More from my Confluence 2003 Short Story Entry!
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INTERSPECIES RELATIONS part 3
“A cockroach, Hannah? A cockroach? What happened to that nice young man you met at the health club or Mrs. Branigan’s boy?”
“Don’t call it that, Mom. Nix doesn’t even look like a cockroach.” She peeked out the curtains at the Tharkan ambassador again. “More like a preying mantis.”
“Oh, it’s a good thing your father is already dead, because this would kill him, Hannah, it would just kill him. Like a big can of Raid.”
Hannah pressed the heel of her hand into her temple. “Mom!”
“When were you even planning to tell me? Or were you planning to tell me at all? Maybe you were hoping I’d see it on the news and have a massive coronary!”
“Disaster. Terrible. Severe impediment.” Nix bounded up to her in the foyer, wringing its feeler-hands and waving its foreclaws with hysterical abandon.
“Calm down,” Hannah urged. “What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” her mother howled as the Tharku keened and the translator stated, “There is a bed in that room. Horror.”
“No, mom, please just hang on a sec.” She covered the phone with her hand and said, “What’s the matter with the bed, Nix?”
“It cannot be a bed, my wife. Trouble. Grave obstacle. We must have for ourselves a sleeping pod. Disaster.” The Tharku doubled over in a little distraught dance of doom, clicking and whirring and washing its eyes.
“Calm down,” Hannah said mechanically, suppressing another sigh. “Keep looking. Surely your people knew you’d need a…pod. The movers probably just put it in a different room.”
“Yes? Yes. Perhaps.” Nix bounded off.
Hannah steeled herself and put the phone back to her ear. “—even say that when you know what I’ve been through with my knees and the trouble I’ve had with the pipes in the basement, and now this! That I should live so long to see aliens landing on the White House lawn and my only daughter–”
Nix came leaping back through the room, gripping an oblong, shiny package in its foreclaws. “It was beside the water heater, my wife,” the translator called back to her.
“—showed you on the six o’clock news in that horrible purple sweater—”
Nix peered around the corner, antenna trembling hopefully. “Perhaps there is newspaper packed amongst my wife’s devices? Yes?”
Hannah rubbed her eyes. “I think so.”
The Tharku began cautiously prodding at the boxes stacked in the middle of the room. “Perhaps we could chew this material also? What is your preference when forming pulp, my wife?”
The dull roar of the reporters had taken on an odd stereo effect in Hannah’s right ear. Frowning, she said, “Mom, where are you?”
“We’re just pulling up. Honestly, look at the size of this place. Much too big for just the two of y—You’re-not-pregnant-are-you-god-forbid?”
Hannah flung herself at the curtains and peeled one corner back in time to see the black car slide through the barricade of newsmen. Her mother was still theatrically gripping her throat in the back seat. Hannah punched the *end* button on the phone and swung on Nix, hissing, “My mother’s here!” Hide! she wanted to add.
The Tharku shook out a pile of jeans and sweaters and carried the empty box towards the bedroom. “Do not worry, my wife. I have studied the customs of your people in great detail. I will present myself to your parent as a good mate. Yes? We will all chew pulp together.”
The doorbell rang.