The chamber was dark but filled with little glowing orbs of energy. The creature was surrounded by flashing bulbs of various colors; some of the marvelous hues were beyond the spectrum visible to humans. But this organism on the interior of the solid hull was not human, and it could clearly make out the whole array of colors. The craft had made an unforeseen crash landing, something which could not have been avoided. This was the cause of the impressive light show at the control board.
The creature assessed the condition of every delicate instrument in the vessel, finding that it was possible to chance a lift off. But the alien had a very simple and understandable desire: to see what was just beyond the thin but firm wall which separated him from whatever was out there. He applied a tap of pressure to a goldish tinged bulb, and a small circular opening seemed to boil away out of the side of the hull, fizzling.
Through it the being passed hesitantly into a large clearing, and the doorway remorphed into solid matter. In comparison to the poorly lit room he had presently left behind him, the outdoors were excruciatingly bright. It was a dark-skinned creature with short legs and arms. His small, round lidless eyes were tingling from the excessive light. He had to cover them for a while.
Steadily, the glaring haze passed, and his eyes grew accustomed to the lighting. He was now able to look upon the unexplored environment. It was the planet Earth, but the creature knew neither its sights nor its native name.
You and I call it Earth, though it is called by many other names throughout the universe. This world was so different from the ship which the alien called home. A deep blue sky was overhead. He was standing in a great open space, a large field or meadow covered in tall waving grass.
The ground was soft and damp, quite weird and uncomfortable on the creature’s bare feet which were so used to the hard floor in the spaceship. The long green blades brushed against his legs. This was a completely new sensation, and like a wondrous child, he was eager to discover things.
The alien followed no path for there was none. Instead, he wandered for hours, walking in one direction, more or less. The terrain gradually began to change. After a long time of traveling on his own legs, he saw a structure in the distance. Little did he know it was a common and humble rural home with an accompanying barn.
Four horses were grazing freely in the pasture. Several geese were in a nearby field picking at the corn remnants from the previous year’s crop. It was springtime in the countryside. The few trees which adorned the dull, rough landscape were in full bloom, heavily-laden with countless white or pink flowers. The bright colors caught the alien’s eye, and it admired their beauty.
Meanwhile, near the house, sitting in the entrance to the barn, was a lonely boy with a head of long and unkempt reddish hair. He was feeling a bit down. The few friends that he had at school lived miles from his home. He simply wanted some healthy activity and attention. So, rather than sulking, he decided to cheer himself up. He started thinking. No. Dreaming more likely, coming up with his very own make-believe adventures.
He pretended he was a knight riding one of those horses out in the pasture, wearing in an array of armor, and that he had to do battle with a great beast, and he was victorious. He envisioned himself older as a man of the woods, a friend to animals and nature who lived off whatever the land yielded.
He scared off the hunters and trappers, fought Indians, pirates, and soldiers, and traveled the world perhaps even the entire universe, experiencing all it had to offer.
After a time, he then started to transition out of his dazed faze back to reality, becoming aware of something dark moving in the bare fields, and it definitely was not an equine. He squinted his eyes, looking harder at the little hobbling shape slowly coming closer. He chose to stand up and walk toward whatever unfamiliar animal this was.
Whatever it was it was walking on two limbs, or at least that is what appeared like. It was not a cat, a dog, or a coyote. The lad continued making his way toward the creature, which was unhalting and seemed to be also headed straight for the boy.
It was a scene of two inexperienced and innocent-minded creatures letting their curiosity lead them to one another with no sense of fear. A few of the horses whinnied and moved off as the strange lifeform approached. When they trotted away the alien paused and watched them, enamored. Then he looked at the child and began walking to him once again, almost as a toddler walks eagerly to his mother. Finally, the two were standing face to face.
Now both remained still for a while, each looking over the other. After that, it was the young boy who made the first move. “Hello,” he said. “My name is Lyle.”
The short alien intently gave his full attention and, as if he understood, gave a nod of recognition following the young man’s introduction. “You’re not from around these parts are you?” Lyle asked almost rhetorically. The creature’s eyes widened with an air akin to that which people sometimes have when another asks them a query to which the answer is blatantly obvious. And he tilted his head in the affirmative once more. “Where you from?” Lyle posed a different question.
No oral reply followed, but the strange lifeform lifted his eyes to the sky. And at the time the young human did not know what it meant. “Well, what’s your name?” asked the confused yet ever-curious Lyle.
Again, Lyle did not receive an answer. This time he did not see even a flicker of emotion; it seemed almost that the alien did not notice or did not care. He was still gazing at the sky. The boy looked at the sky, the afternoon sun glaring back at him, with his mouth slightly open. He could not understand why it was so fascinating to his new-found companion.
Then there was a weird sound, and it was coming from the dark-skinned animal. It seemed to be coming from his stomach. “You hungry?” Lyle asked. His short friend rubbed his abdomen with his long hands, which looked like they had twice as many digits as human hands, and he looked up at the boy with an injured sort of look in his eyes.
