Art and the philosophy of life

Posts tagged ‘How they met’

Neon…How they met…

green Super helpful neon signage near window

“You’re Super Helpful, right?” she asked, looking around.

“That’s what the sign says,” he answered, grinning at her.  “What do you want?”

“I want you to get rid of the supreme court.  I want you to divide the country into blue and red states and make the people stay away from each other, so they can live like the Handmaids Tale in the red states, and be free in the blue states.  I want you to kill patriarchy.  I want you to make freedom of choice part of the constitution and I want more books on cats in stores.  There are tons of books on dogs and one or two on cats.  I want experiments on animals to stop immediately.  I want the war in Ukraine to stop, I want violence against women and children to end forever,  I want chocolate malts to be calorie free, I want equality to be an absolute, I want help with…”

He held up his hand.  “We aren’t that helpful.”

“That’s not what you said a few minutes ago.  You said you were SUPER Helpful.”

“Look,” he said.  “I can tell you where to get the best coffee in town, or where to bring your clothes to be cleaned.  I can tell you who sells the best pizza, or where to get your eyes checked, and…”

“I don’t want help with those things.  Besides, everyone has different taste and what you may think is the best coffee, might not be the best to anyone else.”

“What do you want,” he asked.

“I was telling you what I wanted when you held up your hand to silence me.”

“Sorry.  You were just going off on a tangent and…”

“Tangent?  Going off on a tangent?  I was telling you how to stop the country from destroying itself.”

“When?  I didn’t get that part.”

“Seriously?  You didn’t GET that part?”

“The things you mentioned, are never going to change, so I thought you were kidding.”

“What do you MEAN THEY ARE NEVER GOING TO CHANGE?”

“Men will never relinquish power, and they keep power by using violence and inequality.  Therefore,” he said, holding up his hands, “nothing will ever change.”

“You’re male.”

“So?”

“What are you doing to change anything?”

“Nothing,” he said.  “Why should I?  The world was made for males.  Your problems are not my problems.”

She turned, walked away, then released her flying monkeys.

 

 

Neon…How they met…

Text

“Did you make that sign?” he asked, starting at the words, as they stood in the street staring at the neon.

“Yes,” she said. “I did.”

“I like it.”

“Thank you.  Without art, the world would be a living hell.”

“The world is a living hell,” he said, turning toward her.

“Yes, but art makes hell bearable.”

He nodded.

“Do you believe everyone is an artist?”

“No.  Do you?” he asked.

“I think everyone is creative.  Some people are naturally creative, talent oozing from every pore.  Others can become more creative, with practice.  Some refuse to accept their creativity, but for the majority of people their creativity is put to sleep by the establishment.  Creativity is not rewarded, but frowned upon.  Those who are able to over come their conditioning, become, while those who believed they have no creativity, no longer recognize it.  But creativity is in the way people dress, decorate their homes, walk, etc. You can’t keep creativity down, at least not all the way.  Not without doing a lot of damage.”

“That’s really dark,” he said, taking a step away from her.

“Maybe.  But it’s still true.”

“So you believe everyone has creativity deep inside of them?”

“I think creativity is what we are.  The establishment thinks creativity, and thinking for one’s self, is dangerous to the point where they do everything possible to take it out of children, so they are more easily controlled.  Creative people are difficult to control, that’s why art, as a way of life, is usually frowned upon by parents and others.  Being an artist can be a tough way to make a living. The men in power hate artists, unless they’re having their picture taken with one of the famous few, during an election year.”

“You should wear black and carry a sign that says, END OF DAYS,” he muttered.

“I tried it, but it’s boring and no one really reads signs anymore.  That’s why I did this one in neon.  People might not read, but they do like lights.”

“That’s true.”

“I know.  That’s why I said it,” she snickered.  “What’s your creative thing?  I mean you dress…kind of cool.”

“Do you want to talk about it over coffee?”

“Sure,” she said.  “Why not.”

“Come on, let’s go to Cup of Delight.”

