Hips of Fools
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I only have vague memories of my time spent on that moon. I was working on an acacia at the time; that much I recall. It was the only piece of living vegetation on the whole moon and I was feeling quite pleased with it given the circumstances. It didn't have as many leafs as I would have wished, but the thorns were a real beauty.

When it happened I was working and thinking about nothing much. I was startled by the sudden silence of about forty-five people holding their breath in anticipation. Gradually, I began to hear a sort of rhythmic glinglinging sound. The undulating shape of a dancer shimmered just in front of me, and I heard an excited voice: ''Aaaaaand here it comes! Are you ready ladies and gentlemen?'' The next instant I was surrounded by strange people sitting in small groups at fancy little tables. They looked around in awe for a moment and then started clapping and cheering excitedly.

The dancer finished her routine and bowed. A short fat man with a mustache was addressing the audience cheerfully. ''Behold, ladies and gentlemen! Thanks to the delightful Ks'shs, you have the privilege of being the only ones in a billion years to contemplate this alien and extravagant landscape. Let's give her a good hand, ladies and gentlemen. Ah, and here we have a… local artisan! What is your name my good man?

I spent a while telling the people about my acacia. I explained my methods of asymmetrical trimming, the poignancy of imperfections and the challenge of obtaining the right kind of fertilizer in this location. The people took turn standing next to me and my tree, and manifested great pleasure while their companions released sudden bursts of light from hand-held contraptions. I thanked them for their effort, but explained that it was unnecessary. My acacia had plenty of light already, but it could use a bit a water from their decanter if they could spare some.

All the while, the dancer observed us unblinkingly with her yellow eyes. She was now reclining languidly on a pile of cushions and smoking something that smelled strongly of phenol from a hookah. Later that day, we would be having coffee at the Star Box caravanserai near Kidi Khartoon and she would tell me about herself and about the magic of her dancing. The swaying of her hips could gently brush aside the laws of physic and allow her to move through the layers of reality as sleekly as a snake swishing through silken bedsheets. It was something to do with waveforms and making quantum probabilities roll over, sit and beg. She would recount the time long ago when she was captured by the loathsome Kgh who wished to harness her talents as a drive engine for their trans-dimensional freighters. It turned out not too good for the Kgh when someone neglected to reinforce the chickens used to bind her will to their nefarious scheme. Recently she had been working as a cabaret number for an establishment offering gastronomic sightseeing experiences for tourists.

The great planet and its belts of multicolored rings was starting its majestic rise over the horizon. With many enthusiastic cries, the little master of ceremony led the people up a nearby rock formation to get a better view of this phenomenon. Only the dancer remained. Before I could ask her for some water for my acacia, she stood up and stretched with a grunt of exasperation. ''That's it; I can't stand these morons anymore! I'm out of here. Can I drop you anywhere?''

When I asked her about the other people, she smiled genially. ''They can find their own way back.'' I looked down at my little acacia. Its thorns were rather pitiful compared to the smile of the dancer. I felt a pang of guilt at the thought of abandoning my work but, to be honest, I didn't think it would have turned out very well anyway.


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