Another Legacy 2.19

It was a day specially set aside for giving thanks, so Jonah spent the morning up in their patio garden, thanking each plant, individually, for “breathing in bad stuff, and breathing out good stuff!” He liked people just fine, and he’d even made a few friends at school, but he thought that he like plants best of all.

Kiana had invited nearly all of her friends, but only two of them actually made it up to the apartment. The others all got side-tracked by the sights of city and enticing scents wafting from the food stalls in the plaza.

Kiana waited as long as she could before serving the meal.

“Might as well dive in,” she said, at last, “before it gets cold.”

“The more for us, right?” said her friends.

“This is the best supper ever,” said Jonah. “I’m so glad your friends didn’t show up! More for us!”

“I didn’t realize tofu could be so good,” said one of her friends.

“As long as you don’t look at it, right?” said the other.

After the guests left and the dishes were washed, Jonah practiced the violin, wondering if it really was OK for him to eat food made out of plants. If he and Kiana chose not to eat meat because they didn’t want to eat mammals, birds, and fish, because they liked them better alive, well, what about plants?

You don’t have to kill a soy plant to get soybeans, he realized. Just carrots. Onions. Beets. Maybe he’d just stick to those crops you could harvest without having to kill the plant. And if you treated them well, and took good care of them, it should be OK, right? He’d ask Kiana tomorrow.

The next morning, in a kitchen over-run with gnomes, Kiana scrambled up eggs. She wasn’t really a vegetarian, not like Case had been, and her choices were mostly just personal preference, and she like eating eggs on occasion.

“You can eat an egg without killing the chicken,” said Jonah while he watched her cook, “like soybeans and kale. Eat ’em without killing.”

“But eggs hatch into chicks,” Kiana said.

“Not all of them,” said Jonah. “We learned it at school. Just buy the ones that don’t.”

“I guess you’re right,” Kiana agreed. “I never buy the fertile eggs.” She couldn’t stand those little drops of blood in the yolk that fertile eggs sometimes had.

While Jonah was at school, she took a jog through their district. It seemed everyone was out enjoying the late autumn sun.

She wanted to get Jonah a present, not for any special reason, just because. Just because he was an awesome boy, and her life was so much brighter with him in it.

He’d been talking about joining scouts, so maybe she’d get him the scout manual, a Swiss army knife, and those bandana-holder-things for his neckerchief.

“They’re called neckerchief slides,” said one of her friends that she ran into on her jog. “And you can buy them down at the Navy Supply store on 4th.”

“Oh, thanks!” Kiana said, and off she went, jogging down to 4th.

“I got you something you’ve been asking for,” she said to Jonah before he tucked in for bed that night.

“For me? Really? You mean if I ask for something, I might get it?” That was a new concept for him.

“Sometimes,” she replied.

He was thrilled, but also a little bit nervous.

“What does this mean?” he asked. He halfway thought it might mean that Kiana was going away. Or maybe he was. He wasn’t used to nice things not having bad consequences, not yet, at least.

“Well,” Kiana replied, “you’ve been talking about wanting to join the Scouts, and it seems to me like this is a good time for it.”

“I can be a scout?”

“Yeah,” Kiana said. “I think you’re scouting material. What do you think?”

“I am so ready.”

While Jonah was putting away the manual, Swiss army knife, and neckerchief slide, it struck Kiana–another milestone that Case wasn’t here to see.

She didn’t think she’d ever get used to having to experience important moments without him. It hit her like that, sometimes–right in the middle of the happiest moment, there it was, this cliff of grief, and it was all she could do to keep from tumbling headlong off it.

“Ready for bed!” Jonah said, coming up behind her.

He stopped when he saw her face. She could never hide her grief from him.

“Sad again?” he said. “Do you miss your dad? Can I make it better?”

“Oh, Jonah,” she said, “you always make it better!”

And it was true. He did. Being happier meant she could become sadder, sometimes, too, but it rarely stuck anymore. Not with Jonah’s little arms ready to wrap around her when she felt her most bereft.

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Another Legacy 2.18

My! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I see that WordPress has changed its default text in the edit view–always a major distraction to my autistic brain that feels fonts are friends! Where did you go, my lovely little sans-serif?