 

Photo:  Viktoria Alipatova
Pexels

 

 

How they met…

“Hi,” he said cheerfully.  “Welcome to Paradise.”

“Where is it?”

“Where is what?” he asked.

“Paradise,” she said, looking around.  “All I see is a seedy bar and a tiny dance floor.

“That’s all there is.”

“So there IS no paradise?”

“I guess it depends on what your definition of paradise is,” he said,

“It’s not this.  It would be more of a beach, ocean, palm trees, which are on your sign, by the way.  More like a true warm, sunny, blue sky sandy place, where I could sit and sip cold drinks until there was a spectacular sunset, after which the sky would fill with billions of stars.”

“We don’t have that here.”

“Then it’s false advertising.”

“Maybe someone else’s definition of paradise is different than yours.  Maybe another person would say that their idea of paradise is a smallish room filled with tiny tables and stools, a small dance floor, dim lights, and a little stage for live music on weekends.”

“If that’s a person’s description of paradise, they don’t need much to be happy.:

“Is that aa bad thing? he asked.

“Not necessarily.  Could just be that all that person’s dreams have been destroyed by life and that’s all he or she is left with.”

“That’s sad.”

“So is your sign.  You promise something you can’t deliver.  At least not for me.”

“I can make you a drink and put a palm tree swizzle stick in it.”

She looked at him for a moment and nodded.  “Okay.”

“We’re like the government.  All fake, lies, smoke and mirrors.”

She choked on her drink, and nodded.

“You okay”

She wheezed and squeaked out a small breathless, “Yes.”

“You’re really pretty.”

“Uh, thanks?”

“Do you think beauty is skin deep?”

“Yes.”

“So do I.”

“The other kind of beauty people talk about should be called something else.”

“I agree.”

“The concept of beauty changes constantly,” she said.  “The other stuff, kindness, helpfulness, and things, are static in a way.  Those things aren’t on the magazine covers or on the big screen.  Kindness isn’t really beautiful, it’s kindness.”

“I see what you mean.”

“A nice personality is just that.  A beautiful face, or body is just that.  It has to do with looks.  It’s a visual thing you can see without knowing a person, or what they’re like, or knowing anything about whatever you think is beautiful.  People can do beautiful things.  Set the perfect beautiful table, dress beautifully, and any of those things have nothing to do with inner things.  Beauty is an outer thing.  One person can think their partner is beautiful, when no one else does.  Eye of the beholder and all that.  Why are we talking about this.”

“It’s actually a distraction from the fact that this bar isn’t really Paradise.”

“Ah.”

“Did it work?”

“Yes.  At least for awhile.”

“Do you want to get married?”

“What’s your name?”

“Eddie.”

“Thanks Eddie, but I’m not the marrying type.”

“Just thought I’d ask.”

“Appreciate it.”

He nodded.  “What type are you?”

“I don’t have an answer for that.  Still working it out.”

“Do you want to go to see the new exhibit at the Art Institute?”

“When?”

“Friday?”

“Yes.  I’ll meet you there.  Front steps, what time?”

“I’m off that day.  How about noon and we’ll figure out what to do from there.”

She stood up, grabbed the swizzle stick and said, “I’m keeping this.”

He handed her more.  “Take all you want.”

“One’s enough.”

“You didn’t tell me your name.”

“It’s Page.  My mother loved books, so it’s spelled like the page of a book.”

“Cool.”

“See you Friday,” she said.

“Can’t wait,” he whispered, watching her walk out the door.

 

 

Photo:  Logan Weaver?@LGNWVA

Unsplash

 

 

How they met…

Book signage

I need a book,” he said, throwing his backpack onto the counter.  “Will you help me?”

“What kind of book? I need a bit more information.”

“No, you don’t understand,” he said, frustration showing clearly on his face.  “Look at me, and then give me the book you think I need to read.”

“Okay.” she said.  “I can do that.”

