Rem lived on a small world. It was rocky and sprouted squat trees at unusual angles and sometimes a swirling wind would dance around them and their metallic leaves would sing songs. Depending on the direction of the swirling, the songs could be high and joyous or they could low and mournful. Sometimes he would try to sing with them but he could never match them. Sometimes two winds would swirl in opposite directions and the duet would make the small world feel smaller.
He had walked around his world many times, it was small and since he lived there alone he could wander wherever he wanted. He would walk until the day grew too dark and until the trees stopped their singing and when he would find somewhere not too rocky and stretch out. The stars would scatter across the sky for his eyes to count and he would watch them move from one edge of vision to the other.
Rem would sometimes wonder about the stars but most times he would not. Once in a while, when it would turn paler or whiter, he would wonder about his sun but the rest of the time he paid it no mind. When he was hungry he would wonder about where to find a tree and then he would find one with large, bell-shaped fruits that had a purplish skin and sweet flesh inside. When he was thirsty he would move some small rocks and water would spout upward for a few minutes before dribbling down and disappearing.
The days and the nights and the stars passed and Rem did not count the time off for there was no reason for him to do so. He spent his days quietly and his nights even quieter and each was as the once that proceeded it.
Then he found it.
It was small and box-like and stood upon one spindly metal leg. It was in the midst of a group of trees, standing solidly and quietly and Rem almost didn't see it as he walked. When he did, he stopped and considered it with a cocked head and a squinted eye. He rubbed a spot on the back of his head that he sometimes rubbed when he lay upon the ground to count the stars.
The box had one round eye that telescoped out and bent to look at Rem before retreating back to its concave place. A silver antenna spiraled up like a corkscrew and then the box seemed to wait. Rem waited too, squatting down for a bit before his legs grew tense and he sat fully upon the ground. His small world was quiet as the two of them sat amongst the trees and the sun moved across the sky.
A swirling wind began to stir. At first, though, it did not swirl but just blew softly and straight and low, whispering past Rem's legs that were stretched out on the rocks. He recognized the wind and waited for it to change directions. It did and it began to rise higher and Rem stood. The wind changed direction again and again, trying to decide where it would like to go.
Soon it began a slow swirl, winding around his legs and the metallic leaves started to move. The song they began to sing was high pitched and seemed to like the wind, rising and falling. The wind swirled faster and split off to engender another group of trees to join the chorus. The two songs echoed around the thin air of Rem's small world.
The box began to rotate upon its single leg, moving slightly in the direction of the songs. A panel opened on one side and a flat, thin disc slid out, rotated so that its surface faced Rem and then it rotated too. It moved with the box, the whole thing moving in a slow circle on its axis.
Rem thought about the box and what it might be and where it might have come from. He knew the whole of his small word and he knew what lay under every rock and where every tree grew and he had never encountered anything new. He suddenly thought to himself that he liked new things and the way new things tickled his mind. He liked having something new to look at and to consider.
The song became intense, singing in such notes that Rem felt almost sad at its happiness. He closed his eyes, listened to the singing leaves and could hear that the song traveled all around his small world, ringing from the opposite side. His whole world was singing to him and to this new thing that had appeared here.
He opened his eyes, sighing for a reason he could not name and noticed that the box was not there. Somehow it had moved to a clearing and rocky outcropping that let it stand higher than any of the trees.
Rem moved to where it was and he was able to hear even clearer the planet-wide song. He tried to join in, his voice matching the high pitches and he sang like the leaves, following the brush of the wind on his face. The box turned its disc towards him and he could sense that it was listening. Rem tried to ignore it and he found his voice matching perfectly with the tree songs.
The box withdrew the disc and it disappeared back into the panel. Then it too began to sing. Its voice was not as soft as the trees or as wavering as Rem's but it sang nonetheless. The longer it sang the closer it resonated with Rem and with the trees and the less perfunctory it sang.
Rem enjoyed the song, he enjoyed the happiness of the trees, he enjoyed hearing the box sing like the trees and he enjoyed having something new to sing with. He smiled at the swirling wind as he sang and he knew the wind enjoyed creating the song. His whole small world was enjoying the song.
The song sang for a long time, his small sun moved over them and still the song was sung. Rem grew tired of standing and somewhat hungry but he did not grow tired of the song.
The wind, though, did grow tired and just as the stars began to appear in the sky the wind began to slow. The song changed to lower tones and they adjusted with it, singing in languid, shifting verse. Rem was able to catch his breath as it sometimes became more of a whisper than a song and just a low breath between pursed lips.
The box then bent its spindly leg and lowered itself for just a moment. Quietly it sprang, soaring high up in the air and landing further away from Rem. It stood motionless once it had landed though Rem thought that it watched him, waiting for him to follow.
Rem tried leaping too but he neither soared as high or as far nor landed as gracefully as the box. He tried again and, though he landed and fell, he enjoyed it. After several leaps he found himself next to the box and its round eye. He looked at the box closely and he thought it looked at him closely too.
It sang to him just a few tones even though the wind had tired of its swirling and had quieted. Rem sang back the same tones. The box sang different tones but still part of the song they had sung all day and Rem repeated the song. The box sang the soft song they had sung at the end as the wind had tired and Rem sang it back in a soft, almost sad song.
They were quiet then, contemplating each other as the stars rotated and the squat trees grew their purplish fruits and the small world turned around its small sun. Rem suddenly wanted to reach out, lay his hand upon the box and to feel it sitting there. However he did not, rather he watched it and waited.
The box made no sound for the short time they sat and Rem wondered if it had fallen asleep then wondered if it did indeed sleep. Then it whispered some of the song in different tones and order and Rem tried to repeat. The box sang one loud, long note that echoed through the metallic leaves and over the jumbled rocks and around Rem's world entire.
Rem sensed something and stepped back. The box then bent its spindly leg again and lowered itself for just a moment again. Quietly it sprang again, soaring high up in the air. This time, though, it did not come down. Instead it rose and rose and rose until it was just a small box far up in the sky over Rem's world.
He stood and watched it until he could not tell it from the faint stars and further then until it shrank into the darkness between the stars. Rem looked around at the spot where the box had stood and up at the stars and then back at the spot. He looked around at his world and at the darkened trees and the silhouette of the rocks on the horizon and the quietness and sighed even quieter.