Lithcara {Short Story}

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Lithcara

Wordcount: 1758

Prompt: on their 16th birthday, your character’s parents tell them that they’re actually an alien. How do they react? 

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Lithcara

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“Andrea?” Mum knocks on the door. I groan and lift my head up, licking my chops. Mum grins. “Guess who’s birthday it is?” It dawns on me and I throw back the covers.

“Mine!”

Laughing, I hug her and she pats my head, like she’s done every morning for the past 16 years. “Come down stairs,” Mum says, “your father and I have a surprise for you.” I nod and take a swig of water from the cup on my bedside table. I’ve always been abnormally thirsty.

I throw on some jeans and a discarded shirt and sit on the banister, sliding down to the bottom. Our house is fairly large, but we have to have it like that, what with Dad’s CIA job. He often has lots of guests around; ones I’m not allowed to talk to.

“Birthday girl,” Dad smiles, kissing my head, his brown eyes warm. I hug him around his waist, but he seems different today; his posture is stiff.

I pull back. Something’s wrong. “What is it?” I ask. Dad opens his mouth, but closes it again and indicates to the kitchen table. I glance, and see a small box with an envelope.

“Is this it?” I giggle. “You’re not sure about the present you got for me?” Dad smiles again, but this time it’s missing something: the warmth, the love.

Slowly, I open the box. In it lies a set of keys. I gasp. “Is this…for a car?”

Dad stares at me. Mum leans on the counter. I have a feeling I’m not going to like what they tell me.

“Andrea,” Dad says, “we know this is going to sound crazy…but you’re not human.” I laugh ludicrously.

“You’re right,” I say, “it does sound crazy!” I shake my head. “Nice try, Dad, but this prank isn’t as good as your others.”

“No, Andrea,” Mum says, drawing my attention away from the keys I’m fondling. “We’re serious. You’re an alien.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Have the CIA done something with your brains? I’m human! What could make me alien?” I chuckle again; this is such a ridiculous prank. Mum and Dad exchange glances.

Leaning over, Dad picks up the envelope. It smells strange, but familiar. Like picking up a book you’ve never seen before and sniffing the pages; different, but smell the same as other books. “Open it,” he says.

Sliding a finger under the sticky tape, I peel it open. I pull out a letter. Symbols cover the paper; it looks like it’s Hebrew, or something. Maybe even Wingdings on Word.

“Really?” I ask. “Come on, this is a bit far.”

Dad’s seriousness scares me when he says, “It’s not a joke, Andrea.” I swallow nervously. “Read it,” he says, and interrupts when I try to say ‘I can’t’. “You’ll understand it. I promise.”

I huff, but stare down at the paper. It just looks like texts I have to read at school; muddled up words that argue with my dyslexia. But after a second or two, they clear and rearrange themselves, and for the first time in my life I can read without trouble.

Vearia,
I’m sorry we have to do this. Lithcara is not safe for you at the moment. Lithcarians and humans don’t mix here.
Hopefully, when you’re older you will understand why I had to leave you on Earth. Your adoptive parents will take care of you. I believe they know something or other about ‘aliens’, as they call us.
It breaks my heart to know I will not see you grow up. But in the future, maybe we can meet again and regain those lost years.
Your mother,
Viald

It seems fake. It must be fake. Dad’s obviously just planned a huge trick for my 16th, and it’s backfired because I guessed it.

“Come on,” I say, placing the prank back onto the table, “can we go and see the car now?” Mum is about to object, but Dad stops her.

“Of course,” he says, “just take the letter with you.” I roll my eyes but do as he says, tucking it into my jean pocket.

Outside, Dad leads me to the garage. Red cloth is draped over the object in the middle; it’s flat and long. I pray it’s a sports car, I’ve always wanted one of those.

“Your birthday present,” Dad says. I race forward and pull off the cloth. What’s underneath it, however, was not what I expected.

“What… What?” I say. Dad just looks at me, and in the pits of my stomach, no matter how little I want to believe it, I know that the letter speaks the truth.

I am an alien.

I jangle the keys in my pocket, which feel cold and unfriendly. A space ship – well, that’s the only way to describe it – sits in the dingy garage. It’s black and two guns protrude from either side. A third sits comfortably on top. Low, only coming up to my waist, like an F1 car, the screen is red, and I see a joystick and buttons with symbols I faintly recognise.

