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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GloPoWriMo – Song 8

Skips-in-Muddy-Puddles (When Slavery Ends)

When you were taken
from swamp, from egg-sister,
egg-brother, from the soft mud
of home

And hauled past volcanic ash
to frozen lands to
trek into stone
reaches of the Imperial City

When you were torn
from soft mud, from grub baskets
full, from the song
of the great Hist Tree
from home–

Stolen. Alone.
It is a life, anyway,
whether yours or none.

When slavery ends
you’re free.
You find you have
no desire to return.
The song of the Hist
is the song of the graht-oak,
of the cherry,
of the ash pine.

Aldmeri, Daggerfall, Ebonheart–
all one.
All people are as
your people and
the Hist as any other tree.

Now that you are free,
it matters not if you’re alone.

Wherever you are
is home.

Daily Prompt: “write a poem of gifts and joy. What would you give yourself, if you could have anything? What would you give someone else?” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

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NaPoWriMo 2019

Summer House: The Ferry, To and Fro


The Ferry, To and Fro

At summer’s start,
the ferry leads
west, to escape,
to sanctuary.

We leave behind
the daily life
of alarm clocks
and automatic
coffee pots.

Drink in
the slowness
of the rhythm
of sunrise
and sunset.

This is a new life
in a place
not ruled
by wires.

At summer’s end,
some head back
east again,
where the office
waits with an
inbox fuller than
the busiest tide pool.

But some of us
stand on the south shore
of the island,

watching the ferry
as it becomes smaller
and smaller.

We turn to smile
at each other.
We are not on board,
and the summerers
have left.

And the quietness
of the days

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Author’s note: This concludes Summer House! Thanks to all of you who read it. I enjoyed writing this exploration of change and the ways that, sometimes, change leads to good things.

I’ll have a new series starting up shortly, Ten-Cent Tarot, which will be more typically SimLit, even featuring some of the pre-mades, if they cooperate! Don Lothario–I’m looking at you!

Eight Pieces: As it Fits


Kristal’s stay was coming to an end. On Friday, the rental service would come to pick up her canvases and ship them back home. She’d arranged for them to be sent directly the the gallery. She’d been in contact with the gallery owner, a friend and former colleague, sending him snaps of her paintings.

“The light’s incredible,” he’d said. “I’ll take them all.” He’d already lined up a few customers who had first bids.

A new career opened, like she’d hoped. Even if she didn’t earn enough to live on through painting alone, it would help, and she wouldn’t have to return to full-time work.


She realized she’d grown homesick when she painted a landscape from the mountains where she’d spent summers as a child.

Soon, she’d smell pines again and feel that northern air.


Her dogs were at the clinic. One had an ear infection, the other an eye infection, and the third, a urinary tract infection, but the vet was administering treatment and he assured her they’d be cleared to return with her on her flight Monday morning.

It had been easy, after all, to select the dogs to adopt. They chose her, in the end.


The Afghan was the first to befriend her, following her back to the casita. Then the spaniel, who seemed to be something of a pack-mate with the Afghan, chose to stay with them.


Two dogs? Kristal wasn’t sure she was ready for that. But it seemed cruel to separate them, and her big house had plenty of room.


The chocolate mixed-breed began to hang about the casita, too. Could she handle three?

She waited for the chocolate mix to wander off, but she stayed, following her and her dogs to the vet clinic on the morning she took them.

“Might as well come along,” she said, bringing the third dog into the waiting room with her.

The cost of vaccinations, spaying, and the treatment for the infections added up. On top of that, she had to purchase three travel carriers, and she bought three more flight tickets, so the dogs wouldn’t have to be jostled around in the baggage compartment where it was noisy and cold.

Her paintings had better sell! But family isn’t cheap–it’s dear.


On the last weekend, she worked on a small canvas. This one, she wouldn’t sell. This would stay here, hung in the casita, a piece of her to remind her always of where she had changed, a tribute to the something that comes from loss, when we look inside to find what remains.

The colors of the painting danced up from a dark center, rising to open out into something that felt, to her, like hope and a new feeling of home.


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Summer House: Open Doors


Open Doors

Kitchen doors open
to let loose the scents
of stew, roast squash,
steaming peas,

Kitchen doors open
to send free the sounds
of humming the song
that grandma sang,
the C major scale
played by stumbling
fingers of a child,
the shouts that
supper is ready,
that the cake
is done,
that it’s
time to

Kitchen doors open
and in you come,
with your hurried
laughter, your
impatient joke
your muddy
across the

Kitchen doors open
but you fall silent
with a sigh.
must wait
for a different
door to find release.

