Because she often was bored during car rides, Autumn liked to play games to pass the time.
During the drive to her cousins’ house one Sunday, Autumn played Story Clouds. In this game, passengers take turns telling stories about the images they see in the clouds.
“I see a frog jumping off a lily pad!” Autumn said. “Daddy, what do you see?”
Marshall, her father, glanced out the window.
“I see a kitty eating a cookie,” he said. “What do you see?”
“I see an alien spaceship, and it’s coming our way!” Autumn said. “Daddy, what do you see?”
Marshall saw the red flash of brake lights as cars stopped ahead of them. He applied his brakes, and the car he and Autumn were riding slowed down.
It was stop-and-go traffic on the freeway as far as Marshall could see.
“Sorry, sweetheart,” he said. “I’m going to have to keep my eyes on the road for a while. You’ll have to play by yourself.”
Autumn sat in her rear car seat and watched silently as the alien spaceship approached. To her it looked like a giant hamburger, a meal her father always wanted her to try but she was always too afraid to do so. She only liked eating the bun.
“Why are all of these people honking at us?” Marshall said, confused. “I’m as stuck here as they are.”
Autumn knew. The alien spaceship hovered above their car, and people were excited. Everyone wanted to meet the aliens, even Autumn.
“It’s nothing, Daddy,” Autumn said, not wanting him to be anymore confused than he already was. “You just keep your eyes on the road.”
Finally, the cars began moving again and didn’t stop. As Marshall continued to drive, Autumn noticed the spaceship fly past the freeway toward the hills where her cousins lived.
Autumn’s aunt, Misty, and her cousins, Star and Krystal, were happy to see Autumn when she arrived.
“Okay, sweetheart,” Marshall said. “It was great seeing you this weekend. Have fun with your cousins. Your mom will be by to pick you up in a few hours.”
“Okay, Daddy,” Autumn said. “See you next time.”
Autumn, Star and Krystal decided to play on the trampoline in the backyard. They unzipped the safety net, climbed aboard, and began to jump.
Autumn told Star and Krystal about the alien spaceship she saw on the freeway. They didn’t seem impressed.
“There’s no such thing as aliens,” Star said. “You just imagined it.”
“Yeah, Autumn!” Krystal said.
“I did not!” Autumn said. “They flew this way. I think they are landing on the street. The aliens are coming for us.”
“Why would they come here?” Star said. “What would they want us for?”
It was a good question, but Autumn had an even better answer.
She sprang toward Star and whispered in her ear.
“They aren’t coming for us,” Autumn said. “They’re coming for our food!”
Star, Autumn and Krystal laughed. They jumped around the trampoline in circles, pretending to be aliens chasing each other.
Aunt Misty called them to the patio table. It was time for lunch.
“I’ll be right back, girls,” Aunt Misty said. “I need to get more water from the kitchen.”
Star and Krystal piled their patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle. They squirted ketchup and mustard on their bun and swirled it together with a butter knife. They began to eat.
Autumn was a little jealous, but not enough to do the same. Since Star and Krystal were so busy with their food, they didn’t notice what Autumn did with hers.
Autumn gave her patty to Sabina, the old family dog, who fetched it from Autumn’s hand and disappeared around the corner.
Aunt Misty returned from the kitchen.
“Done so soon?” she said to Autumn.
“I guess the alien ate her food,” Star said.
“What?” Aunty said.
Star explained to Misty Autumn’s fascination with the aliens.
“Maybe they came here to make you eat your food,” Aunty said.
“Yeah, if that were true, would you still say aliens are real?” Star said.
“No,” Autumn said, taking a bite out of a bun. “That would be silly.”