(photo by macwagen)
(Part of Project Unicorn: A Lesbian YA Extravaganza, updated twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays with a free, original, never-before-published YA short story featuring a lesbian heroine. Also, every story is a work of genre fiction [Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, etc.].)
by Jennifer Diemer
So, I’m in love with a UFO nut. A saucer chaser. An X-phile.
Don’t get me wrong—I love a good conspiracy theory, and when Diana suggested this alien-hunting summer road trip, I thought it sounded like a blast (pun totally intended). But we’ve been roaming around Mars for, like, an hour now, and there’s no sign of the flying saucer anywhere, and I can’t find a Starbucks, either, so I’m ready to throw in the proverbial towel and take a nap—or, you know, “a nap,” wink, wink—in the giant ’70s van we borrowed from my wannabe rock star dad… But Diana’s still in UFO adventurer mode and wants to keep searching for the stupid fake saucer.
“It’s not even a real saucer, Di. It’s just a joke. A roadside attraction. Because we’re in Mars, Pennsylvania. Ha. Ha. C’mon. Let’s go.”
“No, wait. Let’s ask this guy if he knows where it is.”
This guy turns out to be a gas station attendant hunched over the greasy innards of a beat-up Ford. He stares us up and down with crazy suspicious eyes before spitting something on the ground and grunting, “Nope, dunno where that thing is. They like to move it around, y’know, for parades and that. Festivals. Brings out the tourists.” He smirks and slams down the hood of the truck with a bang that makes me jump. “And the weirdos.”
I open my mouth to tell him a thing or two about “weirdos,” but Diana stills me with a glance—and unintentionally turns my knees to jelly. (Wow, her eyes are gorgeous.) So I repress my simultaneous longings to kick the guy in the shin and sweep Diana up in an uber-romantic kiss—despite the decidedly unromantic locale and the noxious aroma of spilled gasoline—and continue walking to the end of the block. Diana catches up and falls in step beside me.
“Hey, if you really want to head back to the van, we can call it a day.” Her hand brushes against mine, and little electric sparks zip and zap along my arm. “You’ve been amazing, Tab. I know this alien stuff isn’t your thing—”
“You’re my thing,” I smile, tracing a finger over the inside of her forearm before hooking my hand around her elbow. “And it’s been fun.” I laugh. “The acorn spaceship in Kecksburg. Chasing you around those crop circles in Idaho—”
“Which were totally a sham.”
“Totally. But worth the drive just to see you so excited, so…alive.” I stop walking and wrap my arms around Diana’s neck. “I love having adventures with you.”
“Oh, Tab. It’s been awesome, hasn’t it?”
“Yeah. I can’t wait to upload that photo of us to Facebook—wearing tin foil hats in Roswell.”
She shakes her head, grinning. “We’re such dorks.”
“We’re such awesome dorks.” And I don’t even care that Gas Station Guy is still watching us with his beady, distrustful, we-don’t-take-kindly-to-strangers-here (especially-strangers-with-piercings-and-weird-blue-hair) eyes. I take Diana in my arms, tilt her back like Frank Sinatra or something in one of those old movies, and kiss her right there on the sidewalk in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. Thoroughly kiss her. And I’m not sure what I believe about visitors from outer space, but right now I know I believe in UFOs, because I’m a flying object, floating above the ground with sappy, galaxy-spanning love for the alien-crazy girl in my arms.
“Listen,” I say, even as Gas Station Guy gapes and grossly salivates behind Diana’s back, “let’s circle the town one more time to look for the saucer.”
“Are you sure?”
I kiss her again, grab her hand and tug her along. “First one to find the UFO calls dibs on the last cupcake in the van.”
“Well, then…” Diana grins, and we race through the streets, chasing each other and laughing and winning lots of stares from the townspeople—Martians, ha!—as we descend into silliness, peering beneath the lids of garbage cans and under parked cars in our search for the elusive saucer.
At sunset, still UFO-less, we choose a bench in the park and sit with our arms slung around each other, gazing up at the orange-purple sky.
“I can’t believe our trip’s almost over,” I sigh, tilting my head to rest it against Diana’s shoulder.
“I know.” She laughs lightly and pulls me closer. “So, Ms. Skeptical, have you changed your mind about life on other planets yet?”