So, my last post was, what, all the way back in August? What happened? Well, I’ve been teaching, and I’ve also been writing (and publishing!) poetry! It’s a dream I never dared dream, back when I was a little girl who felt that Emily Dickinson opened up the petals of a flower to uncover galaxies. I didn’t think I could be a poet–that’s why I wrote fiction. But somehow, I’ve lost the narrative thread of my life, and moments unfold in poems, and I am a poet.

Retirement brings amazing gifts! But apparently, continuing my Sim legacy fell through the cracks! I started this two years ago on Thanksgiving, and at this rate, it will be 20 years before it’s finished! Oh–I may not live that long, so let’s step on the gas. At least I’ve played ahead to Gen 4. Maybe I can catch up by the new year?

So what has been happening with Kiana?

Kiana discovered that she loved much of the culture of the district in the city where she lived. Especially the geek festival, where everyone spoke her native language of games and geekiness!

But some of the customs were simply incomprehensible to her. Like Free Love.

Casual acquaintances, random strangers, good friends–they all felt that they could walk up to her, take her hands, whisper sweet words to her, and that was love!

That wasn’t love, at least not the way she’d been raised. Case had been an asexual, and he and Ira, who loved each other more than any two people Kiana had ever known, never shared more than a friendly hug.

All these casual displays made her miss them more, Case especially. He’d shown her that love was providing a home, cooking good food, being there to ask about and listen to her when she talked about her emotions, and offering guidance and support. That was love, not a stray kiss, a tongue, a squeeze, a pinch on the butt.

Her neighbors felt differently.

“So, the swinging city!” Sophie said one afternoon when they met in the foyer. “Is that what brought you here, too?”

“No,” Kiana replied. “This apartment was the only place I could afford. Anywhere.”

Sophie invited herself in and as they started talking, Kiana realized she really liked her neighbor, even if they did have different views on the whole Free Love thing.

“Yeah,” Sophie said, “Scott and I are what you might call swingers. I mean, we love each other, for sure, and our family is everything to us, but we also like to have fun. To express other parts of ourselves, you might say.”

“Huh,” Kiana replied, “that sounds like it could actually, maybe, contribute to your marriage?”

“Oh, totally!” replied Sophie. “We’re very open with each other. For example, we both find you very attractive. Now I get that that’s not something you’re interested in right now, but if you ever changed your mind, with either of us, just know that it’s OK, in fact it’s super cool and groovy, with both of us!”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Kiana said.

But for right now, she was happy simply to have Sophie as a friend.

Sophie joined her at the yoga classes she taught at the community center across the plaza. It was a mixed-age class, and Kiana had to use all her teaching knowledge to come up with modifications for the elders, instructions for the kids, and challenges for someone fit like Sophie.

In addition to attracting new residents like Scott and Sophie York, the district’s customs also attracted visitors from nearby cities. You can imagine my surprise when Agnes Crumplebottom showed up.

“Is it true,” she whispered to the tall, dark stranger, “that what happens in the city stays in the city?”

For Jonah, the grown ups were just being grown ups, and this was all just a happy, healthy, loving community in which to be a kid. Heck, I’m reminded of my own childhood in the 1960s in Northern California. Free Love, back then, was just another term for good vibes, and good vibes are what we hippie kids thrive on.

“You know, we’ve got a kid about your age,” Sophie told Jonah. “Would you like to play with him?”

Of course Jonah wanted to! But it didn’t happen that day, or any other in the future, for Scott, it seems, had taken an immediate and fervent dislike of Jonah before he even laid eyes on him.

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Another Legacy 2.17

One morning, Kiana received an email from the building manager.

Dear tenants:

As you know, building occupancy has been low for the past several years, and many of you have been enjoying the quiet, along with free use of facilities such as the laundry room. However, that is all about to change. While we hope that the building remains a quiet and peaceful sanctuary in the city, we will no longer be permitting units to stand vacant. Starting this month, you can expect new neighbors, as we are actively recruiting residents. As such, we will be implementing laundry schedules as follows…

And attached was a complicated weekly schedule, determined by odd or even ending apartment numbers combined with vowel- or consonant-starting last names of tenants. It was a bit much to take in. Fortunately, there was a laundromat around the corner, and Kiana could put in a load before taking a jog, then return to plop in it the dryer, head out for a smoothie, and come back just as the drying cycle was finishing. This fit into her routine much better than trying to figure out the building manager’s complicated code.

