The Changeling's Lament
Have you ever heard of the uncanny valley?
It’s a human thing that I don’t really understand. If something looks like an animal, they’re okay with it; if something looks perfectly like a human, they’re okay with it, but if it's not quite right, they’re repulsed. They can’t even say why, it’s just inherently wrong to them. One of the bio majors suggested that it kept early humans from interacting with sick humans, but I’ve seen them go and help humans they know are sick anyway. It’s very strange.
The worst part about it, though, is that it means there’s so much to keep track of! My mouth must have exactly 32 teeth, but no matter how wide I smile I can’t show them all. My skin tone must be exactly the same every day. My hair has to be thousands of thousands of independent strands, and yes, they notice if it’s not. The “whites” of my eyes can’t be pure white, there’s red and even a touch of yellow in there, and the irises have strange shadings over the muscles that they use to dilate their pupils. Knucklebones must be the right length, the bones of the hand must flex under the skin and around veins, the face must crease when I smile or frown, it’s all so much to remember, and then there’s behavior! I cannot speak of beauty, except the most superficial, and then only to woo another or compliment one portraying themselves. I must know which questions are not truly to be answered, when the only aid requested is a listening ear rather than advice. I cannot speak truth when a human bores me, nor when they speak falsehood, unless it harms another or myself but even then it is sometimes rude! My attention can never wander from their face, but my body must shift to match my reactions! It is all impenetrably, ludicrously opaque, and I cannot but wonder if the lot of you apes made it up to spite us! And THAT is why I am so glad that your friend has returned, because it means that I no longer have to try to imitate him!
…what do you MEAN, you knew on the first day?!