I don't feel straight. I never feel straight. Or at least I hadn't felt straight since my mother, my last living family member died. She died at the exact time my seventeenth birthday occurred, which was only a week ago at exactly seven in the morning. It was as if she was meant to die. It was as if someone-- or something had been waiting for her to die.
Each of my family members had passed away around the time of my birthday, each death getting closer to my birthday every year. I never understood why. Neither did my mother. But on the day of my seventeenth birthday, I found my mother lying dead in the engineering room of the spaceship, Universal Navigator. On that same day, I began to feel itchy on my back. Perhaps I was getting a rash. I was confused, but now I am beginning to understand these recurring deaths of my family.
My family members were all meant to die. All seventeen of them had died around the same date as my birthday for a reason. I wondered-- even hoped I was meant to die as well. I wondered if next year, I would join my family back in nature. I have only to wait and see before I know what my fate holds.
It has only been a week since my mother's death. I had loved my mother. I had been so close to her all my life. She had taught me so many things about math, science, space, and everything I needed to know about the world beyond. I had hoped to join mother on the Universal Navigator one day when my schooling was finished. But my hope faded. I feel lost now. Perhaps one of the reasons why is that I don't even know how my mother or any of my relatives died in the first place. Something has been disturbing me. Building up in me. I don't know what. These days, I feel like something or someone is stalking me.
The things that I began to notice the most were the dragonflies that would hover around. I took no note of them until now. I try to ignore them and get on with my studies so that I can become a crewmember of a spacecraft, but it's hard to ignore them these days. I sometimes like to stare at them and think that they are my passed family members. I like to talk with my best friend, Kenneth about my thoughts on the dragonflies, but he only laughs and says, “Finn, you’re too much. They’re just dragonflies.” I don’t say anything after that.
I find myself standing near ponds, on top of cliffs, or in open fields more often now. I even find myself talking to the dragonflies. They always understand what I’m saying. Sometimes I even ask them to do my chores for me, such as cleaning dishes, or wiping the dust off my mom’s old flowerpots, or oiling the machines and gadgets my dad invented a while back when I was ten.
You see the dragonflies here are not like your normal ones you see on your planet. The dragonflies here are clever and can lift heavy things, and can do many things us radians can do. They are very observant, as I can see. No one else seems to notice them here. Perhaps the dragonflies are just daily occurring creatures we know are there, but don’t take full note of. Perhaps the radians don’t even know that these dragonflies are intelligent creatures. I tried to tell Kenneth about what I observed about the dragonflies. Of course, he didn’t listen, but that was only at first. After a while of explaining, he began to listen.
Kenneth is six months older than me. He is tall and thin, while I am short and kind of stubby. I’m not majestic like the other girls. I’m certainly mot majestic and smart like Kenneth. I try to learn from him, but when he teaches me, I feel like I’m being too dependent on him. I tell him how I feel. I always tell him how I feel. I tell him that I am sorry all the time when I ask for his help. He only laughs and lightly places his hand on my shoulder. He doesn’t say anything, as if he doesn’t know the right words to say to me.
He knows I’m unstable and psychic. I don’t know if he’s comfortable around me, but I certainly enjoy his company.
One day, I had been in my class in the bright white room, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of my bright white desk. The dragonflies had distracted me again. I was thinking of my mother’s recent death. I didn’t notice that tears were streaming out of my eyes. All the kids were staring at me. Then I remember suddenly bursting out in shrieks as if someone were murdering me. I don’t know why. I don’t know what I was feeling. I never know what I am feeling. I only tell Kenneth my feelings in a vague way.
When I started screaming, Kenneth came to me and grabbed me. He’s such a strong person. I wish I were strong like him. I’m just a scared, seventeen year old girl. He pinned me against his chest and walked out of the bright white classroom as if he were a cat, free to roam wherever he wished. He brought me outside to the green, green, grassy courtyard where we had a view of all the space shuttles lifting off to meet their spaceships. I was still crying. Kenneth had taken my hand very gently, almost too gently. Then he had pulled me to him very close. I don’t know what I was feeling then, but I know that my heart was jolting in a funny way.
I don’t exactly remember what Kenneth did after that, but after that moment, he seems to be very protective over me. He teaches me more often without me asking him. He listens to my discombobulated stories now. He doesn’t speak out of turn anymore. I think he’s growing up. I think he’s going to be a real man soon. I even heard that he might be the captain of one of the spaceships. I was glad to hear that. I wish I could be a captain of a spaceship.
Today, I have been spending all day with the dragonflies. They seem to teach me things just like Kenneth does, but they teach me different things. They teach me things like how to drive a space shuttle, even though I am not permitted to ride any spacecraft yet. I had to secretly borrow a space shuttle in order to fly. If I’m caught, I might get in trouble. But I don’t care if I get in trouble. I probably end up like the rest of my family back with nature.
I sat cross-legged on the bench in the courtyard. Behind me, I sensed Kenneth approaching. He seemed to want something. I couldn’t tell what at first, but then I realized that he just wanted me. He didn’t want to teach me or talk to me about something. He just wanted me. I don’t know how to feel about that.
He sat down carefully beside me, staring into my blank eyes. He didn’t speak. I didn’t speak either. Then he pulled me to him and kissed me lightly on the cheek. Warmth spread through me. Then I got that funny feeling again that I had when Kenneth pulled me close the last time. I wasn’t sure how I should feel about it. Was the feeling good or bad? Should I be happy or sad?
I suddenly turned to Kenneth, my mouth quivering. “Kenneth,” I said hoarsely. “Do you think I’ll end up like the rest of my family?”