“That wasn’t too bad,” Laurie said to herself, as she reached the Mile One sign. “A mile sounds like a long way to walk, but it’s only eight blocks.”
“Oh look, another one.” said a voice.
“Hello?” Laurie spun around, but there wasn’t much to see: some odd-looking crops, an empty road, and the sign.
“She’s kind of short, isn’t she?”
That’s when she noticed a tiny lizard clinging to the sign. It had the oddest coloring: where the sign was green, the lizard was reddish; where it was white, the lizard was black.
“Hello, what are you?” she asked.
“I’m Xor,” the lizard squeaked. His tail twitched from yellow to blue. “Hold on, can you see me?”
“Of course I can see you!” Laurie said.
“Oh.” Xor looked very sad and blushed a bright purple.
“You are the first talking lizard I’ve ever met,” Laurie said. “How did you learn to talk?”
“What a silly question!” the creature said. “I learned as a baby, like everybody.”
“Sure. Why, how did you learn to talk?”
“Well...” She had always been able to talk, hadn’t she? “I guess I learned as a baby too.”
“It’s only logical. First you learn to talk, then you learn to think. Too bad it’s not the other way round.”
“What are you doing there on the sign?” Laurie asked.
“Another silly question! What does it look like I’m doing? I am blending into the background,” Xor said. At that moment he turned pink and violet. “Did you say something?”
She shook her head.
“Where was I? Oh yes. Blending in is an honorable and ancient art. It takes years of practice. You must have a pretty sharp eye to spot me.” Xor marched around the sign as he talked, turning white with large orange polka-dots.
Laurie bit her tongue, trying not to laugh.
“No, you don’t see a lizard like me every day!” He turned peach and cornflower blue. “But sometimes —personally speaking between you and me, of course— sometimes...” he looked sad again and fell silent.
“Sometimes, I worry I’m not doing it right.”
“Not if you want to hide!” Laurie said, unable to contain herself. “Your colors keep changing.”
“I was pretty sure I’d figured it out this time,” Xor said, turning his head around to get a better look at himself. “My left leg is green–”
“Green? No, it’s red.”
“Really. Now it’s purple.”
Xor sighed. “Blending in is a lot harder than it looks. I’m glad it was you who saw me and not a hungry bird. You see, I’m a bit color-blind.”
“What kind of lizard are you anyway?” she asked.
“I’m Chameleon, mostly. I’m part dinosaur on my mother’s side.”
“Part dinosaur? That’s impossible.”
“It’s true!” Xor drew his little self up proudly. “For instance, my great-aunt Vana is a Steganosaurus. She can hide anywhere, even on the back of a postage stamp.”
Laurie wasn’t sure she believed Xor, but she didn’t want to hurt the lizard’s feelings.
“Maybe your aunt can teach you how to hide better.”
“I’d love that. But I don’t know where she is. The last time I saw her, I didn’t even see her!” he said.
“Hey,” Xor said, “why don’t I come along with you? If you can see me, maybe you’ll be able to see her, too.”
“I don’t think—”
“It’ll be fine! I know a lot about this place. I can show you around.”
“Well, I can carry you in my pocket,” Laurie said. “Have you heard of Hamilton?”
“I don’t know. Can you eat it?”
“Never mind. Let’s go.”