“Your empty tummy is more social than you are.” Lyle stopped and thought of what he should do. “Dad’s out working at the Carnegies’ stables. And Mom won’t be back too soon. She’s gone into town. Let’s go into the house and fix you up some grub. Come on. This way.”
With the possibility of food involved, the alien was definitely interested and started following behind in Lyle’s footsteps. The house was warm and stuffy since the family did not have air conditioning installed in the old building.
“Let’s see,” Lyle started thinking aloud. “Here little guy. Try these.” He rinsed off a few fresh brustle sprouts, poured them into a bowl, and handed them to the alien. The kid performed an eating-type gesture with his mouth and hands. His companion looked at the green food, thinking how bizarre and plain it seemed, and then dumped the whole thing, bowl and all, into his mouth which expanded a great deal to be able to consume it. He started chewing but quickly spat everything out, making raspberries and spitting and sputtering, trying to get the terrible-tasting sprouts out of his mouth.
“Well, I guess we both don’t like ’em. I never eat mine at suppertime. They taste awful, but grown-ups seem to like that stuff. I’m sorry. Let’s see what else there is.”
Lyle stood on his tiptoes to open a cupboard. Inside were stored wonderful things: dried fruit, preserves, spreads, flour, sugar, baking soda, and several loaves of bread. “How about a sandwich?! Do you wanna try a sandwich?” The creature shrugged with a slight nod.
“Okay then,” exclaimed Lyle. He brought a stool over to the cupboard, climbed up onto it, and began to retrieve what he needed. He grabbed some bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of grape preserves, and he proceeded to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for his friend.
“You’re not gluten-free are you?” The alien tilted its head in a confused manner. “Well, I hope not,” said Lyle. “I have a cousin who is, and I didn’t know. I made him a sandwich once, and he passed out. My aunt had to take him to the hospital. Well, I hope you can eat it. I know I can, and I like it.” The boy was finished. He handed his companion the messy, sticky thing. The creature took it, looked at the kid, then looked back at the food the Earthling had prepared.
The little alien took a bite of it, and another, and another after that. He seemed to be enjoying the taste and the feel of the food, but Lyle started to notice that the creature was steadily chewing slower with every movement of its obtuse jaws.
The peanut butter was thick and dry. It was now quite difficult to try to chew or swallow. So the alien ended up spitting the sandwich out too. Finally, Lyle found something to eat that was just right.
“Blueberries!” he exclaimed after opening the refrigerator. “And there’s plenty for the two of us.” He pulled out two bowls, handing one to his short companion and closing the refrigerator. The boy reclined right on the tiled floor, and the other squatted beside him.
Lyle had stopped speaking. He was too busy cramming berries in his mouth, but his mind was nonetheless still buzzing with thoughts of many things, such as where his new friend was from and how blueberries, the color of which was actually violet, were given their name. They fully enjoyed that soft, sweet fruit.
Lyle was old enough to realize that he had to hide his buddy from his parents. He believed, as all children will, that the adults in his life would just not understand. For the time being, he brought the alien to the barn to keep him out of sight. Soon afterward, both of Lyle’s parents had returned. And they insisted on knowing what had happened in the kitchen.
Their son gave a simple but suspicious explanation: that he had had an accident (with brustle sprouts and peanut butter and jelly) and that he was going to clean it up. Thus, his mom and dad agreed with him and urged him to clean the kitchen immediately. That evening, Lyle was able to sneak the alien into his bedroom in the house. It was a much better place to maintain secrecy since Lyle’s father went in and out of the barn daily.
Over the summer the two had many adventures together, such as teaching the alien to ride horseback and watching him fall off or be thrown off. For a time, they grew up together. They learned new things from each other. For one, Lyle discovered that the creature came from outer space. Both of them made fond lifelong memories, and they made impressions on one another.
But, like most things, it had to come to an end. It would not last forever: the hiding, the secrecy, the hand signals, all the enjoyment. And Lyle’s parents would never come to know of it, except when Lyle asked about it years later. And by then they brushed it off, saying it was merely a dream. But Lyle’s vague memories did not fade away entirely.
Parting was similar to the passing of a family member or a dear friend, for they were dear friends, though they could often barely communicate or understand one another. It had to happen. They knew that.
So one morning, in the young hours of the day prior to the sun’s wakening, the creature gently roused his bosom friend and led him to the craft which he had descended in. The sky was a canvas of deep blue. The Little Dipper, yet so far away was still quite distinctive. Fireflies passed slowly by. Their last embrace and melancholy farewell were brief and rather silent.
“Thank you for sharing the sandwiches,” the child said in a manner common to all human children. The alien nodded. The two shook hands, and the alien took off in the ship.
The alien left and went to his own home somewhere among the stars, and Lyle went back to his country house after watching the spaceship leave. The two traveled their separate ways, but not without having been given new thoughts, ideas, and knowledge from one another. Each went on to be very successful in their endeavors, as well as influential and beneficial to each of their worlds. Lyle never saw the little alien again during his lifetime on Earth, but he never forgot about him for the rest of his days.