He stopped fidgeting and exhaled.  “Thank you,” he sighed.

She took his hand, which he gave willingly, and closed her eyes.  He closed his eyes as well, relaxing into her touch.

“Got it,” she said, letting go.  “Don’t move, I’ll be right back.”

He pushed away from the counter, and watched her disappear into another room.  He walked over to a shelf, and ran his fingers lightly across the spines of the books resting there.  He thought he heard heard the books giggle, but chalked it up to his high level of stress.

“I have it,” she said.  “The perfect book.”

He returned to the counter and started at the cover.  “Are you sure?”

“Positive,” she said.  “It’s about deep and powerful unconditional love, loyalty, terrible loss and pain, and renewal.  It’s not an easy book to read.  It will stay with you.  Forever.”

“If you’re sure,” he said, taking the book.

“I am.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

The bell on the door tinkled as it closed behind him.

She walked over to the shelf he had been looking at and whispered, “You’re not supposed to giggle when customers, tickle you.”  The books giggled again, and she smiled.  “I gave him The Velveteen Rabbit.  it will devastate him, but he will see his own life in the pages, and it will help him heal.”  The books sighed, as she blew them a kiss, and went to help the woman who had just entered the shop.

 

 

 

Photo:  Paolo Chiabrando
Unsplash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How they met…

“Do you know, that if you close all the McDonald’s in Russia, it won’t save a single life?  If you stop Visa, IKEA, or Apple, not a single bullet will be deterred.  Nothing the world is doing to Russia, will stop the murder in the Ukraine.  Nothing.  Eventually, it will inconvenience Russians, but won’t bring back the hundreds of children who have been killed, or the people who have died. So, basically we are doing  NOTHING AT ALL, to help people stay alive.”

“Uh, I’m sorry” he said.  “Is there anything you would like me to do?”

“Like what?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  I think most people feel the way you do, but what can we do?”

“See, that’s the thing.  We are powerless. PEOPLE have nothing to say about what happens around them, or to them.  Don’t you think there’s something really WRONG with that?”

“Yes, I do,” he agreed.

“So there’s nothing we CAN do, but watch people get slaughtered, and watch their country be destroyed.”

“I don’t know what to say, but this is my stop, so I have to get off the bus.”

She nodded at him.  “Have a nice day.”

“I wish I could do something.”

“You can’t.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too, but being sorry doesn’t help anyone.”

How they met…

“You left this on the table, at the Deli,” she said, walking up behind him.  “My books are important to me, so I assumed you’d want this one back.”

“Thank you,” he said, shoving the book into his jacket pocket.  “I’m almost finished with it.”

“I could tell, from the position of your bookmark,” she snickered.

He nodded.  “I’m not getting the next book in the series.  I don’t like the main character.”

“Neither did I.  I couldn’t finish the one you’re reading.  I didn’t even make it half way through.”

“”Understandable.”

“She held up her book.  “THE LAZY PURPLE IGUANA ON THE FRONT PORCH.  It’s very political.”

“I don’t know the book, but I like the title.”

“The cover art is fantastic,” she said.  “The woman who did it is a graffiti artist.”

“The art is fantastic,” he agreed, reaching for the book.  “I’m not familiar with the author,” he said.

“Well, you are now,” she said.

“You wrote this?”

“I did.  It’s my third book.”

“Brilliant.  Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Did you always want to be an author?”

“The stories inside of me did, so I just let them have their way.”

“That’s the best reason I’ve ever heard for writing books.”

She shrugged.  “Well, if you have a LOT of stories inside, and you don’t write them down, they begin to pile up and then there’s no room for you.”

“i get that,” he said.

“Well, nice meeting you.  Have a good day,” she said, turning to go.

“Nice meeting you too, but here’s you book.”

“You can keep it, as a reminder not to leave things behind at the Deli, or else strange women will be forced to follow you down the street.”

“Would you care to follow me some more?”

She stared at him, then said, “I think I would.”

