I walked a lot in the following days. I had so much to process. Slowly, as I settled into myself, the details of what Xirra and Teko shared with me began to fit into place.
One of my biggest obstacles in comprehending Teko’s explanations of the genetic similarities and differences rested in our varying morphology. Sept had two hearts, for example. How did that work? Teko showed me the genetic marker for it. Cues from the environment switched it on or off. In this environment, it was switched off, so our child would have one heart, one liver, one pancreas, two lungs, like me. That was why they used surrogates from the planets where they wanted their offspring to live, so that the genes would respond in the way best suited for life on that planet.
Our child would have one heart. It made me happy.
I’d asked about telepathy–was there a genetic marker for that? Xirra explained it was an ability, and while everyone had some capacity for it, talent varied individually.
“Like with math skills,” Teko said. “Plus there’s the cultural aspect. When you belong to a culture that avows something isn’t possible, you’re less likely to develop the ability to do it.”
I hoped our child would have Sept’s proclivity for telepathy. I sure wasn’t any good at it, though I was beginning to notice synchronicity. For example, one day, as I approached home after a long walk with Mojo, I thought of Morning Joe, whom I hadn’t seen for a few weeks.
When I got back, there he was, in our living room!
“Morning Joe!” I said. “How are you?”
“I am well, Mallory Sevens. Thank you very much.” He spoke formally, with a slight whistle, but he impressed me with how far his language skills had advanced.
He asked what I’d been doing. Maybe it was a mistake, but I told him about my visit with Xirra and Teko.
He looked sad.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Morning,” I said. “I guess maybe it brings up bad memories to hear about this?”
“It is OK, Mallory Sevens,” he replied. “I feel like this. I look at it. It looks not-happy. I say, OK. This is how I feel. Then, it becomes me. It is OK. I am all things.”
We talked about the ship. I tried to explain how it felt to be inside the living space craft, and he smiled.
“I remember ship!” he said. “Ship that brought me! This was good ship with feeling of happy!”
While Sept prepared a late lunch, Morning Joe told me about his journey here. They’d traveled through many galaxies, finally reaching the Milky Way. “Stars are friends,” he said. And, after my experience, I knew what he meant.
We sat down to eat.
“I want to help,” said Morning Joe.
We weren’t sure what he meant.
“With others, like me. I want to help with Project Home,” he continued.
“Do you mean with the Refugee Project?” Sept asked. “With the program that brought you here?”
“Brought me here,” said Morning Joe. “Bring other peoples here. That is to help.”
“You know, Ritu was mentioning a community gardening program to me the other day,” I told Sept. “It’s not directly with the refugees, but it’s kind of tangentially connected.”
“Like gardens,” Morning Joe said.
The Peace Garden program involved Ritu’s collective and a few other community organizations, including schools and senior centers, to grow organic produce and provide green-space buffers throughout the region. Native plant landscapes surrounded the gardens, to attract and provide habitat for pollinators. Ritu planned for students, seniors, and extra-T refugees to work together.
“That’s a good plan,” Sept said.
After the meal, we walked Morning Joe out.
“I am good in garden,” he said. “We feed peoples, OK? We make friends. We have happy-to-be-here. It’s good.”
“He’s settling in,” Sept said when we walked back inside. “I think Ritu will be happy for his help.”
I agreed. Morning Joe would make a good gardener of peace.
Santi was settling in well, too.
Sebastion, in a burst of new energy, now that we’d been helping out for a few weeks, decided he wanted to open a school for the kids in the community. The public schools had closed down when the regular folks left, after the insurance companies pulled coverage. But there were still a few families with kids: The Delgados, Seb’s family, and now ours, plus a few others. One of our neighbors offered up his big house overlooking the cove for the school to meet in, and Sebastion began to plan how he could put to use his early childhood education degree. He wanted to incorporate the best practices from Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, and Reggio Emilia. He was especially excited about Reggio Emilia, since it came about in the aftermath of World War II as a means of seeding peace.
To prepare for the start of this new school, I took Santi shopping. She chose whimsical clothes–silly hats and pastel sweaters and skirts with lots of flowers.
“You look like a rainbow!” I told her.
We watched a lot of children’s TV together. She liked the singing and dancing, and it seemed to help her pick up words and phrases.
“Lessall gotoozee BunnyVarm!” she sang softly.
I sang it with her when we danced.
“Let’s all go to the Bunny Farm!”
“Kumdon toozee BunnyVarm. Zozo FunJump!”
“Bunny Farm! All the free bunnies, welcome home!”
“Mojo is free, yes no?” Santi asked. “He is not the free bunny, but he is free bosko, right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s free. He can come and go as he pleases. It was his choice to stay with us.”
“Same-same,” she said.
Maybe all my pregnancy hormones planted hope in me. I began to feel that we were creating something wonderful, sustainable, a community based on peace.
I began to believe that what we were creating might even protect us from the AAC and their campaign to put their members in office. I had the notion that nothing was stronger than our good feelings, not even hate.