Frank doesn’t like aliens. They are slimy and smell bad and always push in front of him in the queue at the cinema.
Frank is watching A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It’s just started and already, he’s bored. Frank wishes he could leave like the dolphins but his mother says no because the world isn’t ending. But this, this is maybe worse.
Frank doesn’t like aliens. They are slimy and smell bad and always push in front of him in the queue at the cinema. They have funny accents and immunity to freezing temperatures. They have pet bears and strange number plates. Frank doesn’t just not like aliens, Frank hates aliens.
Frank voiced these opinions to his mother once but she just hushed him and told him not to be so rude. Frank’s mother is an alien sympathiser.
But really, the worst part isn’t the lack of hygiene or their ferocious pets. It’s not their ski print jumpers and their inability to wait politely for popcorn. Frank does not hate the aliens because they slime and stink —on a good day Ray Toro does both of these things—he hates them because they can shape shift. It’s unnerving and it’s creepy and it’s just plane wrong because one second Frank is looking at an elderly woman watering her garden and then the next she is gone and there’s just grass blowing gently in the breeze. The very idea of it keeps Frank up at night.
Sometimes, he has nightmares about the aliens, which are horrible because sleep is supposed to be peaceful and fun and Frank can think of nothing fun or peaceful about running away from a pack of aliens. Sometimes, he has the dream that he goes to the bathroom in the middle of the night and that there is an identical copy of himself sitting on the edge of the bathtub, looking at him. But then, his dream twin shape shifts back into an alien and sucks all of Frank’s pink, sparkly toothpaste out of the tube.
An alien family has recently bought the house next door to Frank. For two weeks Frank refused to leave his home and played solitaire alone in the dark and comfort of his own room. It’s easy to pretend you are the only person alive in Frank’s bedroom because the windows are so covered in stickers that only strange shafts of light peer in over the piles of laundry and the walls are soundproofed as a result of Frank’s night time screamathons. Frank thinks his bedroom is king of all the bedrooms.
In those two weeks Frank had lots of unpleasant dreams. The worst was the one in which Frank thought he had met Ziggy but then he turned- with his shape shifting powers- back into an alien and spat toothpaste all over Frank’s trainers. This dream was considerably worse than the twin one.
He woke up crying that night.
At the end of the last Saturday following Frank’s two weeks of alone time, Frank’s mother comes in with a sauce pan full of half cooked beans and a cut throat look slicing up her usually motherly, pleasant face.
She says, “Enough is enough, Francis you are leaving this house if I have to take you by the ear and beat you with a stick of salami until you see sense.”
If Frank were the kind of boy that passed time by making lists, he would make a list of the things he hates. That list would read;
2. Green Skittles
4. His mother’s underwear draw
So Frank goes out to sit in the garden, grumbling about insects, and air born diseases, and the suicide pollen from ‘The Happening’. He takes his hat and a thick pair of sunglasses as his only protection from the world.
One of the many reasons Frank generally hates going outside is that it is full of insects. Frank likes having bare feet, but he cannot, when outside, because he does not want ants on his toes. Frank likes doing handstands but hates the idea of squishing tiny bugs between his fingers. So, Frank sits perfectly still on a garden chair, counting his bodily features and checking he has them all, humming hymns as he does.
Frank thinks, when he has time to actually think, that aliens should wear a red A on their clothes whilst shape shifting so that everyone would know exactly what they were. He has seen something like this in a film his mother once rented called The Scarlet Letter only in that the A was for adulterer and not Alien. Frank doesn’t think it matters if you have sex before marriage as long as you are not having sex with an alien.
Frank once had a dream about that and had to sleep in the bathtub for a week.
A head pops up on the other side of the fence. It is wearing glasses and has mousy brown hair, Frank thinks he can see the top of a ski jumper where the head’s shoulders are showing above the fence. Definitely an alien, then.
It says, but not to Frank, “I told you there were other kids here.”
Frank blinks behind his sunglasses but otherwise doesn’t move.
He keeps still. Very still. Like a brick or a dead person. Maybe the alien child will forget he’s seen Frank really quickly and go away.
Frank spends a lot of his time wishing people would go away. He likes being alone because being with other people means he has to pretend to be interested in things he is never really interested in. Frank is interested in bats and smashing things and colour coordinated foods. When he is on his own he can be uninterested and not insult anyone. Not that Frank spends too much of his time worrying about who he has and hasn’t insulted with his lack of interest.
“Hello,” says the alien boy.
Frank’s plan has not worked. Still, he does not reply. He is too above the alien boy.
Once, Frank’s mother had said it was racist to hate an alien simply because they were an alien. Frank said it wasn’t because he hates aliens because they slime and smell and push in front of him and teleport places and shape shift and inhabit all of his worst nightmares. His mother simply pointed out that Ray does all of these things, too, to which Frank replied that most of time, he hates Ray as much as the aliens. Besides, the aliens were a species not an ethnicity.
“Are you deaf?” Asks the alien boy.
Frank is not deaf, his ears are perfect as are all of his senses apart from his gut but then a gut isn’t a sense so that doesn’t count. It wouldn’t be any of the alien boy’s business if Frank were deaf, anyway.
Another head pops up over the fence. “Is it human?” it asks.