“There’s an author reading at Books on Shelves, tomorrow night at seven.  Would you like meet there at six, then go out for coffee?”

“I’ll see you then,” she said, turning away.

“What’s your name,” he called.

“Freedom.  What’s yours?”

“Rebel,” he sighed.

They started laughing, and waved goodbye.

 

 

How they met…

“Singing this song is stupid,” she mumbled, holding her hand in front of her candle’s flame.

“Excuse me?” said the guy next to her. “Did you just say singing Imagine, is stupid?”

“Yes and why were you listening to me mumble?”

“Un, how could I not hear you?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “maybe because there are several hundred people standing in the street with us.”

“We are squashed together.  Even with my fingers in my ears, I probably would have heard you.”

“Probably,” she conceded.

“Why do you think singing this is stupid?”

“Because all the people will never do anything together.”

“It’s a song of hope.”

“False hope,” she snapped.  “I think we have enough of that, don’t you?”

“It makes people feel better,” he said.

“Just what we need.  More Soma for the masses.  People need to feel angry, not mellow.  Angry enough to fight back.”

He was quiet for a minute then said.  “I see your point.”

She huffed.  “Can you Imaging no religions?  If that happened we might actually have a chance to move forward and have some kind of peace.”

“No, I can’t imagine it.”

“THAT’S what I mean.”

He nodded.  “That’s true.”

“We need songs that inspire people to fight back and not accept the way they are treated.  We need songs that show how peace is STOLEN from us by governments and popes and…”

“You know what?”

“What?” she said, turning toward him.

“You’re right.”

“I am?”

“Yes,” he said, you are.  “It’s easy to pop a Soma, sing a song that’s ridiculous , and blame others when things fall apart, rather than take responsibility for we allow to happen.”

Her shoulders sagged.  “Thank you,” she whispered.

“By ignoring the truth, we take no responsibility for our own actions and are, therefore, guilty of letting others make decisions for us.  Then we blame the system that we have set up and put into place ourselves.”

She stared up at him, put her arms around him and kissed him.  He kissed her back, the wax from both of their candles dripped down the backs of their jackets and onto the street.

“Wanna get some coffee?” he asked.  “We can talk about how to bring down the establishment.”

She kissed him again, and this time he laughed, when they broke apart.  “You’re starving, to be understood.”

She just stood there, looking at her burned out candle.

“I get it,” he said.  “Let’s go.”

They went to Nora’s Hot Pot and Pie Deli, where they talked, over steaming hot coffee and blueberry pie and ice cream, until closing time.

His name was Adam, her name was Eve and they were both allergic to apples, but they were the start of something big.

 

How they met…

“Wow,” he said, looking around.  “Read much?”

She smirked.  “What gave it away?”

“The stacks of books,” he said, throwing his trench coat across a living room chair.

“Make yourself comfortable,” she whispered, to herself.  “Coffee?”

“Sure.  Black, please.”

“Cookies?”

“What kind?”

“Oreos.”

“Love them, unless they’re double stuffed, then no, thank you.  The cookie is the best part, the filling is just there to give the top and bottom layers a boost,” he said, reading the spines on the books.  “You read everything.”

“Not everything,” she said.  “And I don’t buy double stuffed, so no problem.”

“I want to look at every book.  Every single one.”

“Here’s your coffee.”

“Thanks,” he said, still looking at the books on a shelf.

“So?  What do you think?”

“Think? Think bout what?”

“About the apartment, what else?”

“Um,” he said, smiling at her.

“That’s why you’re here,” she said.  “To look at the apartment.”

“Don’t move out,” he said.  “Don’t change a thing.  This is a trendy neighborhood, and I’ll come over next weekend and build more shelves in the other room.  You said you needed more space for your books, so I can fix that problem.”

“Seriously?”

“Of course.  That’s what book people do for each other, isn’t it?”

“Not that I know of,” she said.  “You’re starting to creep me out.”

