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Archive for May, 2008

Mani from ‘Space, Man’ by Sharon Maria Bidwell

When I wrote ‘Space, Man’ I wanted to hit a mildly comic note. It’s a ‘fling’ and therefore it’s intended to be a light, quick read. Some people have said they only wish it were longer and I admit I could have gone for more character development if I’d increased the story length but I was subject to the guidelines for the category as demanded by the publisher. Still, these two characters hold an unexpected place in my heart.

I came up with the idea while in Padstow, which is a small seaside port on the left side of the United Kingdom. I know the above images are a tad ‘poser-like’ and maybe you need to be British or have visited Padstow to appreciate them, but the idea of someone stumbling over this man in white on the quayside amused me so much I wanted to ‘see’ the vision I had in my mind. I simply had to write this story. I also think Yaoi influenced me a little. I’d love to write a Yaoi novel one day but I definitely see Mani as one of those characters. I also saw the world from his perspective. He arrives; he falls in love. He sees nothing wrong with whom he chooses to love despite it being someone of the same sex and… Well, read the interview and find out for yourself.

***

I’ve asked Mani to wear his spacesuit for this interview. I felt a little awkward asking but he’s so amiable that he didn’t seem to mind. I even felt a little foolish and then the door opens and he walks into the room. Alex’s thoughts when he first saw Mani spring instantly to mind:

“Another beach bum. Just great. With that shaggy hair bleached white and falling in a thick, tumbling wave over his face, the man could only be a drifter. The white hair was one thing to arrest the attention, but the white, tight outfit, was quite another. It… clung. No wonder the stranger attracted so many odd glances.”

On with the interview, if I can clear my throat enough to speak. Cling is the perfect word. I swallow, try to drag my eyes away, but I can’t. He’s like a magnet and goodness knows what the folk of the quiet little seaside resort of Padstow would think of a gay alien in their midst. Saying that, Mani and Alex live in London. Alex’s parents live in Padstow but he and Mani visit them often and it’s where Alex first set eyes on this man in white.

Mani turns to take his seat and presents me with the perfect round globe of his backside. At once, I struggle to stifle a laugh and fight to pull my face into some semblance of order before Mani sees my expression. No wonder Alex was so taken with this man at first sight. I recall Alex’s promises not to take home another beach bum when he first saw Mani. Yeah…ri-ghhhttt. Alex, you didn’t stand a chance.

While Mani is definitely sex on two long and lean legs, there’s also something very innocent and demure in his attitude. I sort of understand why, but is the universe really such an innocent place?

“Hello, Mani.”

He nods and smiles. The smile immediately lights up his face. His beautiful, violet, almond-shaped eyes distract me. His thin nose leads down to full kissable lips. I only just realise I’m starting to purse my own lips in time to stop before I make little kissing gestures.

“Thank you for granting me an interview. I’d like to start by addressing the issue of your name.”

“Addressing?” Mani frowns at me, the centre of his brow crinkling up adorably. “Ah, address is where you live.” He seems to think about this. “I do not see how you can put an address on a name.”

For a second, I’m speechless, and then I remember that Mani is still learning the subtle nuances of our language. Indeed, he’s learning the nuances of an entire planet. “It also means dealing with an issue, concentrating on a topic.” Not wanting to give him too long to think about this as I can see Mani leading us off on a whole tangent of questions, I swiftly forge ahead. “Alex gave you your name. What’s your real name in your language?”

He utters something that makes me think of a dyslexic typist crossed with the sound of nails on a chalkboard. There’s no way I’m going to be able to come up with a way to spell it. So much for that.

“I wondered what you thought of the name Alex gave you. I mean, Mani is quite unusual.” Alex took the name from a Norse legend. It means Moon but I want to know if Mani truly likes the name. “Do you like the name or would you rather choose another?”

Another smile teases Mani’s lips. “I like it,” he replies. “I like the sound of it, the story behind it, and that Alex gave it to me. He named me almost as if he was my destiny, the one to take my hand and lead me into this new life.” His gaze is a little unfocused and wandering. His hand presses against his defined pecs and then the hand starts to slide. I’m lost for a moment watching that hand descend over the ridge of abdominal muscles that the suit hugs so…intimately. They sure do make them well formed out there in the universe. That’s a vote for space exploration if ever there was one. I’m wondering how far down he’ll sweep his hand when it stops moving. I’m trying not to glance any further downwards. That suit sure does cling. His voice brings me out of my trance. “I always remember when he gave it to me,” Mani continues and I have to give myself a mental kick to recall that we’re talking about Alex giving Mani his name. “He was so flustered. Of course, then, I did not understand why. I have learned much since then.”

