Time was a strange thing. It was slow yet too fast all at once.
Lor had been thinking a lot recently. He’d been working hard and had added to the house as he had originally planned, but no matter how many paintings and columns and decorations he bought there was always something missing. More paintings, maybe. A statue? Why wasn’t he content with what he had?
He was still lost in his home design fantasies when Lissa walked in. She saw him with that look on his face and sighed – he still didn’t understand.
“Hi, Mama. What do you think about getting one of those fancy diving boards?”
“We don’t really need one, love.”
“But think about the aesthetic…”
“Lor, what about this makes you happy?”
He looked up, surprised. “Well, if we have a prettier house then you’ll all be happier, won’t you?”
“You’re doing this for us?”
“Well, yes. I want you to have the best, Mama.”
“I have the best, sweetheart. My family is the best of everything I could ever need.”
“But then… what can I do? I don’t have anything that I want for myself.”
“If you really want to make us happy, then do something that will make you happy.”
“It’s grandma’s birthday soon, isn’t it? I think I have an idea.”
Lissa watched her son leave for school with a half-smile on her face. He still wanted to spend money on them, but this new direction was a start.
“Oh dear,” Verixe said, shaking her head slightly. “I really can’t remember how I got here. I think I was on my way to get some food…”
Sorry mum, Lissa thought as she watched her mother walk into the kitchen, it’s got to be a surprise.
“Hello? Siobhan? Can I ask a favour?”
Verixe knew that her daughter had erased her memory. After all, she’d been the one to teach her that trick – she knew the sensation well enough. She was more curious than nervous, really. What could Lissa possibly want to keep hidden? Still, there was no time to ponder that now. She was meeting Siobhan for lunch.
“What’s cooking, good looking?”
“Nothing yet, we haven’t reached the barbecue.”
Siobhan laughed, dropping the flirtatious demeanour. “Well, you’re not wrong there. How are you?”
“Not bad, though my legs are killing me.”
“Lets go sit down then.”
A figure brushed lightly by Verixe’s arm.
“Excuse me, ladies, I- Verixe? Is that you?”
She started to panic, realising that she’d forgotten her disguise. She didn’t want Tomas to hate her, he was her friend. He was-
“Wow, pretty lady. I always knew you were out of this world.”
She looked at him in disbelief.
“I totally did, though.”
Finally, it was complete. She’s been worried that the delivery people wouldn’t arrive in time for her to assemble it. She heard the front door open and her mother’s voice calling out a greeting. It was time. She’d hoped Lor would be back before her – after all, this was his idea, but he’d understand.
“Mum? I’m in the garden. We’ve got a surprise for you.”
She heard the padding of feet against the wooden floor, followed by the back door swinging open.
“Lissa, what do you- ”
“It’s an early birthday present from your grandson. He was hoping to be here before you saw it, but school ran on.”
“It’s wonderful. How did he think of this?”
“He said that he wondered if you missed the stars.”
“I did.” Verixe said, and hugged her daughter, her eyes growing misty with emotion. “I love being here, but I was sad that I’d never see my planet as more than a small glowing dot in the sky. I’m too old to travel that far, now.”
“Well,” Lissa said, hugging her back, “his gift to you is to bring the stars closer.”
Lor stood outside his home and tried to collect himself. He’d had an awful day at school – dropping a bucket full of soapy water over a teacher tended to do that to a person. Luckily Malik had been able to vouch for his intentions. He was never going to clean the greenhouse windows again, it was far too hazardous.
He walked around to the back of the house. Even though Moo was gone, he couldn’t break the habit of telling the plant how his day had gone. It was nice to vent to someone who would just listen.
He’d just reached the part where the teacher had threatened him with detention when he heard a door open.
She just walked up to him and hugged him. He felt the worries of the day start to slip away, and smiled.
“Lor, thank you. It’s perfect.”
His heart filled with warmth at the words. This was what he had been looking for with all his purchases. Not the prestige or glamour, but the feeling of making the lives of the people he loved better. He’d been going about it all wrong.
“I’m glad you like it. I know it’s early…”
She just repeated the words “It’s perfect” over and over again.
Lissa saw the two of them approach the door and quickly turned back to her book. She hadn’t been watching. Nope. Not her. She was completely innocent of that. She only hoped that the surprise she and Morgan were planning would be as successful.
Lor had learnt early on in his teenage years that he had to do his homework before anything fun. Too many days of waking up early to rush the end of an essay because he’d stayed up watching historical dramas or documentaries had taught him that. At first he’d resented the fact, but now he just got on with it. It meant he could relax with no pressure in the evenings.
It was summer now, and the days were long. Perfect for outdoor games of chess. Normally they would sit in companionable silence and listen to the sounds of the wind in the trees, or the birds in the sky – but there was something that Lor had been wondering for a while. He broke the silence.
“Grandma? Why was mama sent back to Sixam when she was born here?”
Verixe chastised herself for not expecting this.
“Did her father not want her? At school I heard some of the other kids saying that alien babies are a bad thing, and that if they ever had one they would send it away. I mean, they stopped when they saw me, but…”
“With all my other children, that was the case. Not with Lissa, though. Her father and I wanted her very much.”
“You mean together?”
“We were in love. Lissa is all I have left of him.”
“But, he was a sim?”
“He was. Children born through pollination, like Lissa, are completely Sixan. Those born naturally are half and half, like you. Pollination was the only option back then, and it was unreliable at the best of times, but we managed it in the end.”
The conversation lulled and the sun slowly carried on setting.
“Grandma? What was his name?”
She smiled as she moved her knight into position. “His name was Elliott. He was a scientist.”
Morgan arrived home almost dancing with anticipation. She and Lissa had been preparing for days, and they’d received confirmation that morning. Lissa got out of her chair and went outside to join her wife.
“Verixe? Lor? We’ve got an announcement to make.”
When everyone was gathered together, she broke the news.
“We’ve booked a cabin in Granite Falls for a few days- we’re going on holiday! Siobhan and Sergio are coming too, so it will be the whole family.”
She let the excited babbling carry on for a few minutes before calling for quiet again.
“The taxi will be here in an hour, so you should probably start packing.”
“This is going to be great.”