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Original Science Fiction and Fantasy every weekday. Welcome! We publish very short science fiction as broadly defined: sf, fantasy, slipstream, etc. Please read today's short story below. Browse topics in the sidebar, and read what intrigues; subscribe via email to receive each story in your inbox for free; and consider becoming a paying member to ensure we can keep paying authors and providing stories to all.

Eyespots

Shannon Fay is a Clarion West graduate and writer living in Nova Scotia. She has written tons of short stories and is currently working on a historical fantasy novel. She can be found online at @shannonlfay or on Patreon at patron.com/shannonfay.
She was the only other girl in Entomology 101. When it came time for introductions, she smiled widely and said: "Hello, Earthlings. I'm Aurea, from the Antennae Galaxy."
"She's a weirdo," Mark G. said a week later. "Even when we were on a date, she kept up the whole alien schtick."
"Mark G. and I went on a date?" Aurea said when I asked her about it. "That's news to me!"
She laughed. She was so beautiful. The guys were always trying to get close but she only made space for me.
"Clara, why are you in Entomology 101?" she asked. "You're a creative writing major, correct?"
"Well, Nabokov loved butterflies, and if it was good enough for him...." Lepidopterology. Even the word sounded Nabokovian. "How about you?"
"I wanted to study exobiology through primary sources." Her textbook was open to a diagram of a butterfly. She tapped the eyespots on its wings. "I have those too, you know."
"Oh?"
She pointed to one eye then the other. I laughed.
"Wow, I thought those were real eyes!"
"I know. Pretty good, right?"
She never once dropped the act of being anything but Aurea the alien. At first it was cute, but as the semester went on I grew frustrated--unreliable narrators are far less charming in real life than they are in fiction. I could understand wanting to scare the boys away, but couldn't she let me in? Was I just another nuisance, an annoyance to be kept at arm's length? Is that why she made this sci-fi cover story?
"Is this all one big eyespot?" I asked her one day. We were hanging out in her dorm room and Aurea had been talking about how she was going to travel back to her home world over winter break. "If you don't want to tell me about yourself that's fine, but I can't keep doing this anymore."
Aurea stopped. She sat up, took one hand in hers while her other hand wiped away the tears on my cheek. "You are special to me, Clara. I swear, that's true." She leaned in and I almost met her halfway for the kiss--God knows I wanted to. But I stopped her.
"Then tell me the truth," I said. "The truth about you."
Aurea paused in thought then smiled.
"How about I show you instead?"
She opened her real eyes.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, November 23rd, 2020


This story was inspired by a photo prompt featuring butterflies and my own awkward university days.

- Shannon Fay
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