Life in Complex Z was already stressful the day Zak and Skyebleue had their big fight. It certainly wasn’t the first fight since they’d gotten their Cohabitation License, but it was the first argument that really squeezed in on Zak’s heart from all sides like a giant, merciless metal fist.
“All the other Male Cohabitants are taking their partners out for moonshakes and dancing on Dependence Day,” Skyebleue pointed out. “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you love me?”
“Of course I love you, Baby Bleue – but I have to tend the griffin-bot. If it doesn’t get fuel at precisely eleven pm, it will shut down and I’ll have to adjust all the settings again.”
“You’re no fun!” Skyebleue pouted. “Even the Dictator’s taking his Female Cohabitant to Demos!”
Zak sighed. He was sick and tired of being compared to the other Male Cohabitants. He was different. He worked harder and longer for his proportional rations. And he had worked far too hard to earn Skyebleue’s love for their relationship to decay to this state of constant bickering. Did she really value him only by the quantity of hours he was able to spend on her?
“Listen, Skyebleue,” he growled. “Maybe the other Male Co’s are taking their partners out because their partners have been sweet and kind to them. You might try showing me a little sugar for a change. Then I just might rearrange things so I can take you out next time.”
Zak expected his partner to roll her eyes or maybe even yell at him. But instead, she looked at him like a wide-eyed dog who’d just been kicked by her master. “I’ll be sweet,” she said. “I’ll be so sweet you’ll want to devour every inch of me. Then you’ll take me next year.”
For the next few days, Zak noticed a significant improvement in Skyebleue’s attitude. She woke up early to make him turbo-cakes, and stayed up late to watch holograms with him when he finally got home from work. She smiled more often than she frowned, and even her voice lost its rough edge. Zak kind of missed the old quality to his partner’s voice – it reminded him of a rock star after a killer concert. But he didn’t worry too much – he was sure in a few days Skyebleue would be back to her old grumpy self.
A few days passed. Then a few months flew by. Skyebleue only grew sweeter by the hour, pouring more sugar into Zak’s turbo-cakes and kissing him passionately as they lay down in the star-hammocks together. Zak missed the savory taste of a traditional corn turbo-cake. But it must be good that Skyebleue was trying harder to please him…right?
One day in Gemini Season, Zak got off work early. One of the Martians asked him to come play pool at his cabana on the crater, but Zak reluctantly declined. His partner was working so hard for him, he might as well go and see her as soon as possible. As he maneuvered his walker-bot around various shops and communal gardens, he wondered why his heart felt heavier with each step the contraption took to bring him closer to the one to whom he had sworn his eternal soul.
When Zak trudged into the living room, Skyebleue was lying on the couch, naked. Intrigued, Zak took a step closer. Then he noticed her alabaster skin was melting onto the velvet.
She smiled at him sadly. “I’m as sweet as can be, Zak.”
Zak caught a whiff of the air wafting toward him from his partner. It smelled like the purest white chocolate. Alarmed, he ran toward the melting woman. Her sad eyes transformed into opaque blueberries, staring through him, seeing nothing.
“No!” Zak cried. “We still have two Seasons until Dependence Day! I was going to take you to the dance! You can’t leave me now!” Desperately, he tried to sculpt the white blob back into the shape of his love’s arms. But he was no artist, and it’s hard to work with a puddle.
In a last desperate gesture, Zak dove onto the couch, letting the white chocolate coat his syntho-jeans and sweater. His lips met the spot where Skyebleue’s mouth should have been – but instead of her highly chemical lipstick, he tasted strawberries. He pulled back to realize those lips that had once uttered sour words had transformed into sweet strawberry slices. Between them, a set of marshmallow teeth parted as a fruit-leather tongue formed the words “I did my best.”
When Zak regained consciousness, he was lying on the cold, hard floor of his living room. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. News reporters and nosy neighbors were crowded around his couch. Cameras flashed blindingly. Terrible slurping noises filled the room, echoing in Zak’s empty head until he came to the realization that his fellow colonists were drinking his wife.
Zak wasn’t hungry for sweetness anymore.
“The Sun”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Sun.jpg#/media/File:The_Sun.jpg
“Make a pancake” by Kanko from Nagasaki, Japan – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Make_a_pancake.jpg#/media/File:Make_a_pancake.jpg
“Amaretto, raspberry, champagne, and pear chocolate truffles” by Quinn Dombrowski – originally posted to Flickr as Amaretto, raspberry, champagne, pear. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Amaretto,_raspberry,_champagne,_and_pear_chocolate_truffles.jpg#/media/File:Amaretto,_raspberry,_champagne,_and_pear_chocolate_truffles.jpg