A Confused Valentine’s Day Visitor by P.S. Joshi

This is my story for The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: 1,000 Words. Link as follows:


Hello. I’m Sotom, a doctor from the planet Trae. I’ve shot through many galaxies and stopped off on some of the planets to sightsee. I’m able to alter my appearance to resemble any resident of any planet, so you won’t be able to tell me from the ordinary citizen of Earth if I drop by for a look. I’ve seen some of the Earth movies–having often dropped by here. It’s one of the more interesting places to stop. I know how you people think you’ll immediately recognize one of us. Please. Give us some credit for superior brains.

This trip though, I’m confused. When I landed and shrank my vessel so that it fit into the pocket of my Earth jeans, I went into a nearby city and was handed an invitation to a strange party. There was some kind of red symbol on the sheet that resembled nothing I’d ever seen before. I asked someone and they said it was a heart. It didn’t look like any heart I’d ever seen. Even the Gorks–strange beings indeed–don’t have hearts shaped like that. Also, I’d never seen an actual heart that color.

The party was to be that evening so, being a partying-type alien, I made a note of it then proceeded on my way.

Now I know that Earth people are usually very friendly, but I was embarrassed this trip to notice some of the behavior between males and females of the planet. I turned a rather red tinge noticing the hand-holding and embracing. Traeons never get within two feet of each other unless they intend to produce young. They have to then get special permission to produce from the local government, especially if they want more than two offspring.

I did, however, better understand the heart symbol. It must be a warning not to be shocked at the behavior of certain people on this strange day. I hope it’s not a plague of some type! I might find I’m not immune.

I decided to see if people in a different part of Earth behaved that way on this day. I found out from another inhabitant that it’s called Valentine’s Day. There are also cards sold and given to members of the opposite sex with that strange heart symbol on them. Someone gave one to me that I intend to take back to Trae. Otherwise, most Traeons might not believe me about this shocking behavior.

I took off and landed in a field of another country on Earth. Here the weather was much warmer, and there were more people. When I entered the nearest city, I did notice that some stores were selling the Valentine’s Day cards. Young people of the opposite sex were exchanging flowers called roses. The behavior, however, was somewhat different here. There was not the abundance of, I’m still embarrassed to say the word, touching, that I noticed in the other country. A bunch of men  even walked up to a couple and voiced their disgust at this flower-gifting  practice. Ah yes, I thought, this somehow looked like what would happen on Trae.

I was puzzled, however, about the number of people in this country. I would guess that many people had received permission to have more than two offspring.

I decided to walk still further and observe more of the Valentine’s Day behavior of this city. When I started to cross the street, I heard the screeching of brakes, and was actually grazed by a speeding two-wheeled vehicle. On Trae the vehicles always slow down to avoid an accident. Also, there are flashing signs at streets to warn a person crossing when it’s safe to do so. I had looked for such a sign, but not seeing one, decided that vehicles here were always extremely careful of persons crossing in their path.

I now think that people must rarely cross streets on foot or, for that matter, even venture anywhere on foot. This was also verified by the lack of walking paths beside the streets. Some people dared to actually walk in the street to get to their destinations. These were no doubt desperate Earth people who had to risk their lives to complete daily chores. I felt immediately sorry for them in their sad plight. To make matters worse, there were some large holes with men digging in them  on the side of the street. I don’t know what the holes were for.

How was I to go on? It was then that I noticed the three-wheeled vehicles parked along the side of the street. I produced some currency for this country by checking in my tiny computer–made to look like an Earth wristwatch–speaking the name of the country. Immediately the proper currency appeared in my hand. I climbed on board the vehicle and directed the dirver in his language–supplied by my language translator located in the same computer–to drive on until I told him to stop.

I noticed that many people were going outside their homes to eating establishments called restaurants. This must be the way some people in this city celebrate on this day. I thought I’d sample some food in this city, so directed the driver to stop, and paid him. For some reason he didn’t have any coinage or notes to give me exact change as it’s called, so it cost me more than it probably should have. There must be a shortage of some types of coins and notes in this country.

I got down and walked into the restaurant and was shown to a table. I asked the man serving me what he would suggest. I ordered the dish he pointed out and it looked like other Earth food I’d seen. However, when I ate a spoonful, I felt like flames were shooting up inside my mouth. I’ve noticed that the Valentine’s Day hearts were red. Perhaps my mouth was supposed to match them on this day.


12 thoughts on “A Confused Valentine’s Day Visitor by P.S. Joshi

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