Venerex takes about two and a half Earth years to orbit its star, Alloix.
At least, that’s what the missionaries told us.
The humans landed six Venerex years ago. Out of their starships came people armed with weapons the likes of which we’d never seen. The humans called the weapons ‘technologically advanced, not divine or magical.’ Starting last fall, they offered to teach the children of our planet their ways, and hastily opened a school at which attendance was not optional.
One winter day, the human teacher closed its blackboard and stacked its electronic papers. It smiled and said, “Tomorrow, there will be no school. The Holy See has decided that, on this planet, Christmas shall coincide with the seasons and times of your orbit rather than Earth’s. As such, seeing as tomorrow is the third day following your winter solstice, you will stay home and teach your parents about the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and two days from now you will the anniversary of His birth.”
The smartest kid in the class, Polioux, stood. “How are we supposed to do that appropriately, Father?”
The old human in its brown cloak used its face muscles to pull the brown mouth into an awkward shape. I gathered this was a happy appearance, but it looked so unnatural. “Well, on Earth, we exchange gifts, but the Holy See’s decision may be at too short notice to do that justice. Many families cut down a tree to bring inside and decorate, but your native plant life simply won’t do. Your bodies are not made for feasting, so that is right out. For this year, while the higher ups decide on something suitable, it’s enough to enjoy your families and determine your own, small celebrations.”
The school bell rang, and everyone immediately filed out of the building. I was one of the dumb kids, you could say, so I was one of the first to fling the doors open and romp about in the snow outside.
“Two days off! For nothing!” Binnea cried out before clapping me on the back with a bony hand. “What you going to do?”
I bobbed my head side to side. “I dunno. Probably see if the church requires the adults to do anything. I don’t want Mom, Dad, or Ternary to get tossed in prison, you know.”
Binnea chuckled. “Not me. I’m going to make the most of this. Those humans are going to force our lives to match the shape they want, one way or another, so I’m getting as much out of my time now as I can.” The child skipped along the icy road. “Race you to Old Yaroux’s field?”
“I’ll win for sure!” I called back. I turned my feet to their side and, using my sharp nails, glided on my bladed bones across the thick ice.