Today's flash fic takes us back to the Myth and Science Universe several months after the events of "I Have the Weirdest Friends." Okay, so it's not the "long story" about how Jenn and Penelope found out Lily wasn't from Earth. That story's being saved for the Myth and Science Universe short story collection in the works, but today's story happens pretty much right after that one.
Having a passing familiarity with the universe helps, but it's not necessary to enjoy or understand the story.
You can also listen to the audio version.
“The surgery was easy. Life after the surgery?” Lily grimaced and flopped back onto my bed. “That’s been torture.”
“How so?” I asked.
“We’re shifters by nature,” Lily said.
Her expression looked uncomfortable and a bit confused. She started to say something else a few times, but she just kept grimacing and making a few frustrated noises. Whatever it was, I had a sense would be difficult for me to understand, so I stayed quiet and waited for her to figure out how she wanted to explain it.
Sighing in frustration, Lily pushed herself back into a sitting position and ran a hand through her hair. “Variations in color and pattern, changing size and shape, shifts in texture all factor into our communication,” Lily explained. “We even had several digits and limbs more or less removed.”
I winced at the squeak in my voice, and I didn’t know where to look. All of a sudden, I was imagining Lily with six arms and four legs, all with a bunch more fingers and toes than normal. The mental image had the same blue hair she’d had that first day and purple skin with green polka dots. I was a little freaked. I mean, who wouldn’t be? But Lils is a great person, and I didn’t want to make her feel weird. I tried to hide the fact I was having trouble processing this information.
“Oh you poor dear,” Penelope murmured.
My “cousin” from a different century reached out to Lily. Penny’s history with the Fae means she doesn’t have the most open mind when it comes to nonhuman, sentient species. I was freaked to discover Lily was from outside our solar system, but Penny was terrified. She isn’t one to show her emotions that much, but I’ve gotten pretty good at reading her over the past several months. The stiff way she held herself and how closely she followed Lily’s every move since that moment were dead giveaways. And here she was getting over her own hangups and showing sympathy.
Guilt over the way I was handling everything hit me like a kick in the gut. So what if Lils wasn’t human? So what if she didn’t always look like she does now? That doesn’t change who she is.
Lily gave Penny a weak smile and accepted the hug she offered.
“Communicating after the surgeries is like,” Lily trailed off as she thought, trying to translate her experience into something we humans could understand. “Speaking with someone in a room so dark, you can’t see anything at all, after your tongue is cut out.”
Penny and I both winced at the analogy, and I felt like ten times more of a heel than I already did for being amused by and getting frustrated with Lily’s “accent” her first month or so here. Not only had she learned a whole new language, she did it after losing every means of communication she’d always known.
“I know it’s probably a poor substitute,” I said. “But Penny and I would be glad to help you learn more about human body language and expressions.” I grimaced at how awkward that sounded. “You know, since you’re kind of stuck looking like one of us and living with a bunch of us now, if that’d help.”
A strange expression crossed Lily’s face. If she were human, I’d think she was tearing up. She smiled. It looked wobbly, but it also looked genuine.
“More than you know.”
Each story in this series is 700 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first prompt like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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