Movement: Flash Fiction

“Don’t you know it’s rude to turn up in a woman’s bedroom uninvited?”

The visitors quivered. It was hard to read that as an expression, taking place as it did on masses of slightly wet tentacles that occasionally flicked, waved, and rubbed against each other. There were six of them, including one perched on the railing of my metal-framed bed behind me, and they did not come any closer.

I felt a damp limb land on my collarbone, and suddenly my mind was full of music.

“We require your skin for communication,” the message chimed, feeling like a song but arriving as pure meaning.

“I understand.” The music was beautiful far in excess of its workday message. It was difficult to stay focused on the bizarre situation bringing it to me. “Do you understand that you should have alerted me first? By knocking, at least?”

“Your sensory modalities are new to us,” the next song said. “We must investigate them.”

The group approached me, each placing a wet limb on an ankle, forearm, or other bit of exposed flesh. Each added an instrument to the unfolding orchestra. Each note was sublime.

“This species can communicate over distance using pressure waves,” one song observed. “What a remarkable modality.”

“Is that not something you can do?” I asked.

“It is not. Our communication is as you experience it now.”

“Your world must be so different from ours.”

“In ways you cannot begin to understand.” The songs turned a bit sad.

“I’d like to.” I breathed a heavy breath. “But first, you need to get used to knocking.”

My alien visitors became a regular occurrence. They pounded on a window or door a few times each week, and each time, we showed each other something new. With their tentacular wire directly into my experiences, I could show them what a human feels while petting a cat, or eating beef rendang, or listening to music—not thought-music, but the kind that makes the air move.  They, in turn, shared their memories of their home planet with me, with all its mazelike spires honeycombed with holes and tunnels they navigated almost entirely by touch.

Each had a name in their language of thoughts, meaning as lost to antiquity as the deeper significance of John or Xinxin is to us, so I gave them all names of my own: Sonata, Minuet, Oboe, Contralto, Fugue, and to my favorite, Rachmaninoff. It took an evening to explain my choices to them, but I think I succeeded.

On the thirty-fifth day, Rachmaninoff sang into my mind: “Our time is concluded. We must return to Orchestra Prime.” They all felt the sadness in my mind-song. Rachmaninoff continued: “We are authorized to take you with us if you desire.”

I looked around, at a life that felt more and more hollow and quiet the more I took in what my alien visitors brought me. “I do.”

“Then let us travel.”

a musical note

Movement: Flash Fiction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.