We threw out backpacks in the back of my jeep and cruised into spring break with the top down. It was really still too cold for this.
Whatever. My taunters would see it and know that while I may never be cooler than them, my car was.
“I hate this place.” I mumbled.
Stephy looked at me. “You know, if it weren’t for the green lipstick around your eyes and the disco ball head band, they wouldn’t make fun of you.”
“Ah, but not for those things I could not be the Jeni, drama queen of all the Earth, or at least Las Vegas.”
Stephy laughed. “Then you can’t complain about the responses your actions elicit.”
I sighed. “I don’t make fun of the chess team and math nerds.”
“Dude, you walk around with green lipstick around your eyes in a variety of costumes.” Obviously, from the way she said it she had no idea if that was the right word. They weren’t really costumes, more fashion statements. “If you made fun of the nerds they would laugh at you.”
“This from my best friend.”
“Hey, I support all your freakishness. I’m just telling you our lives would be easier, if you chose to go main-stream."
“Uhh—I’m a freak by association, but I’m such a loyal friend, I endure.”
Now, I laughed. “I thought I’m supposed to be the drama queen?”
“I deal with you daily. I’m entitled to my moments.”
“Well, my melodramatic side-kick, what are we doing this week?”
We contemplated. Not being rich kids, there would be no South Padre, or Panama.
“We could go camping—Grand Canyon?” Stephy suggested.
“Like sleep on the ground?”
“In the jeep.”
I looked at her skeptically. Drama queens didn’t tend to do camping.
“Princess, can you fund a better idea? It’s either that or a week with the parents.”
It was settled. Stephy told her parents she was vacationing with us for the week and I sold the same lie in reverse to my parents. We left before they were awake and hid Stephy’s car.
“I don’t remember this stuff on the way to the Grand Canyon.” Stephy said.
“It’s what the directions said.”
“Check the GPS.”
“I forgot it.”
“You forgot the GPS. How did you think we would make it to Arizona?”
Lately, her melodramatics had me doubting my standing as the drama queen. But then a sign read, “Warning Entering a Military Installation.” Stephy was right.
We exchanged a disturbed look. You didn’t live two hours from Area 51 and not know the stories.
“I’ll turn around.” Before I could the car seemed to be falling. It had to be in my head since the road stretched out straight in front of us. Stephanie tensed in her seat, one hand grasping the bottom of her seat the other clinging to the “oh crap” handle just above the window.—She felt the freefall too. A brilliant burst of cloudy light surrounded the car. I tried to stir out of it--useless.
Praying, I closed my eyes. We dropped to a rocky bottom, where a crowd of green people (other than the color of their skin looking very much like us) surrounded the jeep.
Stephy nervously joked, “I hope they don’t find your eye make-up mocking.”
Me too. Really. The top was down; the vehicle offered no protection. We opened the doors and fearfully slid out.
Stephy creeped around the car to where I stood. Most of the crowd knelt before me now, oblivious to her.
“What are they doing?” She whispered.
I shrugged too scared to make any bolder movements, clueless as to what they were doing. An attractive green guy approached me. “I am Malakar.” His eyes were hazel, his hair a creamy brown, his facial features sharp and distinct, and his body muscular.
“I’m,” my voice squeaked. “I’m yours.”
His gentle laugh shone through his eyes. My heart flipped. “You are the Earthling we’ve been waiting for.”
“…Where am I?”
“You are on planet Malak. The force field around the teleportation device is to protect my people from your government since our visit many years ago. But it’s malfunctioning, which is how you landed here. I’m very sorry for your inconvenience but thankful for your presence. That being said, my people have been waiting for the Earthling, who could accept us and be cunning enough to gather the needed supplies from Earth.”
“Seriously, I’m nerd girl. What makes you think I’m your cunning Earthling, Malakar—whoa! Wait a minute. You like own the planet?”
He chuckled. “Princess,” I’d been called this before, usually with sarcasm. Now the word was genuine. “One cannot own a planet, but I lead the Malakans just as my father before me. You’re the Earthling we’ve been waiting for. The oracle told me I would know her when I saw her and legend says she’s mesmerizing.”
Malakar was completely into me! I looked around to the green people cloaked in renaissance attire, then back to Prince Charming complete with a sword hanging from his side, to the frightened face of my best friend.
I knew I belonged here. It wasn’t just Malakar. No one sneered at the green marks around my eyes, or at the fact that I wore a head band which threw iridescent light several yards every time I moved. No one cared about the large fluttering butterfly clippies clamping sporadically to my velvet dress for jewels.
I could be Jeni without criticism.
“I’ll stay. I’ll be your supply girl, just get Stephanie home safely. And if she would like to visit, she needs the option.”
“Princess, you can have any visitor you wish. They will be safe here. You are welcomed as long as you like and never required to stay.” He knelt. “But please, give me the opportunity to make you more than the overseer of supplies. In time, I hope to earn your affection.”
Stephy returned home promising to visit; I was home.