“So, I hear you’re getting neighbors soon,” the mailman said when he ran into her in the hall.

“Yeah! It’ll be so different not to have this common area to ourselves. We’ve come to think of it as an extra room! Just imagine–I might actually run into somebody, besides you, when I come out to get the mail! How weird is that?”

“Kinda normal, actually. It’s called neighbors.

Kiana chuckled.

She decided she’d better start getting into the habit of doing loud activities, like juggling the soccer ball, outdoors, where no one would mind if she jumped up and down or bounced the ball on the ground.

“Do we need to start doing yoga outside, too?” Jonah asked.

“No, no. Yoga is a quiet activity. It’s good to do in our Wellness Room.”

About a week later, the neighbors on her floor moved in, Brett and Sophie York. They didn’t seem too happy.

They had a son, Scott, who was about Jonah’s age. Kiana found him having a panic attack in the foyer.

“I can’t look down!” he said. “Is it safe up here? Is it… is the building moving in the wind? Are we blowing?”

Kiana tried to calm him down, but eventually, it seemed the best thing to do was to walk him to his apartment and let his parents help him relax.

“So, it looks like our new neighbors might need some help settling in,” Kiana told Jonah while they were working on their project. “Think we might find ways that we could be good neighbors?”

Jonah took some time to think about it. Before bed, he told Kiana everything he had thought up.

“We could play classical music for them, because everything is better with Bach!”

His list went on, including sharing fresh produce from the garden, inviting them over for tea, dance parties, and video games, painting pictures for them to hang on their new walls, and going on walks with them to help the get to know all the best places in the neighborhoods.

“You’re an amazing neighbor,” Kiana said. “The only thing I could think of was to smile and say hi whenever we saw them.”

“That’s nice, too,” Jonah affirmed.

After that, Kiana didn’t think about them too much. She was far too busy with her next gig, creating landscape designs for a sci-fi movie. “We want it to look far out,” the producer had said, “but also recognizable. Like it feels like the home you know is your true home, even if it’s on a different planet.”

It wasn’t hard to do, Kiana discovered, since that was how she always felt here–on a different planet than where she was from, but one that was her true home, nonetheless.

“We have the best plants.”

She turned around to find Jonah weeding and pruning the parsley and taro plants. It seemed like the plants grew greener and stronger with every bit of attention Jonah shared with them.

“You’re such an amazing person,” Kiana said, a bit in awe of this child who had become such a big part of her and her life.

“Not as much as you!” replied Jonah.

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Another Legacy 2.16

One summer afternoon, Kiki had that rare feeling that everything–absolutely everything–was all right in her world. She couldn’t remember a time like this, when all the aspects of her life seemed in order. Her freelance work was going great, earning accolades and higher commissions. The apartment was furnished and decorated just the way she liked it, and all the appliances were fixed and pesky stains cleaned up. Jonah was earning good grades at school and seemed like such a happy kid, overall. “He’s just got such a good attitude,” his teacher had said at the last parent-teacher conference. “Even when other kids tease him, he just smiles and carries on, like water off a duck’s back.”

When she got home, she found an email from her contract agency. A big film studio was looking for concept designs and requested her, specifically. If they didn’t get her, they’d go somewhere else. It was a big job–would she do it?

She took the job. With everything going so well, she had the extra bandwidth to focus on this. She stayed up late that night, sketching out a few ideas to send to the producer, so she could see if she was on the right track before devoting too much time in that direction.

She got up a bit late the next morning to find Jonah busy with a drawing.

“What are you working on, bud?” she asked.

“It’s such a big project,” he said. “I gotta finish it up before school to send to the design studio.”

She chuckled, but it made her wonder, too, about how much of her–what she did, what she said, what she thought and felt, even–Jonah took in.

“Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?” Jonah asked when he got back from school.

“No,” she said. “In fact, I’m still not really sure it’s what I want to be. It’s just sort of what I do.”

“You mean, you didn’t choose to be an artist so you could be different from everybody else?” Jonah asked. “So when they teased you, it wouldn’t matter because you were, like, a famous artist and words couldn’t hurt you?”

“No,” she answered. “The teasing just sort of stopped when I got to college, and I think I’ve always just accepted that I was different, even before I started doing art.”

She wondered if something was going on. Maybe she should have asked more when his teacher mentioned teasing, even if she did emphasize that he handled it well.

