Septemus 63


Dear Sept,

I’m sorry I can’t remember more about my trip with your people or about the night I met them at the pub. When I’m with them, every moment is full of… buzz. That’s the only word I know to describe it.

I know something’s coded in there, but I don’t know how to get it out. You say it’s data, but it’s data at a level that I just cannot process. I try. Believe me. But it’s like trying to distinguish words within deafening white noise.

I have the feeling they’ll stay in touch. I don’t know why they haven’t contacted you in any manner except telepathically.

I know Octavius wants his mom. I hear him ask about her. I can see how sad he looks when he’s missing her. How does he miss her when he’s never met her?

Do you think she’s singing to him?


You seem to know what to say when he asks, though. You never fail to cheer him up.


When I was on the ship, they gave me that package from her. That much, at least, I remember: “It is for Octavius, from Xirra. She sends her love.”

“From Mommy!” Octavius said when I handed it to him. We opened it together, and he took out a plush toy of a many-tentacled something.

Pahoto!” he said, cradling it.


He seemed to be listening.

“Mommy coming,” Octavius said.


I wasn’t sure what to say back. What if I say she isn’t, and she does? What if I say she is, and she doesn’t?

I watched him play with his toy, so full of happiness. So content.


When I bathed him before bed, he sang a song about a mommy duck, a daddy duck, a brother duck, and a baby duck.

Sept, I think your brother wants the whole family to be together.


Can’t say that I blame him. Must be nice to have a mom and a dad in the same house, both alive and well. Must be nice to have a family that almost fits tradition. Well, at least we would be almost traditional, if three of us weren’t blue and the baby hadn’t popped out of the papa’s belly. But we’re almost traditional at heart, right, son? Or, in the case of you two-hearted family members, traditional at hearts.

So much love to you, son, and both your hearts,


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Author’s note: Octavius’s mom really did give him that plushy octopus toy! When Octy aged up to toddler, we received a notification from Pollination Technician #3, wishing him a happy birthday and saying she’d sent him something in the mail. This toy was what she sent!


Septemus 12


Dear Sept,

Sometimes the look on your face is enough to break my heart in two.

I kind of wish I hadn’t told you about the plan to look for your bizoopagotogo. Maybe if I’d kept it all secret, then disappointment wouldn’t color our lives.

A little kid shouldn’t have to be kept waiting.

We still dance to make the waiting pass.


It doesn’t work as well as it used to.


You’ve been having trouble with the atmosphere, now that your limbs are longer. It’s hard for you to breathe sometimes.

The suits the agency sent seem to help.

But there are still a lot of mornings when I can tell you’re in pain.


I wish I could help you more.

SebastionwhatamIdoinghere?” you asked me the other morning.


“Spaces, Sept,” I reminded you. We’ve been practicing with your speech so that it’s easier for other people to understand you.

You took a deep breath.


“Sebastion, what am I doing here?” you asked.

I was feeling happy. Having you around, even when you’re sad, I don’t know, son. It just warms me.

“Right now, you’re dancing with me, son,” I said.


“It’s not what I mean, Sebastion,” you answered. “I’mtalkingbigquestionwhylikewhyherenadwhynotsomewhereelseandIdon’tbelong and where is everybody?”


“I don’t know, kid,” I said. I wanted to tell you about this kid I read about who’s been hacking into government computers, including the agency’s, and posting what he finds on bulletin boards. But I don’t want to get your hopes up.

We keep dancing.


It’s not bad every day.

Sometimes, you sit in the park in the sun, in your white suit, and you look happy and peaceful.


You’ve still got that little toy cat you had as toddler. Kisuuu, you call her, and you ask her all sorts of questions.

I’m glad you’ve got a friend, even if she is made of plastic.


You’ve been with me so long now, that I feel you belong. I never wonder what you’re doing here–or if it was some kind of accident. You’re here, with me, and you belong. And no amount of existential angst you feel could dim the way my heart rises up when I see you, son.

After all, I spent half my life wondering where I belonged, too. And it’s only been since you arrived that that question, for me, has ceased to be.


Your dad,


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