities-illness.html.