Pets and lovers

I was still confused as to what I was supposed to do with Kayla. No, that’s not her real name. I just find it a more convenient method of referring to her. I think if I told anyone the truth about Kayla, I would instantly be famous and rich and shortly contacted with the suspicious people the government send along. You know what I’m talking about. Those tall, well-dressed fellows always with sun-glasses and really impressive badges. They also refer to you formally and look up on your criminal records. The unpleasant ones will also carry a weapon of some form as well.

So Kayla is an alien. Yes, you heard me right. No, I am not delusional. I was watching meteors in the desert, collecting data and looking for inspiration for a story or two. All of a sudden, one of the meteorites falls and we have visitors. There was the entire blaze in the sky, smoke on the ground sort of business. Hi. We’re these species who were just buzzing past and our engines failed. Just thought we’d drop by. Pun completely unintended yet absolutely unavoidable.

I apologize. I’m rambling. I won’t go into the details of how I found her and how I discovered that she didn’t know a word of any of the languages in the world and had this weird tendency to fuse all my gadgets together with her hands. I honestly didn’t know what I should be doing with her, as she refused to leave me alone and the authorities needed documentation I was unable to provide. I decided to keep her. Like a pet, albeit unauthorized. See, I’ve got a well-bred alien. Say hello to Kayla. Except that’s not how things worked out.

What was more, as I tried to make my back through human-populated areas to my residence, I discovered that different people perceived Kayla differently. Kids think she’s a harmless teddy bear. A really old woman at the gas station thought she was her son. When Kayla tried to explore some of the forested areas near my modest settlement herself, the forest ranger even mistook her to be a bear. The man went berserk as he saw me strap her into the passenger seat of my car. Well, it was late at night and visibility was poor. I was going to pass through his scrutiny looking perfectly normal with a bear for a companion. To me, she always seemed to be this really pretty girl whom if I had any guts at all, should have been able to charm with my supposed wit. But coming from the stereotypical species of social outcasts, I tried to look normal and be friendly without breaking a sweat. I needn’t have worried though. Aliens, particularly the shape-shifting variety, don’t judge.

For the first few days, she stuck close by me, listening carefully to every word that came out of my mouth. She watched me eat and learned that was how I derived sustenance and so on. In the beginning, I was obviously a bit intimidated by her. I mean, imagine a lonely writer that doesn’t get much company and all of a sudden there’s this gorgeous….ahem, guest that’s living with him. You’d guess he’d be a little awkward about it at first.

It was hard to remember that Kayla was an alien, especially since she looked very human to me. She was just quiet for the most part, had this weird look about her when she got hungry and stayed glued to the television or my laptop. When agitated, she would promptly fuse those devices and the next morning my neighbors would watch me throw out hideously mutated scraps of previously useful metal and plastic.

If I had known that she was actually learning the English language from me, I would have taken care to use my urbane sections of my vocabulary more often. Or watched better TV. Or read better literature than pulp fiction. I cannot describe the sheer shock when the creature you rescue from a mass of smoke from an extraterrestrial deposit in the middle of the desert starts spouting mixed up slang back to you. For those of you who host pet aliens with language learning capabilities, you might want to sit down somewhere sturdy before you make that discovery. You might not also want to keep liquids, sharp objects or tiny miscellaneous articles in your vicinity. They may not be hazardous to the alien, but they could be hazardous to you.

My thesis advisor chose this time of the year to be a menace again. He’s an astronomy professor, you know? It was because of his assignment that I was stuck in the desert in the first place. But since I was too busy boldly going forth where every thriller hero had been before, I hadn’t collected any data. My publisher was also after me for not having written anything substantial for the past few weeks. If I lost my job at the magazine, I would have to find some other way of supporting my thesis project stipend. I know it’s not glamorous, but you have to take what you get. Besides, you’d think writing science fiction comes easily to a guy who is an astronomer and has a background of physics, right? But with my alien baby-sitting duties, I was at a loss for data and ideas. Hey, if Kayla turned out to actually be hostile, I wouldn’t even be here ranting to you now. Helping her adjust to earth gravity, teaching her the ways of or highly complex society and so on takes more time than you’d think.

Anyway, it’s been a few weeks since she’s been around. We’ve struck this verbal deal, now that she speaks an entirely new dialect of English which I call “Universal Slang”. It involves me being her caretaker in exchange for her telling me stories. Never again do I have to bother about a writer’s block. My thesis is well on it’s way to completion thanks to the funding from my writing assignments. I even have a companion at home that knows all of my jargon well enough to seem natural at it. Everyday, after dinner, she sits down and tells me about her home world. I try to transcribe as much of it as I can, mostly because it takes a while to interpret what she’s actually saying.

The material that Kayla tells me is actually fairly normal. You know, family fights, romances, friendships and so on. Ordinarily, I would just copy her stories as is and hand them in, but then I realize I’m writing for a science fiction magazine and there has to be an element of other-worldliness in it. After I’m done editing the basic English, I add a couple of more tentacles to my favorite characters and they’re good to go.  The magazine is happy, it’s readers are happy, I am happy. I cannot tell if Kayla is, though.

