full of life but short on intelligence,
Rakmar felt very alone.
He stared up at a light blue sky,
dotted with white clouds,
so very different from the reddish-orange atmosphere
stretching over his home world.
He knew that no one here could speak his language,
biologically could not speak his language, that is,
due to a lack of speech appendages.
No one here could see this world the way he could,
could perceive the colors he saw,
would know the ancient stories of his tribe and nation,
would understand the mechanisms
that lifted his ship high into the heavens,
traveling faster than starlight.
With no way to communicate with his own kind,
Rakmar focused on survival,
keeping his breathing apparatus functioning
(for he did not know whether he could inhale this alien air
rationing his food supplies,
and staying hidden from the dominant ones,
the short bipedal creatures who traveled in wheeled vehicles
with filthy internal combustion engines
and spent most of their time staring at small handheld devices,
the purpose of which Rakmar had not yet discovered.
One evening, as the nearest star set at the western horizon,
his favorite time of day,
when the flaming oranges, pinks, and violets
made the sky appear, briefly, like that on his home planet,
Rakmar realized that his breathing apparatus
had ceased to function,
and he did not have the appropriate tools and supplies to repair it.
So he removed his helmet,
exposing his face for the first time to this strange new air,
and deeply inhaled.