81 No dress rehearsal, this is our life

“Are you practicing for the cameras on O-day?” Jesse said. “Something about you doesn’t feel right.”

George was gloomy. “You haven’t asked what Kima sees in me. I don’t know why Kima’s chosen me.  It’s as if she’s compelled to, even though it was against her best interest.”

That’s weird. “Was. As in used to be?”

“It was tempestuous. We’d spend time together and then she’d, as you put it, bugger off.”

“Is that a gendered slur?”

George delivered his opinion with his usual urbanity. “I can’t tell; human rules about sexual activity in and around the anus appear to me an immense pile of self-contradictory dogma, with the Don’t Do It Party ahead in the polls over the Gosh It’s Nice Done Right Federation.  My views may of course have been affected by watching humans enjoy it on video.”

The beer spoke. “I can die happy now, I’ve discussed porn with an alien. Although I suppose I should say something to make it a conversation. Did you enjoy it?” Jesse said, giggling.

The tone became quelling.  “It was research, damn you! I don’t want you to die, happy or not; I’d prefer you hung around for the thrilling dénouement. Of course, you know you’re as free as you can make yourself,” George said. Jesse shook his finger at him. These days George was always checking if Jesse was in the LARP voluntarily.

George took up the thread, narrating his fruitless love life. “She quit squirming when she decided she wanted to live in the Salish Sea, and that she would try to have children with me. Then I asked her if she felt like thinking about some of my problems if she had energy to spare and she did, and I benefited.

“I turned that benefit into technology to assist her in learning various subjects.”

Jesse started moving puzzle pieces around in his mind. “Which include wireless engineering, if Avtar’s to be believed.”

“Yes. She did all of this on a cell phone, by the way. She tears through things, when she wants to learn, with a heated concentration. Literally! — she runs hotter, a couple of times I thought she might be dying and burning from the inside out, and poor Michel got a scare once when she put her thinking cap on. Once she said she already knew how to do all of it but she had to be presented with the problems to understand that she could solve them.”

“That’s creepy.”

George shrugged.  Calling Kima’s behaviour creepy wasn’t useful. Untoward, unusual, eccentric.  All that applied. “Especially math she said her experience feels like she’s remembering it and learning it at the same time. When I tell you she’s bigger on the inside, I mean it.”

There was a little pause.

“If you two love humans, do you s’pose your kids will learn to be that way too?” Jesse asked. “Will you teach them that?” He tried to imagine what the kids would be like, and his heart gave a little premonitory thud.

“I won’t teach them long; I’m not planning on hanging around this planet longer than it takes to put the resources together to leave it. Kima will; and I imagine any child Kima gives birth to will get Michel’s rough and ready support, once they’re old enough.”

Jesse gave his shock immediate voice. “Once they’re old enough? What? I thought you looked after your kids, you talked about your mother helping you hunt and teaching you to take the trail over the mountains to the Mediterranean!” Jesse said.

George shrugged, seemingly embarrassed. “Kima’s a water morph. Babies go in the ocean, to fend for themselves using nothing but their inbuilt survival instincts until they put on enough mass to grow a brain.”

“Are you telling me that you’re probably not going to meet any of your kids?” Jesse asked, distressed. Never having met his father was one of his on-going trials. It hadn’t occurred to him that George was going to enact this vacuum of grief on any kids he might have. They’d have Kima, but maternal was not the first thing that popped into his head as a descriptor for her.

George shook his head. “Not likely, no. Let’s talk about the ceremony.”

“Your human buddies go to the beach for a light show put on by Michel and Kima and we all get a participation trophy, the end,” Jesse said obediently.

George popped his eyes, but Jesse had braced for it. “Crap,” he replied. “I hadn’t thought about a swag bag.  Well, it’s not like this is costing me a lot of money. I suppose I could put together something. And I’m getting help from a Unitarian lay chaplain,” George said.

“George, you’re an atheist,” Jesse said, tenderly, as if telling him for the first time after he’d had a stroke and forgotten.

“Well, yeah,” George said with annoyance.  “I am. But I’ve been going to church in North Van, for various reasons.”

“What. The. Fuck,” Jesse said.

“It’s all part of the intersectional, international, interplanetary wackiness that is my life. The Catholics may be more catholic, but Unitarians have integrated atheists into how they do things, so I thought they’d be okay helping me with our little show, and there were quite a few on the contact list so I had a range to choose from.”

“So you go to church.” He felt like his poor little human brain was just a bony meat bucket for reality to sink its axe into.

“I told them I wouldn’t join. They’re used to that. I like the music,” George said. “It’s one of the many ways I differ from other Sixers. To return to our little stray logistical sheep, ceremony is different things to different people. For Sixers it’s novel. For humans it’s ordinary. I needed human help to shape it into something acceptable.”

“So it has a beginning, middle and end?” Jesse said.