Moments in the life of Arthur Sinclair

February 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm (Bodies, Halves) (, , , )

I first met Arthur Sinclair when I was fifteen years old. It was summer, but he wore shirtsleeves despite the casual sensibilities of the Spooky kids he surrounded himself with. His cuffs were tight, his shirt collar buttoned his Adam’s apple. He still wore prosthetic lips and a thick layer of pinkish beige cover up over his hands and face, but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought he looked ill and waxy in the heat, the beige paint congealing into little beads of sweat-like moisture on his brow. I knelt on the grass next to him, three cones of ice-cream in each hand, melting in crisscrossing streaks of stickiness past my wrist. I turn my face towards my elbow to lick my arm clean, a scoop of ice-cream drops on the grass with a squelch. The boys in the circle cheer, the girls titter, I blush good-humouredly, and Arthur Sinclair forces a smile; a speck has landed on his starched shirt.

His accent is odd. English speakers think he sounds Dutch; our friends from the Netherlands think he sounds Portuguese. He learns languages like most people whistle tunes. He copies, perfectly, and later comes to understand. On the planet Juvisia they have no language barriers; anyone can come to understand anyone else. They are all talented in that regard, but Arthur Sinclair is gifted. They consume liquid infrequently. They do not sleep, but they rest three times a day for two hours at a time. They cannot ingest protein. They are almost completely unable to sense temperature. They have four sexes. Our binary mating system shocks Arthur Sinclair. Orphans are unheard of on Juvisia.

Six years later Arthur Sinclair is holding my left wrist, palm upwards, and telling me lots of interesting things about blood vessels. He doesn’t wear makeup or prosthetics anymore; the presence of Juvisians on Earth has become widely acknowledged and they are now welcome in most of Europe. His skin is teal, his lips are wire thin. Human blood vessels are intriguing, he tells me. They are linier and blossoming in design. It’s a wonder that humans can function with a system so disorganised. The capillaries of the Juvisians are arranged in perfectly structured lines of little dots, each about the size of a full stop, showing on the surface of the skin with a slight purple hue. It makes them look speckled, especially in the heat. Arthur Sinclair tries to explain how they carry nutrients to the skin, but he’s worse at biology than I am. He ends up striking my wrists together in mock frustration and we laugh.

I am sick of people asking us how we make love. We make the best of what we have to work with. How did a green man get a job with the Translation Services Agency? How do we sleep and eat together? Sometimes I sulk when we have parties and lock myself in our room. Arthur brings me food and tells me how everyone is having a great time – they will be talking about our party for weeks. It’d be a shame for you to miss it, but I’ll leave you alone if you want. I hear him downstairs shouting and chuckling. He’s better at being a person than I am. I pout.

The doctors tell me that Arthur Sinclair isn’t really dead. He isn’t really alive, he isn’t really in a coma, or brain-damaged or catatonic. He isn’t really anything. But I should not expect him to regain true consciousness. He isn’t pale, if anything the teal of his skin is a little saturated. His flesh is neither cold nor warm.


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