Circe comes along a lot of times but not today. Ahab loves his new family. But they are so strange! So much of what they do makes no sense.
He spends a few hours climbing around the old shells of crashed spaceships. Today he climbs the ladder up the side of his favorite rocket. He crawls through a little door into a tiny cabin with glass windows and a big soft chair.
He sits in the soft chair and touches a few buttons. Nothing happens of course. These ships have been here for centuries. People argue if they came here from somewhere else or if long ago, people tried to leave and then found out there was nowhere else to go. Nobody knows for sure.
Ahab looks out of the window and because he is up so high, he can see far across the whole island and out very far across the sea.
Ahab pushes a few more buttons. He twists an old knob and feels how it clicks between settings. He reads the label, written in a language that nobody uses anymore. He thinks about what the words mean and translates aloud “anti gravity field at 14” after a minute.
Next Ahab thinks about today at school. It was not a good day. Everyone sang a song that he didn’t know.
And at lunch everyone stared when he picked up the cup in the middle of the table and poured some water out of it into his own cup. They all looked so shocked.
He feels his face getting hot and red right now as the memory replays in his mind.
One child said “you can’t drink from that!” Ahab said back, “I just watched you fill it with the pitcher we all use!”
Later his teacher did her best to explain to the class that Ahab didn’t do anything wrong. He just didn’t understand what the sharing cup meant.
One kid yelled “bandits don’t have sharing cups?” Ahab hated when people brought up where he was from.
But no, bandits don’t share. They don’t have cups in the center of the table that they all pour a little water into during their meal. And they don’t later pour the water in the flower garden, or put it in a bird bath, or find some other way to share it.
Ahab twists more dials and knobs and pushes more buttons. He doesn’t like thinking about today at school. He is by himself now, way up high in a rocket ship cockpit, but he feels less alone than he did at school today.
Ahab realizes it is getting late so he climbs down. He walks through the path of the junkyard. He doesn’t understand why the other children aren’t here every day. This is an amazing place!
He feels so different than everyone else.
Then he hears a noise that grabs him out of his thoughts. A tan dog is standing right in front of him. Ahab squats down. The dog walks over. Ahab sees this is one of the old dogs he used to feed when he lived alone in the shack.
Ahab pets the dog. He realizes this dog is filthy. “I used to be pretty filthy too!” Ahab says.
“But it wasn’t all bad, right? Nobody laughed at us for breaking their secret rules.”
The dog loves the attention. Ahab sits down and gets out a snack bar from his pocket and shares it and the dog sits next to him and puts his paw over Ahab’s leg.
Ahab keeps scratching the dog. “I don’t want to go back to living alone. But I have to come here to be myself sometimes.”
The dog’s fur is matted, with bald spots, and Ahab feels lots of scabs.
He remembers that first night he took a shower. Black mud streaks across the white tub floor. It took Circe’s mother all night to brush all the tangles out of his long hair. After, in the mirror, he didn’t recognize himself.
Ahab stands up. His hand feels greasy from the dog’s fur. “I’m gonna clean you up.” The dog walks behind him and they head back to the palace he lives in with Circe’s family.