On Nights of a Full Moon the Milky Way Rises in Flood

Leopold Ovis set out at night, through the rough purpled frame of his window, spreading wings he scarcely recognized and soaring up through the troposphere. He went the long way round the universe: died, and was reborn, seven times; visted strange planets and strange suns; learned to speak two hundred languages, and to understand seventy-seven more, all unpronounceable by any human tongue; was, at various times, loyal, vicious, sober, drunk, married, divorced, beheaded, a panderer, three times a prostitute, twice a murderer, a king, a hierophant, male, female, and alien; in short, had all the adventures and experiences met by any traveller engaged on a long and somewhat wearisome journey. After seven lifetimes, he returned home, returned as Leopold Ovis, but scarcely older (though a universe wearier and wiser); returned the long way home to the same night, his hands empty save for a lustrous, fleshy flower of midnight blue, his wings as wide and strange as before, and settled into his bed with a long-retained sigh of contentment.

In the morning — it was a breezy May Day — he went to her home with the flower of his universe floating in a bowl of water.

“Oh!” she said. “How lovely! Where did you find such an exquisite flower?”

Leopold Ovis shrugged, happily uncomfortable, blushed and stammered. “I thought you’d like it,” he said.