Oct 24, 2021 9:28 PM
a trickster in amenta
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Then he can take notes on the Anitami alphabet in peace.

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When Nelen has put the dishes away he checks on Eden, offers him some more scrap paper, goes and takes a quick shower, comes out in nightclothes, sits on his bed and watches cartoon dogs go to bed after their long day and review what they've learned by telling their parents about it, and then turns off the projector. "Time for bed," he says, which is the same thing the purple dog dad said a minute ago when putting the purple dog kid in bed for the night.

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"Time for bed," Eden echoes agreeably.

If he's an alien, he seems to be an alien who sleeps in a pretty normal way; he conks out on his beanbag, limbs sprawled awkwardly in all directions, taking some care to keep the bad leg comfortable, and is still there when Nelen wakes up in the morning.

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Nelen starts getting ready for work, trying to be quiet, and attempts to figure out who can sit with the maybealien for a day. Eventually he summons his niece, who is three, and can do schoolwork while babysitting a maybealien and feed him cereal and microwave noodles as long as the maybealien is content to watch children's television all day. When Eden wakes up the niece is already there and being sternly instructed in these duties.

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He yawns and ventures a slightly awkward smile in her direction, then gets up to hobble his way to the bathroom.

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"Good morning," says the niece. "I'm Tosu!"

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"Good morning," he parrots back, "I'm Eden."

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When Eden has come out of the bathroom Tosu has poured boiling water into a bowl of instant porridge for each of them and Nelen's on his way out the door. Learning Friends is playing on the projector; this episode is about water. The cartoon dogs with horns are counting ice cubes.

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He sits awkwardly on his beanbag and scribbles on scrap paper with other scrap paper.

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Tosu does schoolwork at Nelen's kitchen table, humming along to the Learning Friends theme song every time it goes by. At lunchtime she makes both of them wraps with packaged flatbread and some beany stuff out of a can.

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By lunchtime he is perhaps beginning to get a little tired of Learning Friends.

He asks her, in a halting sentence cobbled together out of painstakingly acquired vocabulary and pronounced with reference to his scribbled page of notes, "Do you want more words?"

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"- do I want more words?" says Tosu. "Uncle Nelen said you were learning Anitami."

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"I were learning Anitami," he agrees. "Do you want learning English?"

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"English? What's English?"

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Selfward gesture. "I words. Anitami you words, English I words."

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"Oh. I'm trying to learn plumbing right now."

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He gives a fair-enough sort of shrug.

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"Where are you from? Uncle Nelen says he doesn't know."

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"Where from? Far," he says. "Far far far far far."

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"A moon?" she suggests. The Learning Friends went to a moon once.

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"Moon?" He digs through his notes. His makeshift writing utensil comes unwrapped in the chaos. "Oh, moon. No." He rolls up the paper cylinder again and this time runs his finger firmly along the seam, and the paper joins together in its wake so that no seam is visible. "Far."

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"Ohhhhh," says Tosu, the gravity of her assignment dawning on her. She gets up from her chair to have a closer look at the paper.

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"Hmm?"

He lets her take the paper if she wants. There's still a bit of seam left at the end where he didn't quite smooth it fully away, and the spiral of the rolled-up paper visible at the ends, but for most of its length, there is no outward sign that the seam was ever there.

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She tugs at it a little, fascinated and kind of concerned. "Oh," she says softly. "...why are you here?"

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Shrug. "I don't know." Where's that word in his notes... he reads out with only slightly questionable pronunciation, "Accident."

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