7859 – Daniel
It has been three solar periods since my arrival on Earth, and so far my true nature has not been exposed. 9936 was very clear when addressing our expedition crew: our true identities were not to be revealed. When we stepped foot on Earth soil we would be human – until our return to the Republic of Andromeda.
Still, it was more difficult than I anticipated to assume my human identity. Do I dress human enough? Do I communicate like a human should? This being my first expedition to Earth, I’ve found the learning curve of humanity to be strikingly challenging. Humanity didn’t come naturally to me as it did to 9936, who’s done enough research on Earth she practically lives here. Her lecture on human courtship rituals was the inspiration for my proposal to research Inter-Personal Diplomatic Strategies. I was honored when my proposal was accepted by the Board of Human Observation.
It took a little while to become acclimated to the new environment, but I was excited to do my research in the higher education system. My expedition’s assignment was an area titled Oxborough University, and the campus was perfect for observation –
“Daniel Moore?” The professor’s role call jarred me from my thoughts.
“Here,” I raised my hand briefly. The professor nodded and continued. One by one, I watched my peers raise their hands. It seemed a trivial ritual; what was the significance of knowing if a student attended class? Who did it benefit, the professor or the student? I’d have to remember to jot that down. I pulled my notebook from my blue backpack and began taking notes:
‘7859 – Day 4: Students concede to answer questions, despite obviously not having researched the topic properly before class. This is done to avoid upsetting the professor, which could lead to consequences in their final grades. In response, the professor chooses to ignore that students have clearly not read the required material. Why is this? How did this symbiotic relationship form? Also, remember to research the importance of role call.’
By the end of class, I’d filled two pages with behavioral questions. There was lots of research to be done when I returned to my dormitory.
“That’s a cool sketch,” the girl in the seat adjacent to mine said, leaning over her own desk and peering onto mine. Her long dirty blonde hair brushed against the surface of my notebook. In a panic, I placed my hands over my notes.
“That alien-monster thing you drew? It’s pretty cool.” She pointed to the margins of my notebook where I’d been doodling pictures of my pet before class.
“Ah…” I cleared my throat. “It was supposed to be a bird… I guess,” I said, closing the book. She looked up at me with a crooked smile and a quirked brow.
“In what universe is that a bird?” she laughed.
I shrugged and shook my head, giant floppy curls of black hair on my head tossing to and fro. My human form had quite an unruly mane. We rose from our seats and gathered our items.
“You’re Daniel, right? I’m April.” She stuck her hand out. Her fingernails were each a different color. The gesture looked familiar… I remembered seeing it in the Human Behavior seminar I was required to take before the expedition.
‘I’m supposed to do something…’ I thought to myself, but I couldn’t remember what. It had something to do with mirroring her actions. I reached out in the same manner that she did and held my palm out parallel to hers. She responded by closing the gap, grabbing my hand, and maneuvering it up and down, so I must’ve done something right.
‘Note to self, read over your Human Behavior notes.’
“So Danny – can I call you Danny?”
“Why would you do that?”
She gave a slight chuckle. “Doesn’t anybody call you Danny?” April moved to leave the room, so I followed. It seemed the right thing to do.
“Uh, no. Not yet.”
“Well I guess I’m the first.” She grinned again and the right corner of her mouth twisted up ever so slightly more than the left.
“Interesting,” I said. We walked side by side down the stairs and exited the building, stepping out into the blinding sunshine of mid-afternoon and paused. I squinted against the light as though my eyes were shrinking away from it. I cupped one hand over my forehead to make it easier to look at her.
“Oh hey, your eyes,” April pointed at my face. “You’ve got a green one and brown one – that’s so cool!”
“You think that’s cool?”
“Yeah, man! Not every day you meet someone with different colored eyes,” she told me. ‘Maybe not on your planet,’ I thought to myself. Students shuffled past us in a blur as they hurried to their classes. A group of girls spoke loudly as they passed us, and I watched them, trying to decipher their conversation. ‘What is a lady gaga?’ I wondered.
“Danny?” April waved her hand in my face.
“Oh, right,” I shook my head a little.
She smiled the asymmetrical smile of hers, “You’re kind of spacey, huh.”
I grinned at the irony. “Maybe.”
April reached around the back of herself and pulled a marker from a pocket on her bag.
“Give me your hand,” she said, so I did. She began to write on my inner forearm.
“I was trying to tell you, my roommates are having a party later in the week. If you want to come, or whatever,” She spoke as she defaced my arm. The felt tip left a tickling sensation in my skin. When she gave it back to me, my arm was covered in a combination of numbers and letters.
“That’s my address.” She said. “I’ve gotta go to class now. I’ll see you later!” April then flitted off into the distance.
I took out my notebook and wrote down some final notes:
‘Follow April. Research what a lady gaga is.’
Veronica Mattaboni is a fourth-year student majoring is English writing with a minor in creative writing. She can be reached at VM785925@wcupa.edu.