What on Earth

Prompt: Unseen


The two children were playing tag in the playground enclosure. One would chase the other, shout “You’re it!” and then would become the pursued rather than the pursuer. I don’t remember actually teaching them the game, especially as there were only two of them, but there they were, engaged in the most universal of childhood games. Chasing, catching, and switching roles.

Radical’s scant, black infant hair had evolved into a spiky, coarse russet-coloured mat (similar to my father’s), which was an odd complement to his darker, almost olive skin tone. What a contrast from his older sister, Angel, that beautiful child so pale in hair and flesh as to almost seem transparent. She was transparent, in fact, in word and deed. I suppose we had spoiled her terribly, this first child of this planet, but she somehow absorbed all the tsunamis of love and attention and transformed it into a sense of security, confidence, and a belief that no one would lie to her or do her harm, while never thinking herself the centre of the universe. Which was a misunderstanding, since all of us considered her to be exactly that.

Christopher was at the bank making a deposit, and would be along in a few minutes to take the children to lunch. Yes, of course the sperm bank. We were stocking up all manner of swimmers and eggs. We had a world to populate. Christopher was already father of two. Angel, by Sara, and Radical, my son.

Radical ran to where I was seated, almost out of breath. He closed my laptop and grinned at me, and I roughly tousled his already unruly hair. I felt a surge of affection because he was smiling at me, eye to eye. Does that seem strange? This was my first go at being a mother and I truly didn’t know what to expect, but I was surprised at little Radical’s apparent detachment, his ability to calm himself without my intervention, his serene, strange condescension; yes, even as a baby.

“I won,” said Radical.

“Superb effort!” I said in the pompous language that seemed to amuse him. I tried, I really did.

Angel appeared, wanting a drink of juice, just as Christopher came through the double doors. Angel dropped her juice, spilling it all over the floor, which we ignored, and then Christopher scooped her up in his arms, her long pale legs dangling. “How is my special Angel?” he asked.

“Raddy won,” Angel said, and seemed proud. Sometimes I found her impossibly perfect.

Radical held back, not from shyness, but to await his turn. Christopher set Angel down gently and then hauled Radical off his feet and threw him over his shoulder. “How’s my little alien?” he said, laughing, and Radical laughed too. Christopher winked at me, and then carried Radical as Angel trailed behind, out through the double doors.

I opened my laptop again. I had taken a photo of the children playing, and added it to my daily journal. The image was of Angel at the moment Radical tagged her, her face alight with joy, while Radical stretched impossibly and touched her with a lone finger.

My little alien. How on earth could Christopher think that was funny or appropriate?

But then, we weren’t on earth.

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