He turned to her, three books in his hand.  “You love books, know how to make black coffee, and you don’t buy double stuffed.  Not only that, you were willing to move from this great apartment, for the sake of your books. You’re the perfect woman.”

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, staring at him.

“Nothing.  Where are the cats?”

“In the bedroom.  How did you know I had cats?”

“How could you not have cats?” he asked, frowning at her.  “I think I’m in love with you.”

“I think you’re in love with my books.”

“And your plants.  And your artwork.  And I’ll probably love your cats, once I get to know them.  I hated Moby Dick,” he said, looking at the paperback, he was holding.

“So did I.”

“Do you read books you hate, or do you stop reading them?”

“I stop reading them,” she said.

“Same here.  Life’s too short to read books you don’t like.  Are you in love with anyone, at the moment?”

She shook her head.

“Neither am I.”

“You’re not a regular real estate person, are you.”

“Sort of.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I need to measure the walls, so I know how much lumber to buy.  Brackets, screws and all that.”

“You can’t be serious,” she said.

“There are a lot of big name authors missing from these stacks.”

“And?”

“You don’t read best sellers.”

“So?”

“I like that.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said, obviously frustrated.  “Who are you, and…”

“Oh, sorry,” he said, holding out his hand.  “Devin Smith.  Actually, it’s Devin Ian Smith, to be exact.”

“Are you a relator, or not?  I want to know.”

“Now and then. I mean I have my license and everything.  I saw your friend Janet, at Todd’s TO GO, and she told me all about your books.  She said you were thinking of moving because you were running out of room. She asked me to come over and take a look.  Janet and I have known each other for years.  We grew up on the same street.”

“Why didn’t she tell me about you?”

“She probably meant to, but you know how she is.”

She nodded.  He was right.  Janet probably forgot completely, or just didn’t press SEND.”

“Call her,” he said.

She did.  “She said you’re not crazy and that she’s known you for years.  She said you grew up together.”

He looked at her.  “Can I see the cats?”

Fluff and Marlene sashayed out of the bedroom, tails held high.

He smiled and sat on the floor.  “Hi,” he said to the cats, who were moving toward him.  How gorgeous are you!” he said, reaching out to pet them.  “You must be Marlene,” he said to the gray and white long haired.  That makes you Fluff.  I have a big dog who would love to meet you.  He adores cats.  You can climb on him and everything.”

“Do you want to stay for dinner?  It’s getting late.”

“Sure.  Thank you,” he said, getting up.  “Janet is a great friend.  She said we would like each other, and she was right, at least on my part.”

“That’s why she didn’t call,” she said.  “She was setting us up.”

“I’ll have to buy her flowers,” he chuckled.  “I’ll make the noodles,” he said, pouring water into the pot.

“Great,” she sighed, thinking of ways to kill her best friend.  A fall from her apartment window, poison ice cream.

“Look,” he said, coming up next to her.  “Neither of us expected this.  I can just go, and if you don’t want the shelves, just say so.  No one should be set up the way we were.”

Magic words, she thought, smiling at him.  “No, stay.  I want you to.”

“Are you going to kill Janet?”

“I haven’t decided yet.  Let’s see how the evening goes.”

He nodded, and went back to the noodles.

 

 

 

 

 

How they met…

“Hi.  I’m Death. Mind if I join you?” he asked, holding a tray with a donut and a cup of coffee on it.

She waved her fork at him in such a way, that he pulled out a chair and sat down.

“You don’t look like Death,” she said, sipping her tea.”

“What is Death supposed to look like?”

“Not like you.  Too preppy.”

He looked down at himself, and tugged on his polo shirt.  “You’re probably right,” he said.  “You know, there was a time when if I told someone who I was, the person would run screaming in the other direction.”

“Must have been a long time ago,” she said.

“Not as long as you think,” he said.  “You’re all jaded, even Death doesn’t scare most of you anymore.”

“How can you be Death?  You’re sitting here in a cafe having coffee and a donut.  If you were Death, wouldn’t you be busy reaping or something?”

