Hapdorn stories


Capital of the Grand Duchy of Thorgelfayne

Harshan’s Good-Bye

Dear Ken,

I have been told that photographs cannot survive interstellar mail, but I am going to try and send you some anyway. I’ve numbered all the pictures so that you can look at them in order.

The first shot is the street where Lanni and Harna live. I took this picture at about eight o’clock in the morning, right at dawn and before there was much traffic. (eight o’clock is much earlier than it sounds when you realize that noon doesn’t come until sixteen o’clock!) Lanni really scolded me for wandering around at such an early hour, but I couldn’t sleep! As you can see, it is a residential street in the middle of town. You can see that all the shrubbery and trees have blue buds on them; that’s why the season is called Blue. Since you cannot read the Fjarnian letters or Halakanian numerals, I’ll just have to say that they live in the building with the red entrance. Their apartment is on the third floor, to the left of the tree.

The second shot is Lanni and Harna on the sofa in their living room. Harna has his arm around Lanni, and Lanni is waving and grinning from ear to ear! We were all clowning around that evening. We had just finished dinner and cleaned up; then we watched the news on television, and had a half hour to kill until “Visitors from the Sky” came on. That was the evening they broadcast the show on which they interviewed me. It’s really embarrassing to watch yourself on television, but Harna said it just increased his respect for me.

The third shot is the front of Manni Thologar’s house. You probably remember that she is currently the Duke of Thorgelfayne. Those are her two children on the front stoop: Larga is the little one, and Bobo (same name as your friend on Earth) is the one holding the yellow balloon. Larga is just beginning school, but Bobo already has quite a bit of schooling behind him. He’s quite a math whiz! This picture was taken before Blue began, so Manni’s yard is still dormant. No Blue! That’s Manni’s husband with the rake.

The fourth shot was taken at John Anderson’s apartment after that dinner he gave in my honor after I arrived. From left to right: Panu, John (laughing), Harna trying to surprise Lanni, Hank Lundquist, and Hank’s wife (smiling pleasantly).

The fifth picture is a portrait of Harshan. Isn’t he handsome? I still can’t believe that someone like him could possibly like me as much as he does. I just avoid pinching myself so I don’t wake up. Harshan is the only white Homelander I know! I like the way he combs his hair. I hope the colors come out right so you can see how piercingly blue his eyes are! He’s wearing a brown sweater I bought for him last weekend.

The sixth picture is me in front of a statue in Thorgel Park in downtown Hapdorn. I really like the coat I’m wearing in this picture; I just wish I could bring it home to Earth with me. This statue commemorates the scientist who first broke the genetic code a couple of centuries ago. Like most capital cities, Hapdorn is filled with statuary; but there are no statues of a military sort. Those days lie too far in the past.

The seventh picture is just some little girl I thought was cute. She and her mother were waiting for the bus. The girl is carrying a children’s book with a picture of a popular cartoon character on the cover.

I took the eighth picture from the top of the Tower of Learning at Snodgrass University. This is the best vista of Hapdorn I can find! You can see how beautiful the city is, perched between the mountains on the right and the valley on the left. (Hapdorn is situated on a small shelf-like plateau.) If you study this picture carefully, you will get a good impression of Thorgelfayne overall: it just looks like a Duchy, all frumpy and modern at once. I constantly get the feeling that it’s a Jamaican Sweden, which sneaked into central Europe and turned into a duchy. Very cute and very endearing! I can see why John loves this place so much.

The ninth picture is the clock tower at Snodgrass. You can even make out the numerals on the face! The time in the picture is 14:30 (forty-eight after twenty o’clock in decimal numbers). That’s mid-afternoon.

The tenth picture shows the inside of the West Hapdorn Shopping Mall. I’m afraid this one didn’t turn out so great. The shadow on the left is Harshan, and the Hagel Tarn department store is directly behind him. The lady in the background with the funny look on her face thought she recognized me. After I took the picture, she came and asked if I was her long-lost college chum from Fjarn. Harshan still thinks it’s funny!

After I wrote the above, Harshan dropped by and asked me to go for a walk with him. He seemed a little dejected, like he had just received some bad news. He didn’t say very much as we walked down the street.

We stopped in at a harngedern (cafe) for refreshments and to rest our feet. Harshan is a Halakanian, as you know; that makes him a foreigner in Thorgelfayne. Yours truly is an alien from outer space (from the developing planet Earth), so ordering from menus is a challenge for both of us. We’ve ordered some pretty strange things by mistake! This time Harshan didn’t help me giggle my way through the menu. We just ordered pastry and harng and left it from that.

I rummaged through my purse a bit, and Harshan stared at me in a wistfully admiring way. Finding a mirror, I checked my face and then shook my head to toss my hair back. I looked at Harshan proudly, but he was in a very serious mood.

“What could possibly be wrong?” I chided gently, “It’s such a beautiful spring day!”

“It’s a Blue day,” he corrected. I smiled. The waitress brought our order, and we began to eat.

“I have to discuss something with you,” he began. “You know that they gave me compensatory leave, to make sure I had not offended you.”

“I know that,” I said rudely with my mouth full. “So what?”

“My leave has come to an end. I have to go back,” he looked down at the napkin in his lap. “Believe me, this has been the best time in my life.”

Suddenly it sank in! Of course, Harshan’s leave had to end sometime, that was obvious. I just wasn’t prepared for it. My heart sank, and the pastry suddenly lost its flavor.

“Oh, Harshan!” I said tragically, “I’m sorry. I completely forgot!” I dropped my fork onto my plate and held my head in both hands.

Harshan reached out and grabbed my left arm firmly, “Don’t be upset by this Melissa. I promise you I will stay in your life forever!”

After that our conversation became a little too intense to repeat to you. Essentially, he leaves tomorrow and we promised to stay in touch.

Oh well. I had such hopes. But I guess this is how it always has to end.

Yours in Thorgel bond,