Aurelius’s Father

“You can.” She is the perfect specimen. She has no idea the destiny the gods have aligned for her. Her innocence and disposition are exactly what is needed. I wondered how long it would take her to ask if I need help. She is studious in her work. I watch a nervous smile cross her face.

“What kind of help would you like?” I glance around the shop and then lock eyes with her again. Her red hair falls in soft waves, hanging far below her shoulders. Her bronze skin shows time spent in the sun, but gives way to no wrinkles and few lines. The lines that appear on her face are those created from years of laughter. She is definitely one who loves to laugh. Her green eyes sparkle with mystery, both her own and wondering at mine.

“I’m quite new to eating pirpusus. I’ve seen the fruit itself.” I say holding one up. “But never all this other stuff you seem to have made out of it.” Pride dances in her eyes.

“Let me show you.” I set my clipboard down on the counter. I’ve decided his eyes are what is most unsettling about him. Although he stares openly at me, it doesn’t make me weary of his intentions. The steadiness of them is what makes them unsettling. His eyes are confident and unwavering. A small hint of a smile dances around his mouth. He doesn’t break eye contact. Most people break away after a moment, but not him.

It’s almost as if he’s staring not at you, but through you. Not in the sense you are invisible to him, but in the sense that he sees into your soul. I get the feeling lying to him would be useless. It makes me uncomfortable, but also secure at the same time. It’s odd and doesn’t make much sense but his gaze is both calming and unsettling at the same time. I wonder what he is thinking about. What he thinks about me.

As she shows me the different tonics, jams, salves, and raw fruits of her shop I listen to her with interest. She has a beautiful mind. Pirpusus is rare on this planet and for her to know as much as she does has taken her years of research, trial and error, and frustration. She hasn’t told me that, but I know. As we circle the displays, I watch her body sway softly. Her shoulders are straight as is her back. Not in a harsh schoolmarm way. It is from confidence. She is speaking about what she loves and this helps her hold herself up, proud.

“So that’s everything.” She turns to me with a smile on her face. I can’t help myself.

“You are captivating.”

He says the words almost as a release of air. His sure, confident eyes locked on mine. I look away embarassed and try to cover my awkward smile with my hand. He reaches up and softly pulls my hand from my face, but says nothing. His eyes continue to see through me.

“Thank you.” It comes out weak. I clear my throat. “I’ll just be behind the counter. Let me know if you need anything.” I retreat quickly. My hand tingling where he had been holding it. When I get to the counter and turn around he is still staring at me. He smiles a crooked smile and turns to look at the tonics again.

I watch him for a bit. I hadn’t realized just how tall he was until he had been standing right in front of me. I didn’t just have to look up to see his face, I had to bend my neck backward. His body is thick, solid. Normally having such a large, powerful person in my shop would make me a little nervous. I have weapons under the counter, but you never know how they might pull you away from it. He, however, doesn’t make me nervous at all. Which also makes me nervous. The more innocent he seems, the more I’m likely to trust him and the easier it’ll be for him to rob me. I’m extremely confused by my feelings toward his presence.

His face is aged, but still handsome. The tips of his wavvy, silver hair just barely touch his shoulders. His beard and mustache are trimmed neatly. His skin is the same as those native to our planet so I don’t think he is an outsider, but there is definitely something foreign about him.

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