“Aren’t the stars beautiful?” The man lay on his grandmother’s blanket that he had spread on the barren mountain top. The view was stunning and the company he had attracted most intriguing. “What’s your story? What are you doing up here?”
The Liep flicked his tail. “What are you doing here?” He could feel the change at the tips of his hair follicles. In the millennia he had vacillated between his parent’s species, he’d never had a witness.
“Oh no you don’t.” The man wagged his finger in the Liep’s face. His eyelids drifted to cover his emotion.
The Liep ‘s eyes widened. Every sinew and muscle tensed in his sleek body and his cheek twitched.
“You first.” The man settled deeper into his relaxed pose. “What are you?”
“I’m hungry,” the Liep grumbled. “Part of me wants to eat you.”
“Part of me wants to eat you,” replied the man. “You know your head is a delicacy where I come from? I’ve never seen another like you. When it says, “The lion shall lie down with the lamb,” did your parents take that literally?”
The Liep shivered and shrugged as his skin flexed. “Are you leaving in the morning?” The change was taking longer than usual, like his other form was shy.
“What’s the hurry?”
“I’ve lived here a long time. I feel like, you know, these hills and dunes are mine.”
“Tell you what” — the man caressed his stringed instrument like a mewing infant — “You tell me your story, I’ll tell you mine and I’ll be gone at first light.” He pulled the stopper off his tall vessel.
The Liep stepped nearer, lured by the sweet odour wafting over him. His eyes relaxed back into their sockets. His muscles stopped fighting the change.
The man offered a swig and even helped him swallow the draft. He was at the point where he couldn’t remember which beast he was coming from and which he was going to. Would he eat or be eaten?
“I really think you should go now.”
“There’s plenty of mountain. You go if it’s that important to you.”
A flash of light blinded the man. He restoppered his vessel and strummed his lute. He hadn’t got his story, but he felt the satisfaction of a job well done, another duality solved. One plus One again morphed into more than the sum of its parts. A star streaked across the heavens.
“Aren’t the stars beautiful?” he sang into the wilderness.