By Wendy Dye
The alien bar was really hopping. I double-checked my disguise, careful to avoid the bouncer’s watchful eye. He wouldn’t throw me out just because I’m human; there are laws against that sort of thing. But the last time I was here—well, let’s just say I enjoy alien music. A lot. There was some flailing, some kicking—I may have accidentally poked out an eye.
It’s these damn extra appendages! It’s not my fault I take after my mother. She may have been beautiful on Earth with her long dancer’s legs and two sparkling emerald eyes, but on this planet, all that double stuff is a liability.
So tonight, I wrapped my two legs tightly together with Press-n-Seal. I tucked my left arm deep inside my shirt and I covered one eye and ear with an elaborate combination of a scarf-slash-headdress. When I make it inside, I breathe a sigh of relief, trying to use only one lung.
I make my way to the bar in my perfected alien hop-shuffle-walk. I skirt the dancefloor—I can’t afford to fly my freak flag. I’ve got to stay focused. I’m not here to dance. Tonight, I’m here for love.
I check my date’s profile on the Conjoined.com website again. In his picture, he’s smiling, one brown eye shining. When I lower my device, I see him in front of me. He’s standing at the bar holding a purple sunflower, just like he said he’d be. This is it, the moment of truth.
“Hi, are you Rex?” I ask.
“Regina?” He brightens at first, and then it happens. The pink and green lights flash across my face revealing my humanness. I can feel the perspiration loosening my disguise. His smile falls, his brown eye grows dim as it passes over me. And then he says those fatal words, “You don’t look anything like your picture.”
“No, no, no! I’m not really all that human.” But it’s too late.
“I’m sorry. I can’t…” Rex doesn’t finish his sentence, just pushes the flower at me and runs—well, hops—away as fast as he can.
I don’t make it to the bathroom before my legs break free and I start to cry. As hard as I try to stop them, tears fall from both my eyes. Curse that second eye! I’d poke it out and cut off my double ear if I thought it would help me fit in, to find love.
My useless costume puddles at my feet. There is no salvaging it. I am not hopping my way home. Exiting the stall, I can’t help but catch a glimpse of myself. Thanks, peripheral vision. My mother’s eyes reflect back at me. Why did she have to die and leave me on this planet? I have nothing here to remember her by but my own face. A face with one arched brow and freckled cheeks. When I see me, I see her. Why would I want to hide that?
Muted alien beats echo up from under the door. I love this song. I pull off the last of the Press-n-Seal clinging to my thigh. This is no way to live.
It takes me only a few strides to center myself on the dance floor. The music throbs all around me and into both my ears. Single eyes stare at me from all around. Bodies hop and shuffle away as if they know to give me space.
I can feel the rhythm flow through my body, and I can’t help it—I let loose to that alien music. I swing my arms like I just don’t care if I get thrown out. And I kick out to the beat proudly, with both my feet.