At the point when dawn was about to peak its way over the mountains, Jeff and Estrella decided to leave the warm comfort of his truck and continue their conversation on a bench next to Lake Hodges to watch the sunrise. Jeff got a bunch of blankets from the bed of the truck and they cuddled together.
"I cannot believe we were talking all night," Jeff said.
"I know, that was a pretty amazing first date. This is an amazing first date," Estrella said.
They watched as the trees and the top of the hillside glowed with yellow and orange. Colors were becoming more vibrant, adding to the magic of the night. Jeff looked at Estrella and seeing the sun's rays dance around her face, she seemed even more beautiful than last night. "My goodness," Jeff said, "what planet are you from?"
Estrella asked, "What?"
"I mean, you're so beautiful, there is no way you are from planet Earth," he said dreamily.
Estrella laughed nervously. A glow came from her ear and she grabbed it quickly, put her head down and said, "Stop it."
"I'm sorry," Jeff said, "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. You just are beyond anyone I have ever met before."
Estrella had a gem encrusted bracelet that started to vibrate. She quickly said, "That's so sweet. It's like a saying, right? You think I'm out of this world, that is all, right!"
Jeff was confused by her panic and the amount of glowing and vibrating her jewelry was doing. He said, "I guess?"
Estrella started yelling, "And there is no reason," she started to glow more, "no reason," the glow started to surround Jeff too as Estrella yelled, "ah, dammit!"
Both Estrella and Jeff were consumed by the light and disappeared off of the bench by the lake.
When Jeff could finally see, he was in a blank white room with only the blankets showing any color. The lighting made it hard for him to grasp where he was. He ran from one side of the room to the other. Trying to pinpoint a door or some sort of escape. It looked like a box was made around him and he was trying to find anything he could do other than panic. Panicking seemed like the only option.
Then a voice came from somewhere, everywhere, "One moment Jeff. I'm trying to fix this."
"Estrella?" Jeff called out.
"Yes, I'm here with you. Don't worry. I know I can fix this," she said.
The walls of Jeff's room came alive and robotic arms tried to restrain him. Jeff ran to his blankets and tried to fashion a weapon. "Stay back," he yelled as he tried to whip the blanket out.
"Jeff, just go with the arms," the voice of Estrella said.
"Back off you monster!" Jeff was trying so hard to be brave.
"Jeff, stand still!" Estrella's voice rang out.
He scoffed in protest and then stood still. The robotic arms held his wrists and sat him in a mobile chair. Restrained, he was rolled into the main conference room next to the bridge. The room with its giant table and many lounge chairs looked fancy enough to be part of a spaceship or on an episode of Empire.
Estrella was standing there with an intimidating man who had her same deep brown hair and dark skin. Both of them had a similar smile but only Estrella had the kind of pouty lips that Jeff would love to kiss forever.
"Daddy, you overreacted," Estrella said to the intimidating man, "Look at him. He's so sweet."
"So, what if he's sweet. He figured you out. Do you know how dangerous that is?" Estrella's father said.
"He didn't figure me out," Estrella protested, "You reacted too harshly after hearing a pickup line!"
"What is a pickup line?" her father asked.
"He was trying to be romantic. A lot of Earth men try this. Look," Estrella said and as she typed on a keyboard, she turned the main wall into a screen. She brought up a screen with a foreign language and a lot of photos of people who looked like they were on dates. "Here are some basic Earth courting rituals and here are some of the pickup lines. A lot of them compare women to aliens."
She showed a list of pickup lines in English, so Jeff could read them too. He wished he couldn't. They were an embarrassment to his kind, especially if he was trying to impress Estrella's father who was apparently from Outer space.
She started to read, "’You must be a star, I can't stop orbiting around you.’
‘You're the sun...and I'll revolve my life around you.’
‘If I had a star for every time you brightened my day, I'd have a galaxy in my hand.’
‘I think we may have been transported to the surface of Mercury, because things became unbelievably hot when you walked into the room.’”
"These are terrible," her father said.
"They try. It's sweet. Jeff is sweet," Estrella said.
"Well, he knows too much," her father said.
"Because you told him too much. That's not his fault," Estrella said.
