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Out of this world
I was sitting on the dusty red dirt of Mars, looking at the orange sky. By my side, with his arm around my waist, was my secret boyfriend, holding me on my last day on this planet.
Okay, first let me explain a few things. The whole reason we were sitting on the ground was that my boyfriend forgot the chairs. And the ground was really starting to hurt my butt.
The boy, his name was Jim. Actually, his real name was J’kmadan-las’har-makana. And that was just his first name. But since it was long and very complicated, I just called him Jim. And he was a Telkret, a native of Mars.
You see, the Telkret really hated to be called Martians. “Martian” in the Telkret language sounded like one of their words, “mr’tain,” which, roughly translated, meant “dirt rock,” which was a sort of vegetable not unlike an earth potato. So, they started mocking us, calling us “Eartians,” pronounced like “Urchins.” This didn’t go over very well with most humans, but when the Telkret reminded us that they were basically called potatoes, those humans started getting over it.
Humans first discovered the Telkret and thought them a savage people, like they have many other times in history with other cultures. Then, they discovered that they had houses and families and pets, just like humans did, and it was all kept underground in carefully designed tunnels because of frequent sandstorms.
Really, they weren’t that different from humans. The only differences were the strange golden skin, the fact that the average height was around six and half feet, and the pair of retractable antennae on the sides of their heads, which served as a third set of eyes and, when retracted, as ears. Also, they lived to be about 110 years old. Sickness rarely ever took anyone.
But no matter how alike, no matter that humans and Telkret have lived together in peace for almost a century, most humans didn’t like the idea of interspecies dating. That was one reason why my relationship with him had to be kept a secret.
And it was my last day on the planet. My family had to go back to Earth, and since I was only seventeen, I had to go with them.
Which means I had to leave Jim behind.
“I wish you could come with us,” I said, taking in his unique scent.
“I wish I could, also. But I am not sure your parents would like that very much.”
From a young age, my father had made what he wanted for my future pretty clear: He wanted me to settle down with his business partner’s son and have lots of kids. He already had the wedding planned out for when I turned eighteen. This was another reason I kept us a secret.
Matthew, the guy my father wanted me to be with, agreed with me when it came to the wedding. Neither of us wanted to marry the other. He already had a beautiful girlfriend, Amanda. He wanted her, not me.
The most important reason I kept Jim a secret, though, was that my parents both wanted grandchildren, and though they could be intimate, the Telkret can’t have kids with humans. It was a genetic impossibility.
“They won’t have much say in it in a few months; I’ll be eighteen then.”
“I do not want to come between you and your parents,” he said, nuzzling my neck. “You are so close to them. Do not choose me over them.” He began to cover my neck with small kisses, making shivers run down my spine.
I made the decision to tell him what I had kept in for a month. “But I love you,” I whispered, half hoping that he hadn’t heard me.
His lips stilled. He pulled himself back a little and looked in my eyes. The surprised look on his face told me that he did.
“I’m sorry,” I said, pulling myself from his embrace as a blush colored my cheeks. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. If you don’t feel that way, it’s fine. I just--”
He pulled me close again, crushing his soft, chapped lips to mine. He pulled back long enough to whisper, “I love you, also. I always will.” Then he captured my lips with his again.
I kissed him back with everything I had until he pulled back and looked at me. “Why are you crying?”
I put a hand to my face and found out that I was, indeed, crying. “Because I’m leaving,” I said, wiping the rest of the tears away. “And I’m going to miss you.”
“I, too, will miss you. But we have no choice. I must stay here to help my mother and you must go with your parents.”
The tears were coming faster than I could wipe them away. Then an idea came. “Do I?”
His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I could stay here, with you. I could argue that I’m basically an adult anyway. I’m almost done with school, and I’m taking video classes, which I could do here just as easily as I could do back home…” My voice trailed off as I saw him shaking his head. “What? I could totally do that.”
He took my hand and kissed my palm tenderly. “You must go with your parents,” he repeated. “I will not come between you and them.”
“You will, anyway,” I argued. “I’m coming back as soon as I turn eighteen. They’re gonna have a problem with it then, too. I‘m not marrying someone I don‘t love.”
“But not as badly as they will now.”
The earth rumbled, signaling an upcoming storm. “I will take you home,” he said, standing up gracefully. He held his slender hand out for me to take.
“I’ll go with you,” I said as I stood, brushing dust from my pants, “but I don’t want to go home yet.”
“Var’mekt, my love, stop being so stubborn. Your parents will be worried about you.”
I rolled my eyes as I pulled my hair back in an attempt to keep it from flying everywhere. “C’mon, now, they know I’m not stupid enough to stay outside during a sandstorm.”
He just looked at me. “I will take you home.”
“Fine,” I grumbled. He led me to the nearest tunnel entrance. “I thought you might want to spend my last day together, but whatever. You can take me home.”
He smiled. “Have you packed yet? Or are you still, as you say, ‘organizing’?”
I clenched my teeth together. “Well, I have a lot of things to organize…”
He laughed. “You should pack. You are leaving in the morning.”
“Yeah, yeah. Do you have to remind me?”
He stopped and looked at me, face serious. “You leaving will not change my love for you.”
I rested my head on his chest as tears came to my eyes again. “I know, but that doesn’t make it any easier,” I whispered.
He hugged me close as a huge gust of wind almost knocked us off our feet. “We must go,” he said. We started walking until we came to a fork in the tunnel. This was where we separated.
“Goodbye,” I said, hugging him again.
He kissed my forehead. “Farewell, var’mekt. Kfar’vak yahrma.”
“What does that mean?” I asked.
He laughed. “You should have paid more attention in your Telkret class,” he said before giving me a quick kiss and leaving.
“Wait!” I called after him. “What does it mean?” He didn’t turn around, so I went down the other passage to my house, mumbling to myself, “Stupid alien language.”
I went inside to find my mother in the living room, reading the latest news from Earth.
“You have a lot to pack,” she said as I walked into the kitchen. When I opened her mouth, she said, “And don’t tell me you’re still organizing. I know that trick.”
I smiled to myself as I picked up an apple. “Mom,” I asked, turning the apple in my hands, “what does ‘Kfar’vak yahrma’ mean?”
She looked up at me. “Why?” she asked. “Did someone tell you that?”
“No,” I lied. “I just heard it.”
She smirked, going back to the paper. “You should’ve paid more attention in your Telkret class. I can’t be translating things for you all the time.”
“Okay fine, I’ll pay more attention,” I said, irritated. “Now what does it mean?”
“It means, ‘Wait for me.’”
I froze, before realizing that my mom might get suspicious. “Oh, okay,” I said, trying not to let my feelings show on my face.
“Tell Jim, ‘Mrl-erf ji kfarne,’” she said as I was turning around.
“What?” I asked, stunned.
“It means ‘I’ll be waiting.’” She looked me right in the eyes. “You are going to wait for him, aren’t you?”
I didn’t try to play dumb. I didn’t ask how she knew. I simply answered her.
“Yes. I will.”