Lena was meeting her fiancée today, for the second time. In a dress with a frankly impractical cleavage and lipstick picked out by her mother, but at least they allowed her the boots. There was to be walking involved in this playdate, and no one was willing to risk a faked injury in heels.
Her fiancée arrived exactly on time, holding her hands unnaturally at her sides, giving off an incessant nervous energy that would’ve put Lena on edge even in better circumstances. Lena knew very little about her, but one thing had been clear from the start: she was weird.
Weird, and alien, and mandatory .
“Hello Miss Lena, pleasure to make your acquaintance,” the alien said, the same exact greeting as the last time, as if she’d memorised the one English line and refused to update it.
She was wearing the same tweed jacket, too, the same overly starched shirt, the same tight and hopeful smile. Holding out a bouquet in yellows and reds that may as well have been the very same one.
Only one thing was different, a greenish-yellowish smudge blooming on her cheek. It might have had something to do with alien anatomy. Might have been an alien fashion trend. Might have been there all along, and Lena simply hadn’t noticed.
“What’s wrong with your face?” Lena demanded.
“N-no!” the alien stammered, forceful and defensive. “Nothing! What’s wrong with your face?”
Lena frowned. She had never encountered such a horrendous liar. “Rude.”
The alien seemed to shrink. “Apologies. Thank you for being me here. Would you like we go to walk?”
“No,” said Lena. But she got up and walked toward the gardens, as per the El-Washington treaty, signed and filed and legally binding.
The botanical gardens around Luthor Manor were extensive and impeccably maintained. Lena had walked these paths since infancy, was intimately familiar with their rose bushes and fountains and orchid rows, all the corners lifted straight out of a made for TV romcom set. Perfect backdrop for bartering your daughter off for political gain.
“Every all your animals are very beautiful on this planet,” the alien blurted out. She’d wandered off to, apparently, stick her face into a hydrangea bush.
Lena held off on a lesson in taxonomy. “They have their moments.”
The alien suddenly snapped upright, looking Lena straight in the eye. Her cheeks were flushed behind the bruising. “You are very beautiful,” she said.
Lena turned right around and headed for the water lily pond.
She’d crouched in the mud—leather boots clean up easily—staring at a frog’s vocal sac expand and deflate when the alien inevitably caught up with her. Lena could hear her dithering for a moment, and then she came over, plopping right on her ass in the mud next to Lena.
Their murky reflection rippled gently, uneasily side by side.
“You don’t really think that, do you,” Lena said.
“That you are very beautiful? I don’t think that. I was telling you reality.”
Lena shot her a sideways glance. “Right.”
The alien drew her knees closer to her chest. The frog went quiet for a beat and caught a fly.
“I don’t want this,” Lena confessed quietly.
“This?” the alien asked.
“You,” Lena clarified.
“Oh,” said the alien. “Uhh.”
Lena turned to face her. “Do you?” she asked.
The alien swallowed, looked at Lena, looked away. Nodded.
Horrendous, horrendous liar.
Lena rocked back to face the frog. “What’s your name? I forgot.”
The alien swallowed again. Lena likely should’ve offered her a drink. Likely, the treaty had a clause for that. “Kara,” the alien croaked. A bit like the frog. A bit like a person in an unfair and inescapable situation.
She didn’t provide a surname. But of course, Lena was well aware of that one.
“Kara,” Lena repeated quietly. Did they hurt you because of me, Kara? Are you as angry as I am, Kara? Or are you scared, instead? “I’m sorry, Kara.”
Kara hunched down further into her knees. “I’m sorry, Miss Lena.”
Lena held out her hand. Without looking, Kara took it. They stared at the pond in silence as their palms got sweatier.
When the mandated forty five minutes were up, Lena looked over to find Kara had fallen asleep. She seemed both exhausted and serene, cheek smooshed against her knee. Lena tugged on her hand and she jumped, head snapping up, blinking furiously. She shook her head, and looked at Lena, and her face melted into the sweetest, dopiest, most unselfconscious smile.
“Time’s up,” said Lena.
“Okay,” said Kara. “Thank you for giving me from your time.”
Lena let go of her hand. They stood and looked at each other, two fiancées surrounded by flowers. Kara lifted her hand, opened and closed her fist, an awkward imitation of a toddler’s goodbye.
She turned to walk away, back to her spaceship or wherever the fuck. The ass of her pants was caked in mud, a lovely brown apple-shaped stain.
Well, fuck, thought Lena. I might like her.