“Oh, I don’t know. But I’m pretty content with the life forms on this planet.” I smile up at her, and she leans down to kiss me. “Your life form, in particular.”
“Ah, so smooth.”
“What can I say?” I waggle my eyebrows at her. “It’s a gift.”
We snuggle together in silence as the sky grows darker and darker and the first stars fade in, faintly twinkling.
“Excuse me, girls.”
In the yellow glare of the streetlamp, I see a middle-aged woman in a grey flannel shirt and blue jeans approaching from our left. As one, Diana and I sit up straighter, untangling our very tangled limbs. My temple begins to throb as I brace myself for the inevitable homophobic comment or some ranting religious diatribe, but the woman only nods in a friendly way and gestures toward Diana’s t-shirt.
I got the t-shirt for her last May, for her birthday: a black babydoll screenprinted with a neon-green UFO that glows in the dark.
“I assume you girls were looking for our flying saucer? I saw you walking around town earlier.”
“Yeah,” Diana says, standing up. “Do you know where it is?”
“I’m so sorry to disappoint you. It’s in repair. Some kids vandalized it on the Fourth of July, and we’re working on cleaning up the spray paint and popping out the dents. If you come back in a few weeks, it’ll be back here in the park.”
“Oh, well, thanks for letting us know.”
Diana slumps back beside me as the woman moves on with a little wave.
“We could come back if you wanted, Di.” I weave my fingers through her wavy black hair. “It’s only a couple of hours from home. I know you really wanted to see it.”
She shrugs her shoulders and turns to smile at me. “It’s not a big deal. Bad timing. But maybe we could do another tour next summer, to celebrate senior year—Alien Adventure Part II: Return to Mars.”
I laugh and gather her into my arms. “Totally. I’d fly to the moon for you, you know.”
“I’d fly to Pluto for you.”
“Hmm.” I brush her hair back from her eyes and plant a kiss on her forehead. “A secret lesbian colony on the non-planet Pluto. I like the sound of this… It would make for a great, terrible movie.”
We kiss and stand up, stretch, and kiss again. Then Diana pulls back, her gaze latched onto the stars above our heads. I look up, too, and gasp.
“Yeah. I see it. Oh, Di—I see it! What is it? Is it—”
“I think so. I think it’s—”
Hovering many miles above our heads, a gathering of bright white lights in a triangular formation glows amidst the blackness and the stars. I can’t speak, can’t move, can’t even close my mouth in a dignified manner, because this… This is amazing. The longer I stare, the more details become clear, and my eyes trace the vague outline of a ship around the lights.
“Is this really happening?” Diana breathes.
I nod my head, willing away the sudden urge to faint.
There’s no sound and no movement, not until, heart-stoppingly fast, the UFO streaks across the whole sky with a whir that makes my body buzz. The trail of light it created lingers for a handful of seconds, and then, with a shocking finality, the light is gone, and the sky is empty again, black. Save for the sprinkling of far-off stars.
“Um,” Diana says.
“Yeah,” I say.
And then we look at each other, and I take Diana’s hands, and we look back at the sky for a long while, as if we’re waiting for an encore.
“Well,” I whisper finally, when the dizziness passes, “that was… That was a flying saucer.” My voice sounds alarmingly matter-of-fact.
“Flying triangle,” Diana corrects me, making a triangle shape with her fingers in front of her face.
I kiss her through the triangle, and she laughs and flings her arms around my shoulders, whispers, “Let’s go back to the van and share that cupcake.”
I grin. “And other earthy delights.”
Hand in hand, silent, in awe, we stroll the now-deserted streets of Mars, the flying saucer glowing on Diana’s t-shirt lighting our way.
If you liked “A Bit of Space,” you can now enjoy entire months’ worth of stories in the Project Unicorn short story collections on your eReader, and support the project at the same time!
How can I support the project?
If you love what we’re doing with Project Unicorn, the two greatest things you can do to support it is to talk about it on your social network, blog or web site, and purchase each eZine as it comes out.
Project Unicorn is a very large undertaking, but we’re deeply dedicated to giving queer-girls stories they can identify with. Thank you so much for being supportive, and please consider purchasing an eZine to help us continue with this project! ❤ (You can also show your support by buying our other books, or simply donating to buy the authors a cup of tea. <3)
Please sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch and be the first to know when we release anything new! ❤