You suck. You appeared at the counter of my family’s convenience store while it was my shift—Saturday. Canned coffee, a lighter and a bottle of hand sanitizer, paid for in a neat pile of one-peso coins. Mumbled something like, “Good morning, specimen.” I: daughter of the owner, a little hung over, pissed off in general and not really listening. You exited, waddling stiffly like a penguin and I watched you beyond the glass door, down the street, after the electric wires and puttering tricycle exhaust. Grey button-down, khaki pants and white hotel slippers. I kind of liked your face (reminded me of one of those washed-up teen idols) until I saw you take the lid off the lighter and tip the liquid back like a shot. Wiped your mouth, then emptied the sanitizer bottle into your palm and smeared it all over your shoes. Held the can of coffee up and crossed the street, like it was some sort of compass, or talisman or sign. And then you disappeared into the flow of ever-present traffic. I hate surprises.
The second time we crossed paths, you were trying to set some egrets on fire, you inhumane jerk. I was walking to work with the boss’ coffee and a sheaf of photocopied documents, pondering the frailty of the human psyche. Then, I saw a bloom of fire—that’s what it looked like, a flower—and screaming birds in a field. I recognized your unruly hair and the too-large plaid button down from last time. Mr. One peso coins. I ran towards you, threw the coffee in your face (in one smooth slow-mo arc) and tried to beat the flame off the white birds. I wouldn’t do this for other people, but animals have a special place in my heart. Three of them died and I contemplated stabbing you with my heel. Drenched in coffee, you made a noise that sounded like metal scraping against metal, and dissolved into a puddle of thick, mucus-y liquid at my feet. I knelt down, scooped some into my hand, and sniffed it. The part of my brain that was willing to accept everything as real took over. You smelled like peppermint. I flicked it off and left you there.
I have a large collection of paper sculptures and pressed flowers. My therapist says doing small repetitive activities helps divert anger, but sometimes it doesn’t. I started a fire in the office. There is a dent in the garage door the size of my fist. I would like to snap off my boss’ white teeth one by one. People chew with their mouths open; their foreheads are landing spots for cutter blades. I see them; I see black wormy threads quivering inside eyes and mouths. I blink and it doesn’t go away. My family thinks I was born with this problem. “You’re so special, darling.” But I feel no voice-warmth, no collision of emotions, no puzzle-piece unity of love and skin with these people who so clearly feel it with each other. I see black worms, and a hard irregular shiny piece which is me.
I thought you were (wonderfully, irreversibly) dead, but you appeared at my window one warm Thursday night. Hard to kill, like tick. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream or not, but you smelled the same. Different from other human beings. You made a gentle metallic rasping sound. You suck—this isn’t romantic—it’s creepy as heck. I stifled a scream and bolted for the door, but you began to talk in people-speak—you managed to enter my mind, hesitated—and asked if I knew where to find violet flowers. You would give me whatever I wanted in exchange. I looked your face. No black worms, no urge to kill, because you weren’t a person. I liked it, slightly. I looked at your eyes, and I saw that we both wanted the same thing.
We walked to your spaceship that evening. I was barefoot in the cool grass; this is one of the few sensations I actually remember. It was a dumpsite behind a public school. You didn’t say a word—only made small clicking noises with your tongue. We climbed over a few walls, one barbed-wire fence and past a colony of cats. The ship was a large grey cube with a square hatch. You said “no,” but I stepped forward and slipped inside.
You suck. If there’s anything I should be kept away from, it’s a clear opportunity to obliterate everything I loathe. You called the violet flower the spine of our world. You looked into my eyes and told me the sweetest thing: “Together. Destroy.”
We stood in a field of flowers, and you bent down to pick one for me delicately. The wind ruffled your dark hair. I was glad you weren’t human. The stem broke. We had three minutes.
I laughed when you said the walls of your spaceship could turn transparent. As we exited the atmosphere, planet Earth turned into a giant orange blossom—the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.