The store bustled with activity as people roamed through the aisles, selecting their next meals with careful consideration. I followed their example in a familiar, yet foreign way. It had been so long since I’d been on a planet like this. Shopping for food wasn’t something I’d done in decades and a part of me had missed it. Having the ability to choose what I’d be eaten was one I hadn’t had in a long while.
As I studied the lineup of cereals, I was torn between the one that had marshmallows and a healthier option that had clusters of oats in it. I settled on both, figuring that Josh would appreciate that.
With everything on the short list checked off, I headed to the front of the store and got in line. As I waited, I studied the magazines on display. Many overlooked the bigger going on in the world to focus on “celebrity” issues.
I didn’t understand it.
One magazine showed a grainy image of a cornfield with crop circles and a green alien head that humans liked to place everywhere.
The picture’s caption read, “Aliens Suspected in Spree of Kansas Crop Circle.”
I shook my head. Did people even read that magazine? Sure, I'd only been on Earth for a few months, but I’d never once seen someone buy one. Aside from that, as far as I knew, there was no life out there that looked like that, but they didn’t seem to mind. I still found it a bit insulting that people thought all aliens would look so weird. I had to remind myself it was nothing personal. They just didn’t know better.
The person in front of me finished paying and the cashier turned to me with a warm smile. “Hello Miss, did you find everything you were looking for today?” We fell into the usual pleasantries as she scanned and bagged my items.
I paid and carried the four bags, two in each hand, out into the slightly humid day. I made my way across the baked parking lot to the street. One of the joys of being an alien, I couldn’t get a driver’s license without a birth certificate, which I didn’t have. Josh and I were trying to figure out a way around that, but in the meantime, I’d be walking. It was only a ten-minute walk home, so I didn’t mind. I liked being planet-side again, surrounded by nature and life and not cold, metal walls.
Don’t get me wrong, space was beautiful, which was why I loved painting it, but planets were where things really got fascinating. You couldn’t have things like rainbows, sunsets, and the Aurora Borealis in space.
I followed the sidewalk away from the store, humming to myself and watching the clouds drift by in a crystal blue sky. Birds of all colors of the rainbow darted and dashed through the lush foliage. The air filled with their tweets and chirps, proving why planets were so much better than space.
I had just crossed the bridge over a little gulley when a car pulled up alongside me. “Hey, pretty lady! Can I give you a ride?”
I turned and smiled as Josh leaned over and opened the passenger door of his car. I slid in, placing the bags at my feet and giving his cheek a quick peck. “You’re headed home early today.”
He pulled back onto the road and kept driving. “Charles let me head off early. Told me to go spend time with my girlfriend.”
His grin and sideways glance almost canceled out the knot forming in my stomach. I’d seen this scenario on several different shows. “Not in a ‘your fired’ way, right?”
He laughed. “Nope, I’m still employed.” He blindly reached over and took my hand in his. “Life doesn’t always work out like it does on TV.”
I rolled my eyes at him. I knew that of the two of us, I had the most life experience. Technically. “I just feel bad, you know. I haven’t been able to find a job, or sell a painting.”
I wanted to help out more than I was. Just keeping the house clean didn’t feel like enough and selling the odd painting here and there didn’t feel like enough. I’d always wanted to paint, but that hadn’t been possible back home. Times were tough with rebellions everywhere. The opportunity to go into space and search for a lost ship had been a chance to leave all of the fighting behind and try to do something helpful. But the search led nowhere and I wound up crashing an escape pod in an empty lot by Josh’s house.
It was rough at first, but the two of us got along rather well. Admittedly, that was an understatement. We got along very well and our relationship was inevitable. He was kind and understanding. He did his best not to freak out about me being from another planet and didn’t force me to tell him anything I didn’t want to. He was supportive, and I loved that about him. The fact that he kept pushing me to follow my dream just made me love him even more.
Josh turned the car into the driveway. “Don’t worry about it Selenne. I know your paintings will take off. In fact, Charles was talking about possibly hiring somebody to paint a mural at the store. Maybe we could take over some of your pieces and see if he’d be interested. I’m willing to bet he’d say yes.”
I whipped around to face him as the car came to a halt. “Seriously?”
Josh wore the biggest grin I’d ever seen as he nodded.
With a shriek, I leaned forward and kissed the dome of his head before rushing inside to grab my painting supplies. Would it be wrong of me to take a paintbrush in case he said yes so I could start right away?
Starting over was never easy, especially someplace new, but I felt like Earth was a pretty great place, and most of that was because I knew Josh had my back.