"Different Flesh" by Claude Lalumière
Claude Lalumière’s “Different Flesh” is a touching story of love and alienation. Wandering the ruins of his old neighborhood, the narrator finds a woman whom he had befriended when they were both five years old, in the summer of 1969, the summer of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing.
What follows seems part memoir, part love letter addressed to the unnamed girl. With poetic grace, the scenes proceed swiftly from the pair’s relationship (such as it is), to the arrival of aliens, the narrator’s strained relationship with his peers, and the humans’ hostility towards the aliens. Lalumière draws an intentional parallel between the abuse the narrator and the aliens both receive from their community. The story’s final scene, wherein the narrator and the woman meet again after nearly forty years apart, holds a powerful visual image which resonates with the title and with the story as a whole.