Ghank just in a pair of white exercise shorts sat on the side of the grassy hill. He looked off rather melancholy. With legs drawn up, Ghank rested his chin on his left knee. The Betheran teenager gazed off at the sprawling metropolis in the distance. Sitting on his right knee was his Earthie Reggie. “He’ll be back,” squeaked Reggie wishing he could cheer his titanic brother up.
“I know. We are always doing things together. Hard to believe that big getch (betheran for: dumb jock) is a latent Progressive Learner. Oh, I haven’t seen Cass. I know it had been really tough on him these last minus cycles since Zelkur has been in special training at the Temple.”
Reggie answered, “He’s allowed to be with him now.”
Reggie’s eyes lighted up when he suggested to Ghank, “Would you like to chase me around with one of your sandals? You always like that.”
“No thanks. I appreciate you offering.” For a moment Ghank was silent. Taking a finger and giving Reggie a gentle poke, Ghank told him, “Besides being my brother, your one of my closest friends.” Reggie grabbed both sides of the mighty finger with his two hands and nodded.
The young, slightly chubby Betheran Ouyi walked down the shiny, radiant hallway to the expansive Temple. Dressed in a burgundy colored waistcoat and shorts, the boy came to the entrance where Zelkur and the other Progressive Learners where in meditation. The youth looked down at the slight swell at the base to his right shorts pocket. He extended the lip to the pocket for a moment. Zelkur’s Earthie Cass was curled up among the white folds of the inner-lining. “To think he’s intelligent. I have carried Beetle Nymphs that were bigger than him,” Quyi thought to himself. The boy sighed. “We have become close these cycles while his adopted brother has been in instruction. I wish I could keep him.” Ouyi leaned against the highly polished marble wall. He suddenly felt Cass moving against his leg as the tiny human changed position. “Be so easy to induce sleep. I could say I lost him.” Ouyi frowned. “I couldn’t do that to Cass or Zelkur.” With a slightly hesitant hand, Ouyi began to slide it down his pocket.
Cass placed an arm across his face as light streamed in the tight confines of the pocket as it outlined the Betheran boy’s massive fingers. The warm leathery huge digits spun his body over into the large puffy finger pads.
With sadness, Ouyi removed his clenched fist from the pocket. He opened his hand. Cass who was stretched out on his face slowly turned over and sat up. Taking a finger, Quyi began to stroke Cass’s back. “I have enjoyed our period together Cass.”
“I did too Ouyi!” exclaimed Cass gazing up at the boy’s huge purple eyes.
Trying not to shed any tears Ouyi asked, “And you will still come spend a day and night on my Life Celebration?”
“I will! Can’t wait to see all your cool stuff you’ll be getting!”
Ouyi chuckled. Cass was Zelkur’s age yet in many ways he acted like a kid; a kid like him. Cass liked to climb Quyi’s toy animals that he had shown him back at his relaxation chamber. Ouyi’s chuckle changed to one of a suppressed cry. “I don’t want you to go Cass.”
Cass quickly stood up when Ouyi’s fingers began to curl in over him. Sticking his head out between two fingers, Cass shouted, “What’s up!?”
“I want to keep you.” With emotions creating excess stress in Ouyi, the Betheran boy placed his hand back down his pocket. Cass, when the fingers released him, fell with a muted thud against the soft fabric at the bottom of the pocket. Ouyi turned away from the entrance and ran down the hallway. Cass tried to hang on to the folds of the inner-lining as the pocket swayed violently about.
Ouyi ran to an outside balcony and sat down in a chair. He could hear the muffled, questioning piping of Cass coming from his pocket.
Stretched out as the heavy layers of pocket and shorts material pressed down on him, Cass hollered, “We’ll still be friends. And I’ll come over for the night on your Life Day Celebration. It’s ok!” Cass after just laid his head down on the warm material. He liked Quyi very much and he understood Betheran youths were quite enamored with Earthies. Cass also felt charmed that Quyi wanted to keep him. He took it as a compliment.
Settling down, Quyi, coming to his senses removed Cass from his pocket. Somewhat afraid that Cass might be angry asked, “Cass w-we are still friends aren‘t we? I didn‘t mean to shove you down my pocket like that.”
“I’m your friend Quyi. One who likes you a lot. And looks forward to your Life Day Celebration,” answered Cass standing up in the boy’s palm. Quyi lifted his hand up to below his chin and gently rubbed Cass against it. Slapping the very huge chin, Cass said, “My friend.”
A short time later, Ouyi entered the meditation hall where two dozen teenagers were lined up on their cushioned meditation seats. As quietly as he could, Quyi placed Cass down on the gleaming floor not far from Zelkur. Cass looked up past the black shoes, the thick white socks and towering legs that disappeared into the dark red shorts. Quyi’s long black and orange hair hung down on either side of his face as Quyi leaned over. Quyi made a slight smile.
Straightening up, the boy left; shaking the surface beneath Cass with his steps. “He needs an Earthie. And I think there’s an Earthie who needs him,” said Cass to himself.
Turning towards the mountainous form of Zelkur, Cass’s heart pounded with fondness and anticipation; anticipation to be back with his Betheran, to be back with Zelkur. Cass ran up to the front of the enormous oatmeal colored sandals. “Zelkur! Zelkur!” shouted Cass excitedly. The moon size face stared ahead. Cass lifted his shoulders up and down in frustration. Next Cass went over to the front of the right foot. For a moment he stared at it. Cass remembered once out in a field watching an eight legged grass leaper. Zelkur who was playing a game rushed over and inadvertently crushed the insect beneath his sandaled foot. The insect made a crunching sound. Betheran feet came be very frightening to Earthies.
