Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Day Their Earth Stood Still

When I awoke, the sun has just risen. Another perfect, beautiful sunny day, just like every day seems to be. In fact, I don’t even remember a rainy day at all since I was six…that was when my grandmother passed. It rained during the funeral, but the next day, sunny. It had stayed that way ever since. The flowers never needed watering; there was no drought, but no rain. Everything stayed perfect.

            I walked out of my bedroom and took the stairs down, like I did every morning. Halfway down, I stopped. I realized that today was my eighteenth birthday. I lit up with excitement, and flew downstairs, practically running into the kitchen. My parents were in there, my father dressed for work in a neatly-knotted tie and white shirt, reading the morning paper with a cup of coffee in his hand. My mother was in her floral-print dress and white apron, making breakfast at the stove. I sat at the table.

            “Good morning, honey.” my mother said to me, turning around from the stove with a smile. “Sleep well?”

            “Like a newborn baby!” I said with a grin.

            Both of my parents laughed at the same time, and then stopped together.

            “You crack me up, son.” my father said approvingly from behind the paper. “Say, son, today is Friday, right? Tonight’s the big game against Juniper High, isn’t it?”

            I beamed. I was the big football star for my high school. We were playing our rival, Juniper High, tonight in a big championship game. A football scout was there, and I was hoping to get noticed tonight. Hopefully, I could get a football scholarship into the college of my choice.

            “Yes, sir!” I said to my father. “The football scout will be there tonight also. Maybe I’ll get some good luck since it’s my birthday and everything.”

            My parents both froze.

            “Today…is…your birthday, son?” my father asked, putting down his paper and looking at me in the face.

            I was quiet for a moment. “Yes, sir…you didn’t know?”

            “He turns eighteen today, Ward.” my mother said.

            My father’s face changed into one of thought. “Eighteen, huh?”

            “Is something wrong?” I asked.

            My mother turned off the stove and turned to look at my father and I.

            “You need to tell him the truth, Ward. Before it gets out of hand.” she said to my father.

            He nodded slowly. After a minute, he turned to me.

            “Son?” he said.

            “Yeah, Dad?”

            “There is no easy way to put this, but…you are not one of us…you are not human.”

            I was in disbelief. “You’re joking, right Dad?” I said with a smile.

            “No son, I’m not. Years ago, your mother and I were newlyweds. My father had just bought us a new ride, and we were exploring around the universe, looking for a nice place to settle. We found this beautiful little planet called…Earth. When we landed, we were enamored of the charming era they called the 1950’s: the wardrobe, the lifestyle, everything. We both fell in love with it, your mother and I. We continued to make visits to Earth, hoping to integrate ourselves into the world once our technology allowed it.”

            “You mean…?” I asked. I had read science fiction comic books before.

            “Yes, son, camouflage suits. To make us look like humans. But as the years went by, the 1950’s passed. Times on Earth grew ugly. The worst was the era called the 1990’s. It was there that we saw a scrawny, drug-addled woman called Nadine give birth to a baby in the street, then leave it there, crying in cardboard box. That baby was you. Your mother did not want you, so we took you and brought you back to our planet. We would raise you in a world not unlike Earth’s 1950’s, except it would stay that way. We would keep everything perfect.”

            My mother hit a button under the cabinet. The world changed. My parents became massive, drooling, insect-like creatures. The world outside was not sunny and blue, but dark and polluted and dirty. A large, insect-like hive hovered where the sun once was.

            “Our leader said we could only keep you until you turn eighteen.” my mother said. “That was when earthlings let their offspring leave on Earth television. You mustn’t be allowed to live here anymore. The proper authorities will come get you after school.”

            My drooling father snapped his mandibles together, and spoke. “You are no longer one of us, son. You are no longer considered “human” on our planet. You are an alien.”

            After I got ready, my parents told me they loved me and sent me off to school. On the bus, I looked at all of the freakish bug-kids. Sandy Harmon was a bug…I liked her in seventh-grade. Travis Bond was a bug…he beat me up once in fourth-grade.

            Suddenly, I saw Mavis Radley, the weird girl who I had known since kindergarten and who had been ostracized by everyone since. She was known for her weird customs that made her so different from the rest of us. She was sitting alone, as usual. But she wasn’t a mass of insect-like arms and legs and mandibles.

            She looked just like me.

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