BROKEN HEARTS • by Ted Lietz

With surprisingly little difficulty, she’d managed to get a driver’s license, birth certificate and all sorts of other official documents. She’d also hacked the relevant databases, all of which now confirmed that she was Mesko, Melinda. Female. 5’4.” Eyes green. Age 32. A citizen by birth.

Still, since her presence there was at best extra-legal, Melinda thought it prudent not to attract attention. To blend in and seem to be like everyone else, Melinda had to wear an uncomfortably warm get-up. While wearing it, she often sweated profusely. Even copious amounts of deodorant and perfume weren’t always enough to cover the odor.

Because she was cautious, Melinda had few friends and was lonely much of the time. Then she met Todd. One night after dinner at Melinda’s apartment, Todd said, “You know, sometimes you smell a little funny.”

Melinda frowned. She knew she’d been perspiring; could smell it herself. How to explain?

“I mean, in a good way,” Todd said, seeming now to worry she’d been offended.

Melinda wasn’t angry. But explaining the odor would mean telling Todd who she really was, where she’d really come from. She tried to react as she understood women from around there sometimes did. She threw Todd out and for several days refused to take his calls. Then, she let him buy her dinner at an expensive restaurant and took him back.

Over the next several months Todd told her his fondest memories, his greatest hopes. In turn, Melinda made up things that sounded like the memories and hopes of a woman from around there.

But Melinda knew she never could be close to Todd — not in the way she longed for — if she went on lying. One night when they were at her place she said, “Wait in bed. I’ll change in the bathroom.”

“But you always change out here. I like watching.”

“This one time. Humor me, okay?”

Todd shrugged.

Melinda closed the bathroom door behind her and took off her clothes. Then, she pulled off the pinkish covering that made her look like others from around there. Truly naked now, she shivered. But it was good to feel the cool air on her blue-green skin. To stretch the webbing between her toes and fingers. To use those long, long fingers to touch the sharp points at the tops of her ears.

Would Todd still want her like this? Would he even recognize her? There was only one way to find out. Both her hearts beating rapidly, Melinda took a deep breath and opened the bathroom door.

Todd didn’t scream or run. In fact, he was more passionate than any time she could recall. A little too much. Apologizing afterward, he said, “I tried to hold off, but…”

Melinda gently placed the fifth knuckle of her index finger over his lips. She smiled and said, “I was afraid that when you saw me like this, you wouldn’t want me at all.”

“Are you kidding? That costume and make-up. You look like one of those sexy sci-fi chicks. I mean, look at those giant boobs.”

Melinda looked down at her breasts. They were larger than those of human women. Larger, even, than the breasts of human male wrestlers she’d seen on TV.

She went into the bathroom, brought out a wet wash cloth and scrubbed her arm vigorously. “See?” she said. “It doesn’t come off. This is not makeup.” She pointed to her breasts. “These are real, too. Everything you see is real. A sci-fi chick… that’s who I am.”

“Yeah, right.”

A little frustrated, Melinda retrieved the covering and showed it to Todd. It looked a little like pink pantyhose right out of the package. She said, “This is made of…Well, it’s not made of anything you’ve heard of and it would take a long time to explain. Basically, it’s a falseskin. Watch.” She put it on again.

The demonstration seemed to convince Todd. It turned him on again, too. He pulled her back into bed and they spent the night dozing and making love.

Toward morning, as Todd slept, Melinda made a mental list of things she wanted to tell him about. Climbing the glacier in her backyard when she was a little girl. The sight of twin red suns at dusk. The bright future she imagined for the two of them.

But first, she wanted to make love again. As Melinda brought a hand up to rouse Todd, she noticed the absence of webbing between her fingers, the pinkness of her hand. Giggling quietly, Melinda crept into the bathroom, removed the pink covering, and crawled back under the covers. Todd began to stir. She rubbed herself against him.

“Again?” Todd said. “Great. But would you do something for me?”

Melinda rubbed a little harder. “Anything,” she whispered.

“That pink suit, or whatever is…”

“Not a suit. I told you. It’s… a skin. A false skin.”

“Would you mind putting it back on? Seeing you all blue and green last night was a big turn on. But now, well… not so much.”

Sad and angry, Melinda could feel her pulses quicken. She pulled away from Todd, pointed to the door, told him to leave.

When he was gone, a great purple tear slid down the side of her cheek. She knew that she wouldn’t be taking him back. Not in a few days. Not ever.

Ted Lietz is a freelance writer and reformed marketer. His work also has been published in such places as Every Day Fiction and Flashquake. Everyone has to be somewhere. He happens to live in Pittsburgh.

This story is sponsored by
Hydra House — Publisher of Pacific Northwest science fiction and fantasy, including K.C. Ball’s collection of scifi shorts “Snapshots from a Black Hole & Other Oddities” and Danika Dinsmore’s middle-grade fantasy “The Ruins of Noe,” sequel to “Brigitta of the White Forest.”

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