When Kayla talks to me about her world, and I’ve heard a lot of it, believe me, I find it sometimes hard to remember she’s an alien. Most of the interpersonal interactions that she describes with people seem so ordinary. Honestly, if I didn’t tell you she was an alien and that her world was actually different, with a stronger gravity and so on, you could completely picture her talking about her life from some family here on Earth. It turns out they’re a liquid species. The atmospheric pressures on their world is so strong that they have no choice but to exist as one large liquid pool on the surface. When any one of them dies, they join the gaseous layers of the atmosphere. Due to their fluid nature, they are also interconnected mentally, as well as physically. Consider the orange juice on the table. Now imagine if it were alive and not orange. That is Kayla in her native state. Due to some form of telepathic projection people here on earth see her as whatever they think she is. I mean, the forest ranger had a lot of bears in his mind and when he should chance upon a random being in his territory, he naturally assumes it would be a bear. In his mind, Kayla = bear.

Why do I think of her as Kayla?

You’re giving me that look which says I am not describing the entirety of the situation to you, and as my best friend, I do happen to owe you at least that. Yes, she’s pretty. It’s been three years since my last relationship. I like having her around. I’m not going to deny it. Don’t smirk like there’s something going on. It’s not what you’re thinking. I don’t know why I thought having a pretty female companion in the middle of a star-watch assignment was a good idea. But it turns out, that’s  what I was thinking about because that’s the form Kayla manifests in around me. Nobody really knows what her true form is, though. For all I know, when I’m not looking at her she’s merely a puddle on the floor. It’s a bit like Schrodinger’s cat. I can’t really tell what state she is in until I look at her.

To be honest though, I don’t know what I feel about her. I mean, eventually she will run out of stories. I don’t know how to explain to her that I don’t mind having her around even when she’s not being useful. Also, I’m pretty sure she misses her own home from time to time. But it’s just not safe! What if a cop sees her as a criminal or something? I can’t take her back to the desert and hope that she somehow manages to evaporate herself into outer space. There was also this weird incident last week when a group of these teenagers from the nearby high school were playing around with her in the super market. I mean, to them Kayla instantly adopted the physical form of what that they had in their minds. They’re raging on hormones, so you can guess what the general tenor of Kayla’s impressions were. They got pretty obscene about it, though. But the incident proved that I can’t possible let Kayla out in public by herself.

I’m overreacting?! Of course I’m not!

Okay. Okay. Okay. I may have inadvertently allowed a molecule of jealousy to form inside me. A molecule, not any more. Stop gloating at me like you knew this was coming. You asked for this, that’s why you’re here. Look, this speculation is pointless anyway. We both know that if, hypothetically, there was anything between us it would still be one-sided. What could possibly come out of it? Eventually, I’m sure Kayla’s parent pool is going to want their puddle back. Besides it’s not like she knows what love is all about. She did describe similar concepts on her world, but they’re basically between liquids of their own kind. She’s learned how to hug, purely as a platonic gesture. She tries to attempt it sometimes on me, on the days I don’t yell at her for making my phone and my tablet conjoined twins. Yeah, it’s cute in a way. But she’s probably never going to think of me in that way. She may look pretty and be nice to me, but I still don’t know what her standards are, let alone whether they even have romantic liaisons.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m going to stop now.

I have to finish a few more stories for the night, so I’ll probably be staying up even after you leave. Usually, they’re very spaced out assignments, but I’m going to the other Observatory next week, with my fellow researchers and with Kayla. They don’t know she’s coming. She’s asked me to send out a high frequency burst from the communications array. It’s supposed to serve a message to her people that she wants to go back home now. I’ll get over it, eventually I guess. It’s probably just a minor infatuation and there’s really nothing to it. I don’t even know her true form, you know? She’s just appearing to me as I think she would….

 A week later:

I’m sorry this is so rushed and I barely have time to explain it all. But Kayla left  yesterday and I just needed to be able to tell someone without being convicted. I didn’t know how the arrangement was, because Kayla said her puddles would not appreciate me messing in on them. When I woke up, she was just gone. There was no more of her voice, of wondering if my gadgets were okay, of reviewing any more story drafts. I just feel empty. Everything just felt empty. I’m feeling a bit angry with myself, because I shouldn’t be feeling so debilitated without her. Strangely enough, I actually miss her half-botched concoctions of swear words now. No, I don’t have abandonment issues. I can assure you with as much certainty as possible that this emptiness is just a momentary feeling and it will perhaps pass. Or not. Granted that I am an idiot over her, especially to even think I could have her with me forever, but you know I can’t help it.

I’m trying to focus on the Observatory’s telescopes, being actually productive for a change without having anyone else’s assistance in the matter, anyone else being the non-human…..forget it. Anyone else being Kayla here.

Someone seems to have tampered with the usual co-ordinates the telescope is targeted to. We’re watching a completely different part of space, now. I can’t help but think this is some sort of Kayla’s doing. It would be just her style. For all we know she could be leading me to her home. We did manage to locate a huge gas giant in that area. Highly dense atmosphere, rapidly oxidizing. The pressure forces some of the layers to liquid after a while. We’re observing this planet hoping to find some way to understand the nature of it’s crust. The others are assuming that the random motion of the liquid currents are caused by the heavy storms. I’m hoping it’s because Kayla’s pool is happy to have her back.

You know what she did right before she left me. She kissed me. I didn’t even know she could do that. When I asked her why, it turns out she was just following the behavior I had secretly expected of her inside my head. I will never be able to tell if she was pleasing me by nature or just choosing to be that way. But I do know this. I have the story of a lifetime and I’m going to miss her.


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