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Last To Know

Leanne A. Styles is a crime and science fiction author living on the south coast of England. She regularly has short stories and flash fiction pieces published online, with works appearing in Daily Science Fiction, Everyday Fiction, and 365tomorrows. She's currently working on a trilogy of science fiction crime-thriller novels. When she's not busy writing, she spends her time supporting people affected by cancer. In the little spare time she has, she enjoys working out, drinking coffee, and binging on epic TV series; zombies and detective dramas are her favorites. More of her work can be found at lastyleswriter.com.

"Mom, Dad," I said, "Bryn has something he needs to tell you."
My brother then said the words all parents dread.
"You can't be an alien!" my mother cried, jumping to her feet. "You're human, like us." She looked at me and Dad.
I grinned sympathetically. Dad stared back blankly.
"You're confused. It happens to lots of teenagers. They reach a certain age and.... Oh," she said, throwing her arms up and collapsing in her chair, "it's all this stuff on the news--alien civil rights. They're making it seem cool to be an alien. If you really were an alien, we'd have seen your tentacles by now. You can't have kept them hidden away all these years. They'd have crept out of your skin at some point."
Bryn glanced in my direction. "Well, someone kind of has seen them," he said.
My mother glared at me. "Cassie?"
"Do you remember when I was six, and I slipped and fell in Aunt Jess's pool?" I said cautiously.
"Of course I do," she snapped. "Bryn dove in and dragged you out."
"Mom, Bryn was four. He could barely swim without his water wings."
She sat there, slack-jawed, eyes darting between us.
"Don't you see?" I said. "He pulled me out with his tentacles."
Her mouth widened further. Dad still said nothing.
"She wasn't breathing when I got her onto the side," Bryn said. "So I wrapped my tentacles around her and...." He made a pumping motion with his hands.
That's when mom really lost it.
"You've known about this for twelve years and you didn't tell us?!" she yelled at me.
"I promised I wouldn't! Anyway, it wasn't my secret to tell. I don't get why you're so upset. It doesn't change anything."
"Doesn't change anything?!" she screeched. "His life will be over! Our lives will be over! What will the neighbors think?"
"Who cares what the neighbors think. Half of them are probably aliens anyway."
"Well, let them have aliens in their families then, and leave us out of it."
She fell silent and slumped down in her seat, crossing her arms tightly across her chest.
Bryn and I exchanged a look and a grin.
Suddenly she flashed into life again, bolting forwards. "You're not an alien too, are you?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, mom, I'm not an alien."
Bryn sniggered.
"It's not funny," she said. "The next thing you know, she'll be getting impregnated by one of them and we'll end up with an alien grandchild--" She inhaled a huge gulp of air as the realization finally struck. "I must have been abducted and impregnated by one of them! They must have taken me in the night and... done things to me...." She stood up again and began pacing the room. "This can't be happening. It can't be real."
"You weren't necessarily abducted," Bryn said.
"Of course I was," she hissed, halting abruptly in the middle of the room. "What other explanation is there?"
Bryn and I slowly turned our heads towards Dad.
He grinned sheepishly and rubbed his hands nervously up and down his thighs.
"Celia... darling," he said. "I think you'd better sit down. I have something I need to tell you."
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Author Comments

I wrote this story because it occurred to me that harboring a secret can make you feel lonely and cut off--"alien" you might say. What you really need is the support and love of your family. But first you have to break the news. I've often heard mothers, and fathers, complain that they are the last to know about the things that happen in their families' lives. But I think the reason we tend to tell our parents our secrets last is because we care about their opinions more than anybody else's. Whatever reaction we receive, it's usually safe to say that it's born from their desire to see the best for us--especially when they yell!

- Leanne A. Styles
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