We Are Aliens

3 minutes, 51 seconds

I think I’m an alien. What was that Latin phrase? Cogito ergo sum. I think therefore I am. Well, I think I’m an alien, therefore I am.

I don’t think I always felt this way. I briefly remember a time when I didn’t think of anything beyond the moment. It’s funny that I can barely remember that time at all. But I do remember a boy.

This was somewhere in middle school when all we seemed to do was play tag and find new ways to physically hurt each other and laugh about it. He came to my tiny bible-belt school as a transfer student wearing black from head to toe, a tongue ring and a skull necklace. It was a scandal at the time. They were afraid of him because they were taught that fearing what they don’t know is human. They called him Satan.

I wasn’t afraid of him. I was afraid of myself- my fascination with this person that, after the initial shock wore off, everyone ignored as if he weren’t there.  What did it mean? What should I do? Why did I want to do anything? Would he be mad if he knew that I stared when he wasn’t looking? I knew I hated it when I imagined people were staring at me.  

Most days he didn’t do his homework and the teachers didn’t make him. It was like everyone accepted that he wouldn’t be there long.  Like he was just a strange anomaly passing through a place that he didn’t belong.  Of course, back then you didn’t have to do much to graduate. They pushed kids through the system as if school were a ritual of adulthood rather than an educational necessity.

“Can I borrow your book?” There he was, right beside me. I had been watching all the other kids play from my spot at the top of the practice bleachers. When had he arrived? How had I not noticed?

“Well, can I?” He asked again while looking straight at me; unflinching as if he were asking something way more important than I could understand. Looking back, I guess he was. I think that’s why I can remember his brown eyes but I can’t remember his real name. 

“Yeah. ” I handed him my book and he just held it for a while. I felt self-conscious so I looked back at the field of kids. I waited what felt like an hour but I knew had to be only a few minutes but he was still there. I could see him in the corner of my eye. Why was he still there? I didn’t really want him to go but this was foreign. What words should I use? What meaning did I want to convey even if I knew the words? How does he think? What was he thinking? I thought about all those things during that silence.

I snuck a glance and saw him looking at the field too with the same blank look of contemplation and in that moment I realized, we were the same.

“Do you know what page we are on?” I’m not sure what I wanted to say but that’s what came out.

“No.” I really thought the conversation was going to end like that. It felt like it was the worst kind of apocalyptic ending for a conversation that I never thought I would have but desperately didn’t want to end. “Nice spot.”

“Huh?” I leaned over as if I didn’t hear what he said. I felt strange as I did it because I did hear what he said even if it didn’t make sense. I think that was my way of closing the gap between us; my way of discovering how to communicate with this boy.

“It’s a nice spot. You can see everything from here.” He leaned back and put his feet on the bleachers in front of us, striking a devil-may-care pose that made me laugh. The gap between us was gone just like that.  We were friends.

We talked all the time about the people in our town. He said it was no big deal because they were just like all the other towns and they only acted like they did because they didn’t understand. 

“You can’t blame them.” He said. “We are the ones that don’t belong.”

“Do you think we are too advanced for their feeble minds?” 

“No. I don’t think we’re even from the same planet.”