Author : Amanda Baker
Years ago, Christina stayed over at Emily’s house, and found herself belting out this awful pop song in the shower. Some boy band kind of thing. She didn’t remember the song; boy bands hadn’t been popular since the nineties, and she’d be hard pressed to name the band and tune, or hard pressed to admit she still had a fondness for nineties pop, even back then. To be fair, she didn’t even realize she was singing at first, and she silenced herself in embarrassed horror as soon as she did, stopping the silly “love you baby” lyrics from leaving her mouth as she rinsed the bubbly foam out of her hair. Her singing voice was pretty awful.
Of course her girlfriend heard her. Emily being Emily, she didn’t give Christina a hard time about it, but still, Christina knew Emily knew, and she felt ashamed. She had been caught doing something incredibly stupid.
Christina doesn’t think she remembered it until last Saturday—after all, she’s got better taste in music now, and she hasn’t talked to Emily since the breakup. Christina’s a loud sort of person, and she’s got a million better memories with Emily if she wants to feel nostalgic, and a dozen sillier memories that she can look back on if she wants to laugh at herself. She’s been quieter since Saturday, though. Everyone’s been quieter. When Christina turns on the news, crime is down. Of course crime is down. Even the criminals are stunned.
Everyone’s busy watching the sky, too. The talking heads on TV told them it wasn’t like that, the messages came from light years away, and there’s nothing to worry about. They couldn’t be here yet.
Peace negotiations have started. Peace negotiations, and it’s only been less than a week. It’s funny, almost. Back when the war started, Christina went out to city hall every weekend with her protest sign. She wrote letters, signed petitions, blogged rant after rant just to get people to care… pretty much everything she could do, and it took this to get peace negotiations to start? The first day, she thought this was a hoax. Probably everyone did. It’s something out of science fiction, which she used to actually like, before it was all over the news that extraterrestrials had made contact. It was better back when it wasn’t real.
It’s terrifying now. It’s like a hidden camera on the wall, like being the teenager who thought she could get away with everything, and then suddenly you’re faced with evidence that your mother knows every detail of what went on at Hannah’s birthday party. No, that she might know. No, that “Mom” exists. Christina frames it in another concept, thinks about it differently, but really… Do they know about Hiroshima? Do they know about the holocaust, or slavery, or the way humans have fought each other tooth and nail over absolutely everything ever since they’ve had the bad luck to evolve from the chimpanzees?
And they still want to talk to us. Christina hopes that maybe they don’t know us as well as they could, that we’ve got another chance to make an impression if we just behave ourselves from now on. Christina herself has gone to work on time, stopped grimacing so much, called her father back before he called her again to ask why she hadn’t called. And it’s not just her—it’s everyone. Everyone’s trying to shape up, to be better for whoever’s watching.
As Christina sees it, it’s as if humanity itself has been caught in the galactic shower, singing bad love songs off-key.