A LONG WAY TO GO, JUST FOR LASAGNA – STACIE

Below is a short story featuring Stacie, a supporter of the Seed & Spark campaign to raise funds for the short film “Have Wine, Will Travel“. Wanna see your name in a tale? Check out the campaign page here: Have Wine, Will Travel S&S Campaign

Enjoy!

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The arrival of the Venusians was a blip on the radar for Stacie. Her dad was retiring, her sister was somewhere in Canada. Even her cousin couldn’t stop talking about his new school. But she still felt trapped by what passed for routine: Work. Night exercises. Poor sleep and little breakfast.

Her social routine consisted of listening to tips and advice, reading stories both good and bad about online dating, and then joining the latest dating app. Trender. Beeble. Catch dot com. All of them useless. Stacie wasn’t dying to have a date – the consistent argument about what kind of wine to order was an occurrence worth avoiding. But she had come to realize, though, that her goal wasn’t merely scoring a dinner. It was about settling down. Finding someone to share with. Someone to learn from. And someone to teach.

But then the Venusians came in their ships and by large numbers, learning to speak English and walking through city streets to be stared at, meeting with dignitaries, and starting to look more and more like people. Stacie didn’t appreciate their ability to mimic people, and felt that their feet were too large and eyebrows too bushy. Plus, when passing them in the streets, the Venusians smelled. Bad. Like too much burnt coffee.

But tonight she could put her mind on something else. She pulled up the photo of her online match just as her UberVator swung up to her office window. Code punched in, the window glass faded for her to jump onto the platform and swoop down to the street below. The cost for an UberVator was high, but she didn’t want to risk a tardy first impression for her date.

His name was Jose. His eyes were large and he was bald. He claimed to be a firefighter and just moved to the city a few weeks ago. Maybe he was just looking to make friends, but Stacie thought he was cute, and if she made a new friend from tonight’s dinner, then all the better.

She stepped off the UberVator platform and walked to VUPPO’s restaurant, weaving past the unusually large crowds to find the entrance. The bar was crowded, almost all eyes on the television as the Venusians were meeting with the president. Stacie thought the obsession was ridiculous, and also that they could do a lot better in finding a representative from earth to meet.

Jose held up a hand in greeting and pushed the small bundle of flowers across the table. His eyebrows were bushy in person, and hair already sprouting on his head. His ears were big and loud, his hands bulky. Under the table, Stacie got a look at Jose’s feet: Large limbs, unable to be contained by any human shoe.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Jose was… one of them!

Stacie glanced back at the television, at the group of Venusians: Hairy, big eyes, large feet. They spoke English, barely, and mostly about peace and crossing cultures and how they were here to start to enrich lives.

“…tell you how good it is to see you! In person! I told my captain this would be a good idea, but I had no idea my first assignment would be so beautiful…”

“What’s that?” Stacie found herself still clutching her bag in one arm, holding her phone in her other hand poised to swipe left for an emergency. But when she looked him in the eyes again, her hand went limp and her phone hit the table.

“I said, I had no idea you would be so beautiful.”

“You… you said you are a firefighter?”

“That was my idea. I saved our ship more than once. I can tell you about it, but I’d rather know what you think.” He spoke carefully, as though choosing every word in the moment. Or saying that word for the first time.

“What I think?”

“About the specials? This place has amazing lasagna, I have only eaten here since we arrived.”

“They don’t have lasagna on Venus?”

She could feel the eyes on their table. The waitress was approaching with caution, two waiters at her sides, dudes with scared expressions.

“We have nothing like this, nothing at all.” He grinned, but he was looking at nothing else, no one else, but Stacie.

She grinned, without hesitation: “Two lasagnas. And a bottle of chianti.”

“What is this key-aunti?” Jose’s eyebrows came together, confused.

Stacie just smiled, reached out, and held his hand. “It’s cute that you don’t know.”

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