“This is delicious, Lissi.” Morgan said, smiling over at her wife.
“I’ve had a lot more time to practice cooking recently. Speaking of practice, I noticed that you’ve picked up the guitar again.”
“Y-you noticed that?”
“You’re getting better, love. And you must have been working hard if you didn’t notice that I was bashing at things with a hammer a few feet away.”
“I’m glad you’re doing your woodwork again. Free furniture!” Morgan winked, and then laughed as Lissa gently pushed her with her shoulder.
“No free furniture for you.”
“Not even if I do this?” she asked, and kissed Lissa on the cheek.
“… ONE free piece of furniture.”
“I’ll kiss you lots more later, then. I’ve got to go, my shift starts in 15.”
Lissa waved Morgan off with a smile, and got to work setting up her camera. She’d managed to arrange a photo appointment with Summer, and it wouldn’t do for her to be unprepared.
“How’s this one?”
“I love it! Can you make me a copy, too?”
“Of course, just a second.”
Lissa bustled about and soon returned with a duplicate of the photo. “Is this ok? I don’t have any picture frames at the moment.”
“It’s ok, I have way too many at home. I’ll go and put it up now, before it gets crinkled. Thanks again!”
“No problem” Lissa said, as she carefully added the new photo to her growing wall of memories. She’d managed to arrange a meeting with Clara for tomorrow, so soon it would be complete.
“Hey Lor, how was school?”
“A girl made fun of me because I spelt a word wrong in the spelling test.”
Lissa looked up, annoyance crossing her face. “Well that’s not very nice. What’s her name?”
“It’s ok, mama, I’ll just work extra hard.”
With that, he got out his homework and immersed himself in learning. Lissa kept her eyes on him for a little longer. He seemed down, but the activity seemed to be helping.
When Lissa had planted the cowplant berry, she had had no idea that it would grow to be so, well, huge. It was a good head taller than her, though that may have just been the planter.
She would have to warn the others not to get too relaxed around it, she decided. That mouth looked awfully big…
Other than her new carnivorous ‘pet’, her garden needed very little work nowadays. She used her free time to go back to her first activity on this planet – collecting. It was nostalgic, and far more fun than she’d remembered. Especially when it came to catching frogs.
Morgan would appreciate having some new things to take samples of for her microscope, too. She had long since worked her way through the garden and Moo didn’t seem likely to stay still long enough to allow her to collect a few cells.
“Mama, you’re covered in dirt!”
“Excuse you, young man, but I am a grown woman and perfectly allowed to run around covered in dirt if I want.”
“Does that mean I can too?”
“‘Fraid not, love. Now finish your homework and I’ll read you a story. We’ve still got a couple o hours before Clara gets here.”
“Shower first, mama.”
“… and the griffopotomus flew away over the forest, away from the cloaked figures and heading to safety.”
“Lissi! I’m home. I saw Clara on the way back from work so we walked here together. Where did Moo get that cake from?”
“DON’T TOUCH THE CAKE, MOMO. THE CAKE IS A TRAP!”
“It’s ok, mama, I’ll read the next chapter on my own.” Lor said as he watched her frantically scramble to save Morgan from a plant-based cake-y catastrophe. Why did she even plant that thing? He had to admit, though, it was kind of cute. And it wouldn’t really harm them, right? Right..?
Crisis averted, Lissa greeted Clara with a smile on her face.
“Ready to get glamorous?”
“Lissa, I thought you’d know by now. I’m always glamorous.”
“Lets get you in front of the camera, then!”
Clara was so much more comfortable with herself. She’d lost her blonde hair and smooth skin, but gained self confidence. That was what shone through in the photograph.
“So how did the session go?” Morgan asked as her wife packed away the last of the delicate equipment.
“It was lovely. Lissa is a wonderful photographer. Even if she tried to get me to say ‘ham’ instead of ‘cheese’ when she took the photos.”
“I’ve got to head back now, but it was lovely seeing you all again. It’s your birthday soon, right? I’ll try to pop my head in and congratulate you.”
“I’d like that.”
Morgan watched Clara go, and turned back to see Lissa trying to feed her strange cow creature. She really hoped it was safe to have around people – she’d never seen anything like it in anyone else’s garden.
They were lucky that they didn’t see Clara sneak back around to get a closer look.
The now complete photo wall:
Morgan’s birthday was tomorrow. It was a definite milestone in their lives, and it deserved to be celebrated. It got her thinking, though, about what she’d accomplished in the time they’d been together so far. Morgan had risen from a Clerk to the Lead Detective in her branch. They had a beautiful son together, something that she hadn’t believed possible until it had actually happened. But what had she done? What was her mark on the world going to be?
It was far too beautiful a day to get weighed down by such heavy thoughts however. A jog would help clear her head.
As she made her way along the streets and empty lots, she realised something. There were lots of tiny areas with picnic tables, and the occasional area for children to gather, but there was nowhere really set aside for recreation.
