Mercury’s in Retrograde or Quit Blaming a Fucking Planet When You Can’t Get Your Shit Together

by Steph Post

I know what you’re thinking. I’m a planet. Why do I care if you blame your disastrous blind date that resulted in a trip to the emergency room for a shellfish allergy on me? Why do I care if you walk around evoking my name every time you get a parking ticket or spill coffee into your purse or finally get fired from the job you should have been sacked from months ago? I mean, stealing Post-it notes? Really? And not even the fancy ones? Plain old yellow? Um, lame….

I care because it’s tough enough being the smallest, most unappreciated planet in the solar system without your bad vibes cramping my style. Nobody likes Mercury. Did you ever think about that? When little Stanley-Third-Grader gets asked by his teacher, “Now Stan, if you could be ANY planet out there, which one would you be?” do you think his eyes shine brightly with reverence and adoration as he breathlessly utters my name? No. He says Jupiter. Maybe Mars. Because those are the cool planets. Jupiter, all big and bad with its scarlet spot. Mars, with the possibility of life. Little green men and scantily clad Martian princesses. As if. There’s Venus, of course, just oozing sexuality, but between you and me, that bitch is a hell hole. All poisonous gas and toxic fumes. Trust me. Saturn’s a crowd pleaser and even Neptune, all the way out in the BFE, is admired for being the strong, silent type. Pluto used to get dogged on, but ever since that stupid heart was discovered, everyone is in L-O-V-E and geeking out like they’ve never seen a frozen plain before. The icy hunk of rock isn’t even a real planet, but it’s got its own fan club. Not fair.mercury

Thank God for Uranus; at least there’s one planet lower than me on the totem pole. Though not by much. Poor Uranus may be the butt of every middle school science joke ever told, but at least it’s not blamed for Gram-Gram falling down the stairs and busting a hip. At least it’s not an excuse.

Because I have feelings too, you know. I may not have any moons or rings, but I have dreams. They may seem insignificant to you, standing 48 million miles away beneath your fancy atmosphere with your fancy trees and animals and oceans and all, but they mean something to me. I was named for a god, too. Mercury. Hermes. The messenger. The trickster with winged feet. My namesake had temples. He got women. There’s a statue or two of him still standing and let me tell you, he wasn’t a sight for sore eyes. And I’m sure he had dreams just as I do.

I whirl through space, blasted by the sun, bashed by wayward asteroids and comets, and I imagine that I have his wings. Beautiful, elaborate wings spun of iron and sulphur, diaphanous and sparkling as they sweep across the cosmos with my every graceful orbit. I dream that I am floating, not falling. That I am as light as a feather, as nimble as a forest creature. That I am the color and consistency of pink cotton candy. That I am free. That I am loved. The stars are singing odes to me, their voices echoing my name to the depths of the Milky Way. Mercury, Mercury, lovely, lovely Mercury.

But then here comes retrograde. A spurious phenomena. A trick on the trickster. And suddenly hocus pocus palm readers are making a quick buck at my expense. Reassuring all you losers out there that no, it’s not your fault that you’re ugly or stupid or broke. Your girl left you, your mother’s ducking your calls, your dog just peed in your shoes. It’s not your fault that you’ve got the IQ of a houseplant and a personality to match. It’s not even that God just hates you. It’s me. My fault. Zipping past the Earth. Appearing to move backwards, when really, I’m just minding my own damn business. Doing my own thing.

Just a lonely little planet, dreaming little dreams.

Steph Post is the author of A Tree Born Crooked and Lightwood (January 2017). 
She currently lives, writes and teaches writing in St. Petersburg, Florida. 
www.stephpostfiction.com