A bolt of light shot across the sky, slamming into the ground, creating a large crater. It was just past midnight, and everyone was asleep. No one heard the pod hit the ground. No one saw the flash of light. No one noticed the naked teenage girl crawl out of the wreckage in the middle of the crater. No one witnessed the girl’s purple skin fading to fleshy pink, her antennas retracting into her skull. No one noticed as her vibrant violet eyes turned dull blue. No one saw as she stepped out of the crater and walked with a slightly limp into town.
The new girl at school was a mystery. She kept to herself, mostly, and never answered any of her classmates’ probing questions, avoiding their curious stares in the hallway.
She never answered questions in class. Except science, where we were learning about the rocks and life potential on Mars.
By last period the first day after the new girl arrived, everyone new her name and the hallways and classrooms buzzed with theories about who she was and why she was here.
I looked up from my canvas at the soft, sweet, heavily accented voice. It was the new girl. In my art class. Looking at me.
“Hi,” she said. “My name is Lilia.”
“How do you know?”
“Are you kidding? Everyone in school knows your name.”
“Why would I ‘kid’ about that?”
“Um, I don’t… it’s a phrase.”
“Oh. Well. I believe this is where the other person typically says their name,” Lilia told me.
“Oh, right, sorry.” I held out my hand. “I’m Aaron.”
Lilia stared at my hand as if she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. I let it drop awkwardly.
“Aaron,” she echoed thoughtfully. She scrunched her nose in a cute way, as if she was trying out the name for the first time. “What is this class?”
“Um, art.” I gestured to the paintbrushes and canvases.
“And what does one do in ‘art?’”
“Artwork,” I answered unhelpfully.
“Artwork.” Lilia smiled. “You will have to show me what that is.”
Before I could ask if she was joking, the teacher entered.
“Alright, class,” the teacher said. “Settle down, settle down.”
The class reluctantly quieted.
“Many of you probably know our new student. Welcome, Lilia Brown.”
Lilia blushed at the attention.
“Do you want to say a little bit about yourself?” Mrs. Tripton asked. “Tell us where you moved from.”
“Mars.” She said it in such a serious tone.
Mrs. Tripton and the rest of the class laughed.
“Hot and funny,” I heard a boy behind him whisper to his friend.
I rolled my eyes, ignoring them. I would have to warn Lilia to stay away from those two. Jacob Carlton and Fred Brunswick were notorious players at the school. They’d hooked up with every popular girl and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were going for a perfect record, even the unpopular girls.
“No, really,” Lilia said. “Mars, Pennsylvania. It is located in the United States. It’s a little borough in Butler County.”
For some reason, I got the distinct impression that Lilia was reading from a textbook or she had just memorized that place.
“Oh, of course.” Mrs. Tripton smiled, laughing a little. “Not the planet. That would be silly.”
Lilia looked puzzled, as if she couldn’t understand why Mrs. Tripton and the rest of the class thought that was ridiculous. But she kept her mouth shut and didn’t ask. She glanced around and met my gaze. I blushed and looked away, embarrassed at having been caught staring.
Lilia smiled timidly at me.
“Of course not Mars.” She said finally, shaking her head.
Mrs. Tripton moved on with class, instructing us on what to paint.
Lilia stopped me after class. “Hey, Aaron!”
“Helping me with my… artwork.”
“Oh, yeah. That was… No problem.”
Lilia smiled. “Thank you, still.”
“You’re really nice,” Lilia said.
“Oh, well you’re not so bad yourself.”
Lilia cocked her head as if trying to figure out what I meant by that. I wondered if maybe she was new to the United States, if she’d moved from somewhere foreign to Pennsylvania. English did not seem to be her first language, since she didn’t seem to understand many phrases or sayings. “I will take that as a compliment.”
“It was meant as one,” I told her.
Lilia laughed lightly. “Oh,” she said. “I’m not very good at picking up human emotions.”
“Animals I can relate to,” she said. “But I have a hard time reading people.”
“Oh, right. So does my sister. She has autism.”
Lilia smiled. “Then I must have the autism, too.”
I didn’t tell her it didn’t work that way. If she had it, she would know. Unless doctors in wherever she came from didn’t diagnose disabilities in the same way as America. “Hey, do you want to hang out downtown with me? Me and a couple of my friends usually go to this little coffee shop after school.”
Lilia’s smile brightened. “Sure.”
“I’ll tell them you’re coming.” I pulled out my phone to text my friends. “Come on, we can walk together.”
Lilia followed me to my locker and waited patiently as I grabbed my textbooks. She already had all the ones she needed.