It was plain, bare and barely adequate. No wonder no-one wants to live here, she sighed to herself. It had been enough for her when she had arrived, but then again she had been penniless and practically homeless. These people had far better facilities in their own towns, so why would they spend any significant time in Newcrest?
She was so distracted, that she was beaten at chess by her son. Three times in a row.
The next day dawned, and Lissa began preparations for the party. First they would need the cake.
They had only just finished eating up all the leftover cake in the fridge. Would they ever be free of the delicious treat? Perhaps not, Lissa thought, but there are far worse fates.
As the cake baked, she thought about her first few days on this planet. She’d had nowhere to sleep and nowhere to wash. She’d lived off the excess food that other people had made, and spent her days harvesting plants for food emergencies and gathering whatever she could find to sell. She’d slept on the most uncomfortable bench that had probably ever been made.
There might be other people like her out there. Not from another planet, but without anywhere to stay.
Maybe she could try to change that. It could be her legacy.
Meanwhile Lor, unaware that his mother had been having an existential crisis by the oven, was having a wonderful time on the computer. His teacher had shown them all a website called ‘Arithmetic Attack!’ and he was getting pretty good at it. Maybe he’d get the high score, one day.
He heard the bell of the cowplant jangling behind him. He’d tried to stay away, just in case it was dangerous, but it was so cute. He couldn’t resist. He walked over to the planter.
“You’re not going to eat me, are you? No, you aren’t. You’re a good cow. Wanna play?”
“Lor, homework time! You don’t want to have to do it after the party, do you?”
He jumped guiltily, and ran over to Lissa before she could see what he had been doing.
“Is mum going to be very old now?” he asked as he came to a halt beside her.
“She’s going to be an adult! I’ve been one for as long as you’ve been around – what does that make me if she is so very old?”
“The house looks really good, mama.”
Lissa was brought up short by the sudden change in topic. Completely forgetting her annoyance, she bent down to hug her son.
“Thank you, sweetheart.”
“Will you help me with my homework? It’s astronomy!”
Lissa looked at the position of the sun, her second eyelids shielding her senses from the brightest of the rays. Morgan wouldn’t be home for another hour, so if they worked together maybe it would be done with enough time to get Lor dressed up for the party.
“Well, I do like astronomy.”
Lor was just putting the finishing touches on his outfit when the birthday girl arrived home. It was time to call up the guests.
There was, however, some sad news.
Moira, Dominic and Clara had passed away. It was a slightly subdued atmosphere among the guests. Morgan had cried whilst changing, and then sat on the bed with Lissa’s arms wrapped around her until the doorbell rang. She was determined not to let the occasion be a flop, however. She owed that to her parents.
Morgan took the lead and managed to get a smile out of her sister with her dancing. It may have been Summer’s dancing, to be honest. She wasn’t very good, but she threw all her energy into it. Even Lor joined in. Sergio declined, opting to play compute games instead. He was taking the loss harder than Morgan had thought he would. Sergio had always been so aloof to them all.
Her present from her sister had been a game of ‘Don’t wake the Llama’, which was set up immediately.
Morgan looked around. She had her friends, her sister, and she had her own family now. She looked at Lissa, who was working so hard to keep the atmosphere light despite the sorrow she’d displayed earlier when they were alone.
She loved her so, so much. She wanted to be with her always. She’d been thinking about their age difference as her birthday came up, but the death of her parents had brought it to the front of her mind. Lissa would probably die before her, whereas her parents had died together. She wanted that, too.
She’d bought a vial of youth potion, and her fingers closed around it. She hoped Lissa would agree with her idea.
“Mum! Is it cake time yet?”
With much giggling, they decided that yes, it was cake time.
She grinned as everyone clapped. So far, being an adult was awesome. It was time to put her plan into action.
“Lissi?” she said as the guests left to sit at the table with their cake.
“I’ve got something I want to ask you.”
“I’m all ears.”
“Lissa Centauri! Did you just use a saying correctly?”
“I hope so.”
“Well, colour me surprised.”
“I take it that that means you are pleased?”
“It does. Anyway, onto my question.”
Lissa looked at her wife. She looked nervous, and Lissa felt nerves start to creep up on her, too.
“Mum and Dad were together until their last day. They didn’t have to live without eachother, and to be honest, I’m scared that I’ll have to spend the end of my life without you. I love you, and I want to be with you for as long as possible, so…”
Morgan reached down and picked up the potion.
“This is youth potion. It would take you back to the beginning of your adult life. You would be the same age as me. It’s no guarantee, but it would hopefully give us a bit more time together. You don’t have to take it, but-”
Lissa hugged her. “How could I not? I’ll drink the potion, Momo. We’ll grow old together. I’d like nothing more.”
“Here I go!”
“How do you feel?”
“I feel… good.”
The rest of the party passed quickly, for all except poor Sergio. He went for the wrong cake. Luckily, he put up enough of a fight for Moo to spit him out.
When the guests had gone and Lor was safely tucked up in his bed, Lissa and Morgan celebrated the time they now had ahead of them. They didn’t get to sleep for a long time.