Friday Fictioneers – Alex

on-route-66-jean-l-hays
PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

Alex speaks a language no-one else alive understands. Well, we call him Alex, but we don’t know what he calls himself. He’s always refused to signal this.

It’s not that he has any hesitation about speaking. He will happily speak all day. Just that nobody knows what he’s saying. We detect pleasure, frustration, thoughtfulness and a range of other states. But the argument he’s advancing so passionately eludes us.

Today, though, Alex is silent. Is he angry? Sad? Or has he simply finished reciting the entire history of his race?

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

72 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Alex

  1. I read it not as an alien but as a nonverbal or minimally verbal person, perhaps with autism. You have portrayed the reciprocal frustations of broken communication very well without condemning the speaker or calling him stupid. There is clearly much going on in that brain of his, like many with autism that i know.

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    1. I didn’t think of him as an alien, or as someone nonverbal when I wrote him. I saw him as a person fluently speaking a language no-one else understands. But the author’s reading is only one possible version of a story

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  2. Good story, Neil. I enjoyed it. It leaves it to the reader’s imagination what the alien looks like. It would be frustrating to hear the language and see reactions without understanding anything. Well done. —- Suzanne

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    1. Perhaps the conventions and assumptions of English make so little sense to Alex he’s struggled to learn it and failed. If you speak Spanish you’ll know the way the world looks different with two different verbs “to be” where English only has one.

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  3. All problems of human race has its beginning in not understanding what others are saying. This has extended to plants and animals. Because we don’t understand the pain of an animal, we feel happy to kill a deer or chop a tree.

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  4. Alex seems an enigma to me and would like to know more about him. Even if one doesnt understand Alex’s language , the frustrations etc are understood. This means there is some sort of communication going on.

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  5. If it’s not a post-apocalyptic tale (Aliens trying to make sense of what the last human is saying), then I’m going for 800 “What Did the Last Indigenous Tribesman Say?”, Alex.

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  6. Absolutely beautiful and exquisite. There is a book by Han Shaogong in which he writes “language isn’t something to be sneezed at, it’s a dangerous thing we need to defend ourselves against and handle with respect. Language is a kind of incantation, a dictionary is a kind of Pandora’s Box capable of releasing a hundred thousand spirits and demons. ” This reminded me of that.

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