More from my Confluence 2003 Short Story Entry!
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INTERSPECIES RELATIONS part 4
Hannah briefly considered, but discarded, the highly attractive urge to fling herself out the bathroom window and escape. She opened the door.
The inestimable Mrs. Henry Fuller stood bordered by Secret Service men in black suits. Under her suspicious glare, Hannah found herself toeing the carpet, making up excuses and thinking of all the reasons she’d left home in the first place.
“Um, phone cut out. Strangest thing.”
“Oh, just let me in before that crazy lady from Channel 5 takes my eye out with a microphone.” Her mother dismissed her entourage with a royal wave and marched into the foyer. Hannah shut the door. Locked it. Leaned against it.
“And I don’t know why you couldn’t just stay in your old apartment. Not good enough for the bug, I suppose. Had to have his own little dung ball to roll around.”
Hannah scowled at the door, wishing she dared to answer that. The truth was, the Tharku emissaries had in fact refused to allow X’sizza’’ryk’n’a’’a’nix to live in the middle layer of a citizen hive. There had been discussions concerning a penthouse suite until the aliens learned that even those living on the top floor still had to obey the building supervisors. Hence the house. Which was a very nice house in an intimidatingly upscale community, with all the things that should have made her mother very happy, like a heated pool and a walled garden and even a meditation room, but if she brought them up, she knew her mother would eventually twist them around and get her to admit that yes, she only had them because Nix’s people had insisted, and that made the Widow Fuller’s only chick and child a kept woman. To a bug.
Mrs. Fuller had her hands on her hips, the better to survey the meager lump of Hannah’s possessions strewn among the great heaps of Tharkan furnishings. “All right, where is it?” she demanded. “I brought fly paper.”
“Mom!” Hannah groaned.
“Well, you’d better get used to it. These are the problems you let yourself in for when you marry a bug.”
“Don’t talk like that in front of Nix. We’ve both had a hard day, and –”
“You’ve had a hard day! Did you see your daughter on the morning news coming out of the courthouse after getting married to an alien? A courthouse, Hannah! You weren’t even wearing white and the whole world saw it!”
“—and,” Hannah continued resolutely, “you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with your alien in-laws. Nix comes from a very high-ranking family. Only the ambassador has more authority here on Earth.”
“Well, they’ve already carried off my firstborn, I fail to see what more they could oh my god!”
Hannah considered the expression of horror as it manifested on her mother’s face, took a deep breath, and turned around. Nix was striding towards them from the bedroom, waving its antenna and bobbing its head in cheerful greeting. Its mandibles had been painted fire-engine red with lipstick, and it was wearing a lace-edged apron and two sets of fish-net stockings.