by K. C. Gray
part 1 of 2
I hovered right below the ceiling light fixture, the warm bulb in my hand while I twisted the cool one into place. The light clicked on as the bulb connected properly. I tightened it while looking at the glow, the sparks flowing between the two bits of wire on the inside, the heat growing in my hand.
As I began to move toward the kitchen table which held the globe fixture that covered the light bulb, I noticed Demarco standing in the threshold of the kitchen and the hallway, his eyes wide open, as was his mouth. I dropped the old light bulb. It spread out beneath me, the glass going all over the floor.
“How do you do that, Phillip?” His voice barely cut through the beating of my lotri, the fluid rushing through my body so fast that I was sure he could see the pulsing in my neck. “Never mind,” he said, holding up his hand. “I need to go.” He turned to walk back through the living room and out the door, but I flew over and in front of him before he could take two steps.
Demarco grew even more frantic, his voice going in and out, his eyes never once blinking as he looked around, wanting to find an exit.
“It’s okay, man,” I said continually while blocking him every time he tried to go around me. “How long have you known me?”
“Just let me leave,” he tried to step around me again. “I didn’t see nothing.”
“How long have you known me? Answer that.”
“I can’t do this. I can’t.” He started yelling, his baritone overwhelming the room. “Get out my way.” He stood in front of me, his nose flaring, spittle flying from the corners of his mouth.
I wanted to move, to give him time to take in and process what he just witnessed, but if he decided to speak to others about what he saw, it could result in my being taken away.
“Remember when we were nine,” I started, “and we snuck into La Nesha’s backyard. Peeked into her bedroom window.”
The memory caused the slightest smile on his face. “My mom tore me up, but it was worth it.”
I laughed full at the thought, hoping to calm him down a little. My mom only lectured me about becoming tangled with law enforcement on Earth. Any attention is bad attention, she would say.
“Known you a long time,” he finally answered my question. “Almost thirty years. Why am I just now seeing this?”
“When have you ever been on time for anything?” I joked. His first day off in two weeks, and we made plans to go see a basketball game. I thought about the things I could have told him: that I was an experiment gone wrong, that I had telekinetic powers, but despite my reservations, despite what could happen to me if he couldn’t be trusted, I was resigned to the truth. I told him about coming to Earth, of landing in Florida, my mom and brother beside me; of how our family was one of the first to come.
In the middle of my explanation, he sat down on the couch. I took the chair across from it, the coffee table between us.
Although he had seen me fly, I wanted to show him more, like a child who suddenly wants to show off new toys. I told him to watch my chest. My breathing returned to normal for me, sucking in air every ten minutes or so and afterwards expelling the air through my nostrils. We sat there, my eyes focused on his eyes, and his eyes focused on my chest. His eyes lit up and his fingers locked together in his lap.
It took forty minutes until he could break his gaze away and look at me. He rubbed his closely shaven head. The sweat his pores had opened up and released since we first sat down glistened on his dark skin.
Demarco wiped his face, and then wiped his hands on his blue jeans. “We’ve known each other since we were kids, man.”
“Yeah, we have,” I answered.
“So what do you want? Why are ya’ll here?”
Nervousness overwhelmed me. The tiny trembles came suddenly, and I felt the way I had when my family first arrived, the smell of paint so fresh and new to me that my head still felt light. Opening up to him terrified me. If my people knew, it would be enough to send me away, back to Ombri, in the next galaxy, where we fled when the satellites first appeared.
After a few minutes of silence, Demarco finally said, “I could have you locked up and studied.”
I nodded. It was all I could do.
His lips pressed upward into a smile. “You know I won’t.”
“I can only hope not,” I forced a smile, myself. My nerves overtook the relief of being able to confide in him.
“So, does your nose come off?” his eyes wavered between my eyes and my chest.
I could only laugh, the air rushing through my ostof in order to mimic the sound.
His nose flared up as silent chuckles pulsed through. The chuckles typically happened when Demarco was so nervous he could think of nothing else to do. I had known him for so long.
