Cindy and Cragg
Cindy, Cragg, and Laura were gathered in the living room. It was too early in the morning for this.
“Happy Warlord Day!” said Laura.
“Happy Warlord Day,” replied Cindy with a yawn. Warlord Day was one of the few things Laura still got excited about.
Cragg sat on the sofa. His stone face was always something of a grimace. Even his smiles weren’t too far away from a frown. But it was obvious he had little affection for Warlord Day. Hardly surprising, considering it celebrated the near-destroyer of his homeworld.
But this was Terra, and this was Terran tradition. The Saturnite would have to suck it up.
She leaned into him on the sofa and put a hand on his leg. He sort of smiled at her. Laura started handing out the presents under the foam Emperor Mollusk statue. A miniature hologram of Terra rotated in his upheld hand. The statue was old, and the hologram poor resolution.
Cragg fumed in silence. This was hard on him, but he’d been a sport so far. It would be so easy for him to “accidentally” knock over the statue or step on the diorama of Paris with its tiny crashed Saturnite ships, each flickering in colorful little lights to simulate flames. But he persevered, even in this highly commercialized reminder of his people’s greatest defeat.
Laura’s enthusiasm didn’t help. Cindy thought about telling Laura to dial it down, but Terra hadn’t started the war with Saturn. Cragg would just have to endure, which he always did.
All the gifts were divided. Most were for Laura. A few for Cindy. Cragg was given only one. Cindy hadn’t bought it. She’d assumed Cragg wouldn’t want a gift on this day, but Laura must’ve bought one anyway.
He held the small package in his massive hands. Cindy was sure he would crush it.
“Open it, big guy,” said Laura.
He tore open the paper and opened the small box. It was a tie.
“I don’t wear ties,” he said.
“I know, but check it out. I found a website where they print your artwork on stuff, so I made you a tie. It wasn’t cheap, but I think you’ll like it.”
The tie had a crudely drawn doodle of Emperor Mollusk, Ex-Warlord of Terra, Scourge of the Saturnites, impaled on a pike.
“See? This is his blood,” said Laura, pointing to a few red spots on the drawing, “and here is his eyeball falling out. I thought about adding a bird eating it, but I can’t draw birds for nothing.”
Silently, Cragg stared at the tie.
“I know I’m not much of an artist,” said Laura.
“No. It is acceptable.”
“Ah, I knew you’d like it. Me next!” Laura tore into a present without waiting for anyone to say anything.
Cindy helped Cragg put on the tie. It wasn’t easy because he really didn’t have much of a neck.
“Aren’t you the handsome rock monster from outer space,” said Cindy with a wink.
Cragg almost smiled.
Under the warm red lights of the Warlord Day saucer hanging from the ceiling, they watched Laura unwrap the rest of her gifts.