Same Time, Another Planet





Image: Santos Gonzales, via Flickr

PRK24 is sitting at the kitchen table when KNT32 glides into the room. PRK24 is so beautiful that one could die from it, thinks KNT32; how, she thinks, as she hides her head in her hands, can one do something so painful, as she must, to something so handsome? Or someone? PRK24 looks at her with amazement, then a polaroid picture slides out of his head, he takes it down with his hands, gives it to her, it shows KNT32 as she is standing now, with her hands around her head. Then he pulls out another picture that is blank, but with this symbol: “?” KNT32 shakes her head. Then she pulls out a picture. It shows KNT32, naked, against this kitchen table, with PRK27 behind her. PRK24 slides slowly back from the chair while staring at the picture, which slowly dissolves before his eyes. KNT32’s heart is hammering. Then she pulls out a picture that shows a little embryo. It is so handsome. It is so little, and the light around it is so red. It is sucking its thumb. It looks as though it is dreaming. Things one cannot know. PRK24 closes his eyes, because it hurts! He is both furious and completely lost. He pulls a picture out of his head: PRK24 and KNT32 eating hotdogs at a hotdog stand. KNT32 has her mouth wide open around a gigantic hotdog with too much onion. PRK24 is laughing. A new picture: PRK24 has won a pink teddybear for KNT32, and KNT32 is hugging it. A new picture: PRK24 and KNT32 are walking hand in hand on a sandy beach, the sun is setting, they are not wearing shoes. KNT32’s heart is about to break. She takes out a picture that shows how her heart is breaking. But PRK24 does not see it. He sits with his eyes closed. He takes out a picture that shows the surface of a body of water. He sits for a little. Then he takes out a new picture: A large bubble of air is about to burst against the surface of the water. KNT32 throws herself toward the picture, trying to dive into it, but too late, it dissolves, she shakes PRK24, but he has disappeared into himself.

What can we learn from this? That on other planets, too, there may exist insoluble problems. We don’t have to think that we are the only ones who fight and fight. Another striking feature is that they communicate through pictures.

Gunnhild Øyehaug is the author of Wait, Blink, a novel, and Knots, a collection of stories. She lives in Bergen, where she teaches creative writing.