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Lighthouse: Stay


On Santi’s first night with us, I didn’t sleep well. I kept hearing again the angry chants of the rioters, with Santi’s music quieting it all. The music carried power, while the musician stood vulnerable.

And then, the pain of parting rushed through me. I couldn’t bear that she’d be leaving us.

In the quiet hour before dawn, I took Mojo for a walk down by the beach.


He understood my feelings, even if he couldn’t comprehend their reasons.


We walked until the sky turned silver. Slowly, quietly, the spin of the lighthouse beam brought my thoughts into harmony with my greater trust: It would all work out. It would all work out and I would accept it.


I would accept it, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be saddened by it.


When we returned home with first sun rays, I wanted to stop the sun. I didn’t want another day to pass, for the day after tomorrow, Ritu would take Santi, and even if I trusted, even if I could feel acceptance and harmony, I felt resistance, too. I could accept it, but I didn’t want to accept it. I wanted to stop it.


In the early morning, waiting for Sept and Santi to rise, I busied myself with chores.


When I came back in, I found Santi cleaning the bathroom.

“Oh, honey!” I said. “You don’t have to do that! You don’t need to do chores!”


She looked up with a big smile. We went into the kitchen, and I heated up leftover tacos for breakfast. I sat at the other end of the table, avoiding looking in her face. I was distancing myself. I didn’t know any other way to approach this.


She found delight in watching the goldfish in our tank. Seeing her happiness, my throat tightened, and, as I heard Sept’s footsteps on the stairs, I ran outside. I was afraid I’d start crying if I looked in his kind eyes.


But he followed me out.

“What’s up, Mal?” he asked.

I let it all out.


I told him about trusting, accepting, resisting, and all the denial I was wrapping myself in to try to get through this. I told him I’d fallen in love with Santi, and I couldn’t bear that she was leaving us.


“In that case,” he said. “She’ll stay!”


I didn’t see how it could happen.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “It can’t be that simple.”


“I don’t see why not,” he said.

“What about Ritu’s plans? What about the family she’s found for her?”


“She’s staying with us,” Sept said. “I’m part of this thing, too.” He meant that he was part of the rebel movement, and I know now that he wasn’t just an incidental part of it, he was an integral part of it. In his own way, here on this planet, he was, even then, a leader in the movement. Sept was important.

“Can you do that?” I asked. “Can you decide something and make it happen?”


He reminded me that Ritu worked for the movement–she was there to support it–and whatever Xirra and the others directed, that’s what she did. And Xirra, in this instance, would take her lead from Sept.

“In other words,” I said, “Santi stays with us!”

“That she does,” said Sept, “if you feel it’s best.”


It turned out to be very easy. Ritu didn’t have another family lined up yet–she hadn’t been sure what to do with the child, and so she felt relief that Santi would stay with us. She said she couldn’t imagine a better placement, for everyone concerned.

That morning, when Sept and I went back inside, Santi waited in the kitchen. She was still hungry, even after our taco breakfast. I made a sandwich and served it to her.

“Here you go, moSanti,” I said.


Squeegee, mobizaabgotojo!” she said.

“Would you like to stay here?” I asked. “Gotukoda?”

Byugotokoda,” she said. “Squeegee.”


And that’s how Santi came to stay with us and to be our daughter. MoSanti.


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Lighthouse: Home, Again


It was late when we got home. I’d texted Sept when we pulled into the bus station, and he was waiting by the gate when we arrived.

Baliyu daschavendru,” he said to Santi.

Squeegee,” she replied. She said more to him in Vingihoplo. I recognized the word yobaska–uncomfortable.


“She says you’re tired,” Sept said to me, “tense. Would you like a shoulder rub?”


I melted into the warmth of his hands. Santi laughed.


MoSeptemus lsuravensiku-lsuravensiku MoMal!” she laughed.

“What did she say?” I asked.

“She says we love each other!”

“No, really?” I feigned surprise.


Byusoklo! Byosoklo!” she chanted.

“She says we should kiss,” Sept said.


I obliged, picking up Sept’s hand, and kissing it, as if we were actors in Santi’s own private play.


I was being dramatic, but Sept was earnest. I could feel warmth and sweetness flowing from him, and Santi seemed to bathe in the happiness.


