art by Alan Bao
Found in the Wreckage
by Marge Simon
A giant silver ship burst though the Great Blue Dome and hurtled toward the earth. There was an explosion that shook the ground.
The native found her in the wreckage. He prodded her with his foot. She whimpered, so he squatted down to watch until she coughed and sat up. He tried the signal for friendship, but her eyes narrowed and she struggled to stand. Back a few paces, he squatted again, curious. Her hair was very long. He liked that. None of his kind had hair so long. It was a sign of great beauty. Her skin was a strange color. Not the same as his, but not offensive to behold. And her eyes were the color of the sky in contrast to his own, which were the normal deep red.
To his surprise, she stood up, moving very quickly for one with such injuries. She was bleeding. It is not good to lose that liquid. This thing he knew must be in common. She moved away from him very fast. He was mildly amused, but had no trouble catching her. When he touched her, she fainted.
He carried her back to his home. It was a place for a lone male to live until he found a mate, as was the custom of his people. He was pleased with it, for he had made it well with heavy stone and sloping roof to keep out the freezing storms. He knew that in time, he would prove worthy for a mating.
She sobbed, making noises he didn't understand. The sounds bothered him. He tied her feet and tended to her wounds.
When he touched her hair, she drew back as if she'd been stung. Even after he fashioned her a comb, she would not allow him to do it again. But she did manage a weak smile, and took it from him, drawing it over and over down her head until her hair was free of tangles.
Over the passing days, she seemed less intimidated by his nearness. He took her outside, always on a tether, for air and exercise. One day, they happened upon a cove of burned trees. She plucked a charred piece of bark, squatted down and scratched it on a stone at his feet. When she was done, he gasped. It was a rough image of his likeness. Even to the wings, which she drew around his face, like a helmet.
His people were skilled at many crafts. But nothing came close to what she had done. He pondered on it. Was this a good thing? Her fingers were short and ugly. It could not be right.