Baetylus hesitated, unsure of how to answer her question. He could give her a literal response, but he suspected that wasn’t what she wanted. Her question had seemed rhetorical, as if hadn’t expected an answer at all. But he had to say something. He could see on her face that she was seconds away from leaving, and if she left and she took the child with her, it would all have been nothing. Weeks, months of work undone in a single instant.
The meatform bit its lip. Perspiration began to bead on its forehead, its nose, its neck.
“Are you an angel, Mister?” the girl asked. She slipped her mother’s hand, the woman too stunned by Baetylus’s words to properly reign in her offspring.
Baetylus searched the meatform’s memory for the definition of the word and shook his head. “No, child. I am a Somnian. I come from another world, and–”
The woman and the child’s eyes both went wide and he hesitated again. Were they frightened? Surprised? What did it mean to hear someone had come from another world?
Oh, blessed Omphalos, he thought. Has this backwater planet not yet made contact with other cultures?
A crowd was gathering around them now, hushed whispers at its edges. “What’s going on?” “That homeless guy was trying to kidnap that little girl!” “Why’s the mom just standing there?” “Wait, did he say he’s an alien?”
The crowd grew, the whispers intensified, and then Baetylus heard one of the apes say something that made the rest of the world fade away.
“I saw something in his hand. Like a hologram or something.”
They could see his weavings. There were other beings on this planet that he could perform for, that he could tell stories to, that he could show his visions. Here he would not be a failure. Here he would not be hated. Here he could simply be. He could teach the apes, and perhaps he could even learn something from them (unlikely, but in the joy he felt, anything seemed possible.)
Saline dripped down the meatform’s eyes. Its mouth alternated between a wide grin and small smile. Its throat constricted.
Evidently the apes cried sometimes when they were happy, too.
I think that’s a good place to end things. It’s not quite what I originally had in mind, but I like it enough on its own. Going on seems to me like it’d be dragging the story out at this point. Anyway, come back tomorrow for something shiny and new!