Children Sing Small Songs

Posted: October 13, 2013 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , , , , , ,


“Insectoid” by ‘Dark Side of Duzio’ at DeviantArt

“We desire the sharing of worlds, to breathe and fly through the gases of space together. We will not join you in the quiet places where you do not wish us. You should not go into our places of dream time. We would meet you there when the dreaming is done. This is our wish.”

Cteek listened to the human machine translate his language into human sounds. The human thinking machine sounded tinny and mechanical. It had no nuance. No music. Cteek wished he could sing to the humans and let them hear how much he and his people wanted peace.


The human ambassador held up her appendages. For a moment Cteek thought she would pray. Then she pushed back from the table. Cteek couldn’t understand human speech, but he’d seen the body language many times over the past several days. He saw sadness and frustration. His people spoke with antenna twitches and gesturing as well as words. Cteek had already learned sadness, hope, honor, greed, and confusion in the humans’ gestures.

Cteek couldn’t bear the thought of another day of failure. The human and Karishi ambassadors had tried to communicate with one another four times. The human ambassador’s companions showed suspicion. Fear. Posturing of claws.

Cteek’s companions chittered to him in Karishi. One said, “Our people wait. Our people wish. They do not hear our songs. We cannot make them hear music if they have no ears.”

“We should return to our places,” another said. “We should live apart from these unhearing creatures. There can be no singing with them.”

The ambassador’s appendages hung down. She lifted one to her head. She shook her head as she listened to one of her companions. The ambassador looked at Cteek for a long time. Looks that were held for a long time seemed to having meaning to these beings.

Cteek said, “We need new music.”

Cteek stood. He made a sound, a single note at close to the human ambassador’s pitch. The translator spun. Without a context or linguistic structure, it read UNTRANSLATABLE.

The humans started to argue. The ambassador stared at Cteek. She quieted her fellows, never taking her eyes off Cteek. Cteek thought they might be communicating.

She stood, and made the same sound, as close as she could to imitating him.

The Karishi translator had as much luck as the human one did. Cteek turned it off. The human ambassador did the same with hers. Her mouth opened in a gesture that Cteek had seen before. The ends curved upwards. To his fellows, Cteek said, “Children sing small songs when they begin.”

He faced the human ambassador again. Cteek tried another sound.


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