I can feel the sunlight coming through the window. Ugh, my head… I think I had too much mead last night.
“Good morning, Rowan,” Aster greets me.
“Good… morning…” I answer, “can I just stay here in bed?”
I pull my blanket over my head to block out the light.
“You should get up,” Aster says, “staying in bed only make the headaches worse.”
Reluctantly, I get up, squinting my eyes, so my headaches don’t get worse. Aster leads me through the house, and pushes me into a room. It’s dimly lit, so I can open my eyes. I’m in the bathroom in the shuttle. Yes, a shower would be perfect now!
As the hot water touches my body, I can feel my body gradually recovering from the fatigue. This feels as nice as always. My head starts to clear as well. After finishing the shower, I get dressed and go to the main room of the shuttle. Aster sits on a chair with his eyes closed. If I remember correctly, he said something about the feeling of the blessing circulating through his body. I take a seat opposite of Aster and close my eyes. I try to sense the blessing that is flowing through his body. This feeling, yes, I can sense it, it travels in fixed paths. Can I emulate that? I concentrate on my own body. Let it flow along these lines on my arms to the fingers… no, this isn’t working, it’s as if it doesn’t want to go that way… How about the other way around? Yes, this feels easier. It feels like it’s flowing by itself. I follow the flow to my chest, concentrating in the centre, and back to my arm. From there, it continues to my fingers and to back where I started. For some reason, the blessing takes a different route in my body compared to what I sensed in Aster.
I open my eyes. Aster is still sitting opposite to me.
“Are you feeling better?” he asks.
“Yes, the shower helped a lot,” I answer, “thanks.”
I describe the differences I found to Aster.
“Can you give me more details?” he says. He starts tapping his fingers on a box, and a moment later, an outline of a body appears on the wall. Arrows appear inside the outline. They follow the path I’ve described. Aster continues tapping on that box and the arrows on the wall change colours, some turn blue, others turn red.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“I’m just collecting some data,” he answers, “it doesn’t have much use now. But it might come in handy some point in the future.”
“Am I that different?” I ask.
“No, it’s me that’s different. I am the one that’s odd. Anything I know and learn about myself is most likely not completely applicable to everyone else in the village.”
“So it’s more than just you not having a tail?”
“Yes, but it’s only minor differences.”
“Like what?” I ask.
Aster taps on the box again. A second outline appears on the wall. The arrows in the outline travel opposite to the one that’s based on me.
“Can you see this?” he points to the chest area, “in my body, the blessing travels through the centre twice.”
“Ah, yes, I can see it.”
“For the most part, the blessing travels along the blood vessels,” he explains.
“If it follows the bloodstream, it must pass through the heart!”
“Yes, for everyone here, it travels through the heart only once.”
“Why is that? I mean, it seems… strange.”
“There’s an explanation for this… But I should tell you something more important first.”
“You see, the sun and many of the stars in the night sky are about the same size.”
“But for them to be the same size, they must be really far away!”
“You’re right, they are quite far away. And just like this sun has this world, many of those stars have a world around them too.”
Other worlds? “Wait, that means…”
“Yes, my home is… to you, among the stars. It’s a certain one, that I don’t even think is visible without tools, but it’s out there. That’s also the reason, why I don’t think my people will ever find me. The places I could have ended up are as numerous as the stars.”
“Couldn’t you just try to get home yourself?”
“No, it’s impossible. The space between worlds, or planets as we call them, is not really habitable. The shuttle can provide that, but you need a lot of energy. A small shuttle like this doesn’t have enough energy for the trip. Usually, that is.”
“Now I understand the place where you’re from is quite far away. It also explains why you’re so clueless at times. But what does it have to do with blood travelling through your heart twice?”
“You see, planets that can support life, are quite similar, but they still have differences. The air on this planet and on my world is different. In a certain sense, my home has less breathable air.”
“I don’t get it, if you had less air, wouldn’t you just need to breathe more often?”
“No, there’s a limit on how fast you can breathe. If you can’t breathe faster, you have to increase the effectiveness of breathing, and that has to do with using the heart more efficiently.”
“Wouldn’t that mean I couldn’t live where you come from?”
I know he said, he doesn’t think he’ll get found, but I don’t want to part from Aster!
“If you were to visit, you’d get a tool that changes the air you breathe to the conditions you need, so that’s not a problem. Living there would be possible too, but I’d imagine you’d get annoyed by carrying that tool around with you all the time.”
“And what about you? Is there something like too much breathable air?”
“There is, but to me, it’s not much of a problem. At times, I just have to force my body to breathe more slowly when exercising.”
“I see… That’s good to hear.”
Come to think of it, now that I’m actually watching him, he does breathe a lot less frequently than I do.
“There’s one thing, I’d like to ask of you.”
“What is it?”
“Can you keep… my origins a secret?”
“Yes, I definitely will. I don’t think granny wouldn’t believe us if we were to tell her. But I will keep my mouth shut, I’m your fiancé, after all.”
“What about you?”́
“It’s hard… But it’s also hard to refute what you’ve shown to me.”