“Can I sit at your table?” she asked.
“Because your eyes are yellow and I find that interesting.”
“Yellow?” he said, closing his eyes. “How about now?”
“Sure, sit down.”
She pulled out a chair, and put her books on the table. “What are you?”
“A student. What are you?”
“A reader, worker, writer…you know, lots of things.”
“You’re more interesting than I am.”
“I seriously doubt that,” she laughed, as the waitperson put down her tea.”
“That kind of thing always depends on which side you’re looking from.”
“Excellent point,” she agreed. “Now tell me what you are?”
“I’m a student, trying on a human body, to study your species in your natural environment.”
“Cool,” she said, taking a sip of tea, burning her mouth and waving at her lips frantically. “Hot, hot, hot.”
He handed her his glass of ice water and she chugged it, capturing an ice cube and pressing it to the most painful part of the roof of her mouth “Munta?”
“Thanks,” she said, spitting the ice cube into a napkin. “It’s a little too hot to drink.”
“I gathered that.”
“So, did you just take over someone’s body, or did you make a new, one?”
“New one,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to take over someone else’s mind.”
“Then you’re already better than we are. Our scientists will do anything they can and never care about who they hurt.”
“I’ve noticed that.”
“Tell me what you think of us.”
“Do you want the truth, or do you want to be pacified.”
“Truth, please,” she said excitedly.
“Your species is self-serving, violent, careless, dangerous, vicious, destructive, selfish, kind, generous, thoughtful, sweet, caring, evil, hateful, mean, funny, talented, semi-skilled, creative and doomed.”
“I thought everything was doomed.”
“Everything is doomed. But some things are doomed earlier than others. Then the whole thing starts over again.”
“You mean, WE’LL BE BACK,” she said, in her best Terminator voice.
“Hopefully, with a few changes that will make you less insane.”
“Good luck with that,” she said, sipping her tea cautiously.
“What do you think of your species?” he asked, eating an onion ring and pushing the plate toward her.
She grabbed a ring and said, “I think everything you said was spot on. But you could add friendly and helpful, at times. We are hyper emotional, which leads to all the negative things you mentioned. We are jaded, and a lot of other ugly things, like racist, sexist, and agist. We care nothing for our own planet and the other living things on it. Greed is a major flaw. Power, over others, is another major one. Compassion is at the very bottom of the list, and even then it only includes humans. People are cruel, but don’t care. What’s it like where you’re from?”
“It’s different. Not necessarily better. We don’t have violence, or emotions, like you do, but that leads to a flat existence. Passion doesn’t really exist and without it, the arts die. Creativity dies. I can best describe us by saying we are like white static on a TV screen. We’re too much the same. As horrible and miserable as your species is, you’re actually alive. We live, but we aren’t alive, not the way you are.”
“I get it.”
“I’m not sure I want to leave here,” he said, looking away. “I only have a few more months, then I’m due to return.”
“Stay. Tell them you have more work to do and you need more time.”
He smiled at her. “That’s your world.”
She nodded. “So, you’re not free either.”
“No. Not really.”
“Want to come to my place? I’m doing a thousand piece puzzle and I could use the help.”
“I’ve never done a puzzle,” he said.
“It’s how I sometimes turn off the world.”
“You don’t, but you might, when you work on it,” she said.
“What’s your name?”
“Diana. What’s yours?”
“I’m called X10, but here I’m Bradley.”
“I’ll call you X.”
“If you go home can you write to me?”
He laughed. “No. But that’s another thing that’s missing from our species. Laughter.”
“I wouldn’t want to give that up.”
“I’ll miss it.”
“Maybe you’ll be able to remember it.”
“It’s not allowed. It would be like an infection that could spread to others.”
“A good infection,” she said, smiling at him.
“No, because laughter can’t be controlled.”
“So you’re living in 1984, just like we are.”
“I read that book in a class I took when I first arrived here. And, yes, we are living in 1984, just like you are. Yours is just more colorful and bloody.”
She took his hand and snuggled closer. “The puzzle is of skeleton bikers, with flames coming out of their eyes, riding over government bad guys who are chained to the ground with thick silver unbreakable chains.”
He smiled at her. “I can hardly wait.”