"True, but we can't take any chances. It was a mistake letting you study at California State San Marcos. I thought it was a small school and you could just blend in," her father said.
"I did blend in Daddy. It was going so well," Estrella said.
"I know and I'm sorry I didn't know what 'pick up lines' were but his kind is dangerous. They'll capture you and study you. We'll have to take care of him," her father said.
"Sir," Jeff interrupted, "I'm not dangerous. I like your daughter and I want to date her. I wouldn't tell anybody. Who would believe me anyway?"
Estrella's father looked at Jeff who seemed so unimpressive. He wasn’t in great physical shape and he seemed a bit lost. Then Estrella’s father looked at her. She watched Jeff like he was a treasure that she had just found. She looked like she wanted him with her forever.
Estrella’s father opened up one of the screens on the wall and went to think by the view. It was pitch black outside with the occasional sprinkling of lights from stars. Jeff knew he was on a ship and had a feeling that they might be in space but the confirmation of it made him feel lightheaded. Estrella went to stand by him and held his hand which helped. She was so beautiful. His space princess who might get him killed. It would be best to just stare at her and stop time all together. It would also be best to stop thinking these cheesy romantic thoughts before another one gets him hauled off to another life or death dimension.
Estrella's father turned around. "Here's my decision," he said, "We won't kill you."
Jeff sighed with relief.
"WE! I was never going to kill him!" Estrella yelled at her father.
"I would have needed your help," her father said in an extremely matter of fact way.
Jeff whispered, "Maybe we should listen."
"Then you would have been on your own figuring it out because I wouldn't have helped!" she yelled.
Jeff a little louder, "But killing is off the table so why don't we move on now."
"I can't believe you. Just because I'm your daughter doesn't mean I'll do everything you say. I have my own life too," she argued.
Jeff yelling now, "How about we move on and talk about sending me home."
Estrella and her father stopped and stared at Jeff, surprised at his outburst since he was still restrained to the chair.
"Oh, we can't send you home," her father said, "That's not safe. You'll stay here, with Estrella. No more university for you, young lady. You can keep Jeff, like a pet."
"A pet!" they both protested.
Estrella's father released Jeff from the chair with the push of a button. "Okay, well, get him comfortable somewhere and get ready. We leave after I plot another course for a new system."
Estrella's father left. Jeff ran from the chair to the window that was still open, showing him that it was definitely space. If he leaned against it and looked down, he could see Earth. "Wow," he thought, alongside with, "I'm screwed."
Estrella went to him. He looked at her and grabbed her hands. He started breathing heavy and stuttering, "Earth, Earth, space, space, pet, pet, pet, I can't, I can't, I."
“Don’t worry, you won’t have to,” Estrella said.
She grabbed Jeff’s hand and called to her father, “I’ll just show him around.”
She pushed a button on the wall and a hidden door slid open leading to a hallway. She dragged Jeff with her. As they were rushing through the hallway, Jeff saw a few openings to rooms making him realize that the ship looked like a traveling home with lounge chairs and carpeting and bookcases. He thought that he must have been beamed into some sort of holding room, it was so scary and ugly compared to all of this.
“Pay attention,” Estrella urged and Jeff stopped sightseeing. “We need to get past my dad and into the communications room. There we can hook you up to the transporter and send you back.”
“Me? What about you? I can’t go back without you,” Jeff said.
“Aw Jeff, you are sweet,” Estrella said, held his hand closer to her and looked into his eyes hoping that he would kiss her.
“And what do you mean by hook me up? That sounds painful,” he said.
Disappointed, Estrella reassured him, “It will be fine. It’s the same way we got here.”
They hurried around the corner and a huge creature was in their path. It was the size of a lion, had saggy, furry brown skin, and claw-like paws. It was watching them and Jeff pulled Estrella behind her and said, “Get behind me. I’ll protect you!”
“Estrella let me do this,” Jeff said as he tried to make himself look bigger. He called out to the creature, “Over here. Fight me.”
“I can handle this,” Jeff said and started running towards the creature, ready to fight. The creature ran towards him too. As they were about to collide, the creature threw its front paws up on Jeff’s shoulders and started licking his face. Jeff made “uck” noises as the creature slobbered on him.
