Love on a Reptile Planet, by Dawn Lowe
I didn’t mind being a mail-order bride. Even when I had to travel six years to meet Larry.
Mr. Elon Musk himself put us in cold storage on the space ship. I lost a few pounds in transit and never looked better. Larry bonded with me the instant I defrosted.
Larry’s a reptile, of course, and a proud chameleon. Sometimes I trip over him when I’m vacuuming—but we always laugh it off.
He had the leg-lengthening surgery before I arrived so he can walk upright. He stands almost as tall as me and adores Earth clothes. I have to cut a hole in the trousers for his tail, but he does look cute in a pair of Dockers with a bow tie.
Local girls hate us humans for stealing their men. Larry’s childhood sweetie, Flick, did her best to make my life hell before she got an Earthman of her own. I knew Larry’d been unfaithful when Flick dumped a cardboard box of eggs on the porch. I couldn’t bring myself to toss them out and, before I knew it, we were ankle-deep in hatchlings.
They were good kids and grew up fast. Larry Junior is the only one still with us. He lives in the basement, god love him, listening to Wagner. The operas go on for hours, rumbling the floor under my feet while I iron the boys’ shirts.
Perhaps I’m painting a sorry picture of my life—but it’s not so. Our home is a palace, honestly, and we could afford servants, if only lizards knew how to clean. Weekends we barbecue with the neighbors to unwind. The flies here are enormous and grill up nicely on skewers. Properly seasoned, they taste like sirloin.
I can’t complain about my love life. Reptiles always crave a hug and cuddle, being cold-blooded. Larry fairly wraps himself around me when he comes home from the office—and he knows how to use that foot-long sticky tongue! Still, his eyes are cold, and I remind myself it’s not love I’m after, but companionship.
The sad part of any reptile mixed marriage is life expectancy.
Reptiles live 20 years at best, and we humans linger quite a bit longer. I was 68 when I landed on the reptile planet. Now Larry’s 19 and I’m 78—a real May/December marriage, but better than living alone on Earth after my Harvey died. And, because the tug of gravity is gentler here, wrinkles and varicose veins aren’t so troubling. No regrets.
Lately Larry Junior has been making advances, when he crawls up from the basement. His old dad is too blind and hard-of-hearing to notice, but I’ve given that boy a few smacks with my flyswatter. I even slammed his tail in the basement door, so he’s got to wear a prosthetic until it grows back.
I’m not his biological mother, but there’s something wrong about taking up with Larry’s child. Only, Junior sees things differently.
“All the other boys are marrying human widows,” he says. “I can’t afford my own mail-order bride, and what else have you got to do? I’ll inherit the house.”
Well, he’s got me there.
One thing’s certain: I’m not going back to Earth, where nobody wants me. Better to stay here, where I’m valued and even prized.
Lizard love is bittersweet. My advice to travelers? Think long and hard before you put on that spacesuit.
Dawn Lowe is an editor at Brilliant Flash Fiction.
D.T. Graber lives and works in two places—Colorado's Front Range and Tennessee's South Cumberland Plateau—a situation that produces regular road trips between the two. When traveling otherwise, he tends to find himself in places that have been abandoned, if not in places of abandonment. He finds it easiest—or maybe most revealing—to document humanity by the scenes and objects it leaves behind, by accident or with conviction. He likes images of desolation when that desolation speaks.