“Human Friend Mercy?” Rotates With Decision asked as she lifted her leading end out of the temporary tank the human in question had provided for her.
“What is it Rotates?” Human Friend Mercy replied without turning her face away from the reflective surface that was mounted on one wall.
“Wouldn’t your meditative devotion be more effective if you had another mirror angled from your … well it isn’t your lagging end exactly. I think you call it your supine surface? Or perhaps a pair, or a trine of mirrors would be more effective. But perhaps humans cannot interoperate an image scattered that far. Rolls a little your binocular vision should help with that…”
Human Friend Mercy’s hands had slowed in their soothing repetitive motions and the light show dimmed allowing the perhifreial sparks to dance more clearly. Her head slowly turned her face towards the Undulate in the tank revealing that she had sacrificed the bilateral symmetry of her face to get a proper visual sounding of the scene. It was, Rotates With Decision had been led to believe, a gesture of lack of understanding and mental effort to understand.
“Say way lil’ gal?” Human Friend Mercy drawled out.
“I will ask again once you have completed what you are doing,” Rotates With Decision said. “Do you mind if I deliberately observe with all of my appendages?
“Watch as much as you want,” the human replied with a graceful, almost Undulate dip of her shoulders.
A shrug, Rotates With Decision believed it was called, one of the more normal movements the massive bipeds produced from their numerous joints. Rotates With Decision gave a hum of gratitude and spread her appendages to observe the brilliant light show. She wondered idly why none of her companions with more human experience had ever mentioned this marvel.
The brush, a mass printed device that resembled the algae agitators she used back home in the growth pools, was gripped firmly in the humans dominant hand while she used her non-dominant hand to direct the fall of the thread thin fibers that grew out of her caudal end. The human had begun the meditative devotion by freeing the thousands of strands from the cloth band that restrained them and now the band clung snugly one of the larger joints on her arm. Then she had started using the teeth of the brush at the lagging end of the fibers to tease out the tangles exactly as one had to loosen the more fibrous algae back home.
The moment the printed material of the brush had touched the fibers a shower of brilliant sparks had erupted from the contact. As Human Friend Mercy had worked the brush up the length of her fibers the showers of sparks had grown in number and density until the flowing mass of fibers was a veritable cascade of dancing light. When all of the tangles were worked out of the fibers the human had worked up a steady rhythm that filled the room with the sparking light.
The beauty, the light, the rhythm, the softly chanted tune that Rotates With Decision couldn’t quite make out, everything about the wondrous scene before her spoke of a religious devotion. Even if Rotates With Decision hadn’t had the chance to see the ancient human religious art on display she would have recognized the holiness of the moment. As it was the tradition of putting a circle representing light around the head of humans in religious devotion suddenly made so much more sense.
Rotates With Decision suddenly realized that that chanting was actually the decamarked counting form the humans used. Human Friend Mercy was counting up by ones and was somewhere in the mid sixties. Rotates With Decision wondered which human prayers had that many beats. She had been somewhat under the impression that nightly prayers were usually shorter. She wondered suddenly if it had been rude to interrupt the prayer. Humans were oddly solitary creatures sometimes. True, Human Friend Mercy hadn’t appeared to be offended, but the human was probably too agreeable to express such a thing even if it was inconvenient to her.
The pace of the prayer was picking up in anticipation of the end count and Human Friend Mercy was briskly dragging the brush through the full length of the strands, catching the mass in her non-dominant hand and guiding the mass through the tines of the brush. The resulting light show almost obscured the dancing fibers in its glow. Human Friend Mercy reached a count of one-hundred and finished with a powerful stroke that made the room glow. Rather than bask in the accumulated light she parted the sparkling strands down the center of her caudal end and began quickly braiding the two halves into the side braids she had explained were the most comfortable for sleep. Showers of sparks fell from her fingers and lit on her shoulders before extinguishing in the ambient vapor. The human finished the task and dropped the brush on the shelf before giving a little hop and landing on her bunk.
“What was that question you asked Rotates?” Human Friend Mercy asked as she shifted in the usual human search for a comfortable position.
“Primarily I wanted to know why you have not arranged for a view of your, dorsal I believe, surface during the prayer time,” Rotates With Decision said.
Human Friend Mercy stopped shifting with her pillow clutched in her hands and stared at Rotates With Decision with the fluctuating gaze that indicated deep thought.
“What prayer now?” Human Friend Mercy asked with confusion clear in her tones.
“The counting prayer you just preformed at the mirror,” Rotates With Decision said, gesturing towards the reflective surface.
“That wasn’t a religious thing,” Human Friend Mercy said slowly. “It was a hygiene thing. It distributes the oils properly though my hair so the oils produced at the base of the strands can reach all the way to the tips. It also prevents insects from nesting in the braids and dislodges any dirt. I count to make sure I give sufficient time to the task.”
Rotates With Decision positively wriggled in surprise.
“Such astounding beauty produced from a merely hygienic process!” she exclaimed. “How delightful, but surely even so you would want to view the full effect of the light flow?”
“The what now?” Human Friend Mercy said, but was interrupted by a yawn.
“I can ask you about it in the morning,” Rotates With Decision said as she slipped back into the tank.
“Good idea,” Human Friend Mercy said and she shifted position to begin sleep.
However after a moment her arm lifted from her side and dropped across her caudal end in a pose that usually indicated thoughtfulness rather than restfulness.
“Yo’ Rotates,” Human Friend Mercy called out with another yawn. “Think I got it. My and my sister would sometimes brush our hair in the dark to see the sparks it made. I bet you can see ‘em even without it being pitch black.”
The human voice had wandered off into sleep and her arm dropped to her side so Rotates With Decision did not bother perusing the matter. There was always tomorrow. She stared at the lingering glow in the braids that fell over the human’s shoulders in fascination. Was it possible a species could produce such beauty without realizing it?
Thank you all so much for your updoots and feedback. It gives me the will to go on. Want to see more? Think about becoming a Patreon. Tea refuses to buy itself and the more time one has to spend on a day job the less time there is for befuddled aliens.