People stared at Lilia leaned against a locker, chatting animatedly. Word would spread fast that the new girl was talking to me. I hated gossip and rumors, but soon everybody would be talking about Lilia Brown and Aaron Goodman.
Lilia and I left the building together, ignoring peoples’ stares.
“It is a warm day out-of-doors,” Lilia said.
It was, indeed. It was very hot outside, unusually so for August.
“True,” I said in agreement.
“What are your friends like?” Lilia asked.
“Oh, um… They’re cool. I think you’ll like them. There’s Jacob Freeman, Lucas Newton, and Sean Greene.”
“Which of them is your favorite?” Lilia wanted to know.
“I don’t have a favorite. We’re all best friends.”
Lilia frowned. “I thought you could only have one ‘best’ something. How can you have three best friends? That would make them all just friends if they were all the ‘best’ at it.”
“Well, um, I suppose.” I shrugged. I hadn’t really thought about it. “Tell me about your friends.”
Lilia’s eyes got a far-off look like she was a million miles away, probably thinking of home. Then she shook her head. “I don’t have any.”
Lilia shook her head again. “Not a single one.”
“Isn’t that lonely?”
Lilia shrugged. “I guess. But I haven’t really wanted friends.”
“All the… people I’ve known have been awful to the ones they call their friends. I decided I didn’t want any.”
“Has anyone ever wanted to be your friend?”
I stopped outside the coffee shop and held the door open for Lilia. I led her over to our usual table. “Hey, Jake,” I greeted the only one there. “Seen Luke or Sean yet?”
Jake shook his head as we sat down. “So. This is the new girl.”
“I am eighteen,” Lilia said. “I don’t see how that is ‘new.’”
I frowned. The way she’d said her age sounded off. She sounded unsure, her voice going up slightly at the end, as if she was asking a question.
Jake laughed at her response. “Funny girl, huh?”
Luke and Sean entered the coffee shop then, laughing. They joined us, still grinning.
“What’s so funny?” Jake asked.
“Luke was just telling me a joke about this frog and a beaver,” Sean said, waving a hand dismissively. He turned to Lilia. “The new girl, I presume.”
“Yes.” Lilia nodded.
“She’s from Pennsylvania,” I shared with the group.
“A northeastern girl, huh?” Luke said. “You’re a long way from Kansas, Dorothy.”
Lilia frowned, puzzled. “I am Lilia from Pennsylvania, not Kansas. I do not know who this ‘Dorothy’ is.”
“You’ve never seen The Wizard of Oz?” Luke asked.
Lilia shook her head. “I do not understand that reference.”
“Oh. Never mind, then.”
I found myself staring at her. The way she scrunched her nose up in frustration when she didn’t understand something was really cute.
Sean kicked my leg under the table, giving me a look. He was letting me know he had caught me staring. “Come order with me, Aaron.”
“Okay. Lilia— what would you like?”
“Whatever you’re having,” she replied with a smile.
I nodded and followed Sean to order our usual drinks.
Sean smirked at me when we were turned from the table. “You like her,” he accused in a lowered voice.
“I do not.”
“Deny it all you like… I can tell you do. You have a major crush.”
“I do not like her.”
Sean gave me a droll stare. “It’s obvious.”
“Really? Do you think she’s guessed?”
Sean shrugged. “Probably, unless she’s completely clueless.”
Sean gave the person behind the counter our order while I thought. I had only ever dated one girl before, Annie Sherman. I had been extremely awkward when flirting, but luckily it turned out she liked that. She thought my shyness around her was cute. We had dated for three years, before she decided she was into jocks and broke up with me for Scott Miller, the football quarterback. I didn’t know how to talk to girls. I always sounded stupid and made a fool of myself. If Lilia had figured out I had a massive crush on her and hadn’t said anything, that was a bad sign. Embarrassment rushed through me, heating up my cheeks, as I watched the beautiful girl laughing with my friends.
“Aaron, are you okay?” Sean asked. “You’re really red.” He followed my gaze and grinned. “You’re blushing!”
“Am not,” I protested gruffly.
“You totally are!” Sean laughed, taking our drinks from the boy behind the counter and handing him money. He took his change and we carried the drinks back to the table.
Handing Lilia her drink, I slid into the chair beside her, ignoring the look Sean shot me. I was aware Sean was waggling his eyebrows at me, but I pretended he wasn’t there.
“Sean, are you alright?” Lilia asked. “Is there something wrong with your eyebrows?”
My face heated up.
Sean grinned as I stared at my drink and played with my straw. “Oh, no,” Sean said. “Aaron just confessed to me that he has a crush.”
I kicked his shin. Hard.