“Let’s spend some time together,” she said. “Would you like a story?”

He chose the big book of Grimms’ fairy tales.

“Can you read ‘Simpleton’?” he asked.

OK, now she knew something was up. She’d talk with him after the story. But partway through, he said, “Excuse me,” and ran upstairs. When he came back, he was wearing a bear costume, part of a matching set that they’d worn for a community center talent show–the Singing Dancing Bearios!

“Feel like being a bear, huh?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“I remember I was a bear for a while, when I was a kid. Would you like it if I were a bear now, too?”

“Would you?” he asked.

When she joined him, two yellow bears on a blue couch, she thought maybe this was the right opportunity to talk.

“So, grrrr. It’s kinda sweaty to wear these costumes in summer, growl. Any special ggggreason to wear them tonight?”

“I just thought if I was a bear, people couldn’t call me fat, because pineapple bears are supposed to be fat.”

“Oh. Are people calling you fat, then?”

He nodded his bear head.

“Other kids?”

Another nod.

So this was, at least, part of the teasing.

“I bet that feels lousy,” she said.

He nodded. She pulled him close and they sat together for a bit.

“I’m too sweaty,” he said.

The next morning, he was still in his bear suit, so Kiana put hers on, too. Together, they worked on their designs.

“I want you to know that I think you’re just right,” Kiana said.

“I think I am, too,” said Jonah.

“Did you know that I used to be really fat?” Kiana asked. “I mean, really–like way overweight.”

Jonah laughed. “Now you’re teasing!”

“No, it’s true!” She told him all about how heavy she’d been her first year of high school, and how she turned that around once she discovered that there was a correlation between being overweight and all sorts of health problems.

“I liked myself,” she said, “and I loved how I looked, but I decided it was more important to be healthy. Then, fitness and wellness became special interests, and I joined the soccer team in college, and that was that!”

“I want to join the soccer team when I’m in college, too,” Jonah said.

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Another Legacy 2.15

Sometimes, it hit Kiana out of the blue that Case would never get to meet Jonah. It felt incomprehensible to her that this kid, her son, would never get to know Case, her dad. Even though she’d never called him “Dad” and always thought of him as “Case,” he was still, in every possible aspect of the best way, her dad. And that he’d never get to know Jonah as a grandson, or Jonah get to know him as Granddad? It was too cruel.

Jonah was a great kid, like Case in his love for doing things to help the planet, but unlike him in so many ways that were, simply, intriguing and wonderful.

He was friendly, in a goofy way, and brave about approaching anyone with a joke and a smile.

But he wasn’t just outgoing and goofy. He was thoughtful and sensitive, too. At the time, Kiana’s special interest was yoga and wellness. She made amazing healthy tea, and all the neighbors stopped in for a cup at all hours.

It rubbed off on Jonah, and sometimes, after a hectic day at school, he’d head straight up to the yoga mat. “The mat’s got my back,” he loved to say.

Kiana’s days were so full–mornings getting Jonah fed and off to school, days busy with her free-lance work, then after school, helping Jonah with homework and projects, and making meals for supper and his lunch the next day. If she was lucky, she had a few hours to herself late at night, after tucking Jonah in, and always, by the time she crawled into bed, she couldn’t keep her eyes open a moment longer.

She didn’t have to worry about traffic or even strangers in their district. It was designated a pedestrian-friendly zone–no cars were allowed there–and she and Jonah knew all the vendors, neighbors, and regulars, so Jonah was free to play in the plaza whenever he wanted. Because it was known to be safe and neighborly, there were always other kids there for him to play with.

He usually brought home a few, kids who were eager to test out his art table and chemistry set.

One afternoon, Kiana was working on the graphics for a character design, unaware that one of Jonah’s friends had stopped by, when she smelled smoke.

She dashed upstairs to find the chemistry set on fire, and some child she didn’t even know whimpering, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” in front of it.

“Stand clear!” she yelled, grabbing the fire extinguisher.

The kid was fine, if a bit traumatized, the chemistry set was ruined, the carpet could be replaced, and the walls repainted.

“Whew,” Kiana said, “that was a close one.”

“I didn’t mean to,” said the kid.