A faint flush touches his cheeks, so delicate that it’s almost the type of rosy blush you’d expect to find on a Victorian maiden. Is Mani shy? About sex? He certainly never appeared to be.

“Mani, you told Alex that you have three forms and that the one you maintain on your home planet is a block of wood?” I sound as uncertain as I feel.

Mani laughs. “No. I said he would no more look at me in that state than he would a block of wood. The form we use on my world is no more interesting than wood.”

If Mani understood the concept of slang and that there are many forms of “wood” I can’t help thinking he’d have second thoughts as to whether Alex would be interested or not.

“I see. You also said that on your world you don’t mate in the conventional sense.” As that small frown that makes me want to kiss Mani’s forehead appears once more, I think that maybe I’ve made my question too complicated.

“We do not mate the way your species mate,” Mani says, showing me that he’s learned a lot in the last year on Earth. “Females do not need more than our seed.”

“Yes, that’s what you said. What I don’t understand is why you were not eager to seek female companionship then? What made you choose a man?” This question just popped into my head, but it’s a good one and deserves an answer. I also want him to explain why he chose Alex in particular but we’ll get around to that.

“I did not choose in the way I think you mean it. We met by accident but my race believes in destiny. We…flow along with the design of the universe. What will be, will be. Alex was meant for me.”

“How do you know that? Why Alex? If you wanted a man then why pick Alex as that man? Was he simply convenient?”

I give Mani the few moments he often needs to work his way through our language. When he finally understands I see him blink. A look of something like consternation sweeps over his face.

“Alex was not convenient,” he says and the tone of his voice tells me that he most resolutely refutes this and even dislikes the question. “I was not looking for anyone, male or female. I did not even know that you could mate with your own sex but I am glad, for my heart opened to Alex long before…” He stops. The flush rushes up his face and he’s actually blushing now. “Before other parts of me did,” he finishes.

Despite the startling scarlet blush that stands out so starkly in all that pale skin, there’s something altogether too smug and delighted in the set of his mouth and the way his eyes sparkle. He might be embarrassed enough to blush but he loves Alex and clearly adores making love with him. I’m a little sorry that he’s embarrassed at all. When Mani first arrived here, he was so innocent that he saw the world as it should be, rather than how it is. He saw nothing wrong with loving someone even if that person was the same sex. Now the idea embarrasses him a little and I can’t help wondering how many more of our prejudices he’ll be subjected to in the years ahead. I hope Alex can keep him safe, protect him. Still, I also see that he’s unrepentant and proud of the person he loves, and I’m very pleased about that.

“Give me three reasons why you fell in love with Alex.”

I expect Mani to answer me at once but he pauses. When he finally starts to speak, I realise that it’s because he wanted to get his words just right.

“He’s loving,” is the first thing Mani says. “I didn’t realise how loving he was at first, but he was looking for love, longing for someone he could believe in, and I felt it. I felt his need but I felt more than that. He was so open with his heart even when he tried to close it off. I knew I was worthy of that love.” If a human being said this, no doubt we’d think them conceited, but Mani isn’t human. He doesn’t know what conceited means. “I knew I wouldn’t betray him. That made me worthy. He needs protecting, and I can do that.”

It’s my turn to blink. All this time I’ve thought of Mani as the innocent one that needed protection, and now I realise that he’s right. Alex needs someone to look out for him just as much as Mani does.

“He’s kind.”

I smile at this. Yeah, Alex is too kind sometimes.

“He took me in, a stranger. He’s so kind that sometimes he lets others hurt him.”

Wow. Mani is just getting more perceptive by the minute.

“His type of kindness is a vulnerability, but it’s rare and precious so that is the second reason I love him.”

“And the third?”

Mani shakes his head. “I have more than three reasons. Alex is smart…for a human being.” I want to protest in defence of our race, but considering what Mani can do with technology, I grant him this. “He’s funny, usually when he doesn’t mean to be, which is adorable.” Mani smiles sweetly. “He’s sexy and a good lover. I can sum Alex up by calling him a good man, and that’s why I love him, but there is one more thing.” Mani grins at me and I see something in his expression that I never expected. That look is mischievous. He leans forward as though he’s going to confide in me.

“Would it be wrong of me to say that he makes me horny?”

We stare at each other a moment and then fall about laughing.

http://www.loose-id.net/searchresult.aspx?CategoryID=237

Sharon Maria Bidwell
aonia – where the muses live
http://www.sharonbidwell.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/aonia

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