art by Stephen James Kiniry
The Human Guest
by Marge Simon
They arrived in a glory of light during a summer month. Glory isn't quite how we perceived it. Their ship destroyed a vast amount of our harvest. But their translator used the word glory, which we were given to mean a very fine thing.
We come in peace. May the light of our wisdom shine on your people.
The translator told us they were our friends. The translator is a box. We found it amusing that their box knew our ways as well as our language so quickly. In time, we adjusted to their comings and goings. True, their business here didn't bother us too much at first. They resembled us, but they did not think as we do. Nor did they appear to care about us. What they were after was something precious to them in our shiny rocks. Most of these rocks were the result of volcanic uplifts, thousands of years ago. We had no interest in them.
The mating time was brief last year. Winter would be early. Our women sang notes like floss on the widewind plains. It was a very sensitive period for us all. Fertile young women without mates were honored in various ceremonies. Courtships were heavily supervised by related adults. But this was merely a custom, not a necessity.
It was then that a human arrived in our cluster. He had to be very rich, by human standards, or have come from a hierarchy that allowed him entry. He was not an officer, his robes flashed brightly in the sun. We concluded he was bored. No other conditions would have permitted him to interrupt us.