“I know,” Kiana replied. “It wasn’t your fault.” If it was anyone’s fault, she realized, it was hers. If you have a kid, and that kid has friends who come over, it’s your responsibility to supervise dangerous activities. She was going to have to be more alert.

She wished she could talk to Case about this. “How did you manage?” she’d ask. “I remember you always being in the garden.”

She figured he would probably say, “Well, you were always a good kid who stayed out of trouble. Plus, all your friends were grown ups.”

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Another Legacy 2.14

Since Kiana wanted to be available for Jonah when he was home, she decided she’d plan for her necessary solitary time while he was at school. The seven hours from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. should give her plenty of time to practice yoga, go for a jog, work on her graphic art commissions, and even just chill alone, listening to music or doing something fun, for a little bit.

But it didn’t work out that way. Somehow, just by being friendly and polite, Kiana, very much a loner by temperament, ended up with the lifestyle of a people person. She seemed to make friends just by saying hello or introducing herself, and then, next thing she knew, she’d be in the kitchen making lunch with the mailman, for example.

She was completely baffled. She’d struggled to make friends all through school, hardly even thought about a social life in college, and now, she accumulated dozens of friends without even trying.

At least the mailman was a nice guy who liked cooking almost as much as she did. And he liked plants, too. That counted for something.

She ended up staying up late, after Jonah went to sleep, to fit in her time alone. Standing by the window, looking out over the lights of the city, she felt inspired, and she could whip out a digital sketch in an hour or two.

Getting her work done after Jonah’s bedtime meant they could do fun things together when he got back from school, and their district was full of fun things to do.

Every few weeks there was a festival. The Spice Festival was the first one they went to together, not so much to eat spicy food, but to feast their eyes on all the spicy colors.

Jonah was such a friendly kid. He’d talk to anybody–well, a lot of kids will talk to anybody, but Jonah actually listened, and not just as a matter of politeness, though he was a polite kid, but out of curiosity. He really wanted to learn about other people.

Kiana listened to him ask questions to a person they’d just met there at the festival, and she thought, this kid is a natural people person. With her, it was just some weird fluke of friendliness in an environment that maybe wasn’t always that friendly, but with Jonah, it was because he actually liked other people.

She gave it a try herself, trying to show some genuine interest in the bartender when she ordered a cranberry juice, but she couldn’t think of anything to ask that didn’t seem nosy, so she just stood there, smiling awkwardly. They became friends, anyway.

And so this was what her life was like right now: overfull in an explosion of color, but not like a riot of color, like all these intricate patterns, somehow intertwining themselves and lending an air of fascination to every moment. In the midst of colors and people, Kiana felt awe.

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Another Legacy 2.13

The moment Jonah got home from school, he pulled out his homework and got to work.

“You don’t have to do homework right away,” Kiki said. “You can do other things first–rest, eat snack, play. You know, charge your batteries.”

He thought for a moment. “There is something I’m really excited to do!” he said. “I’m just not sure how to get started.”

It was his school project.

“Oh, I used to love those,” Kiana said. “I can help!”

They worked together to put together the model of planets.

“I did this same one when I was in your grade!” Kiana said. “We had the same book, too.”

“It’s pretty interesting,” Jonah said. “Some of these words are really big.”

When they finished, Jonah pulled out his homework again.

“Do you like reading, Jonah?” Kiana asked.

“It’s hard,” he said. “My eyes get tired and sometimes I forget what line I’m on. But I like learning. So I’m motivated.”

Kiana chuckled to herself. Jonah had an interesting vocabulary, she’d noticed: “vista,” “motivated,” these were rather big words for a little kid.

“How do you know a word like ‘motivated,'” Kiana asked, “or what it means?”

“I hear people talking,” Jonah said. “They’re always saying things like, ‘Oh, Jonah is a very motivated learner.’ And I think they’re right.”

After homework, Kiana reminded Jonah that his supper was waiting on the kitchen table. “I have a few things I have to do,” she said, “but I’ll be down to join you before you’re done eating.”

Kiana took a quick shower, hopped into her PJ’s, and looked over her latest character concept she was developing for work. It was awfully quiet down there.

When she went down to check on Jonah, she found that he wasn’t in the kitchen. He’d carried his meal out to the foyer.

“Is something wrong?” she asked. “You know this isn’t actually part of our home. Is there a reason you’re sitting out here?”

