Author : Michelle Pitman

The Janovian language is pure torture on the back of the throat, at least for those who haven’t learned it from birth. If we weren’t being paid for doing these language classes, I don’t think there’d be many of us left on the course.

The pay is good, too good for some really, judging by the amount of beer being consumed at the end of the day’s sessions.

We are learning it for a reason. The Stellar 13 Parliament recently engaged a number of us to begin diplomatic relations with the High Council of the Janovian Republic on Io II.

So not only am I learning this incredibly difficult language but I have to learn all the various diplomatic protocols that go with the language as well. There are even different bows and handshakes which one must master for different occasions.

For instance, when introducing friends to elders, one must always use the polite form, which is “Turrr-click-sa-vasick-ma-teeehhhhgghh” with the emphasis on the “gghh” at the back of the throat in a kind of sing song guttural vocalisation. And then, with that comes a slow and deliberate series of bows and hand greetings which one must follow in precise and accurate order for the proper introductions to be made.

There is this girl. She is Janovian. She has the high brow ridges, the dark golden skin and she is finely built – as slim as a waif – like most Janovians are built. She is some kind of linguistics expert or something. She shows up every day and just hangs at the back of the class making notes onto some kind of note pad. Then she goes straight to the tutor after each lesson and talks to them quietly. I try to listen in but I can never quite make out what she says because of her accent.

When she speaks in my tongue, she has this soft, deep quality to her voice. Most Janovians have very low voices and a lilting accent that mesmerises and soothes. It’s very pleasant listening to them speak in our tongue. I think they find it highly amusing when we speak in theirs though. We are somewhat squeaky by comparison.

She approached me once, not long ago and asked me in her lovely accent if I liked children. To the best of my ability I answered in halting Janovian that I indeed loved kids and expected to have a few myself some day. I remember the look in her eyes as her purple pupils contracted and immediately widened to fill the entire expanse of each eye until they both glowed with this dark purple light.

The colour seemed to infuse her face as well under her golden skin making it fluoresce slightly. She smiled at me then and bowing her head three times she turned and left, only to look back over her shoulder at me as if in complete wonder. I am still not certain what this was about but I’m sure it’s something significant.

And so now, I like to hang back messing about with my notes for as long as possible after class. She always gives me that same look she gave me that day, straight into my eyes, and it always feels like she has just cut open my heart with a searing blade.

Then she smiles at me with the smallest and sweetest smile in the universe. She unnerves and moves me and I often wonder why I feel so connected to her.

So I’m determined to get this Janovian language and protocol down to a fine art now.

I want to say hello to that girl again and ask her out for a drink. I’d also like to know what I said that day to her about kids that makes her look at me… like she owns me.

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