Three by Three Equals Destiny
Having taken the 30-Day Minimalist Challenge perhaps a bit too far, I
browsed the racks at St. Vinny’s thrift store in hopes of finding
something near-suitable to wear for the opening reception of Holliana
Thurbsnort’s art exhibition at the Galacta-Muse Gallery later in the
evening. My mind must have appeared blown to those peering over my
slackened shoulders for a glimpse of the latest mark-downs, for indeed
it was. After quitting my job, selling my car and relocating to a tiny
house community on the near east side of town, who would have imagined
that I would know anything akin to a social life again?
Thus, how surprised was I when the latest sensation to break onto the
local art scene approached me that very morning at the corner table,
where I sat solving a diabolical-level sudoku, of the Broke-Ass Bastard
“Mmmm, I could feel the wheels of your mind churning all the way from
the barista bar,” she said as she circled my table and took a seat on
the window ledge behind me so as to witness my admittedly remarkable
adeptness at solving the puzzle.
“Would you like to grab a chair? Join me?” I asked, trying to wrap my
head around her rather obvious attraction.
“I’m good just where I am,” she whispered while gently stroking my
sternocleidomastoids, which with years of working number puzzles had
developed into taut lengths of frustration and repressed desire.
“Please, don’t let me be a distraction.”
By the time I had filled in the numbers within the center square, I
could sense her breath growing rapid and ever more shallow. So, I set
down my pencil and took a deep swallow of my black coffee, long grown
cold. As I had hoped, she steadied within a softened rhythm of inhales
and exhalation before I continued on in my quest for that one absolute
When all of the possibilities in common started playing themselves out,
one epiphany tumbling effortlessly into the next, even I let myself get
caught up in the moment, my pencil scribbling numbers fast and furious.
So, that means this is four, which means that is two. And, if
this is two, that over there has to be eight, which means, six, one,
“Oh, yes!” Holliana cried out. “Yes, yes, yes!”
Walking my fingers along the hangers that dangled from the freestanding
metal racks, I grew disheartened to find that every garment which
initially presented with possibility either boasted an obscenely
organic stain, was in reality far smaller or larger than the size on
the tag suggested or proved itself at the height of fashion well before
2083, the year I turned ten.
As I neared the terminus of the rack’s offerings, I came upon a
one-piece ensemble in a metallic cerulean with accents in silver and
shimmery onyx. It was definitely dressy enough for the opening—and
stylish to boot, especially when contrasted with the apparel tucked
beneath the fold-out mattress in my tiny house, which was appropriate
only for hunting morels.
After counting out the bills and change—a mere $69.99 plus tax—which
transferred possession of the ensemble into my own, I made my way home
to grab a quick nap, down a few bites of dandelion hummus on day-old
hemp bread from the neighborhood bakeshop and dress myself for the
As I entered the gallery, it rather dismayed me to find the other
guests decked out in what must have been the current season’s designer
fashions, complete with the requisite aesthetic and technological
Ugh, these are not my people, I thought to myself.
Nor mine, Holliana transmitted telepathically while
offering me her sincerest smile from across the room. Hang in
there for a bit. I’ll catch up with you once I’ve made the rounds.
Then, we can grab a drink or… something.
Never had communication with a beautiful woman of incomparable
creativity been quite so effortless.
As I watched Holliana glide through the crowd, I startled at an
insistent tapping at my left shoulder.
A lithe fellow very near my height met my gaze from not much more than
six inches away.
“I don’t want to cause a scene amid such polite society, but you, sir,
are wearing my uniform.”
“I thought I would take part in your planet’s 30-Day Minimalist
Challenge before resuming flight—and I must admit I’ve never felt so
free and open to possibility—but I left something in the pocket of the
uniform I donated to the thrift shop. I really must ask to have it
“What? Why? How did you find me?” I stumbled over my words, as taken
aback as I found myself on what was for me a rare night out.
“All Schicksalean uniforms are equipped with Intergalactic Positioning
Systems. Anyway, I need what’s in your left pocket.”
“There aren’t any pockets in this get-up. Otherwise I wouldn’t have
stowed my wallet in my underwear.”
“Trust me, there are. They’re just well-camouflaged.”
“Let’s back up a bit. I’m Buffon. May I ask your name?”
“Jengicon,” the wide-eyed space don responded. “Now, brush your hand
forward, then back, then down on the diagonal.”
“Well, what do you know!”
“Very good. You’ve found it. Now, may I please have what is within?”
I pulled out a piece of newsprint, folded into sixteenths, and
flattened it against the pop-up wine bar.
“Sweet, I love sudoku!” I beamed.
“Imagine that. Now give it here.”
“It’s… It contains the code to the ship’s ignition,” he whispered
harshly. “I need it back.”