“I like the view,” he said. “Is it OK? We don’t have any windows in the kitchen.”

“Sure. It’s fine. We don’t have any neighbors on this floor yet, and the view is nice. I’m sure it’s fine to take your meals out here when you want.”

They sat together while the sun set and the city grew dark. It was very peaceful here, and there was something magical about watching the lights come on in the buildings across the way.

“I’ll take your dish,” Kiana said when Jonah had finished eating.

“Can I stay out here a bit longer?” he asked.

“Sure,” she said.

After Kiana left, Jonah saw a pale light float from out of the apartment. While he watched, it seemed to form into the shape of an older woman.

He felt too shy to talk to it–can you talk with something that is and isn’t there? But he got a good feeling from whatever it was. It was the same feeling he got when he was around Kiana. Maybe this is what home feels like, he thought, or the feeling of being loved and being safe.

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Another Legacy 2.12

The concrete reality of her decision to step up to become an adoptive mom slammed Kiana hard when she turned to look behind her as she got out of the elevator in her building and there he was. Jonah. The kid she had adopted. She had really done this thing! And now, there was a kid who would always be behind her, who would always need her, and whom she would always be responsible for. Holy wow, indeed.

Her days of long quiet solitude and not having to answer to anybody were over. Just like that.

She’d thought long and hard about it, but in the end, she really felt it was the right thing–it was what Case had done, and since she had so much now, so much to share, it just seemed like she should do it, too.

“Gosh, we’re so high up,” Jonah said. “I want to take in this vista and treasure it, you know, so that when I get sent back, I’ll still be able to remember what it was like to live at bird level, even if it was just for a little bit.”

Kiana’s heart broke.

“You’re not going to be sent back,” she said. “You’re home! You get to live here always!”

If there’s a little kid who depends on you, she learned in that moment, then your own worries and concerns can wait. She’d figure out how to deal with losing her solitude–and she’d find some way to get what she needed–but right now, this child, her actual, adopted son, needed her and needed to feel that he was home.

It didn’t take Jonah long to find the balcony garden upstairs.

“I love plants,” he said, racing up to talk with them as the sun set.

Before bed, they sat together in the kitchen. Kiana cooked a snack of grilled cheese sandwiches, and after they ate, Jonah wanted to talk.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I think maybe this was meant to be.”

“Oh, yeah?” replied Kiana. “What do you mean?”

“The truth is in our names.”

She looked at him quizzically.

“Names don’t lie.”

“And so… what is it about our names that makes you think this was meant to be?”

“They rhyme!” He replied, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Kia-NA, Jo-NAH.”

“Sometimes I’m called Kiki,” Kiana answered.

“Then I can be Jo-Jo,” he said.

Kiana woke early, while it was still dark, to make breakfast and pack Jonah’s lunch. The adoption counselor had recommended that he begin school right away, to start right in with the normal routine and schedule. “We’ve found,” she said, “that for most children, having their new parents take them to school and then be there to pick them up, right away, even in the early days of settling in, actually helps the child adjust more quickly. It’s the routine as well as the going-off-to-school and the coming-back-to-home again that is important.”

Kiana thought of Ira while she cooked. Had Ira realized how much of a mom to her she’d been? She never called Ira “Mom,” for she always felt that her birth mom was there, an angel inside of her, but for her, the name “Ira” meant everything that “Mom,” in its best sense, signified.

She had set three tomatoes on the counter–and they reminded her of the little family unit she, Ira, and Case had formed. My, she had been happy! She felt, at home, that she always had a safe place with people who understood her. She hadn’t wanted for anything.

“Don’t worry, Kiki,” she heard a voice, that sounded a lot like Ira’s, say. “You’ll be able to provide the same for him.”

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Another Legacy 2.11

Kiana spent much of the next year behind her keyboard or digital sketchpad, working. It became a game to see how many projects she could complete each week, and by spring, she’d saved up enough money for the new kitchen.

The original turquoise wall tiles and the brushed concrete floor tiles, which the building super wouldn’t let her change anyway, looked fine once the new counters and appliances were installed. It was a little retro and a lot charming. She filled the kitchen with plants, and it became one of her favorite places to work.

By the time the next winter rolled around, she realized she’d achieved some major goals. Her contract agency had promoted her a few times, and she was earning good pay now, for each project she completed. She even won a professional award for one of her designs. And the best part was that she could control how much she worked, when she took time off, and which projects to accept.

