5. One cloth Earth mammal, bear (unsure of further classification), filled with synthetic material. (We are sorry for the lack of symmetry, the cloth mammal was obviously damaged and repaired at some point. We were told not to modify it.)
July 18, 2041
They told me you’d get this after, so you won’t really be reading my words, will you? And you told me yourself you’d forget your own language, though I hope to God you don’t forget your planet, and your wife. And your daughter.
Ryan, how could you? I know this was supposed to be a nice letter to settle you into your new life, to bridge the transition, and God knows you tried to talk me into doing it, too—
No, I’m not fucking sorry. You left me for another species. Not another woman, Ryan, or even another man. Another fucking species.
If this is supposed to be the last letter, I guess I should say I love you.
Are you dead now? Can I mourn you?
July 19, 2041
The Sedrayin consulate people said you’ll be travelling in a bubble-ship that breaks some sort of theory, and time will move faster for us than it does for you. That’s okay, I get that.
I just wanted to tell you that I support you in this. I don’t understand it, and I’ve asked the pastor what she thinks, if it’s even in the Bible. She quoted me some nonsense that had nothing to do with anything, and then just said the best thing I could do was accept you where you’re at.
I like that.
Because I’ve always looked up to you, you know? You were so different. I used to make fun of you for sneaking out at night to go and look through your telescope, especially when there were a lot more…ah, entertaining things you could be doing while sneaking out. And you just smiled, and said it made you feel calmer. And maybe I didn’t press too hard, because I didn’t like when you were so restless. I knew you weren’t happy.
But man, coming out as another species? Bro, I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. I look at the Sedrayin in their enviro suits, with their blue skin and weird–sorry Bro, I still have a hard time, I’ll get better–oddly shaped oval eyes, and the way they kind of walk with that forward slant, like they’re coming at you with all they’ve got.
Dude. You have always walked that way. Oh my God, I never noticed that until now.
Bro, I guess you look different now.
Anyhow, I hope you remember me. Meet a hot alien babe and fall in love. Have lots of alien babies. (Whoa, Jenna will have alien siblings???) I’m sorry they couldn’t come with you. Man, I know that’s hard.
I love you. I hope you’re happy, now. And, you know, have fun seeing the stars for real, and living on another planet! Dude, how cool is that!
P.S. Oh, I found your harmonica the other day and thought I’d send it along. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea, because do you even have lips now? Well, something’s gotta blow air.
July 20, 2041
My dear Ryan,
Oh, I’m sorry. I should call you Etsath-tachri now, right? Yes, I checked the spelling.
Etsath. I’m sorry I waited until the last minute to write this letter, I almost didn’t make it in time, but they held the courier shuttle at the consulate so I could write this.
I just wanted to say, I love you, son. This is all so new to me, the aliens being here at all—what are there, twenty-something species we’ve now had contact with? And I saw on the news that there’s another ship inbound from outside Jupiter. But honey, it’s hard. This isn’t the world I grew up in. The world I grew up in was having a hard enough time accepting people like myself and Leanne, but I—we—love you so much that we’re changing, too. We’re changing the way we look at the world. Or any world, if I think about it.
We always knew you were special. You spent hours with your science books and games, and you loved your art, though the galleries said it was too symmetrical. I guess that makes sense, now. I won’t ever let anyone paint over your mural of the stars in your bedroom.
I packed some toothbrushes and toothpaste, I know you always forget those.
I know we’ve already said our goodbyes. I will miss you like nothing I’ve ever missed before.
Thank you, son, for being my son. For being born to me. You were the greatest gift the universe could ever give me.
Be the best damn Sedrayin you can be. Be yourself.
P.S. Please forgive Sophie. I’ve talked with Jenna. She misses you, but she said she knows you’ll be watching over her in the stars. She wanted to send something, too. She said to hug her teddy bear whenever you’re feeling sad or lonely, and you’ll remember how much she loves her daddy and be happy again. The kids, they are so quick to understand.
Holly Heisey’s short fiction has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and Escape Pod, and she is a multiple finalist in the Writers of the Future Contest. Holly lives in Pennsylvania with Larry and Moe, her two pet cacti, and you can find her online at: http://hollyheisey.com