Kunta was grateful for the shade, In the arc of blue sky, a cloud with bits of dark rain passed in front of the sun, turning the white cotton incandescent. It was a most beautiful sight and it was his prison, that sky. The visible cage surrounding his life. He never knew why until recently. He was a pilot, not a scientist, but Rhonda had sweet-talked him into going to a lecture at the university. It seems her class had to go hear some guest professor speak on wave optics and she wanted company. He met her when he first got to earth. She seemed to think that the pale salmon color of his skin was just a mild sunburn and the unusual ridges on his body the result of a childhood accident. He didn't mean to deceive her, but it was lonely down here and the earth wasn't ready for first contact yet. Some days he wished he did have antenna that expanded and contracted like My Favorite Martian but mostly his differences were under the skin.
He wanted to go home but couldn't think outside the box he was in, the big blue sky was keeping him confined and the professor finally gave him the reason.
"Babinet's principle states that the diffractional patterns of complementary diffractors are identical in the Fraunhofer limit," he had said.
That explained why his thoughts couldn't get through, couldn't reach the stars. They were being cancelled out by the sunlight of this yellow star. He vaguely remembered a footnote in the briefing but it was just one of a thousand things to know about earth and he never thought he would crash and be without his communication equipment.
Kunta lay on his mattress at night for weeks afterward thinking about freedom. During the day he sat in the park, in-between washing his hands for twenty seconds at a time. The signs on the bus were always telling him to wash his hands and he wanted to fit in, to be a good earthling. Rhonda and his small stash of gold kept body and soul together. Gold was good currency nearly everywhere in space with compatible lifeforms.
He needed to find a quartz from a meteorite to stick in the hole in his head and find a hole in the ozone. Then he could phone home and get back to his real life. He would miss Rhonda, true, but he looked down at his hands. They were nearly raw from all that washing.
-----By Carla Blaschka, 10/8/11
Written alongside PurpleMark Wirth and Philip Smith at Richard Hugo House,
Write By the Park group
William James' Prompts:
- Quote1: "Babinet’s principle states that the diffractional patterns of complementary diffractors are identical in the Fraunhofer limit," Robert H Webb. Elementary Wave Optics. (Academic Press, New York, 1969) page 149.
- Quote2: "Kunta lay on his mattress at night for weeks afterward thinking about freedom," Alex Hailey. ROOTS. (Dell Publishing Company, New York, 1976) page 297.
- Question: What skill/super power do you dream of knowing/possessing?
- Random Word: Space
- A Precious Artifact: Quartz from a Meteorite
Also check out my new wordpress website. It's a literary journal called Randomly Accessed Poetics! Submissions are open. I will be publishing literary works, explicit language pieces, and eventually a journal a relative wrote in the late 1800's detailing their journey to Oregon on the Oregon Trail. And when I gather enough submitted works from other people, I will be cobbling together an e-anthology called Randomly Accessed Poetics.