“Ritu called,” Sept said. “She thinks she’ll be detained in Willow Springs for a while, so we should just hang tight.”

I wanted to tell Sept all about what had happened, with the riot, the bullying of the kids, and strange effect of Santi’s music, but I didn’t want to talk about it in front of Santi. It could wait.


Santi began asking Sept all sorts of questions. With the language barrier, I’d hardly heard her speak at all, and I’d developed the impression that she was largely nonverbal. But she was a chatterbox when with someone who could understand her.


I left the two of them to become friends and headed up to the porch. As I walked away, I caught a few words, byukoda, mobizaabgotojo–“sweet home,” “dear caregiver.”


Sept explained that, here, she could show her true form, if she desired. It was her choice.


I glanced back to see her, a moonbeam in the flowers.


I stood on the porch, petting Mojo, who was beside himself that I’d come home, and watched the two of them talk.

Sept told me later that he was telling her that it was possible to make a home here on this planet. She’d asked if the planet herself would welcome her, being from someplace so far away.


He said he asked her how she felt about that, inside, when she was very quiet and when she listened to the planet’s whispers.

Kihukoda! E koda-daschavendru kihu!” she replied. Sept provided the literal translation: “Planet home. I’m home-welcome planet.”


“She said that sometimes you have to travel far away to find your home again,” Sept said.


My heart broke that night while I watched her eating supper in our kitchen. We’d been given a few extra days, with Ritu being detained, but soon she’d come to take Santi to a new home, a more permanent home. It would be good for Santi, I was sure, to be someplace where she’d be safe and well-cared for. But I was in no way ready to part with her.


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Lighthouse: The New Sexy


“How exactly are you all related again?” I asked Sept. He’d traced the strings of connection between the guests we were expecting to arrive on the noon ferry, but in my mind, the relations tangled in a bird’s nest.

“Emmanuel is my skogoto,” he said. “My root brother. The individuals we were cloned from were brothers, so, genetically, we are brothers. Whisper is his girlfriend, Octy’s cousin and Xirra’s niece, and the daughter of Situ.”

“Is she like her mother?” I asked.

“I think so,” Sept said, “in all the best ways.”

I noticed the genetic resemblance between the two brothers instantly.


They seemed psychically connected, too, as they settled directly into conversation.

“I am happy you have found someone that sees your soul, mogoto,” Emmanuel said. “Most happy. I have to ask: did you drop the enchilada?”

“The enchilada dropped me, brother!” Sept joked back.


Emmanuel chuckled. “You know, I would have to agree with that sentiment! Perhaps the enchilada itself always does the dropping.”

Emmanuel seemed to want a private chat with his brother, so I headed upstairs where Whisper sat reading on the bed.

“How’s the book, Whisper? You look engrossed!”

“Have you read any of Baxin’ivre’s poems before?”

“Baxi-who? Was he Greek? ”

“Baxin’ivre! He’s no Ancient Greek. He was an an extraterrestrial. A very famous one who helped found the rebellion. Sept’s mentioned the rebellion?”

By then Emmanuel joined us, and I felt myself to be a third wheel again.


I moved to the other side of the loft and picked up a book of my own. I tried to focus on reading, while I could hear every word they spoke.

“Beloved, I hate to admit,” Emmanuel confessed, “I’m feeling immensely inferior to my brother in seeing him with Mallory. He truly inherited everything in our first life, and our second. He’s suave, dramatically striking, and exudes sexual confidence that I simply do not possess. He subliminally urges me to feel as though I need to improve my game, merely by existing in the way that he is.”

My cheeks flushed. I wanted to give them privacy, but I couldn’t head downstairs without walking past them, so I stayed put and stuck my nose deeper into The Secret Life of Dust, trying not to attend to this first introduction of what I learned was a lifetime theme between these two brothers.

“You should give yourself more credit,” Whisper said. “Your game is beyond entertaining and satisfactory.”

“That’s what it will be,” he said. “How were Baxin’ivre’s poems anyway? Are there any I could understand?”

“They’re beautifully composed. You should read one of the ones written for Batuotuo.”

“He wrote poems for Batuotuo? Of course I’ll read it… again. Perhaps my cells will remember something Emmanuel doesn’t know.”


Whisper handed him the book and joined me on the other side of the loft.

“I’ve never lived in a house before,” she said with a bright smile, “and, maybe I never will. If I do, I think I’d like for it to feel like this. It’s so homey. You and Sept have managed to foster an environment so full of love.”