“So” — Demarco looked slightly embarrassed — “you look like us, then. Just like us?” He smiled nervously.
Although I had just literally put my life in his hands, he wasn’t ready for it all. “Yeah,” I nodded. “We’re not wearing a suit, if that’s what you had in mind. Our insides are a little different, though.”
He spread his hands over his face, and wiped off the fresh batch of sweat. His hands lingered for a moment, and when he removed them, his eyes focused on mine. Not even the slightest hint of a waiver. “I honestly don’t know if I can do this right now, Man. We was... are so close, but with this, I just don’t know.”
I only nodded to him.
He stammered before he could continue, “I don’t know why you’re here, but until I do I can’t...” He looked all around for a moment before seeming to find the strength, “What exactly are you looking for? Why are you here?”
I laughed a little more, hoping to break the tension that suddenly appeared. “Got your professional voice on,” I teased. “You must mean business.” As I leaned toward him, his brows raised and he leaned back a little more. “What I just told you is enough to get me court-martialed. I’m sorry, but nothing else can be said. And no one can know what you know.”
“What about Tanika?”
“She can’t know either. Ever been in trouble with a woman before?”
His lips tugged up for a second. “She’s not in a suit either? I mean, you know.” He wiped his hands on his blue jeans, again, but no matter how many times he wiped his face, the shiny look stayed.
“Nope. It’s all her,” I could only smile, thinking about her body. Growing up on Earth taught me to appreciate the curves of a woman — hips, thighs, lips — but none of it could ever compare to her hands: slightly thick and her fingers joined so sharply that they created v-shapes rather than the soft u-shape most humans had.
“How many are here?” his voice had an edge to it. It changed so suddenly.
I held onto my smile, “We’re not here to take over, so no worries on that.”
“That ain’t what I asked.” His eyes narrowed.
“I can’t answer that. Doesn’t matter anyhow.” I shifted in my chair. Sitting down for so long started to numb my legs, but standing up suddenly seemed like a bad idea. He crossed his arms over his chest and crossed his legs, his left ankle resting on top of his right thigh.
“You know me, and I know you.” I was trying one last time to alleviate the fear. “If there was danger, I’d tell you. There isn’t.”
“Then just tell me why you’re here.”
I shook my head, but the bang of the front door stopped me from speaking. Tanika sat her bag on the couch as she walked by.
“Hey, guys,” she smiled. She often complained about the stress she had to put on her vocal cords. Her human voice sounded only slightly lower than her real one, which sounded like the tinkling of wind chimes. She leaned against my chair.
“How was work today?” I asked. I could barely look into her eyes.
“Good, good,” she leaned over and kissed my forehead. “What have you guys been doing?” she walked towards the kitchen entrance. “Thought you’d be at the —” She stopped at the threshold and asked, “What happened in here.”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “Be careful. I dropped a light bulb.” The warning was pointless.
“Are you okay?” she asked. Her whole demeanor changed. She was a smart woman.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Fine. Dropped it when Demarco knocked on the door. We decided not to go to the game. Thought it’d be better if we all went out somewhere. Maybe for a drink?”
“Well,” Demarco finally spoke, “I should go, for real. It’s getting late.” He heaved himself up off of the couch. He lifted a hand toward Tanika instead of giving her a hug as usual. She waved back and walked down the hallway to our bedroom.
“This shouldn’t change a thing,” I whispered as Demarco pulled open the door.
He leaned against it for a few seconds, his eyes darting once again from my chest to my eyes. “You’re kidding, right?”
I slightly punched him against his upper arm. “You off tomorrow, too?”
He nodded, his fingers drummed against the wood. He shifted his weight and laid his head on the edge of the door. I wanted to trust him. I needed to trust him.
“If you want, come over.”
“’Kay.” He turned and walked through the door in quick wide steps. I watched until he pulled away from the curb.
Copyright © 2013 by K. C. Gray