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130 pages, Kindle Edition
First published May 27, 2017
'Oh, sorry. I thought....' He trailed off. The man's face was still but his eyes made very clear he did not want to talk and didn't like people in his space. Arthur grabbed Jude and his Rubik's cube and scurried across the hall. So much for making friends.
Carol didn't look over her shoulder like most people would. 'You mean the Alien?'
'Our best guess is that he crashed at Roswell and, after poking and prodding, they couldn't decide what to do with him so they gave him a human face and sent him here. He eats exactly one apple at the same time every day and is always reading books no one would read for fun. Three years, I've seen him talk to exactly no one.'
'Has anyone talked to him?'
Carol looked over her shoulder. 'A copy of The History of the Peloponnesian War, Volume 3 is a pretty good Go Away sign in my experience.'
Arthur looked over at the Alien. It was a Go Away sign, but it was a very specific type of go away sign; it was the kind that said 'Look at Me Just for a Moment. I'm Weird. If you talk to me you're going to decide I'm weird and not like me so let's just save both of us the public discomfort of you feeling the need to reject me.' He'd used that same trick in high school with copies of The Prince and Art of War. There might have also been some eyeliner involved. He could also remember being desperately lonely and wanting someone else's weirdness to match with his.
The secret of Martin was different. It lay quiet in his chest. It felt sacred, as if he had born witness to an ancient rite, rather than taking a depressed friend out for a movie. But the word 'friend' seemed not to fit. It was too vague and common. What he felt was more complicated than a word tossed about by children or achieved through the click of a mouse.
Maybe there was a word in old English, lost to modern ears. Martin let him see the cracks that night and the smallest hint of what lay beyond. He wanted to know what was truly beneath those cracks but also knew he would fight anyone who tried to break Martin open. For that feeling, he knew of no words.