Cass reaching up pressed down with all his might on the front of the sandal. He next began to scale the front of the colossal footwear. Climbing up onto the socked foot itself, Cass suddenly blurted out, “Oooh!” His right foot sank into a sock fissure, a space between two toes. For a moment, Cass relished the softness of the sock and the warmth the foot radiated through it. Sometimes when he had been tired, Cass like other Earthies found the sock covered foot of a Betheran an inviting place to rest. “Zelkur,” reminisced Cass as he was being comforted by the warm, clean, gray sock. “I would die if I couldn’t be with you. Some people can’t understand our feelings for you Betherans. They think we are just intelligent bugs to you. Even if it were so, I still couldn’t feel happier than I do now. In the beginning you were scary. I don’t remember how many times I fell down from the quakes your feet made when you left me on the floor to your bedroom and living quarters. When I was petrified you would curl up on the floor so I was lost against your chest. I never knew until then such protection and security.”
Clutching the thick material of the sock, Cass propped himself up onto the big toe. Cass once more looked up at Zelkur who was still lost in contemplation. Hanging down over the ankle to the foot was the gold trimmed base to Zelkur’s white tunic. Cass ran over and up the incline to the top of the foot. Grabbing hold to the thick material, Cass began to ascend the tunic.
As he was climbing, Cass caught a glimpse of another Earthie climbing the aqua colored tunic to his Betheran. Cass shouted over to the other Earthie. The Earthie teen waved in reply to Cass.
Zelkur as he was meditating became aware of his tiny Earthie’s presence. It was always strange for Zelkur especially in the beginning when Cass would climb up a leg or an arm like an insect or some tiny, furry animal. Zelkur nodded his head in fond memory when he recalled the first such climb after his parents first adopted Cass who had lived in an Earthie orphanage back in the Domed Earthie City of Bale. Cass had a stuffed animal he always had with him. Zelkur wanted to share in Cass’s joy over his toy. However, Cass didn’t want anyone to touch it. Zelkur who was only seven at the time thought Cass did not love him or trust him. “How I cried,” Zelkur remembered. “I went up to mom sobbing, Cass hates me. Doesn’t want me for his brother. Mom told me that wasn’t true. I still was hurt. I went back to my room; away from Cass. I sat on the edge of my bed so very upset. I became aware of something pulling at my black and blue sleeper jumper. There on my leg was Cass. He held the stuff animal by its arm in his mouth while he scaled my leg. I was afraid he would fall. I plucked him off. Poor bug, back then he couldn’t talk, he could only make groans. Once in my hand he lifted the toy to me. B-b-gi-give you-brother toy. His first complete words.” A big smile appeared on Zelkur’s face. “Later that night he told me in a few terms that he hated to see me cry.”
Before Cass rose for many stories the flawless, white Betheran fabric to Zelkur’s tunic. Huge, powerful and potent was Zelkur. “Sometimes, you’re more than just a Betheran to me Zelkur,” Cass said laying his head reverently against the white material for a moment.
Gazing back up past the many, many stories of tunic fabric, Cass studied the strong face of Zelkur. “You’re strong but sometimes people can forget your huge heart,” Cass whispered with pride. Cass recalled an incident with Zelkur when he was fourteen. Zelkur sat in his backyard downcast. Spotting his brother, Cass on a Hover Disc flew to him. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s a few of my friends at the Learner’s Facility,” replied Zelkur as he picked Cass up by the back of his shirt. Placing the Hover Disc on the ground and Cass in his hand, Zelkur said, “Sometimes I feel they don’t want to open up to me. Or come to me for help. I don’t know why?”
Cass stared into Zelkur’s big, sad purple eyes and told him, “You’re very strong. Maybe they…”
“I am strong Cass,” answered Zelkur cutting his Earthie off. Flexing his right arm, Zelkur questioned, “So why don’t they come to me. Or their tiny human bugs. Seems logical human bugs should come to me.” Making a long face, Zelkur added softly, “But they don’t.”
Cass scratched his head nervously. He knew Zelkur was honest in what he said. However his Betheran’s assertiveness and brashness was at times over powering. For a moment Cass tried to think of something. Meanwhile, a Beetle Nymph came and settled on the tip to Zelkur’s nose. His Betheran chuckled. There was a softness and warmth to Zelkur that many never saw. “Zelkur, maybe because of your strength they feel intimated.”
“Oh?” Zelkur questioned.
“I guess be yourself but somehow show that in their weakness they can come to you. Being so strong they may think you wouldn’t want to help them.”
“Thanks Cass,” replied Zelkur.
In time Zelkur showed he was an individual and friend that would always be there for you. Ghank, Zelkur’s closest pal found this out when Zelkur helped him with his Earthie Reggie. Cass made a prideful smile. “Anytime now an Earthie is scared and Zelkur is nearby, they flock to him,” Cass said quietly to himself.
Directing his mind and gaze fully toward Cass, Zelkur found it both comical and sometimes spooky to think of intelligent creatures like human’s that were small as insects. There climbing up his tunic was his insect size Earthie brother. “So vulnerable he is.” Zelkur smiled at the tenaciousness in which his Earthie continued to climb the great distance of his tunic. “So glad he is not back in Bale or on Earth. How would my Earthie survive without me? Or any of my Earthie pals,” Zelkur thought with a little arrogance, yet with a greater amount of love.
Zelkur wrinkled his brow. “You are here with me Cass. And it is right that you are. Right that you are,” spoke Zelkur with the true authority of honest tenderness
“Don’t have to say anything my tiny bug. Just be glad you’re with me.” Reaching down, Zelkur removed Cass from off his tunic.
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