“Not if you’re going to use that tone of voice.”
“Please, sir, may I have the paper from your pocket?”
“No. You’re not being sincere. As a matter of fact, you’ve been quite
rude to me, I dare say, and I would prefer to enjoy the satisfaction of
solving it myself.”
Holliana walked by, just then, and paused to make a breathy humming
sound at my ear.
“Trust me, you’d get more mileage out of giving it back,” Jengicon
said. “That one there? She’s my daughter.”
It wasn’t until hours later that Jengicon was able to extricate
Holliana from her admirers.
“It’s time to head back, Daughter,” Jengicon said. “You’ve had your
fifteen seconds in the limelight. Now, onto the ship you go.”
“Why do you always have to be so bossy?” Holliana whined, a
heartbreaking pout finding its way upon her lips. “This is my big
“Daughter, are you articulating back-talk?”
“Yes, Daddy, I am.”
I couldn’t possibly have been more confused or felt more awkward,
caught in the middle as I was. Holliana didn’t seem exactly eager to
leave Earth or perhaps she simply was tired of doing her father’s
bidding. I couldn’t help but wonder if her rebellion was motivated by a
desire to individuate, to break free. And, if so, from what?
“You don’t even have the ignition code,” Holliana mocked.
“Oh, but I do!” Jengicon flaunted.
“Where? Last I heard, you donated it to charity, you old coot!”
“But, Daughter, my friend here has it right there in his pocket.”
“Do you, Buffoon?” she asked with a tone of wary enthusiasm.
“It’s Buffon, actually.”
“Where do you have it? Is it still in your pocket?”
“Yes, Holliana,” I assured her with a forward, back and diagonal motion
of my hand as I once again secured it upon my person.
Uncomfortable witnessing the tension between them without understanding
the dynamics at play, I pulled Holliana aside, out of Jengicon’s
earshot. “Do you want to go home with your father or would you prefer
to stay here… with me?”
“I would prefer… to know freedom.”
“Okay. What does that mean, exactly?” I asked.
“I would like for you to solve the puzzle so that I might depart for
“You’re abandoning your father?”
“Don’t think me unkind, but if I go back with him, he’ll withhold my
funding unless I enroll in that stupid MBA program. I simply can’t do
that. It’s not who I am. Trust me, he’ll fare quite well on his own.
Daddy’s very resourceful—and loaded beyond belief.”
After Jengicon stormed off, retiring for the night to a bench within a
covered bus shelter at the corner of Atwood and Fair Oaks avenues to
sleep off their stalemate, Holliana persuaded me to take her for late
night tacos and drinks at the then-trendy Ohio Tavern.
After we had placed our order at the bar and found an open table, we
sipped our drinks in silence. I could only assume she had realized
that, given my mastery of deduction, I had come to understand the
motivation for her coffeeshop enticement earlier in the day.
Without uttering a word, I slid the tattered paper from my pocket
across the table.
“What? This is… mine to solve?”
“Of course, it is. The excitement, the titillation, you felt this
morning at the coffeeshop was not for the solver but for the solution.
Am I right?”
“Do you think I--?”
“I’ve never done anything on my own, much less solve a puzzle as
challenging as this.”
“Your art is your own, and you’ve done quite well with that.”
“But, I’m afraid, Buffoon. I’m really, really scared.”
“We always are when we find that what we want most is, at last, well
within our reach.”
After escorting Holliana to the ship that had brought her to me and was
so soon to take her away, I hesitated briefly at the gangplank before
placing a chaste kiss upon her cheek and a well-sharpened pencil in her
“Oh, Buffoon, you’ve given me so much!” The moonlight sparkled within
“Be well, Holliana.” I was never much one for goodbyes.
As she made her way to the ship’s entrance, I turned and walked several
meters in the opposite direction, only to linger unseen within a
thicket of trees.
A good hour passed or maybe more. I began to wonder if she had
reconsidered her decision to depart, if she felt that, in the end,
yours truly might be worth staying for. After all, in very short time,
she had built a stellar reputation within the local art scene. She
could make a good living selling her artwork, maybe even teach classes
if she were so inclined.
Just as I had begun envisioning how I might integrate an art space—and,
forgive me—a nursery within my humble tiny house, the ship illuminated,
then roared to life, headed for a destination chosen by Holliana—and
© 2017 Kelly Sauvage Angel
Bio: A graduate of Northwestern University with a
degree in literature, Kelly Sauvage Angel is the author of Om Namah…
(published under Kalyanii) and a collection of poetry entitled Scarlet
Apples & Cream. She most enjoys wiling away her free time
manifesting her culinary inspirations and reveling amid the
magnificence of nature.
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