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going home

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“I thought we'd start out with something easy,” says the therapist. She is a woman of little subtlety; academic texts are arranged neatly along her lacquered bookshelves, and a file sits plainly on her desk that definitely concerns their meeting. At the very least, she hasn't tried to tell a lie. Not yet. “Why don't you tell me about yourself?”

“Well,” Mila says, “I'm twelve years old, I just started middle school, and I'd really like to go home.”

The therapist offers her a sympathetic smile. Her pen taps against the edge of the clipboard in her lap. “I'm afraid you won't be able to do that until we finish up here.”

Mila blinks, then shakes her head. “Not here home. I want to go home, to outer space.”

This therapist has clearly heard stranger, because she is completely nonplussed by Mila’s statement. “You live in outer space?”

“No,” says Mila, “that's the problem. I’m a star.”

“A star,” repeats the therapist. “And you said you're twelve years old?”

“Not every one of us is ancient,” Mila tells her. “Some of us are young.”

She says this as if it's obvious, and the therapist has to think about it for a moment. Finally, she says, “If you're a star, what are you doing on Earth?”

“I thought it would be nice to explore,” says Mila. “Humans are very interesting. But now I'm trapped here. I can't leave.”

“I'm sorry to hear that,” says the therapist, and still she betrays no hint of surprise or confusion. “Mila, your file says you're a foster child. Is your home now not good enough for you?”

Mila shrugs. “It's alright. The people are nice. They're not stars.”

“Have you met any other stars, here on Earth?”

“No. There’ve been some, years ago, but they're not here now. I'm the only one.”

“That must be very lonely.”

Again, Mila shrugs, not terribly put off by the therapist’s insinuations. “I have friends, and everything. I just miss space. So I'd like to go home, and that's what I keep telling everyone, but instead they sent me here.” She gestures to the office. “I think they think something’s wrong with me. That's why people go to therapists.”

This time, one of the therapist’s eyebrows arch, ever so slightly. “I think,” she says, slowly, “there's nothing wrong with you. Your family is human, and they may not understand what it's like to be a star.”

“Maybe,” says Mila.

“So what is it like?”

“Like being a person,” says Mila, “except everything is brighter.”






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