Space Girl Blues
by Bruce Pavalon
A young man with a troubled past falls in love with a young woman who believes she’s been abducted by aliens and that one of her alien abductors has fallen in love with her.
Chapter 7: Love in Outer Space
The weekly craftster fair took place at Ragshack in Minneapolis. Ragshack was a large warehouse with bins and racks of secondhand clothing filling the center of the warehouse. Craftsters showed their goods from tables around the perimeter of the store. The craftsters were mostly women showing stuff like plushies, crocheted items, jewelry, handmade instruments, and sweaters.
Aaron showed a couple funky baskets, three hats, and a ski mask at his table. He was not eager to sell his crafts. They still reminded him of his mother, and he still held on to her as if she were alive.
Nikoli, the street magician that Bear had introduced to Aaron, entered the building and browsed his way to Aaron’s table. “Aaron!” said Nikoli, surprised.
In theory, Aaron should have liked Nikoli. Nikoli had developed a craft and art of magic, and he was doing it his own way. But in practice, Nikoli bugged the crap out of Aaron. “What are you doing here?” asked Aaron, annoyed.
“Looking at crafts,” replied Nikoli. Nikoli examined one of Aaron’s hats.
“These are all just samples. Nothing is for sale.” There was no way Aaron was going to sell anything to Nikoli.
Nikoli glanced at Aaron’s hand. “I see the Scooby Doo tattoo wore off.”
Aaron looked Nikoli in the eyes. Nikoli’s eyes were brilliantly green. “I’m not in the mood for any tricks,” said Aaron.
“Just treats today.” Nikoli put down the hat, winked at Aaron and continued browsing.
Aaron picked up the hat Nikoli was looking at, and a handful of Halloween candy fell out. Aaron huffed. He really didn’t like that guy.
* * *
Holding her umbrella and wearing her snowmobile suit, Anini entered the clothing store. The wide, open space and greenish fluorescent lighting instantly put her on high alert. She closed her umbrella and nervously scanned the warehouse until she spotted Aaron. She browsed her way through the warehouse toward Aaron while cautiously checking out the people more than their crafts, until she arrived at Aaron’s table.
Aaron was very excited to see Anini. “Anini, I’m so glad you made it.”
Anini picked up a piece of candy, unwrapped it and ate it. “I came for the candy.”
“Actually...” Aaron looked around the store. Nikoli was nowhere to be seen.
Anini picked up a ski mask and examined it. It was finely crafted with tight stitching and a colorful design. “You made these all by yourself?”
“These are just prototypes. I make my ski masks to order.”
“What type of materials do you use?”
“I always us one hundred percent natural products. Silk, wool, cotton, whatever you’d like....”
“I prefer synthetics.”
“Really?” said Aaron, flabbergasted with righteousness.
“It feels nicer on my skin.” Anini placed the ski mask back on Aaron’s table. Her pale skin did look finicky.
“Well...” Aaron dropped his righteous attitude. “I could knit with synthetics. I’m always up for new experiences.”
“It needs to be knit thin enough to be worn indoors, and there needs to be inner pockets over each cheek and one over the center of the forehead.”
“That’s pretty specific. What are you going to put in those pockets?”
“Can you knit it?”
“Yes, I can. I can knit it however you’d like.”
“How much will it cost?”
“For you, no charge.
“I’m willing to pay.”
“I don’t want your money.”
“What do you want?”
“I want to get to know you.”
“You might regret that.”
“It’s better to regret something you have done than something you haven’t done.”
“Is that from some inspirational poster?”
“No, it’s from a Butthole Surfers song.”
“So you expect me to lead my life using advice from the Butthole Surfers?”
“We can get started immediately. Come with me to my igloo. Most my knitting tools are there. We can stop at the fabric shop on the way and pick up some synthetics.”
“You have an igloo?”
“Let’s go,” she replied.
* * *
Aaron had wheels. He had borrowed Tina’s twenty-year old rusty Honda Civic to get to the craftster fair. They swung by a knitting store, and Anini bought a variety of colored synthetic wool, then they headed toward the igloo.
With her umbrella propped on her shoulder and the bag of synthetic yarn in her lap, Anini rode shotgun in Tina’s car as they drove. The igloo was about a twenty-minute drive outside of the Twin Cities.
The seats in Tina’s car had been reupholstered with Aaron’s knitting, including a pair of pink fluffy dice, hanging from the rearview mirror. Anini played with the dice. “Love the dice.”
“Hand-knit by me.” This was the most relaxed Aaron had ever seen Anini. “So what type of name is Anini?”
“And Odegard is Norwegian.”
“So you’re part Assyrian and part Norwegian?”
“We’re all part Assyrian.”
“Even the Inuit?” asked Aaron.
“Yes, even the Eskimos,” responded Anini.
Aaron parked on the snowy shoulder of a small county road and turned off Tina’s Honda. “We have to walk from here.”