She really felt like she was getting somewhere in life.

This winter, a friend built a snowman alongside hers. He even matched the radical, whimsical style. It looked like the snow buddy was saying, “Peace, dude! Life’s better with two!”

She didn’t know about that. There was something so sweet about the freedom of being single, not having to answer to anybody, waking up happy alone.

She felt that Case and Ira had both given her this built-in understanding that you were complete on your own–you didn’t need anybody to complete you.

Sure, you could have friends, and whenever you needed, you could find somebody to talk to–that was especially easy to do living in her district of the city, where there were always folk out and about, ready to chat.

But the best joy, she felt, came from projects, and her projects were her work. She got such a buzz from sending in concept designs for movie characters and hearing back from the director and producer that her quirky ideas were “just what we wanted!”

She really felt that this life could satisfy her for a long, long time, and she couldn’t anticipate or imagine any reason to make a change in the foreseeable future.

So it came as a huge surprise when she received an email from the Foster Care organization that had placed her with Case when she was a little toddler.

Dear Kiana,
You may not know that we make it a practice to follow the success of those whom we’ve placed with families, and your success has always been of special interest.

Well, that felt a little big-brotherish.

Your recent accolades in graphic design are matched by your reputation in the community as someone always willing to help.

It’s for that reason that we’re reaching out to you.
You may have heard that there has been an increase recently, due to social and demographic pressures, in the number of children needing good foster homes, or even adoption.

We’ve found that former foster children who have been adopted make the best foster and/or adoptive parents. Would you consider taking in a child? We have many, of all ages, who need a good home, one like you could provide.

Holy wow. That was a lot to take in. Would she be willing to foster or adopt a child? Did she have enough to share? Case had been a single professional, devoted to his career, when he took her in. And look at all gifts that had followed. Maybe she owed it to the universe to do the same.

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Another Legacy 2.10

Kiana discovered that the holiday season brought out the best in folks in her district of the city. Everyone wore holly sprigs in their caps and even complete strangers greeted each other with well-wishes and winter blessings. She hoped these good feelings might last throughout the year.

She wanted to contribute something that would bring smiles to passersby, without having to spend the entire day in the snowy courtyard, waving to neighbors and newcomers.

You can’t be too serious, she figured, if you wanted to make people chuckle, and what was funnier than asymmetry? Not much, actually.

She had a lot of cooking to do before her guests arrived for the WinterFest feast. Though the appliances and counters were still old and stained, her cookware was brand new. She made cranberry-citrus sauce, honey-glazed sweet potatoes, fresh rolls, wild rice dressing, and a tofu-turkey.

The kitchen smelled amazing.

Her old college roommate wasn’t convinced by aroma alone.

“You sure it’s safe for us to eat anything that comes out of this kitchen?” he asked. “I mean… it hasn’t been condemned, has it?”

“It looks like it should be,” Kiana agreed.

But the feast was amazing. If you closed your eyes, you could imagine you were in a five-star restaurant–or, better yet, a newly remodeled kitchen.

“I don’t remember you cooking like this back in our old place,” her roommate said.

“I don’t think I ever cooked,” Kiki admitted, “too busy studying and training.”

She sort of missed those days. It still felt odd that they could be over so quickly, and her new life begun. She loved so much about this new life, but it wasn’t yet routine, and she still felt like she was floating, ungrounded. Maybe that’s what came of living 12 flights up!

Father Winter came before they finished seconds.

“Introduce me to all your friends,” he said, and Kiana felt flustered. On the spot like that, she couldn’t even remember all their names. Somehow, she’d developed this knack of picking up friends with a simple hello, but putting a face to a name, and a name to a face, and remembering where each one lived and what each one did challenged her, even when no one was asking or waiting or staring at her.

Her mouth was full, and that was a good excuse to stay quiet, and by the time she’d swallowed, everyone had introduced themselves. Crisis averted.

They all had a good time and stayed so late, and even after she’d packaged up the leftovers in to-go boxes and scrubbed the stained counters and mopped the chipped floor, people were still there, talking.

Even a kitchen in desperate need of a make-over is still a kitchen. Even a home without much furniture is still a home. Even friends whose names you can never remember are still friends. It’s feelings that count, and the feeling is warmth.

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