Estrella came over and said, “Easick, down buddy,” and the creature got off of him. “He’s like the equivalent to a giant dog on your planet. My dad lives here. He wouldn’t have a dangerous animal roaming the halls.”
“Of course,” Jeff said embarrassed.
“That was extremely brave of you though. Thank you,” Estrella said and urged him to continue following her to the communications room which was just a few feet away. “The door is open. Daddy never keeps the door open,” she pointed out.
“Unless he’s plotting a course for our next destination,” her father chimed in.
Estrella and Jeff froze in the doorway. “I thought you did that on the bridge,” Estrella said.
“I changed it to here when I realized there was more room and a better computer,” her father answered.
“Oh,” she said and they all just stood there in awkward silence.
Finally, Jeff stepped up, “Sir, I like your daughter a lot and I would never hurt her. I would do everything I could to protect her.”
“I know,” her father said, “I overheard you try to protect her from our pet.”
“Oh,” Jeff said still embarrassed.
“We’ve had him for over fifteen years,” her father said.
“I understand,” Jeff said.
“We raised him from a tiny pup and he played with Estrella as she grew up,” her father said.
“The point is Daddy, that Jeff will keep me safe. We can trust him. Please let’s send him back,” Estrella said.
“Are you sure?” her father asked.
Estrella looked at Jeff. He took her arm and held her. She did not want to be separated from him but she wanted him to be happy more. “I’m sure Daddy. Please send him back,” she said.
“Okay, help him get hooked up to the transporter,” her father said.
“Come on, quickly,” Estrella said and took Jeff to a pad in the room, “When I turn it on, just make sure you stand in the middle of this and stay still.”
“Okay,” Jeff said. Estrella started to walk away from him and he grabbed her hand to stop her. She turned to him. “Am I ever going to see you again?” he asked.
Estrella smiled and moved closer to him. She placed her head on his chest as she went to hug him, “I don’t know.”
Jeff held her and stroked her hair. How does he find her if she leaves the planet? He touched her chin and motioned her to look up at him. Another moment he wished he could stop time for as he kissed her.
“Time to go,” said Estrella’s father.
Jeff saw a tear on Estrella’s cheek as she said, “Remember, stand still.”
Jeff nodded and did as she instructed. Everything became bright and blinding again. Jeff felt a dramatic change from warmth to a biting chill.
When he could finally see, he was standing by the bench, in front of the lake. A whole day must have passed because it was dark and cold with two moons reflecting off of the lake. Confused, Jeff looked up to see one of the moons moving around. It wasn’t a moon. It was the ship. Was she really gone forever now? Jeff wondered if he moved too quickly to return to Earth. Maybe she was everything that he ever wanted. But how could he know after just one date?
He saw the ship go from moving slowly to being gone in a flash. He saw another, smaller object, coming down from the sky. As it got closer to him, he could see that it was a tiny capsule with a propeller helping it descend. He put out his hand to catch it and it popped open on impact. Inside was a note with a phone number and the message, “Call me,” then a heart with the signature, Estrella.
Jeff gave a sigh of relief, she’s not gone forever.
Jeff held the note close while he gazed at the night and the glow of one moon reflecting off of the lake.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This was a super fun take on the prompt! I liked that you added the sci-fi element, and I thought the girl showing her dad the space-related pickup lines was absolutely hilarious! A couple things, though, they seem way too invested in each other for it to be a first date. First dates are awkward as people just barely begin learning about each other. If something like this happened on a first date, this wouldn't be the reaction either of them would have. The other thing, the dad is also convinced far too easily. He's concerned, not just abou...
Thank you for your critique. I struggled with this writing prompt and the idea came into my head a day before the deadline to submit. I usually like to go over my stories a few times before submitting, but I saw this as an opportunity for growth and I decided to jump in and submit it. I agree that things seemed to be a little too easy and when I wrote it, I was in a goofy mood, like I was writing a sitcom. I feel like my biggest accomplishment with this assignment was that I was willing to let people read something I wrote that was goofy....
It was a really successful attempt, trying new things is important, my newest story was out of my usual too. For being last minute, this is impressive writing.