“How do you know I’m not here reaping?”

“Oh, so you’re here for me?” she asked, biting into her bagel.

“No, actually, I’m not.  You still have time.”

“Time to do what?”

“Live, I imagine.”

“So, if you’re not here for me, are you here for someone else, or just taking a break?”

“Someone else.”

“Who?”

“The tall guy behind the counter.”

“Why?”

“Why what?” he asked, breaking his donut in two.

“Why him?”

“Beats me.  I just show up where I’m supposed to.”

“He’s young.  Has his whole life ahead of him,” she said.

“His whole life is only about fifteen minutes long.”

“Don’t do it,” she said.  “Leave him alone.”

“I don’t DO anything.  I just pick up the personality when it leaves the body.  It’s not as if I kill anyone.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Most people don’t.”

“Seems like a sore spot,” she said.

“Kind of.  I just pick up and deliver.  I don’t kill anyone.”

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked, looking toward the counter.

“Heart.”

“What if I called 911 and got them here before he died.”

“You can’t save a person when it’s his, or her, time.  No one can.”

“Why not?”

He shrugged.  “It’s too late.”

“Don’t you have the power to do anything?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No.  I’m not.”

“I don’t decide who lives and who dies.  I just make the transition easier.”

“What if you just walked away?”

“His personality would get lost.  That’s not a good thing.”

“How do you know that?”

“It’s my job.”

“That doesn’t mean anything.  Who do you work for?”

“The Universe.”

“So the Universe decides who lives and dies?”

“You’re kidding,” he chuckled.  “The Universe doesn’t care about you.  It probably doesn’t even know this place exists.”

“So, who decides?”

“The person who dies.”

She stared at him.  “Seriously?”

“Seriously,” he said.  “When you come here, you arrive with a life plan.  You know when you’re going to die, because once you’ve done what you came here to do, you want to leave.”

“Even babies?”

He nodded.  “Everyone.  Sometimes it’s simply to teach, or help someone else.  But it’s always up to the person, when his, or her life ends.  You guys keep thinking your bodies are what you are, and I get that.  I mean once you in one, you can’t get out, until it’s over, but in reality your bodies are simply a mode of transportation.  They get your brain to where it wants to go.  You need hands, and a body to manipulate physical reality, so that’s why you have them.  Besides, bodies are fun.  It’s like a ride at one of you amusement parks.”

“Can I kill you?”

“Kill me?” he said.

“Yes.  Can you die?”

“No.  And, for your information, that’s rude.”

“Just wondering.”

“You can’t KILL Death.”

“Why not?”

“It’s just not done.”

“Have you always been Death?”

“Of course.”

“Aren’t you bored?”

He thought for a minute.  “Well, each death is different but, in a way, yes, I am bored.”

“Can you quit?”

“Quit being Death?”

She nodded again.

“No.”

“Have you tried to quit?”

“No.”

“Then how do you know that you can’t?”

“Trust me,” he said, rolling his eyes.

“Why should I?  And if I did kill you would everything stop dying?”

“You never want that to happen,” he said quickly.  “The suffering would be terrible beyond belief. And overcrowding.  No food, water, no land to grow anything, constant hunger and misery and no escape.”

“And no way to escape,” she said, leaning back in her chair.

“Sickness and pain would still be here…and it would never end.  No release.”

“So you’re one of the good guys?”

“Believe it.”

She smiled at him.  “Nice meeting you Death.”

“Same here.”

“I’ll see ya around,” she laughed, standing up.

“Without a doubt.”

She picked up her backpack and walked away.  She heard a thump and people started screaming, as the guy behind the counter hit the floor.  She didn’t look back.

 

 

 

How they met…

“Can I sit at your table?” she asked.

“Why?”

“Because your eyes are yellow and I find that interesting.”

“Yellow?” he said, closing his eyes.  “How about now?”

“Brown.”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.”

“I see.”

“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.”

“Okay.”

“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.”

 

 

 

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