"Anyone can slay a dragon. . .but try waking up every morning and loving the world all over again. That's what takes a real hero." - BRIAN ANDREAS
written for the 2012 Lascaux Flash Fiction contest
by Aerin Rose
The trailer’s lit up like special effects from an old UFO movie, shining lasers through the trees, onto the barn, into the chickens’ pen. The truck’s gone, leaving a flattened circle of mud. I float into the kitchen.
“Hey, Sam. I told Ms. Winston today that extraterrestrials are vegetarians.” The alien’s eyes chime, missing nothing as he skins dinner for the men. Sam points a greenish finger at my arms.
“Don’t worry, it’s just marker.” I pull Sharpies from my backpack. “Ink. See?” The lines on my pink skin are black with silver stitches, reinforced, holding everything together. “Ms. Winston”—fourth social worker since mom left, the only one who’s made me swear to tell her the truth—“said I looked like a Tim Burton character. She might be a keeper.”
The metallic echo of those words zooms around my brain, a lost ship trying to find port. Something that happened . . . couple of years ago? Yeah. The kitchen. Breakfast. Uncle Jasper and my father. “Not like her whore mother.” “No, she’s a keeper.” Oh. After the first night.
I study Sam as he finishes with the blade. His shiny skin has turned dull like snot: we both hate the cutting, the oozing, the fluids. His eyes sing, sounding like a unicorn or church bells. The knife glows, a redneck light saber. I hear the chickens screech and the truck wheels in the gravel.
The truth I will tell Ms. Winston tomorrow is that aliens don’t burst at the seams. They shatter.