“Your new bodies are growing in there, taking you over cell by cell, atom for atom. There’s no pain. Suddenly while you’re asleep, they’ll absorb your minds, your memories, and you’re reborn into an untroubled world.”
-Miles Bennell from Invasion of the Body Snatchers
I’m 93% sure I am an undercover alien who has body snatched this person I am now trapped inside. My/his name is Dan.
Except I don’t remember ever being an extraterrestrial.
Maybe an intergalactic buddy wiped my alien memories so I’d better blend in like a sharpie slash across a black dress shirt or a healthy cherry on top of a chocolate milkshake.
Otherwise, think how I’d feel if I knew my alien family vacationed on planets with rings while I’m stuck here on earth, a cramped minivan slowly circling the sun in a never-ending family road trip with seven billion siblings willing to blow one another up for more seat space.
When I shared all this with my therapist, she asked for a list of reasons why “you think you are a body-snatching alien who does not belong to your body.”
What she does not realize is that I know about her husband’s recent freak go-kart accident. I should find a new therapist, but I don’t want her to fill the patient as well as the husband void.
One void is plenty. So I obliged…
Reason #1: I’ve had to relearn every English idiom.
Reason #2: I can’t run five miles w/o wanting to vomit.
…though I figured I’d have to figure out my mystery myself.
Maybe this body is my vacation. Since an alien year is equivalent to 1,000,000 or so earth years, E.T. me hopefully gets at least 80-100 earth years of vacation per alien year.
That being said, deciding to vacation in Dan’s body seems a questionable decision since he works at Sonic, has passed four kidney stones, and no longer speaks to his parents though they live “a stone’s throw” from his apartment.
Reason #5: When his-I mean my– girlfriend broke up with me when I was “not the man I fell in love with,” I said, “Ah-hah! So you think so too!??!?”
I used to love so many things, she claims, like popcorn, lists, waking up, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, baths, abdomen balls, illegal sports gambling, and body pillows. She says I’d watch hockey for hours until the black puck sliding across a blank landscape reminded me of earth’s sad dance through space.
The universe is so expansive, and earth so isn’t. As an alien, I probably had to drive light years to work, unable to explore the billions and billions of galaxies that whizzed by every day. I must’ve wanted to know what it felt like to be permanently tattooed to a tiny town with zero hope of ever escaping its skin.
AKA Hopkinsville, KY
Which is why I know every blade of grass between my father’s basketball hoop and broken trampoline, why I still feel the loose screw at the bottom of the playground’s red slide, why I can still tell time based on the texture of the dirt.
Reason #7: I understand what squirrels are saying to one another.
Reason #7.5: And Ancient Sanskrit.
Life here is like being chained to a table at the best Chinese buffet with the chain just long enough to reach the rice trays though I can see/smell the other entrees.
See me sitting on my porch, staring at stars, praying they stare back.
Reason #8: I found a giant flying saucer in my apple tree, but the government insisted it was just a flying-saucer-shaped meteor.
Some days, I worry I am a celestial serial killer. This body is my prison cell: the Milky Way the intergalactic version of Guantanamo Bay. Why else was I not placed inside an attractive 6 foot 3 inch CEO named Lance Shuttleworth? Why else was I placed inside a Jew in a country full of neo-Nazis? Inside a country closest to its flag when it flies “half mast?”
And if I’m not an alien, I don’t want to think about that.
Reason #9: Sometimes when I sleep, I meet the real Dan at a tiki bar on a secluded island outside of my, I mean his, body. When I apologize for body-snatching, he nods and sips his mojito. When I ask if he’d like his body back, he says, “Take as much time as you need.” When I press for specific deadlines, he says, “You’ve seen my ‘here.’ Did you think I’d be begging to return?”
But it’s your body, I want to say.
“Sorry for the tone,” he says, “but I’m tired. I’ll come back soon. Give me a little longer.”
This time, I’m the one who says take as much time as you need. Then I feel for this body like a pet whose owner is relieved when some Russian scientist stuffs the poor feline into her burlap sack.
Reason #10: I can’t afford therapy, but, somehow, here I am!
Even my therapist seemed surprised when the blood tests didn’t unearth a damn thing. She had started coming around three days ago when I read her mind and told her, no, you’re not a complete failure; we’ll get through this together.
Maybe this is why she stopped requesting more “Why I’m an Alien” reasons and instead asks why I so despise my stay in Dan.
Kindness and happiness and love and any good abstract thing are like tiny purple rocks, I tell her, and earth is such a tiny, insignificant place it somehow feels worse when I can’t find any here. It’s so eerie to flip on the TV and see the blood lining earth’s sidewalks when I don’t even know the real color of my own.
Notes from Guest Reader Jude Higgins
I loved the inventive language, the ‘list’ structure and the reference to the film via the title and the quote at the beginning. So many things to think about and go back to. The story is both funny and heartbreaking.