“You feel it, too?” I asked. “Oh, God! We’re both so love-drunk! I hope we don’t get arrested for under-age supplying!”


“Oh, you won’t!” Whisper laughed. “Emmanuel’s soul often feels this way. I do find it amazing that the soul-feelings have filled the house!”

The way she and Emmanuel spoke felt odd to me–formal, intellectual, so very spiritual. I wasn’t accustomed, at the time, to hearing everyday talk that referenced souls.


Whisper went downstairs to try our piano, and Sept came up, trailing Octy, who had just arrived with Sebastion.

“Look who’s here!” Sept said. “The little grape himself!”

“Greetings, pagoto.” Emmanuel set down the book of poems and followed them.

“There you are, byu,” Sept said, drawing me into an embrace.

“Peoples!” Octy yelled. “Little kid here! Not in front of the kid!”


Emmanuel whistled. “You are slick! I certainly never anticipated moves like that from my contemplative mogoto. Perhaps I should engage in logos more often.” He snapped his fingers before pointing at me with both hands.

“You know the mind is the shortest route to a thinking-woman’s heart!” I joked.


Whisper rejoined us.

“Some women are more captivated by theories concerning aesthetics, I’ve found,” Emmanuel said with a smirk. She acted like she didn’t hear.

“Hi, Octy!” she said. “You’ve grown quite a bit since I last saw you.”

“I have a puppy. Your aunt gave him to me. He hasn’t grown. Not one inch.”


When talking to Whisper, Octy always referred to his mom as “your aunt.” I thought it was an idiosyncrasy. I learned later it was custom: Xirra was Whisper’s aunt before she became Octy’s mom: out of deference, she was, in conversation with Whisper, “Whisper’s aunt.” If he had been able to talk with Situ, he would have called her, “your sister.”

The brothers trotted downstairs to join Sebastion for a walk along the boardwalk.

The quiet that descended carried a hint of relief to me.

“Those two,” Whisper said. “Sept and Emmanuel. They’re always like that. They’re connected and, when they get to see each other in person, it’s like everything else fades away. Their world is consumed by the fact that their souls are in the same physical place at the same time.”

“I noticed,” I replied. “He seems closer to Emmanuel than to Octy, even, which I wouldn’t have guessed, since he was present at Octy’s birth and helped raise him. How do they feel a soul connection, when they’re connected by DNA?”

“Good question! I believe that the shared DNA draws two souls together. If circumstances permit, the souls will latch onto each other. They needed each other, and they chose to be brothers again.” She paused to smile. “Of course, this is all a theory. I don’t know the answer.”

“Has Manny described memories of past lives to you? Were they connected before, then?”

“I’ve seen Manny’s memories of his life as Batuotuo, and they were connected then, too.”

I didn’t know what that meant or how Batuotuo fit in. I had so many questions that afternoon, but I let them slide. There would be another time for answers.

Whisper looked as if she could see into me.

“When I first witnessed the bond, I felt as if I was intruding. I didn’t feel like I belonged near them, so I certainly didn’t think I belonged with them. I understand if you feel like an outsider looking in. Sometimes, I still do.”


I wanted to hug her. “That’s exactly how I feel.” I said. “We’re so new as a couple. When it’s just the two of us, I am slowly beginning to allow myself to believe that I belong in this life. But around others, it’s harder. I feel a little shaky today, to tell the truth. I’m not exactly like you, am I?”

“Are you referring to the differences in our species, or in how we fit into the many relationship dynamics that exist between us?”

“The whole package. You’re a family, with shared history, and you all come from the same place, and you think and talk alike, and here I am, stepping in from the outside. I only hope there’s room.” I felt, more than anything at that moment, the sting of my parents’ rejection.

“I believe that family is chosen,” Whisper said. “It has much to do with shared love and connection. If you and Sept have chosen each other, then there’s room! Soon, we’ll have shared history with you.”

“When I asked Sept why he loved me,” I said softly, “do you know what he said?”

Whisper shook her head. “I don’t. Will you tell me?”

“He said it was because I reminded him of Situ. She was your birth-mother, wasn’t she?”

“She was.”

“So maybe, if this thing works out in the long run, we can be family.”

“If he chose you because you reminded him of Situ, that means you’re already family and much more than that, I think. It means you’re home.”

“That’s exactly what he said!”

