Rahn stared at the note glowing up at him from his aging EM:

An alien who stocks milk, or whatever milk is on his (?) home planet

It made him smile, this echo from the past. He was taken with the idea before he took it up, and now he couldn’t bring himself to erase it, as he did with most ideas once they had been used.

It came to him right there in the cooler, as he tossed up cartons of milk and containers of gorkzak; the thought of an extraterrestrial being doing his same everyday job lent a pregnant poignancy to the hours of stocking and hiding.

At first he thought maybe it shouldn’t be milk, that maybe it should be something else (perhaps something with a funny name). But he reasoned that this civilization would have something sufficiently like the nardu that would produce something sufficiently like milk that the word would translate.

It made it all less stupid somehow to picture some alien doing the same things. Catching vrrp for bold new tentacle paint. Getting berated by old women about food he couldn’t even afford. Using his certificate of advanced study to arrange blocks of spiiz. Tentacles practically frozen in place, texting his partner or a lover. They’ll call their EMs ‘sound.’ Or some ancient word for sound. Like ‘phone.’ phone. What a funny word.

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