Author’s Note: I have to wonder if this alien is going to end up learning about all the clichés in the world. He managed to get a couple in this one, a real revelation.
Though Luna had told him that he was welcome to return the next day, he did not. His curiosity toward the books she promised to share with him and even her as a person. He did not want to exhaust that curiosity too soon. She was something unique, even for a human, and that made her something to return to on purpose—and yet he had to be careful of that as well. Sometimes his need to understand was too great. He would destroy in an effort to learn more, and that always left him so dissatisfied and ashamed of himself. He could learn without ruining everything.
He wandered other places instead, determined to see more of what the humans had to offer, all the things they’d created.
His mistake was in picking something that he thought she would have explained to him if he’d only asked. Another city, a town far from hers, had a place they called a sculpture park, and it was full of what they said was art, but he did not understand the figures any more than he had her paintings.
She might have told him what these things meant, these twisted and distorted bits of metal.
She might also have laughed at him again, mocking him for his lack of comprehension or his need to ask questions about the most basic of things in her world. She did seem to find him quite entertaining. He found her perplexing.
He stopped, studying the sculpture in front of him, not sure why a triangle in yellow and a sphere in red was considered art. This made no sense to him. Humans were weird. Luna was a prime example of that.
He frowned. Since when did all his observations relate back to a single human? She was no more special than any of the others. He needed to rid himself of that habit. She was not a standard by which to measure the whole planet. He must separate that from her.
“This is a nice place to spend an afternoon, don’t you think?”
He turned, facing the man who had spoken, an older specimen with a lumpy hat askew on his head. “I suppose. It is no worse than any other.”
“You’re not a fan of art?”
“I do not understand art. How is this art?”
“Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.”
He studied the man for a moment and then turned to the sculpture. “What you are saying, then, is that I decide if it is art or not? If something is beautiful?”
“Yes. Haven’t you heard that expression before?”
“Well, kid, I’m not sure how you missed it, but it’s true. What you love and care about, that’s what’s beautiful. No one else can tell you what that is. Some things can be hideous to others but perfect to you. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”
“This… is someone else’s treasure?”
The old man laughed. “You could say that, I suppose. Plenty of people come here to admire it and enjoy the sight it provides. They consider it quite the piece of art.”
“I do not.” He found himself smiling as he shook his head. “No, I don’t. I don’t like it. To me, that is not art. It is not beautiful. Luna’s lines are more beautiful than that.”
“Sounds like you like her.”
“She is a curious creature, and that helps.” He smiled at the sculpture again. He thought he was finally starting to understand what art truly was, and that pleased him. He wanted to understand, and he was much closer than he had been before. “You have also been very helpful. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, son.” The gentleman smiled, reaching out to touch him. He backed away.
“I am not your son.”
The old man held up his hands. “It’s just an expression. Forgive an old man for slipping.”
That was not something he understood, but this time he did not want to ask. The conversation had now become somewhat disconcerting. “Very well.”
“One more thing,” the old man called, and he turned back to look at him. “Why don’t you go tell that girl of yours what you figured out? I think she deserves to know.”
More uneasy than before, he shook his head. He did not think he would be going back to Luna’s book shop for some time.