The head looks older than the first --with dark hair and pale skin, his head is a funny shape, too— but it’s sometimes hard to tell with aliens.
“I think it’s deaf,” says the little glasses one, he has the voice of a child just learning how to speak but Frank bets his bottom dollar that the alien boy is at least six hundred, million years old. Maybe even six hundred, million, light years old. “Or dead.”
“Maybe he’s just a statue.” The older alien suggests.
“I am not.” says Frank, earnestly.
To prove his point Frank picks up his right hand and waves it in the air before letting it drop back down again, he shoots a pointed look at the alien from under his glasses.
“See?” He snaps.
He stands up and turns towards the house, stalking back inside. Frank opens the fridge to find, in utter dismay, that someone (he suspects his mother) has left his jar of Nutella in there. It has gone hard as a rock so Frank promptly drops it to the floor where it smashes. Thee are no second chances on kitchen tiles.
He goes to his room and stays there until it’s dark, then he climbs out of his window and up onto the roof with all the elegance of a cat (he thinks). Frank hates aliens but he likes stars. He doesn’t know any of the constellations because he doesn’t like drawings that are not to scale and he has yet to find a to scale diagram of the night sky. One of his teachers tried to show him all the different gods and signs once but he stopped coming to school after Frank threw up in his draw full of dirty picture books. Frank has made up his own star collections since.
2. Probably just aeroplanes
4. Lemon Tree
5. The Dixie Chicks
Frank likes Cactus best because it reminds him od the time he went to Arizona with his mother and a girl with freckles called him Edward so he threw one at her and got sent to his room, which was good because it had air conditioning and Arizona is very hot.
Frank’s least favourite is the Probably just aeroplanes one. He does not like aeroplanes. He thinks they are unnatural and creepy and doesn’t know how they work. He hates not knowing how things work. Like the shower and tampons. So, every time he is forced to go on an aeroplane journey, he sits with the Grease soundtrack at full volume and makes his way through at least four bags of sherbet lemons. What is worse is when there are aliens sitting near him on the plane and he can smell them. The smell always makes him feel nauseas and he usually throws up a little bit in his mouth.
Frank doesn’t understand why aliens even have to use aeroplanes when they already have all their spaceships and teleports. He has never asked, though, because he doesn’t like talking to aliens or anyone else he has not met in a formal situation. He suspects it’s simply because the aliens are stupid and evil. Frank told his mother this once, too. She told him that she thought he was stupid and evil and then continued talking to the alien father from across the street.
That family moved out a week later. This made Frank happy.
Frank, for the record, is not stupid; he is at the top of his class at school and all his teachers know his name and never keep him behind after school. He is not evil either, being evil is for aliens and Hitler and Frank is Frank and Frank is human.
Frank turns then, as he hears a clatter on next-door’s roof. The older alien boy is standing in a skeleton onsie, looking at Frank. Frank promptly rolls off the roof and into the duck pond.
This is how he ends up in the ER.
Frank is sitting very still and shooting death glares at the alien doctor who is trying to stitch up his forehead. A normal, human nurse is sitting his arm so that is doesn’t point anticlockwise away from his body. Frank doesn’t mind this because she smells of coconuts and has purple hair. The only time Frank didn’t like her was when she accidentally scratched his arm with one of her long navy fingernails and Frank accidently kicked her in the stomach due to shock. The alien doctor had chuckled and so Frank kicked him too.
Frank doesn’t get a lollipop and sticker when he’s done but he does get to keep the needle he was sewn up with, and he thinks that is much better.
When he gets home his mother makes him hot chocolate but Frank keeps spilling it all over his bandage so she takes it away again. Instead, Frank writes ‘I HATE ALIENS’ on his bandaged arm in bright green sharpie. He hopes this will ward off the alien boys from next door before they decide to speak to him again. He likes to think he looks super tough with his stitches but they have given him a headache and he doesn’t like the colour thread they used.
The doctors have said, that Frank is what they call a ‘suicide risk’ this is the second time Frank has been called this due to the fact that most of his injuries were not the result of an accident or someone else’s malicious intentions but were inflicted by his own volition. Frank doesn’t know what volition means but he’s pretty sure it’s something to do with the aliens.
Frank’s in the hospital a lot.
When the alien doctor had told him and his mother this at the hospital, Frank hadn’t listened because he hates aliens and it is stupid to listen to your enemy. So, Frank’s mother is telling him again now. Frank likes to be sure of what’s happening in his life.
“You have to be under constant supervision until we can be sure you wont try anything like that again,” There is a small furrow between her eyebrows that means she is on her whits end. Frank has conjured that look from her many times before. “I have the next two days off of work but after that you will be stopping with the Ways.” she says and hands Frank his fried aubergine. On Sundays Frank only eats purple foods.
Frank looks at his aubergine and thinks about what she’s said. Who are the Ways? If they were an alien family, Frank might seriously think about suiciding. He looks up at his mother questioningly.
“The Ways are the lovely family next door. They have two little boys your age.”
Frank looks at his mother again and tips the plate of aubergine onto the floor. “On Sundays I eat nothing.” He informs her.
So this is back and being slightly re-vamped before I post the next chapters. Due to personal reasons this is no longer a collab but I love this story too much to give up on it all together.