Clonk looked at one of the humans his team had been working with for quite a while now and could only feel concerned. The human was usually a very outgoing and cheery being, but lately, he had become very melancholic.
“Human Julius, do you know what has happened with Human Peter?” Clonk asked the other human on his team. Julius paused in thought for a moment before a look that Clonk recognized as realization appeared on his face.
“Ah, I know what happened… didn’t you hear?” Clonk shook his head in the gesture he learned to the humans to mean no.
“Pete had to put his pet dog to sleep.”
“Clonk does not understand… is sleep not a requirement for much of your deathworld’s species?”
“No-no-no Clonk… it’s a polite way of saying they had the dog killed.”
“Why would he do that? I recall that Human Peter often spoke of his deep affection for the creature.”
“It is something that happens sometimes. Dogs grow old far faster than we humans do. They get ill or start to hurt.”
“So you kill them?” Julius paused in thought. Part of the interspecies training had told them to treat each other more like children of their species. Mainly because they were both entirely unfamiliar with each other’s customs, so it was easier to address issues in such a manner.
“It is more out of kindness. We don’t want them living on in pain just to satisfy ourselves.”
“So Human Peter’s dog was in pain?”
“Maybe… I honestly don’t know the full details, but it is something that does happen. It is always sad. I know my heart would shatter if I had to say goodbye to Mr. Mittens, my new kitten.”
“You would suffer the destruction of your blood-pumping organ?!!! HUMAN PETER, STAY STILL!!! I SHALL GATHER THE MEDICAL TEAM!!!!”
“CLONK, NO!!!” Julius shouted, trying to stop the now panicking alien.
“It’s a metaphor. It is a way to say emotional pain.”
“Oh… CANCEL THE MEDICAL TEAM!!!” The already rushing medical staff began to slow, only to look very disappointed in being unable to provide care.
“What is going on, guys?” Peter asked, approaching the pair after hearing his name called.
“Sorry, Human Peter, we were discussing your recent dog.” Peter blinked a few times before his lower lip began to tremble, only for him to stiffen his facial features.
“It’s ok. She was fifteen; that’s a really good innings for a dog.”
“I can see you are under emotional duress, Human Peter.”
“That is because I lost a member of my family.”
“You were biologically related? No wonder why you are in such distress. This one suffered great emotional instability when it lost its grand hatchling.”
“No, we aren’t biologically related. It’s a human thing; we will bond with creatures even outside our species. But I take comfort in a bit of knowledge I was told by my parents when I was young.”
“What’s that, Pete?”
“That when you take an animal into your family, you give them a piece of your heart, and in return, they give you a piece of theirs.”
Clonk opened his mouth only to have Julius interrupt him with a whisper before he could even utter a word. “A metaphor.”
“That’s why it hurts so much when you lose them. Because you are losing a piece of yourself with them, but you should take comfort as while that part of you is gone, you will forever have the part they gave you. I can still vividly remember every dog I’ve had throughout my life. It will never not hurt saying goodbye… but it is still worth the pain to enjoy the years of love they can offer.”
“I see… should we exchange portions of our blood-pumping organ Human Peter? Will that help?”
“Heh,” Peter let out a little chuckle as the first smile they’d seen in a while showed on his face. “That’s ok, Clonk… I appreciate the sentiment.”
Republished with permission from the author, Random3x. Image created using Stable Diffusion.