Written for Write On Edge. A story, about the differences of a foreign land, begins after the image.
Genre: Science Fiction/Humor
A Sense of Humor
“So you’re going to Gaiadin?” said Nancy at the front desk. “You’ll love it there. It’s a beautiful planet, especially for a single man like yourself.” She gave a lascivious wink.
“It’s actually a business trip,” blushed Harry. Their planet, Almein, was comparatively poor since the mostly desert climate couldn’t easily produce its own food. By contrast, the garden planet of Gaiadin was perfect for growing things. Gardening was a way of life there. They even built tall buildings intending that every apartment had space for a garden. Harry’s job was to study their methods.
“Yes, business.” Nancy winked again. “Just remember, Gaiadins have a sense of humor.”
Harry stopped into his boss’ office for one last consultation. “It’s a business trip, Harry.” said Karen. “But you should have fun. Enjoy yourself! Bear in mind Gaiadins are more liberal-minded than Almeini.” She looked wistful as she toyed with a heart-shaped pendant. “Don’t fight it, and don’t forget the Gaiadin sense of humor.”
After a week on Gaiadin, Harry had seen nothing special about the Gaiadin humor. They laughed and joked of course, but no more than anyone else. What was immediately apparent was their fascination with plants. Flowering vines grew up all street lights. Every single window he saw had pots with flowers or vegetables. Billboard signs were constructed with living flowers. Every taxi he saw had a garden growing on the roof of the vehicle.
Another difference was the Gaiadin sexual freedom. Harry had little trouble finding a new bed partner each night. Coming from a world where a kiss on the first date was daring, Harry felt like he’d lept off a sexual cliff. Not that he complained much, being single, but he frequently wondered how relationships survived. Were families stable?
Before long, he settled down to his studies. Buildings on Gaiadin were built with hollow cores, so that gardens grew in balconies in the inner walls and the outer walls as well. Standing on the ground floor in the core, one could see plants growing from every terrace.
Eventually, Harry was invited to interview a family to see how they lived. The lunch with Elsbeth and Kurt started pleasantly with food from their garden. Before long the couple began to bicker, then argue loudly. Harry watched in shock.
The pair chased into the garden with Kurt saying, “At least SHE loves my cucumber!”
“Another affair? How could you?” screamed Elsbeth. “I hate you!”
And here, the open society collapses, thought Harry.
Standing in the garden, Elsbeth shrieked. “I can’t live like this anymore!” And she hurled herself from the inner balcony garden, 80 floors up.
“Darling no!” screamed Kurt, and he leaped after her.
Harry crept to the garden’s edge, his face a pale mask of horror. It lasted a moment, before Kurt and Elsbeth floated back up, suspended by magnetic safety fields. They held hands and laughed uproariously.
“It’s an old Gaiadin joke, Harry!” giggled Elsbeth, seeing his expression. “Didn’t anyone warn you about Gaiadin humor?”
This week’s prompt and the writing of many talented writers for this week, may be found here: http://writeonedge.com/2014/05/writing-prompt-2014-week-21/