When we got home, Sept and Elui slipped out of their disguises and stood before each other in true form.
Leaving them to their reunion, I ran upstairs to greet Mojo. I hadn’t seen him since early that morning, and he misses me when I’ve been away.
Besides, I wanted to give them privacy. For Sept to meet again with someone who’d been on the ship that had brought them here when they were young children, the ship that crashed in the desert, that was a significant event that I didn’t want to intrude upon.
I asked Sept later if they remembered each other. He said they did. They used to play together on the ship, during the passage over here.
“What was it like to see him again?” I asked Sept.
“It’s like activating a postsynaptic receptor,” he said, “the completion of a circuit.”
He has receptors for each of the gotogo who were on the ship. Until he connects with them, something in him feels disconnected. It’s a hole through which a longing escapes, and when he meets them, that opening closes in connection.
“It will be easier for me to be in touch with him now,” he said.
I looked down at them through the upstairs window. They were talking earnestly.
I remembered the letters his dad had written about their early years, when Sept woke crying, full of longing. It was his strongest desire, then, to reunite with the other kids that survived the crash.
“Once I started singing to them,” he said, “and they started singing back–or even if they didn’t sing back, but I felt them receive my songs–it felt less lonely. But this is better. Meeting them is best.”
I asked him what he and Elui talked about.
“Words are so clumsy,” he said. “We spoke some Vingihoplo, but Elui, since he had so much to communicate, used the short-cut.”
“The download?” I asked.
“What did you learn?”
“A lot,” Sept said.
I know, by now, that it’s hard to verbalize the telepathic transmissions of data dumps. Translating the pulses of feeling, emotion, and knowledge into words is a long and arduous process.
Elui joined me at the kitchen table. I’d made a fresh pot of tea and set a pot of Sept’s spaghetti sauce to simmer on the stove, filling the kitchen with the aroma of rosemary, basil, and garlic.
I tried to think of an appropriate welcome. What do I say to this stranger who shares so much with Sept?
Sometimes, in those days, when my current reality colided with my pre-Sept reality, the cognitive dissonance toppled me.
This was me, sitting at a kitchen table with an extra-terrestrial, the same Mallory Kraft who half a year before had cracked “alien” jokes, convinced that someone not-from-here would have no comprehension of what it means to be a person on this planet, that someone like that would have nothing to say that would be worth my while to listen to.
I got whiplash from the cataclysm of my old worldview.
Elui began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, returning to the present.
“You!” he said. “There you are, trying to figure it all out. It’s humorous!”
He was right, of course. I knew it then, and I’ve known it every time in the decades since, when I’ve found myself stuck in the in-between.
“I’m experienced with shifts and travels. Look,” he said. “Here’s a quick way. May I?”
I consented, and he downloaded it all to me.
He had been looking for… himself. He had been traveling to find himself, and his travels had taken him to the Mainstreamers, and he had done there what had needed to be done so he could come into existence now, in this incarnation, and now he was looking for David. And when he found David, he would find himself.
“But what do the Cookie Store have to do with it?” I asked. “And how can we help? And are we even safe? Did they track you?”
He laughed. “They didn’t track me. I’m the elusive Elui! You’re safe. All I need is a place to rest for a little bit, to do some research, and then I’ll be on my way again.”
Sept joined us while I washed the dishes.
“This spaghetti is amazing,” he said, “even if I did make it myself! Tomatoes! Who would have thought?”
“I have had a lifetime of potatoes and carrots. You can have the veggies, thank you very much. I like the tea,” Elui replied.
“Tea it is,” Sept said. “Help yourself!”
“Tea keeps me sharp,” he said. “And I need to be able to concentrate.”
“How can we help?” Sept asked.
“You’re already helping,” said Elui.
Mojo welcomed him as if they were old friends. Maybe he recognized Elui’s far-away feeling. Maybe he felt like Sept.
Next, Mojo ran to Sept and danced with him, too.
“You are such a good friend,” Sept said to Mojo.
Sept often talks of “the individual.”
“An individual can be a person, a dog, a cat, a goldfinch–”
“A tree?” I might ask.
“Very much a tree!” Sept will reply. “And a home is a place where an individual can be.”
Elui stood on the yoga mat, hands clasped in anjali mudra. Sept, Mojo, and I walked down to the dock to give Elui space and silence, so that he could do what he needed to do, centering himself to continue his search for his missing piece of himself.
Sept stopped at the end of the dock. He gazed past the lighthouse, then closed his eyes.
I’d come to recognize this stance as Sept’s singing, reaching out past the horizon to his gotogo.
I don’t have the ability to hear those songs, though I’ve tried. But I can feel the feelings, the love, the connection, the solace of the songs.
When he finished, he asked me if I wanted to hear what he’d sung. I did.
He sang to me in Vingihoplo, his flutey falsetto echoing into its own harmonies.
And then he translated for me:
To our safe home
Our joyful home
Ever sweet, come.
He looked so happy, reaching out to all the others, welcoming them to our home. I let myself fall into the cataclysm. This was my new life.
Author’s note: Who is David? What does Elui mean that he’s looking for David? Take a look at Potatoes and Carrots by Xantheanmar to find out! Thanks to Xan for writing this with me!