The longer Sydrill stood there just smiling that enigmatic smile of hers, the more uncomfortable he looked. That slow, languid blink of hers when she is thinking, or listening to her translation machine, makes it seem as though she is frozen, not paying attention, gone off on some alien daydream or something.
He turned to me, the heavy gold cross he wore on a gold chain around his neck flashed in the artificial light of the room. I smiled back at him. ‘Wait,’ I said.
‘No,’ Sydrill said.
‘No?’ the Archbishop echoed.
‘No,’ she repeated, turning to me and raising what would be an eyebrow, if she were human.
The archbishop turned from Sydrill to me and back again.
‘There is no such… concept,’ Sydrill said eventually.
‘No… g… god?’ The archbishop was – to say the least – shocked.
‘No,’ Sydrill smiled again. I had to admit smiling was the one human concept she had mastered so easily, but then she’d been good humoured from the day we’d met, which was quite remarkable when you consider we met when I pulled her from the wreckage of her ship.
At times, I had the feeling that she found the human race perplexing in a way that tickled her sense of humour. After all, I think humanity is rather ridiculous most of the time myself, and I’m one if us, so I could understand how odd… silly, even, we could look to some outsider. I knew that Sydrill wanted to laugh at the Archbishop, but some innate sense of politeness, good humour, even humanity in a sense, kept her from making her beautiful tinkling laugh, a sound like a brook babbling over rocks, that I found so lovely.
‘Translation machine has records of old times,’ Sydrill nodded to the machine around her slender wrist that resembled a high-fashion lady’s wristwatch. ’Machine has memories of old long time ago… religion. But now only Drasken… the… the mind-damaged… think such things true these days.’ She smiled that smile at him again.
‘Oh,’ the bishop seemed deflated as he wandered off.
Sydrill turned to me. ‘Why you never mention this… this religion… thing before?’
I shrugged, wanting to take her home and kiss her, spend the night with her again. ‘I suppose it never occurred to me. It is not something I ever think about.’
‘Good’ she said and did that thing with her long purple tongue across her small pointed teeth that I now knew meant she was thinking exactly the same thing I was. ’We leave?’ she said. ‘We go home and fuck?’
‘Oh, yes,’ I said.