The Marigolds Sing
Living with a Transhuman from the Moon of Mars.
Meryll is not her usual self. The sparkle in her light amber-colored eyes is eclipsed by a sunken, hollow longing of sorts. Deep, dark, sorrowful. Almost listless, in a trance of memories. She’s dyed her hair a lighter blonde, snipped it into a bob just like mine. So perfect in the way her new haircut is cupping her porcelain, chiseled cheeks. I've never seen a woman be so striking in her misery. Always entranced by sorrow. Body so slender and fragile. Eyes always so desperate in the way she so achingly yearns to be loved.
As Meryll was pouring herself a glass of wine, I came down the stairs and greeted her, “Hey, what’s up? Haven’t really seen you around lately. Did I do something wrong?”
“No, please don’t think that. There’s just been a lot on my mind,” she replies quietly, drawing circles in the air with her wine glass, aerating the expensive red she just poured. She raises the glass to her nose, closes her eyes and sighs heavily. She breathes out heavily, placing the glass on the table without taking a sip.
I couldn't resist the solemnity of the mood. “What’s wrong?” I asked. How can someone have so much and still be so unhappy?
She runs her fingers through the embroidered details on the hem of her green skirt. Taking deep, exhausted breaths before finally saying, “Nothing, just work--uh--Wanna see my garden?” she asks, quickly changing the subject. Before I can reply, she reaches out her hands, inviting me to follow her. "Let's go, don't be scared of me. We are friends, right?"
Meryll then leads me down to the basement. A wall of marigolds lines the walls, injecting intoxicating aromas into the air. The dark shadows now conquered by light as Meryll walked past. Trailing behind her, I watched as her presence alone stirred life and light into the room. As if the scent of her presence aroused the walkway in salute of her. She carried herself with a majestic elegance. A royal aura awakened by this mysterious underground world. Every step down the staircase triggered a green light, illuminating the pathways. The marigolds perked up, and rose from the walls saying “hello” in cheery, limpid tunes as she pranced by. The wall of flowers so visibly thrilled to be in her midst. I’ve always imagined flowers were naturally cheery, but I’ve never heard them vibrate with such melodious warmth. These marigolds were alive and greeting us! I’ve never seen anything like this before. Golden butterflies flew past us. Some kissed Meryll on the cheek, and I grasped the bamboo railings tighter in surprise as they continued to scurry past, fluttering about.
A little fairy lands on my shoulder, saying "Kagwapa sa imo girl!" A slang way of saying "Such a pretty girl" in my mother's dialect. The fairy sprinkles some shimmer on my nose, and I watch my golden brown skin start to slightly emanate a rose gold shimmer. My heart-shaped, ebony birthmark on my left arm, crescively evolving into a golden color. The fairy lingers by the golden heart, and studies me for a moment. Eyes widening with glee. She flutters around the room, as if assisting Meryll in bringing a transcendent radiance into the space. She briefly whispers into Meryll's ear, and disappears abruptly with the snap of Meryll's fingers.
"Meryll, this fairy speaks my language! My mother speaks such a rare dialect too, no more than 10,000 people speak it nowadays. This is such a lovely place!" I continued to take steps, pausing in between to study the singing flowers.
"Oh really." she replied. "I thought you were just American. You speak languages?" she asked, almost doubtful. She continues to pace downwards.
"I mostly just tell people I'm Liberian because I look more like my dad who was from Monrovia. But--"
"I speak all of Earth's major languages." She interrupts defensively, as if this were a competition?
Suddenly, three purple drones hovered near us, take a quick picture and vanish. Well, that's rude, how can you just take a picture without any warning. "Don't worry about it. Think of it as a really modern 'visitor's log'" Meryll is reassuring, nodding her head excessively in a condescending way that learned people do. She is quiet for a few moments, then stops in her path. She vigorously shakes her head as if trying to obliterate an image gnawing at her mind. She's sad, I can feel it.
"I'm not sad. And it's not a competition. You need to learn how to keep your thoughts to yourself, Eloida. You keep forgetting that I can read minds. Have kinder thoughts, I'm trying to be nice to you."
"Right." I replied.
As we descended further down the stairs, she continues to wave her hands about, activating the last of the string lights. By the time we've reach the bottom of the flight of stairs, the entire basement is covered in luscious greens. Vivid colors of fruits harmoniously swirling with bamboo stands, vivacious and dreamy in all its cosmic glory. An almost futuristic, rustic allure. Three pink kittens scuttle by, startling me at first. Once we reached the bottom of the stairs, I turned to her, astonished, mouth partially ajar. Gaping in giddy, fantastical awe. The pink kittens are so maddeningly cute.
