The Hole in the Tree.
Zubaida bent forward to get her face closer to the little man who had just come out of the opening at bottom of the tree. He was the tiniest person she had ever seen and the strangest. He had a beard and a mustache of the deepest black with curly hair to match. He was dressed in a silver jumpsuit like an astronaut’s and when she looked close up she saw that there was an insignia on the left breast pocket in the pattern of a sun behind a spaceship riding a fiery tail. She asked the little man if he was an astronaut. He answered that he used to be. She asked him how someone so small could be an astronaut. The little man smiled; “You humans, always judging things by your own size.” Zubaida stared at the man, not understanding, “Then what size should I judge things by?” she asked. The little man smiled again, “Size doesn’t indicate intelligence or ability,” he explained then told her how he was a space explorer from a planet where his size was normal and the society was actually more technologically advanced than Earth, which was why he was a space faring astronaut. He’d been all over the galaxy and on many of the planets he was the normal sized person and she would be considered the strange one. She asked him if that was the case why he had chosen to stay on a planet where he was so handicapped by size. He smiled, an affectation that was beginning to irritate her, she wasn’t sure why. He walked to the hole in the bottom of the tree and said, “Come and have some tea.” Zubaida wrinkled her eyebrows at the man and waved a hand up and down in front of herself to indicate her size. The man beckoned her forward with his hand and said, “Come on, it’s surprisingly spacious inside.” She bent down and put her face in front of the space the man had come out of. At first it looked small enough to fit only the man or a squirrel, but as she brought her face closer to teh entrance Zubaida noticed that the hole seemed to grow. She looked behind her but saw that the world around her still looked the same so she squeezed her way into the tree. Once inside she got the surprise of her life. There was furniture inside the tree that was just the right size for her to sit down and enjoy the tea she was offered. She looked around the tree house and smiled, “How can this be? Did I shrink or did the tree grow?” she asked, then stopped. The little man wasn’t so little anymore, when she stood up out of the chair the man was actually taller than she was. “What have you done to me?” she asked, fear filling her voice. “I didn’t do anything, it’s the tree. It used to be my ship.” “You mean you used to be normal size, and you knew this would happen, so you asked me to come in here? Why; because you wanted someone to pal around with you in this tiny world of yours?” Zubaida asked she could feel the anger rising making her throat tighten as she tried to hold back the desire to cry. The little man smiled again and said, “This is my normal size, You’re the one who has changed. But don’t worry, when you leave here you’ll go back to your normal size. It’s a mechanism we designed into our ships once we realized the inhabitants of each planet were different sizes.” “Then I’ll get back to my normal size once I leave here?” “If it works on you the way it’s worked everywhere else we went, you’ll be your normal size within an hour after leaving,” the man said. Zubaida looked around the little room that wasn’t so little anymore, then sat in one of the chairs, looked around, smiled and said, “How about that tea?”