a friend to the lost

May 22, 2016

Sometimes he used to long for his home, and his eyes would be as flat as nickels and as far as a moon all at once. To bring him back to my plane of existence I would ask him questions about it, and he would tell me all sorts of strange and unbelievable things. Often we disagreed violently about what was possible, and would argue for hours about sound waves and electrical impulses and the properties of gravity and ground minerals. We would draw huge diagrams in the sand and stalk about them yelling and waving our arms. Always there would come a moment when we’d look into each other’s eyes, and the jagged edges of our limbal rings would line up and click into place and we’d both fall all over the place laughing.

This was when we believed each other the most. I believed in cell phones and the prevalence of beverage containers that click open with what looks like the most unbelievably complicated leveraging sort of system ever. He believed in the power of the flora and the sanctity of the fauna, and the logic of the stars.

Sometimes though I could not understand his memory of his home and this would make him sad. His eyes would flatten and drift again, and he would go curl up in his bunk and be dismal. I hated this, and the elders were always displeased.

Most things were simple. We wore similar clothing, with the obvious exception, of course. After his arrival people began to have suits made in the style of his clothes, and it became a great trend. He enjoyed seeing all the new versions of his uniform, and we enjoyed new life in a fashion line that had been given to repeating itself tirelessly as time passed. Our currency followed similar lines of thought, if not similar detailing. He loved to roll ours around in his hands, clicking them together. I loved to toss his into the air and see which side it would land on, which is apparently the way a lot of disagreements are settled where he is from. On many matters our homes and our habits agreed, and we were gladdened by our shared beliefs and experiences. On some matters however we could reach no common ground.

The cell phone was the biggest problem. It simply is not possible that a chunk of ground minerals can conduct one’s voice, one’s tone, one’s words, one’s meaning, across time and space to another chunk of ground minerals. He must have taken some toy and the tricks of an elder too much to heart as a child. I tried to show him this but he only flung himself away and spent three days sulking until I took him a baby micaw to play with. He is always a sucker for a baby animal.

Also there was the soda can. Also sometimes known as a pop can. It makes no sense to me as a container. If it is at all as he describes no one would ever have mass produced it. It is lacking all beauty and convenience. Furthermore it is apparently also some sort of currency for an underground contingency, which is hard to believe given the aforementioned improbability of mass production, and the simple fact that everyone only wants what is in containers. He has explained it many times but by now it is one of those things that makes my eyes go flat, and my mind fly out the window to play in the sparkling shallows on the shore.

One day when he was sulking about something and had been for almost a week and everyone was beginning to be worried, especially me, I decided that perhaps the wrong approach had been taken. Everyone needs some of their silly needs met. It is the silliness that keeps life tolerable.

So I gathered some chunks of ground mineral, and with tools and patience fashioned them into replicas of our diagrammed cell phones. I made eight in total and of those only two were decent. There are many little buttons on cell phones.

I endeavored mightily to create a soda can, but the ground minerals would not yield a satisfying likeness. Eventually I found that villam would work beautifully, and produced several rather bad and two rather good soda can replicas. On the best of these I painted with bright colors the pictures for Coke, Pepsi, and 7up, which he had drawn in the sand next to a particularly troubling representation of the lever opening.

Filled with the energy of excitement, I visited him in his bunk. He was morose, and smelled. I showed him the cell phones and the soda can, and his face split in half with his large smile. He suddenly lept at me and enveloped me in a huge smelly hug. We have talked about hugs and I understand them but I cannot say that I enjoy them.

He sat and examined the cell phones and the soda can. Why are there two? he asked. For two voices, I replied, suddenly feeling uneasy. Had I not understood? Was there some underlying concept that he had failed to communicate or that I had failed to grasp?

His face cracked again. That is perfect, he said. One for me, and one for you. Hello? he said into his cell phone. Hello? I said into mine. He began to laugh, and I began to laugh, and we laughed and helloed until our bellies hurt. Then we got up and went to see the baby micaws in the zellarium. I really do think he is adapting nicely.


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