Fiction Fragment Friday
For this weeks story I have something tangentially themed for Valentines Day. I could have continued with my stories about the Mars mission missing holidays, but honestly I didn’t even think about that. For some reason an idea came to mind and I just had to write it. I wanted to write a sequel to my published story Sick Day. When I wrote that one there were three different endings I toyed with and the editors helped by narrow down my choice and I believe the story is strongest for the ending I went with. It certainly made the story much lighter than invasive viruses from another planet wiping out a large chunk of one the two planets. I tried to write this so you don’t have to have read the original story, but it certainly would add a lot of context to the characters. I don’t have any idea why I felt the need to go back to these characters but I’m glad I did.
Every relationship is difficult, but I think mine has a few extra complications though. I’m not just referring to the fact that Cera has four arms instead of two either. That certainly does complicate things, but when your girlfriend is from another planet you accept that there are some thing you will have to work at keeping hidden. What I did not expect was how difficult it was going to be dating someone who learned everything about my world and culture from television broadcasts. Language affectations like using made up words from Science Fiction shows was cute at first but when I realized she didn’t know they were made up words it got a bit more trying. Constantly having to explain that different technology she had seen on TV didn’t actually exist was also starting to get on my last nerve. There were plenty of things that made up for the frustration, but I just could not shake the idea in the back of my head that she liked the idea of being with an Earth man more than she actually liked me as a person.
As I straightened my tie in the mirror I thought back over our relationship. Three years ago today I had in an accident I still don’t fully understand fallen through some sort of wormhole to her planet. I met her and learned that her people had been watching us for years and I had stumbled over one of their relays. She worked on those relays, but was more like a cable repair person than a scientist. When she helped me get home I wasn’t sure if it wa real or not until exactly one year later when she showed up on my doorstep in her human cosplay outfit. I dropped everything and took her out to the movies and dinner to let her experience Earth culture first hand. That was our first date and I was trying to outdo it for our one year anniversary. I had reservations at the nicest restaurant in town that I could afford after tickets to a hit Broadway musical. I hated musicals but I couldn’t think of a fancier date destination.
I walked into the living room and found Cera stretched out on the couch watching Space Patrol Gamma on TV. It was one of her new favorite science fiction series. “Are you ready to go?”
She sat up looking over the back of the couch at me with her two right arms pulling her up. “Oh wow.” She looked over my suit and then looked down at herself in her favorite t-shirt and jeans. “Uhm, I think I need to change.” She jumped over the back of the couch and ran to the bedroom stopping only to give me a kiss on the cheek. I tried not to let my frustration show. I had told her we were doing something special for our anniversary and here she was not at all ready. I slid down on the couch and sighed loudly. This was not a good start to the evening.
“How do I look?” She came out of the bedroom wearing a long red dress with sequins. It looked to be form fitting, but I knew from experience that was an illusion. She didn’t trust herself to keep her lower arms still under the clothes so she had created a harness that looked quite a bit like a corset to keep them tied down. I felt a pang of guilt because I knew how uncomfortable that was for her. She did it to look more human, but there was a psychological aspect to it that made her feel confined while wearing it. She also was self conscious because the costume made her look much larger than she actually was to smooth out the arms so they didn’t stand out. It was a necessary part of pretending to be human but I knew she hated spending too much time in it.
“You look amazing. Then again you always look amazing.” I walked over to her and kissed her. I wrapped my arms around her to reassure her. I realized too late that it didn’t work because when she hugs me she wants all four arms wrapped around me and this just reminded her of her tied arms. I decided to push forward with the night and hope that I would do better. “Reservations are in fifteen minutes we better get going.”
We sat across from each other at dinner and as they set our places in front of us I couldn’t hold in my sigh.
“What?” I could hear the frustration in her voice.
“I bring you to the nicest restaurant in town and you order a hamburger from the kids menu.”
“It was the only thing that sounded good. I didn’t even know what half of the things on the menu were.”
“You could have asked me.”
“Well maybe I didn’t want to look stupid. So I saw a burger and it sounded good so I ordered it. I didn’t realize I was going to be judged on my food choice for the night.”
I fought back my instinctual response and decided I needed to deescalate. She had given up everything to come to Earth for me the least I could do was try to avoid fighting on our anniversary. “I’m sorry. I guess I didn’t think about that. I just thought that I wanted to being you to the nicest place I could afford so you could experience it.”
“I know baby and I appreciate the thought. I guess I could have tried to be more adventurous with my order.”
Dinner passed far more awkwardly than I would have liked, but it did so without any further emotional tension. Soon we were at the musical. I was so excited to have gotten the tickets. I had won them through work so we were in a private box all to ourselves. We had a great view and this was the best rated musical for the season. The only problem was that I was miserable. I don’t actually hate all musicals, but this was a serious one. I only seem to like comedies and I guess I like them despite being musicals and not because of it. This was a deep serious musical with a message. I’m not quite sure what the message was supposed to be, but the one I took away was look how cultured we are and if you don’t like it you are just too philistine to get it.
Cera was staring at me instead of the stage. She leaned over to whisper. “You look like you are being tortured.”
“Is it that obvious?”
She laughed and as always her laughter made me feel warmer and more alive. “Only since the curtains went up.”
“It’s ok as long as you are enjoying it.”
She laughed again and the people in the next box gave us dirty looks. “Baby think about what I watch. What in the world would make you think I would like this pretentious garbage? It’s not funny, catchy, and no one has a laser gun.”
“Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“Well for two reasons. The first is I know just how hard you were trying tonight. You wanted to show me more of Earth culture and you really did put a lot of effort into it. The second reason was to punish you for being an idiot.”
I was rocked back by her comment. “What?”
“What is my favorite color, tv show, and movie?”
“Red, Galactic Peacekeeper, and Back to the Future.”
She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek. “Now if I wasn’t from another planet and you knew these things about me would you expect me to be into fancy restaurant and pretentious musicals?”
I sighed and lowered my head. “No. No I wouldn’t. I screwed up pretty badly here didn’t I?”
She smiled her smile that could always melt my heart. “Well lets just say you are lucky you are so cute and that I know your heart was in the right place. You just get so lost in your own head sometimes that you forget to actually think. So information smart, but common sense stupid. Earth culture isn’t one thing. I like OUR culture. Science fiction, unhealthy food, and having fun.”
“Do you want to get out of here, hit the custard shop, and throw in the new Watchers Blu-ray with director commentary?”
“See there you do know how to show a girl a good time. That said I’m planning next year’s anniversary.”