“Tell me more about Earth, Grandpa. Joey’s been saying you lied about everything,” Tommy said.
“Joey’s a bit of a mutate.”
“Joey said you said you had a dinosaur, but there aren’t any dinosaurs.”
“What? No, no. Dinosaurs are extinct.” Grandpa looked out absently over the landscape below. The population was now almost a small city. There must be fifty halogens glowing down there.
A boulder floated between them and Tommy batted it away.
“Tell me about swimming. Do you really do it in just underwear, with no clothes on?”
“Yes, you wear a special kind of water-resistant costume called a swimsuit.”
Swim. Suit. Grandpa thought about that until the word seemed implausible, like a tuxedo for scuba diving. And was it “costume?’ That sounded wrong. It happened a lot. Over the 40 years since he’d been here, one by one, the terms that didn’t apply ceased to signify their easy, uncomplicated meanings.
“Don’t people float up to the sun when they take off their gravity clothes and boots?” Tommy asked.
“You don’t wear gravity clothes on earth because there’s, you know, gravity. Don’t they teach that to you in school?”
“I guess your teacher’s a bit of a mutate too. So what do you learn?”
“At school?” Tommy ticked off his fingers one by one.
“Suicide is a waste of precious resources. We are one. Murder is suicide. There is no ‘better than.’ Oh, and Chemistry. Joey hates Chem.”
They turned to each other and said simultaneously “Mutate!”
They chuckled together. Then Grandpa turned a little pensive. “Roll your tongue,” he said.
Tommy displayed his tongue in a taco roll. Grandpa nodded to himself.
“Do you learn it? At school?”
“That’s part of Chem.”
“Good. I’ll talk to Bob about your curriculum. We need to beef up the history a bit.””
“Tell me about the sun. Does it really burn you? Like a chemical fire?
“If you sit in it long enough,” Grandpa replied. “Show me the mole.”
Tommy held up his elbow for inspection. “No mutates here,” Grandpa remarked, stroking the mole with a small smile. He continued, “The sun feels more like a hot oven. But over time, yes, it can damage your skin. Look what it did to mine.” He held up his own elbow, showing the scar where the mole had been excised.
“Cool,” said Tommy. “Does everyone on earth have the mole, Grandpa?”
Grandpa leaned to the left to avoid a particularly large boulder that passed between them. “Lot’s of people have moles,” he said.
“But do they have THE mole?” Tommy asked.
Grandpa contemplated Tommy a moment. “There are 8 billion of them. I”m sure some of them have the mole.”
“Why did you leave earth?” Tommy was watching a smaller cluster of stones float up and recede on an ancient air current.
Grandpa sighed. “Because I wanted to be with your father.” he said, “and they wouldn’t let me. And they certainly wouldn’t have let me have you, or any of your brothers.”
“But you made father. Isn’t he yours?”
“They didn’t see it that way. They thought it was unnatural, that all humans should come from a man and a woman.”
“A woman? What does that have to do with it?”
Grandpa put his arm around Tommy’s shoulders. His heart swelled with pride as he noted the muscles coming up on his biceps, exactly the shape he’d had at that age.
“Absolutely nothing, my boy.”
Inspired by Vicente L. Ruiz’s weekly writing prompt (click to see original photo prompt). ‘https://plus.google.com/+VicenteLRuiz/posts/hyRQhwuFZde