My hands go to my head and dizziness engulfs me. Dad catches me before I fall, and holds me as I shake on the ground.

The familiar, unwanted feeling in my stomach grows. Almost nervousness. I need the toilet.

“This is… real?” I ask, so quietly I can barely hear my own voice.

“Yes, sweetie,” Mum says sadly. She strokes my hair. Dad rubs my arm. My mouth hangs open. I think I would look comical if the situation wasn’t…well, wasn’t as it is.

“What am I meant to do?”

“Your mum,” Mum says, “your real mum I mean, wants you to go home. Do you remember the meteor in the sky a few weeks ago?” I nod. Of course I do. Scientists swarmed our house and Dad was constantly away. “That was a message. From Lithcara. It’s safe to go home now.”

“What about my father?” I croak. Dad’s grip tightens.

“I’m sorry, Andrea,” he murmurs, “but your father is dead. He was human. The Lithcarians didn’t like outsiders.” A cold feeling sweeps over my shoulders, like a ghost has blown on my neck.

Mum and Dad hold me whilst I try to take in what I’ve learnt. I want to ask, What makes me so different from you? But I’m afraid of the answer.

“She wants me to go home.” I can’t even bare to say ‘Mum’ in relation to this stranger.

“Yes,” Dad says simply. “Viald wants you to meet your brother.” My thigh muscle jumps. A brother? I’ve always wanted a sibling, but Mum can’t have-

Oh.

Mum can’t have children.

“That’s why she chose you,” I wonder aloud, “you can’t have children.” A tear rolls down Mum’s face, but she nods.

“And you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me, darling.” Shakily, I let out a breath, lean against Dad.

I don’t want to go to this place. Lithcara. I don’t even know what it is. A planet? An asteroid? The dark side of the moon’s secret community? I want to stay here, on Earth, with parents who care and don’t kill a person just because they’re different to them. What kind of people kill an innocent human, anyway? Humans are great.

Oh, God. I’m thinking like an alien.

“You have to go,” Mum says in a low voice. She’s trying to compose herself. “Your mother needs to see you. You need to be with your own people.”

Angrily, I retort, “But I’m happy here! With you, and Dad.” Mum shakes her head as I’m speaking.

“You’ll start to change soon. You have to go… Vearia.” As she uses a name I don’t know in association with me, I take in a shattered breath.

“My name,” I hiss, “is Andrea.” I want to ask what this ‘change’ is, too, but it sounds far too ominous and I’m far too scared. At least now I know what makes me different from homo-sapiens. They don’t go through a ‘change’ – apart from puberty.

And then, as I think back, hints were there. I never got a period. Plaque never built up on my teeth. I slept for only an hour or two, and that was enough to last me for the next 20. My broken arm, from falling off a bike when I was 7, healed much faster than my best friend Heidi’s leg.

Oh, God. Heidi.

What would she think about all of this? She would probably just laugh, and continue talking about her imaginary boyfriend.

And what about my actual, real-life boyfriend, Jack? Panic rose in my chest, and my breath came much quicker. Dad rubbed my arm a little more briskly.

This can’t be true. It just can’t. I run through reasons why it’s so improbable until I make myself laugh and when I reach up to cover my mouth because Mum doesn’t like the spittle I make sometimes I feel the tears running down my face and then suddenly I’m sobbing because I can’t believe, I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it, for so many reasons.

And Dad is holding me and Mum is crying too and telling me everything will be ok, it’ll all fall into place, although I know that’s not true because according to her I’m changing and I still don’t know what that means but it doesn’t sound good and it doesn’t sound like I can stay on Earth and it’s all gone horribly wrong.

I sob for ages and ages until I get my first ever headache and my eyes are sore and raw even though I can feel them getting better as soon as I blink. Mum whispers to Dad that it’s starting, the changing is starting, and I squirm back into my Dad’s warm, familiar hold because Daddy can save me from everything, like the Doberman when I was 6 and the broken heart of my first romance.

“Please,” I whisper, “please stop it.” Mum shakes her head and I feel more scared than ever because Mummy is never lost for words, she always knows how to make me feel better and she protects me from the bad thoughts and the nightmares that I get and she makes me blueberry muffins when I’m sad.

I know there’s going to be no blueberry muffins this time.

~

Cliffhanger ending! Should I continue? 🙂

Thank you very much for reading! As always, feedback is appreciated. 😀

 

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