With the wave of her delicate hand, the happy marigolds stop singing and return to a resting state. More yellow string lights flicker on, and a pink kitten approaches us with a toy doughnut in its mouth. Meryll softly stoops down to pick up the kitten, striking its pink fur with silent care. Softly tilting her head, she examines the cat's sapphire eyes and caresses its chunky cheeks. She draws a heart on its forehead, almost ritual-like. The kitten purrs in response and says in clear and stern English: “Who’s the weirdo staring at me Meryll?” Voice so masculine and strong, completely opposed to its small, furriness.
Meryll stifles a chuckle, bemused, turns to me and says: “Sorry he’s a little rude.”
I am standing in disbelief. Straightening my posture to contain my awe, I muster a "Hello". Still trying to process how I was just mocked by a cute, little talking kitten with a smushy face. The pink kitten gradually turns purple, the sapphire eyes retreating into silver glow. Meryll immediately places him on the floor, and fondles the pendant of her gold necklace, nervous. In a few moments, an iridescent glow encapsulates the purple kitten, and it turns into a sizable, talking lion. Standing on its hind legs, he turns to Meryll and says, “Is this her?”
“Yes sir,” Meryll replies. The sudden deference in her mannerisms seems quite curious now.
“Hello, I’m William,” says the biped lion with opalescent eyes, “we’ve been excited to meet you!” He reaches his paws towards my hand. I surrender my hand towards him in what resembles a hand shake. His commanding eyes soften into a smile. "Eloida," I obliged in reply. "Pleasure to meet you."
Cool. So my half A.I., half human roommate from the moon of Mars...A Phobot from Phobos... has a secret magical talking lion that changes color. This is certainly just a normal Saturday afternoon for someone with a hidden magical kingdom.
As if reading my thoughts, William interrupts: “I can read minds too, by the way. I am glad you have a unique sense of humor about all of this. It must be very confusing for you, or perhaps awe-inspiring? Tell me, Eloida, have you ever wondered what animal you’d be in a parallel kingdom? I assure you, you will find yourself to be quite... erm... hmm..” His voice trails off as if he is searching for the right word. “Magnificent, almost..regal,” dragging the first syllable of reee--gal as if torn between the desire to roar or cast intrigue. His accent feels almost British, with traces of slavic roots, exaggerated by the intonation of his pointedness.
“I can’t say I have,” I replied. Then I redirect my attention to the numerous solar panels by the window. I had no idea how much infrared and solar panels create such a lively underground garden. She grows her own arugula, carrots, potatoes, string beans, heirloom tomatoes, and lettuce. She can feed a whole family with this stuff. To the corner I find more jolly flowers. Roses this time, silent but smiling and swaying with joy as Meryll approaches to say hello. The air is suddenly overwhelmed with a rose scent. No wonder Meryll always smells like flowers. She has a beautiful command of nature. How can someone like her be so sad?
William scoops my arm and takes me to a corner behind the staircase. The intensity of his eyes commands my attention. He has a familiarity to him, like I've met him before. He stares deeper into my eyes, trying to perhaps excavate a story of my past. As his blue opalescent eyes continue to bury through me, I become distracted by the big, succulent, red fruit peaking out of the fruit wall. I near-bury my face to get a closer look at the seeds of a heart-shaped fruit the size of my fist.
“Oh my God, are those strawberries? How is it even possible to grow them so big?”
“We had a lot of borrowed Gala technologies in Phobos. My ex-boyfriend from Mars left me this as a gift for leaving me for a human. He traveled multiple worlds, spaces... forward and backward through time. Just to create this for me because I'm special. Some of the plants you see here don’t exist in this world yet. Some fruits from the future, some of them from places I’ve never even seen before. William is here to be my guide to the various things here. Like a Shaman? There’s a piece of my ex’s consciousness in him though.” Meryll sighs, her eyes lowers and is tear-filled. “I miss him so much.”
“Meryll, don’t cry.” William approaches Meryll, and holds her in a hug. “Do you need me to transform into him?” Meryll vigorously shakes her head, “Please don’t, I can't see him again it hurts too much.” Meryll wipes her eyes and motions towards me. “Eloida, is there anything here you would like?”
“No, I’m okay.” I said, trying to be polite.
And suddenly she just disappears. In a few moments, there is a massive strawberry floating by my lips. I part my lips open. I take a bite.
“Holy cow! That is insanely sweet.” I am beside myself, contemplating the fruity saccharine burst of berry flavor in my mouth. “Also, the whole invisible thing. Can you not do that? It scares me so much.” Meryll suddenly reappears, cupping a big bunch of strawberries. “Here, you should eat more salads. You have very unhealthy eating habits.”
Unnerved, I thanked her for the strawberries, and furiously walked past William. I make my way back upstairs, practically flying into my room and smashing my door shut. I frantically lock the door.
Why does she know how I eat? How much does this Phobot watch me? But man these strawberries are so sweet. I’ve never had anything like this.
Cool.So.my.half.A.I.,half.human.roommate.from. the. moon.of.Mars. A.Phobot.from.Phobos.
...and the marigolds sing.
and. the. marigolds. sing!