By Josie Rerecich
Calck– a five-inch long ear of corn
Deesh– a ten-foot tall deer
Jrachoo– a five-foot tall bird, similar to a blue jay
Litish– a thirteen-foot tall lizard
Litish cucka pitoo bluk– litish calling the pitoo big; an Eekerian saying similar to “pot calling the kettle black”
Pitoo– an eleven-foot tall pig
Squawik– hello, hi, salutations
Tischk– a three-foot tall tree
“Shouldn’t that say “Happy Givethanksing?””
Nebula looked up from her painting. “What?”
Squawik pointed at the letters on the paper. “Your sign says “Happy Thanksgiving.””
Nebula brushed her curly brown locks out of her eyes as she stared up at the purple-skinned native.
“Come on, Nebby,” Squawik sighed. “You’re the one who taught me English. When you’re thankful for something, do you give thanks? Or thanks give?”
Nebula glanced at her sign. “It’s just the name of a Earth holiday.” She stood up, dwarfed by the seven-foot nine alien. “You knew English can be an inconsistent language when you started learning it. Besides, if my colony had time, we would learn your native language.”
“Rik,” Squawik rolled her three eyes. Nebula was busy putting the berries in a pouch, so she didn’t notice the motion. “You do know those berries are poisonous, right?”
“Only when eaten. They actually make a wonderful orange pigment.” Nebula grinned. “I’m surprised your tribe didn’t figure that out.”
“Litish cucka pitoo blunk,” Squawik muttered under her breath.
“I still can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we first met,” Nebula reminisced.
“I remember the April Shower crushing an entire forest of tischks,” said Squawik. “Not the best first impression.”
“And yet, your people helped us anyway.”
Squawik shrugged. “Growing calck is pretty simple. The tribe was surprised that it took you so long to figure it out.”
“On Earth, there was a similar plant called corn,” said Nebula. “The only difference was that the ears grew twice as big.”
Before Squawik could respond, a bird landed in front of Nebula and screeched.
“Squawik! Get your pet to stop!” Nebula clamped both hands over her ears. “I can’t stand that enormous blue jay!”
Squawik squatted down to pet the bird and whispered soothing words in Eekerian. The bird quieted down and, with what appeared to be a dirty look at Nebula, flew off.
“Sorry,” Squawik said as she stood back up. “I can’t figure out why my pet jrachoo still isn’t used to you.”
Nebula shrugged. “It’s fine.” Suddenly she snapped her fingers. “I just remembered. You know how the colony invited your tribe to our Thanksgiving dinner?”
“Well, my colony is going to dress up a bit for the event. Could you please tell your tribe to wear something semi-formal?”
“Semi-formal?” Squawik cocked an eyebrow.
“You know, not formal wear, but not everyday clothes…” Nebula looked around. Bending down, she picked up a jrachoo feather. “Like maybe putting a few of these in your hair.”
Squawik took the feather. “In my hair?”
“Sure,” Nebula shrugged. “That feather would go well with your pink hair.”
Squawik held a long strand of her hair up next to the feather in her other hand. “Thank you, Nebby. I’ll give your advice to the rest of the tribe.”
Nebula grinned. “Great! I’ll see you tonight,” she said. “I have to get back and help prepare dinner.”
Squawik led her tribe to the Earthen settlement, where the colonists were setting up tables full of food.
“Squawik!” Nebula ran up to the tribe and hugged the alien native. “So this is the rest of the tribe.”
Squawik nodded. “Yes, these are-.”
“Hold that thought,” Nebula interrupted. “I hate to be a bother, but we kind of burnt the pitoos we were going to have for dinner. You wouldn’t happen to have brought any meat, would you?”
Squawik smiled tensely. “As a matter of fact, we brought a gift of three deesh with us.” A group of natives dragged the enormous animals to the front of the crowd.
Nebula grinned. “They look like giant deer! You know, an animal from Earth,” she continued babbling as Squawik’s smile sank into a scowl. “Isn’t it funny how every animal on this planet is huge, and very plant is tiny?”
“Only compared to your precious Earth!” Squawik exploded.
Nebula’s eyes widened at the outburst. “Squawik, what’s wrong?”
“My name is not Squawik!” the alien cried. “Squawik means hello! Why do you think I said it the first time we met?”
“I just thought you were introducing yourself,” said Nebula.
“I should have listened to the chief! “Don’t make friends with the alien invaders,” he said,” Squawik cried. “Well, we’re not friends, Nebby! You don’t know the first thing about my people!”
“How can you say that?” Nebulas eyes started to tear up.
“Remember this morning when you painted that sign?” Squawik pointed the banner with the words “Happy Thanksgiving” hanging for one of the tables. “Your colony had discovered that the orange berries are only poisoned when ingested, and that they make an excellent paint. How could your colony have discovered that, and not spend time learning our language?
“And then there’s you suggestion to wear jrachoo feathers in our hair for this event,” Squawik continued ranting. “My tribe only wears feathers at funerals! At any other event, wearing feathers is bad luck!”
“But, if we’re not friends, then why did you nickname me Nebby?” Nebula asked desperately.
“It’s not a nickname!” Squawik howled. “I just can’t pronounce your real name! You never even tried pronouncing my name.”
“I’ll learn to say your name!” Nebula cried.
“Too late,” Squawik glared at the colonists. She turned and stomped through the crowd of her people, until Nebula couldn’t tell her apart from the other natives.
A few weeks later, Squawik was sick with an unknown disease. The healers of her tribe were baffled- those who weren’t also incapacitated, that is.
Squawik was about to try and get some rest when a shadow washed over her sleeping spot.
“Nebby?” Squawik croaked, squinting up.
“Yeah.” Nebula crouched. “Before you get mad, there’s just one thing I have to say.”
Squawik waited as Nebula took a deep breath.
Squawik sat up a little. “What did you say?”
“That does mean sorry, right?” Nebula asked. “Oh man, did that other native give me the wrong word on purpose? That wasn’t an insult, was it?”
“No, no!” Squawik cried, stirring a coughing fit. “That does mean sorry,” she confirmed once the coughs lessened.
Taking a deep breath, Squawik said, “I accept your apology.”
Nebula grinned happily. “Really?”
Squawik nodded. “You are apologizing for that argument we had on Thanksgiving, right?”
Nebula squirmed. “Well, that. And something else.”
Squawik narrowed her eyes. “What is it?”
“We think your tribe is experiencing an epidemic of one of our Earthen viruses.”
“Of course it is.”