Sean winced, but continued. “He really likes this girl.”
“Crush.” Lilia tilted her head, eyebrows knit together. “That is the word you use to indicate you have feelings for someone?”
“Then what is ‘love?’”
“When you really, really like someone.”
“Oh. We have a different word for that.”
“In Pennsylvania?” Luke asked.
“Greece.” Lilia said after a brief hesitation.
“You’re originally from Greece?” I asked.
Lilia nodded. “Moved here recently, actually.”
“You’re English is quite good,” Jake said.
Lilia smiled. “I practice constantly. One of the main languages learned by Greeks is English, along with German, French, and Italian.”
Again, I got the weird sensation that she was reading from a textbook or website or something.
“That’s so cool.” Jake said.
I wasn’t sure why, but I felt a twinge of jealousy at the attention Lilia was getting from my friends. I asked her to come so that I could hang out with her and get to know her, but instead I had to sit back and watch my friends flirt with her.
“What is Greece like?” Luke asked.
“Hot,” Lilia said. “Gorgeous.”
“So, just like you.” Luke grinned.
Lilia blushed. “Um, thanks. You’re too kind.”
“Just telling the truth,” Luke said. “Tellin’ it like I see it.”
Lilia smiled. “I thank you, Lucas.”
I bit my lip, wanting to tell Luke to back off. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right to do so. I wasn’t Lilia’s father, brother, or boyfriend. I had no place getting jealous if she talked to other guys, especially if they were my friends.
“Aaron?” Lilia turned to me suddenly.
“What is this called?” She held up her drink, eyes wide.
“A pumpkin spice latte.”
“Yeah, they’re my favorite. You’ve really never had one?”
Lilia shook her head.
“Well, I’m glad you like it.”
“I do.” She nodded vigorously. Her eyes were still wide, wondering, as she took another sip through the bendy straw.
I met Sean’s teasing gaze. He waggled his eyebrows and I shot him a dirty glare.
Luke caught our shared look, a slow smirk spreading over his face. “Say, Lilia.”
“Uh huh?” She turned back to him.
“There’s a back-to-school party on Saturday. You going?” Luke said with a devilish grin.
“Yeah, with dancing and alcohol.”
“I wasn’t invited to any party.”
“I’m inviting you,” Luke said.
“Oh. Are they fun?”
“Haven’t you ever been to a party before?” Jake asked.
Lilia shook her head. “Never.”
“They’re loads of fun,” Luke said. “I mean, we’ll all be there.”
“I know Aaron would have more fun if you were there.” Sean said with a nonchalant shrug.
Shooting a narrow-eyed glower at him, I blushed. “I-I mean, if you want to go…” I stammered.
Lilia brightened. “Then I would love to go.”
“It’s getting kinda late. I’ve got homework and then dinner. It was great meeting you, Lilia.” Jake said. “Catch y’all later.” He got up, threw his cup away, and left with a wave.
“That’s my cue, too,” Luke said and stood up, checking the time on his phone. “See you tomorrow.”
After he left, Sean gave me a long meaningful look and got up to leave as well.
“It was lovely to meet you, Lilia.”
“Same.” Lilia said.
At last, it was just Lilia and me.
“Your friends seem nice,” Lilia said as she sipped her latte.
“Yeah. They seemed to like you.”
“I am glad.” Lilia smiled.
“Hey, you wanna come to my house to hang out? Pure intentions— I promise.” I asked before I could chicken out. “I’ll introduce you to my mom and sister. Dad’s still at work, though.”
“I would love that.”
“Okay, cool.” We got up and left.
“What is your family like?”
I noticed Lilia asked a lot of questions, but I didn’t mind. “My family is nice. Kind of strict, but they’re just looking out for me. We fight, but so does everyone.”
Lilia smiled. “Of course.”
We reached my house.
“It is very pretty,” Lilia commented.
“Thanks.” I held the door open for her, calling, “Mom, we’re home.”
My mom came into the room, then, to see who was with me. She seemed surprised it was a girl. “Hello. I’m Aaron’s mother. And you are…?”
“Lilia,” she replied, shaking my mom’s hand.
“A friend from school.” I said. “She’s new.”
“Oh. Well I’m sure you will love it here.”
“Thank you. I hope I will.”
“Do you two want any snacks?”
Lilia looked at me and I shook my head. “No, thanks.”
“Aaron, ask your guest if she’s hungry.”
I sighed. “Want food?”
Lilia smiled. “No, but thank you.”
I nodded. “I’ll give you a tour of the house.”
I showed Lilia around, starting with the downstairs. She seemed fascinated by every little detail and appliance. She was particularly interested in the television, as if she’d never seen one before.
