Yes, earthlings study the movement of objects in space, and they have developed many units of measurement and languages and methods of transport, and fantasy football looks delightful, but they cannot sleep without pillows or walk long distances on bare feet. They had to invent forks, and clocks, and nail clippers, and they harvest the milk of other animals. They plant grass around their houses just to cut it short, get so drunk they can’t remember how to get home, give every damn stretch of running water a name starting with a capital letter. They draw pictures of flowers when there are flowers right there.
When they mate, they put their tongues in each others’ mouths. They help each other take off the clothing they put on for the taking-off moment. They worry whether they are the one who is more in love than the other. They think, am I touching him enough and in the right places and how much of the touching is because I want my hand on him and how much is so he can feel my hand on him? The more they think, the less sense they make: Why doesn’t he look more happy, if this is the most happy we get? Are his eyes closed for the same reason my eyes are sometimes closed, which may be to imagine other bodies and may also be for no reason at all? When he opens his eyes, does my face look like I love him, because I am pretty sure I love him even though sometimes, outside of bed, he speaks to me as if I am his enemy, and when he leaves me, which I hope will be any day now, my face will never look like this—like I hope it looks—again, and why doesn’t it make this horrible man sad—why doesn’t his face look sad now—to think about how much he will hurt me when he leaves.
Jennifer A. Howard teaches and edits Passages North in Michigan's snowy Upper Peninsula. Her collection of flash fiction, How to End Up, was published by New Delta Review.