Beating Around the Idiom Bush, a story for Thimbleful Thursday

Thimbleful Thursday is a new microfic prompt site (mine!). This week’s prompt was “Beat Around the Bush” and the word limit was 200 (180-200).

I barely made it in at 467.

“Look, I know you guys like the social padding and all, but I don’t have time to beat around the bush…”

Reyn knew the phrase was a mistake the moment it was uttered, but the “don’t have time” part was true, and hurry tended to make Reyn slip into old habits, childhood habits.

The Jesharian clicked a blue tongue-equivalent and tilted her head in the manner that had originally made human explorers call the Jesharian

“What is this ‘bush’ you speak of? Is it the vestigial fur-remnant some humans have between their legs?” The Jesharian – Koyl, her name was Koyl – shifted the head-tilt to the other side. “Bush can also mean tired, exhausted, but I do not know why you would beat either of these things. A strange sexual ritual, perhaps?”

Reyn choked back a laugh. “No, no.” Koyl’s eyes narrowed, and Reyn dropped quickly into a bow of apology, with three hand gestures that suggested – as much as a human(esque) body could approximate a Jesharian female’s gestures – that the humble personage of Reyn had meant no offense, none at all, from the involuntary spasm that the humans used in place of a proper laugh. “No.” This time, Reyn’s tone was suitably sedate. “No. I don’t know why we use the same word for so many different idioms, but what this one means is to move around a subject instead of tackling it directly, or to avoid the main point of a subject.” Reyn had a lot of experience translating idiom for the Jesharian, especially for Koyl and her sister-clones.

“So you wish to get directly to the point, instead of properly doing the social dance? Why did you not say so?”

“I – I thought I had.” Reyn facepalmed with both hands, a gesture that was helpfully very similar in Jesharian body language. “Sorry. This one apologizes for the miscommunication. When I am stressed – experiencing unpleasant levels of stress, that is – I start talking like my parents. And my parents used a lot of figures of speech, that is, idioms.”

“I do not mind idioms. They are lovely and color your language, much as the social dance does for ours.” Koyl bowed, a similar gesture to Reyn’s earlier apology-bow. “If you are rushed, the gesture-of-Jeshar we would use is like this.” She planted her feet very close together and clasped her hands at her upper hips. “In our land, this suggests ‘I do not have time for the dance; please forgive me but may we be hasty?'” Koyl winked, closing three of her eyes. “And, since that is what you meant to imply, perhaps we should save the rest of the conversation on idiom for another day?”

“Yes.” Reyn adopted the body posture Koyla was demonstrating. “Yes, yes please.”

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