“Leave your door open!” My mom called as I took Lilia upstairs.
I rolled my eyes. “This is my sister’s room, the upstairs bathroom, the stairs to the attic, the laundry room, and my room.” I pushed open my door, grateful my room wasn’t a mess.
Lilia entered my room and touched one of my posters. “What is a black veil bride?”
“Black Veil Brides. It’s a band. Do you like music?”
Lilia smiled. “Yes, but not the kind you’re used to.”
“What do you mean? Oh, don’t tell me you like jazz.” I made a face at the thought, causing her to laugh.
“No. I do not know of what jazz you speak of…” Lilia bit her bottom lip thoughtfully and all the blood rushed from my head to my cock.
“What’s wrong?” I asked her. She looked worried.
“Aaron, I have something to show you.”
“Okay…?” I frowned as Lilia shrugged off her jacket. My mind went to a dirty place as she threw her jacket onto my bed.
Lilia took a deep breath. “I know this is short notice, but I have decided to trust you.”
The air around Lilia seemed to shimmer. Suddenly, Lilia’s skin was vibrant purple, her hair a darker hue. Lilia’s eyes were glowing violet. What really shocked me, though, were the two antennae on the top of her head.
I just gaped, uncertain what response was appropriate. I had never been in this situation before. My mind was a jumbled, scattered, chaotic mess.
“I’m an alien, Aaron.” Her voice sounded different, slightly deeper with a layered cadence. She rolled her rs and held her ns, flicking her forked tongue.
“I… I can see that.”
“Are you scared?” She asked. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“I’m not scared,” I lied.
“I just wanted to share my secret with you, Aaron. Though we have only known each other for a little while, I feel I can trust you. Are you trustworthy, Aaron?”
“Of course,” I said. “I promise not to tell anyone.”
“Thank you, Aaron Ray Goodman.”
“So… you’re actually from Mars? Not the state, but the planet?” I said to avoid an awkward silence.
“You’re not from Pennsylvania. Or Greece.” I stated flatly.
Lilia nodded again. “I’ve never even been to either of those places.”
“So when you were telling us about Greece…?”
“I made that up.”
“So, I’m guessing your name isn’t really Lilia Brown, either?”
Lilia shook her head. “Leilani is what my people call me. Princess Leilani-Lucia.”
“I was sent to earth to learn what other species are like. My parents thought it beneficial to my rule of Mars. They have a dream of inter-galactic peace.”
“Peace between the planets,” I said, awed. “That’s… wow.”
Lilia nodded. “Are you angry?”
“Angry? Why would I be angry?”
“Because I’m not… human.”
“That’s hardly your fault.”
“I suppose.” Lilia shifted back, so she looked human again.
“Do you plan on taking over earth and killing all of humankind?” I teased.
“Then you’re fine.” I grinned.
Lilia smiled. She smiled a lot. I liked her smile. “I’ve studied this planet. But I am still unfamiliar with some of the objects here. Something I have heard of and wanted to try is ice cream.”
“Oh! Ice cream is amazing! I think we have some downstairs. Come on.” I got up and led Lilia to the freezer in the basement. Going to the kitchen, I scooped her some mint chocolate chip ice cream, dumping a generous helping of rainbow sprinkles on top. “Dig in, Princess.”
Lilia held her spoon tentatively. She picked up some of the ice cream. The second the ice cream touched her tongue, her eyes lit up. “This is wonderful!”
“Cookie dough ice cream is my favorite.”
“It sounds marvelous.”
“You’ll have to try it some time.”
“I will, indeed.” Lilia turned thoughtful again, as she took another bite of ice cream.
“What is it?” I asked.
She swallowed, chewing on her lip. “Can I try something, Aaron? A little… experiment.”
Before I could prepare myself or react, Lilia leaned over and pressed her lips to mine.
I froze, warmth flooding through me. I wrapped my arms around her waist, hers instinctively hooking behind my neck.
Lilia pulled back first, smiling. She went back to eating her ice cream. “That was… interesting.”
I wasn’t sure I could speak yet.
“Thank you for such an enlightening experience, Aaron.”
Erm… “You’re welcome.” My voice sounded odd, strangled.
Lilia grinned. “Relax, Aaron. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“That’s… What… That was—”
“Awesome,” Lilia finished for me. “Now, are you going to ask me out or just sit there gawking? That is typically what follows a kiss, correct? An invitation to be someone’s ‘item?’ That’s what my textbook says.”
“Um… It doesn’t quite work like that, but I would be delighted if you would agree to be my girlfriend.”
Lilia smirked. “Yes. I would love to.”