The Days of Wonder
A chapter from Not From Earth
“Why do you love Earth?” Juni asked. “Humans are a self-destructive species. They are at constant war with themselves. Their home planet is under continuous assault from their activities and selfishness.”
James and Juni were on a trail above Alta, Utah, where Juni had agreed to meet with James following the alien rejection response. “The days of wonder, Juni.”
“The what?” I do not understand.
“Juni, why do you speak so formally? It’s ok to use colloquialisms. I don’t mind,” James said with a smile.
As Juni processed that comment, James found a lovely sunflower and placed it in her hair. It occurred to him that this was the first time he had ever made physical contact with her.
Juni seemed conflicted. “Don’t touch me, James. It’s forbidden.”
James laughed and applauded. “Is that rule anything like the rule of non-interference? Is it worse for you to touch me or for you to save the Earth from a massive killer comet?”
“Both are forbidden, James,” Juni replied. “Again, why do you love the Earth?”
“The Days of Wonder,” James replied.
“What are the Days of Wonder?”
“From the summer of 1953 to the summer of 1964, America was in a gap between wars in Korea and Vietnam. Those were my years between five and sixteen. Life was simple and, well, fun. Those were the years of wonder and imagination, and the kids were crazy innocent.
“That was the Earth I learned to love. I know those innocent were kidnapped and sent to Vietnam, but it didn’t have to be that way. Those were the ones that stood up and said, ‘Hell no, we won’t go.’ Remember Woodstock, Juni?
I had terrific parents and sisters that teased me. I had a black lab that loved me and a Vespa scooter before getting my driver’s license. The cops never caught me, and they tried. My dog rode on my scooter with me.
But here’s the thing, Juni, for me, the Earth was a place of wonder and imagination, not of hatred and killing.”
“But you were living in an isolated time and place, not typical of Earth in general. I understand, though, you see the potential. If your time was those days of wonder, then it is possible, unlikely but possible, that Earth could become a planet of wonder,” Juni said without stopping as the sunflower fell from her hair.
“Exactly! Juni, Earth has the potential.” James stooped and picked up the sunflower. As Juni turned to face him, James placed the flower back in her hair.
“You just don’t listen, James. There are timeless reasons for our rules. I will not punish you for the sunflower, but not interfering with the destiny of the Earth is something you must learn to accept.”
“I told you, the cops were never able to catch me on my scooter. I suppose the punishment would have been harsh for a boy, but I sometimes thought they never really wanted to stop me.”
Juni leaned forward and kissed James on the cheek. “You have so much to do, James. You are the last hope for the wondrous Earth.”