“Delta” (novelette) by Christine Renard & Claude F. Cheinisse
English Publication History: Travelling Towards Epsilon (New English Library, 1977)
Original: French (Delta), 1968
Translated by Maxim Jakubowski, 1976
Synopsis: Elizabeth’s simple life as an orphan in her own aunt’s orphanage is broken by her innocent and desperate attempt to make friends. The people she befriends, however, are two Arcturians who do not share a bonhomous relationship with mankind. Her aunt kicks her out yet the two Arcturians—Imonea, whom she implies is a female, and the handsome Irveille, whom she implies is a male—take her under their metaphorical wing. She senses something odd in the triangle until the truth hurts someone.
Pre-analysis: I’m the second and last child my parents had. I’m the brother of a loud, demanding sister. So, I grew up well taken care of—being the baby—but often by myself—away from my sister. Lego’s, toy cars, army men, and Nintendo were all activities where I shut myself off from everything else. I really enjoyed time alone, I suppose. In grade school, my class only had twenty-five students. The smallness of the experience was comforting. Then came high school.
I hated high school: a sea of people, never a time to be alone, and cliques that people organized. I was a loner—still am—and just wanted to get through it. I didn’t take to this group or that group, I just maintained a small group of friends through it all and came out of it with a low GPA but with the knowledge that I was myself through it all. University was better—ah, the girls.
Analysis: Some loners don’t have an identity on which to ride through life, in which to have pride, or with which to flaunt for no reason other than “I am who I am”. Circumstances tend to batter them about, where they become vulnerable to society’s sub-cultures (i.e., goths, hippies, jocks, etc.). To the sheltered and those who lack identities, there are unseen dangers on the fringe.
Elizabeth is without a solid sense of self-identity. As she literally strays from her fixed place on the earth, and before she knows she has figuratively strayed, Elizabeth finds herself befriended by an unwelcome extraworldly race. As innocent as she is, she welcomes the friendship because she has no friends of her own; she doesn’t question the niceties or platitudes. However, those with unalterable and fixed ideas damn her actions as selfish, bordering on treasonous.
Continue her innocent ways, she starts to live under the man’s house and soon discovers that he has a partner. She accepts their generosity and companionship while totally ignorant of their alien social customs… then soon finds herself emotionally involved when she blunders into sensitive social territory. Still lacking identity yet feeling obliged to their generosity, she commits herself to their ways even though the layers of understands are deep and troublesome; regardless, she makes a decision to find herself through this awkward relationship, be it for better for for worse.