They got out of the car. The dark county road cut through a snowy deciduous forest. Aaron stepped toward a narrow snow-covered service road that led up a hill. Bare-limbed trees with snow and ice on their branches lined the road, creating the feel of a spooky cartoon.
Holding the bag of synthetic wool, Anini anxiously extended her umbrella while looking at the road. “Where are we going?”
“We have to walk up the hill and through the woods.”
“To Grandmother’s house we go?”
Aaron started up the path. Anini hesitantly followed. Aaron stopped and looked at her. “If you don’t want to go, we can turn back.”
“I want to go,” she said firmly.
Aaron led Anini up the service road to a small valley in the crevice of the double-topped hill. A large billboard faced a four-lane freeway below. They walked to the front of the billboard and looked up at a fifty-foot tall picture of the Jolly Green Giant rising from the billboard. Sprout stood by the Jolly Green Giant’s knee, and a yellow banner next to Sprout read, “Welcome to the Valley.”
“Behold, the Jolly Green Giant,” said Aaron.
Anini fearfully gazed up at the Green Giant. “Why are we here?”
“My igloo is built into the hill behind the billboard. I’ve always had a thing about Green Giant commercials.”
Aaron walked around the billboard, and Anini followed him to a mound of snow against the hill a couple hundred feet behind the billboard.
Aaron cleared snow off the mound, revealing an igloo. He then dug out the entrance and crawled inside. Clutching her umbrella, Anini crawled in, too.
Thick wool blankets covered the floor. The walls were smooth and white and cut to fit perfectly together like puzzle pieces. Homemade baskets filled with weaving supplies, a pile of blankets, and a lantern lined the sides of the igloo.
“Cool!” said Anini, taking it all in.
Aaron picked up a metal rod and cleared a ventilation hole. “On a clear night, you can see the Great Bear through this hole.”
Anini gazed through the ventilation hole at the stars. “It’s like an ancient observatory.”
“That’s what I was going for,” said Aaron while clearing another ventilation hole.
Anini placed her umbrella on the ground and lay down, wrapping her arms around her chest like an Egyptian mummy. “Or it could be a tomb.”
Aaron lit a lantern and lay down next to her. “For an ice queen,” he said.
“Waiting for the angels to take her to heaven,” she added.
“Your umbrella — it’s a transmitter, calling out to heaven.”
Anini rolled on her side and looked at Aaron. “Like E.T. phone home? I only wish.”
Aaron rolled on his side, facing Anini. “So what is it then?”
“My umbrella’s no joke.”
“I’m not joking.”
Anini solemnly stared into Aaron’s hazel eyes. “I’m very good with electricity.”
“Just don’t forget it. What I’m about to tell you is between me and you and nobody else. Got it?”
Anini ran her finger along a scar on the bottom of her eye, drawing Aaron’s attention. “I built my umbrella to jam signals from a transmitter implanted behind my eyeball by aliens.”
Aaron’s mouth gaped open.
“The first abduction was when I was eight. My nose bled for a week. They came at night — took me from my bed — drugged me and did things to me, terrible things. They probed me. They probed my mouth, my nose, my eyes, my ears...” Tears swelled in Anini’s eyes. “And they probed my brain.”
Wide-eyed, Aaron gawked at Anini.
“By sixth grade, I was so freaked out that if someone slightly brushed up against me, I’d jump and cry. I was on the verge of a breakdown. I had no one to talk to. I told my mother, and she told me never to repeat what I had just said.”
Anini reached out and held Aaron’s hand. “So I turned inward and was halfway to catatonia when one of the aliens took a liking to me and called off the probes. He took me away from the others, and he spoke to me.”
“Wow, they have mouths.”
“They have mouths, but they prefer not to use them. They broadcast their thoughts like videos, and his thoughts were incredible, stuff I would never have dreamt of in a million years. I have to admit, I enjoyed it, but I didn’t want it.”
“I’m sorry,” said Aaron.
“As I grew older, I became more and more rebellious toward him. I tried to shut him out, but he overwhelmed me with his mind. He could have overwhelmed me with his body, but what he really wants is my heart.” Anini squeezed Aaron’s hand. “My heart is the only thing I’m able to withhold from him.”
Aaron absorbed her words without questioning them. He felt for her.
She continued, “The night of my sixteenth birthday, he appeared at the foot of my bed and asked me to marry him. The next morning, I ran away from my parents’ house. And I’ve been running ever since.” Anini sighed and sadly scrutinized Aaron. He was silent. “You probably think I’m crazy.”
Aaron shook his head. “No, I don’t think you’re crazy.” He opened his arms, and she cuddled up to him. A tear ran down her cheek, and she closed her eyes. Aaron held her while staring through the ventilation hole at the Great Bear. He didn’t know what to think, so he thought of nothing at all.
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon