Chris changed into black cotton trousers and a blue shirt with laces and loops instead of buttons. He rolled up his clothes into a bundle and gave them to Miss Joline who expressed desire to study their weaving before they disappeared. Sarah had not come out from the dressing room yet, so John suggested showing the house where he would be living. Since Jenna was there to bring Sarah and there was nothing else to do, he agreed and went outside with John who started telling him more about Arendil.
“The grove that you saw is called Seyara. It is a grove of trees ancient beyond memory; we worship them and take their blessings when a child is born.”
Chris raised an eyebrow. Though what he was thinking was weird, he couldn’t help asking. “You mean people marry each other here, like inter-universe marriages happen?” John looked at him for sometime before bursting out with laughter. “He-he, yes, something of that sort. Why Chris, no one ever spoke of a marriage here in that way. You’re really funny! But maybe it won’t be so when you and Sarah marry... you belong to the same universe!”
Chris spun to his left in split second where John was walking. “Who said anything about us getting married? Are you crazy?”
John stammered. “I-I thought... Forgive me Chris, I thought you two were-”
“We two are nothing. Get that?”
“I get that.” John nodded and kept walking. They had crossed the Seyara, and after staring at the flowers long enough to focus his mind, he started observing the houses. Me and Sarah? No freaking way! They were arranged in a circle around the Seyara, beyond a lawn circling the trees where probably festivals were celebrated. What made him think I’ll marry Sarah? The closer ones were clustered near each other, but as they became farther and farther from the trees the separation between them increased. She would probably wring his neck if he mentioned it to her. Some of them even had well maintained gardens between them where the space was enough. He remarked about it to John, who said that there was so much space between his house and his neighbour’s that he could maintain a kitchen garden.
The mention of a neighbour got him thinking. Elanya Nephtherborn.
Do guys never think of anything except girls?
Sarah? Chris was doubly surprised. First, because he had forgotten to check his dam of thoughts. And secondly because he hadn’t thought Sarah would be hearing his thoughts from so far away. Probably that’s why he had not kept a check.
I can also think of differential equations, wanna hear some?
Since when have you been listening Sarah?
I haven’t, really. I just thought about you and the thought boomed in my head.
You swear you heard nothing else? He closed his dam for an instant. Like John mentioning marriage? He opened the dam again.
Of course. Why, have you and John been having guy talks? She laughed out loud inside his mind, and even so far away he could feel her laughter.
What if this Elanya has three eyes or four hands or looks like a pumpkin? Her laughter sounded harder, and Chris hastily checked the flow of terror seeping out of his dam.
John saw Chris with a faraway expression on his face as he walked beside him. He waved a hand in front of his eyes, and then clapped in front of him which brought him out of his daydream.
“What?” He asked when Chris looked at him startled.
“Nothing. Go ahead.”
“We don’t go anywhere from here. This is your house.” He pointed to the wooden house in front of him. There was an empty space in front where grass well above six inches was growing, ending at the foot of a staircase of two steps which ended at a door. Chris pushed the door open and looked inside. A fireplace was in front of him, a dining table on the left beside a door that was probably leading into the kitchen, a window on the right hand side wall with a low bed just beneath it, and a spiral staircase on far right leading upstairs to the bedroom.
“It’s nice. It feels cozy. Where will Sarah live?”
“She will live here Chris. People from the same planet have to stay in the same houses, or we’d soon run out of space making houses for every single person.”
“You’re kidding.” John stared impassively.
“No, she can’t!” Chris cried out, feeling his stomach knotting.
“Why?” John looked genuinely puzzled.
“Because it is against traditions, Master Seymar. She can live with me if she wants to.” Chris looked at the source of the soft sing-song voice, and forgot to close his mouth that he had opened to agree. She looked into his eyes for a second before turning to John.
“If she agrees, Miss Nephtherborn.”
“The way he behaved at the offer” she glanced quickly at Chris before resuming, “I am positive she’ll stay with me when she is informed about sharing her accommodations.” Then she turned to Chris. “Our universes might be different, but I think we are very identical in our way of life. Hi, I am Elanya. Elanya Nephtherborn.” She emphasised the surname and grinned, and offered her hand.
Chris looked at it in shock, then grasped it lightly and shook it, terrified that the gesture might offend her in some way. How am I to learn how to greet guys from different planets?
But she shook his hand and smiled.
Chris fidgeted, remembering he hadn’t introduced himself. “I- I am Chris Earthborn.”
She nodded and waved her hand. “Come over to my place when your friend Sarah comes. I live in the house to your left.” She walked away.
“She looks like me!” He spoke to John who chuckled before answering.
“No, she looks like Sarah.” Chris stared at him for some time, then understood the notion and nudged him playfully in the shoulder.
“I mean- She looks just like any other person from-” He paused. The closest he had come to using this sentence had been when mentioning his state. He worked up some saliva before adding “Earth”. Oh God, I’d be talking like this now! No more ‘Springfield is a great place! It has lots of malls and movie theatres!’ Now it would be like 'Earth is a great planet! It has lots of mountains and seas!'
Are you getting mad? Sarah boomed inside his head while he was distracted.
He laughed. I think I am.