ROGER UNREQUITED GOES TO MINNESOTA FOR A VALENTINE’S DAY CARD • by Richie Narvaez

The Internet says that scientists finally found dark matter, the invisible stuff they say takes up 75 percent of the universe. The Internet says they found it in Minnesota. Maybe that means 75 percent of everything is in Minnesota, thought Roger, who had never been.

He thought, Maybe if I go to Minnesota I can find the Wayne Gretzky rookie card I lost. Or my Bruce Springsteen concert t-shirt that disappeared.

Maybe he could even find the perfect Valentine’s Day card for Jenny. He had searched aisles and aisles of stores but found nothing just right. Maybe he could find it in Minnesota.

And not just things like that, not just objects. Maybe Roger could find answers there, too. Like how Jenny really felt about him. Like the truth about her “friend” Michael, who seemed to show up whenever they hang out now.

“Hey there, Rog,” Michael would say.

“Yeah. Hey.”

Or maybe waiting in that dark matter were the last minutes of Roger’s grandma’s life that he missed. He had been on a June date with Jenny (before Michael started showing). At least Roger thought it was a date, because of the dance Jenny and he did outside the restaurant, because they held hands during the movie, because of the long, long hug at the end. Although Jenny said later, “I wouldn’t call that a date.”

So Roger flew to Minnesota and bought ticket for a tour of the Soudan Underground Mine. A sign above the entrance read:

“Experience the excitement of particle physics in action!”

In the middle of the tour, the guide smiled and told everyone “Not to worry, folks,” about the klaxon klaxoning above their heads. “Happens all the time.”

And that was when the explosion happened.

In milliseconds, as Roger transformed into limitless energy, he saw his Wayne Gretzky rookie card in his brother’s house, stuck under the linoleum, no longer in mint condition.

His Springsteen concert t-shirt was tucked somewhere in the middle of a mountain of landfill. The mountain had been covered over in sod and sprouted dancing fields of daisies. Roger became that daisy-covered mountain and it was good to feel his shirt again, although it was snug and he could feel a billion bacteria moshing in the fabric.

He turned to look at himself in the café window and found that he was not Roger but had become Jenny, sweet, lovely Jenny, and just as he wondered at the possibilities he was holding hands and laughing with her “friend” Michael, and then suddenly he was her “friend” Michael and he was sneering at himself, the real Roger, behind Roger’s back on one of those other dates that Roger guessed had never been dates.

And then Roger found himself standing in an infinite pharmacy aisle with an infinite display of Valentine’s Day cards and shining in front of him was the perfect card for Jenny. Not too corny, not too pushy. That said nothing and yet something. Just right. And on sale. But he decided not to buy it, although dollars spun out of his pockets in infinite ribbons.

Roger decided instead to fly back to his grandmother’s bedside to watch her glowing face just as she was changing into infinite energy. And they laughed and joked about everyone and everything else as both of them held hands and she and Roger dispersed into the dark matter of the universe together.


Richie Narvaez is the award-winning author of the anthology Roachkiller and Other Stories and the gentrification thriller Hipster Death Rattle. His next book, the YA historical mystery Holly Hernandez and the Death of Disco, is due out in May.


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