Through the years, I thought back on this conversation more times than I can remember. Every challenge, every danger, every time the rebellion separated us, every time I felt so tired I just wanted to give in and give up, every time it looked, to me, like Sept was putting everyone else ahead of me, ahead of our children, ahead of Mojo or any of the other scores of earth and space critters that found their ways into our family, I returned to this conversation. Home stays put. Home is what’s waiting when the wanderer and warrior return. Home is what brings life meaning. Home is the new sexy.

Sept called to us through the open window. He and his brothers had grilled up veggie burgers in the picnic area.

Walking to them, Whisper and I fell into an easy rhythm. I didn’t know at the time, but we would, through our lives, find ourselves countless times, shoulder to shoulder, matching strides, in companionable conversation and equally companionable silence.


“OK, peoples!” Octy shouted. “Everybody having fun?”

“One of my favorite things about visiting gotogo is being able to eat hot food with them,” Emmanuel said, taking a big bite of his veggie burger.

“What about cold food? Don’t you like ice cream, bagoto?” Octy asked.


“I ate cold food all the time at home: salad salad and fruit salad. Dreadful, huh? Would you believe me if I said I’ve never tried ice cream? Should I, pagoto?”

“Yes,” replied Octy, “because Pops says that a life without ice cream is not worth living!”

“I’m in trouble then,” Emmanuel laughed. “I’ll try some as soon as I can!”

The moon rose above Lighthouse Island. My heart opened at the sight of the moon, the silver clouds, the white cowslips shimmering in moonlight. But to see that beauty matched in a person! Whisper in the moonlight took away my breath.


“Living so close to the beach must be wonderful,” she said wistfully. “I don’t think I would ever get tired of watching the waves crash, the sun set, and the moon rise.”

“If that is what you desire, then that’s what will be.” Emmanuel looked around us. “The climate here is certainly appealing.”

Manny began to share his daydreams with Whisper about setting up a home base for her. In those early cocoon days, part of me worried at the prospect of Sept’s family becoming our neighbors. Sebastion was already looking for a house nearby for him, Octy, and Mop. If Manny and Whisper moved here, too, we would be surrounded by family. When would we ever get time to ourselves?


Sept and Sebastion joined us.

“Pops! I’m so glad you found a house you like!” Sept said. “And on the cove, too! Will you make an offer?”


When Sept turned to join his brothers for a walk on the beach, Sebastion lit into me.

“Mallory! Octy reported that you and Septemus made out in front of him! What did I tell you about PDA? Not in front of me, and not in front of my youngest son!”


“Just a minute, Mr. Sevens,” I said. “We were in our house, in our loft! I can’t help it if your youngest son happened to come up when we were doing what any engaged couple would do!”

“All right, all right!” Sebastion said. “You have a point. Just. Please. Not around me, and not around my little boy.”


Whisper watched the exchange with an amused, conspiratorial grin.

When Manny joined us, she shot a flirtatious glance his direction.

“I’m enthused you had time to come visit mogoto, Beloved,” Emmanuel said to her. “My soul has missed the presence of yours in my immediate vicinity.” He blew her a kiss. “I do hope you’re adoring school thus far, but I believe you and I should meet on a more frequent basis henceforward.”


Sebastion flinched.

“That’s what couples do!” I said to him, under my breath.

“I will always have time for you and Sept,” Whisper giggled. “And I definitely will not oppose meeting on a more frequent basis henceforward.”

“I do mean what I’d offered earlier,” Emmanuel said. “If you enjoy this place, I’ll find a way to get you here. Anywhere, for that matter.”

Sept and Octy returned from the moonlight walk. Sept gave his dad a big hug, as if it had been months, not minutes, since they’d last seen each other.


It hurt, just a little, to see the affection between father and son. I tried not to remember that my father chose not to be my dad anymore. Even when he had been my father, he had never hugged me like that.

“Octy says if you guys move here, he wants to have lots of sleep-overs,” Sept said.


“We can have movie nights,” I said. “Popcorn, ice cream, and zombies.”


Sept wandered off to look at the stars, just peeking out behind the clouds.

“Did I hear you right, Emmanuel?” Sebastion asked. “Are you thinking of moving here, too, with Whisper?”

“Only if she wishes it, Pops. Though I do quite enjoy the atmosphere, as well as the idea of living near mogoto. I believe we are opposite sides of the same magnet. He is my positive pull, you see, and where he goes I will always go, at some point. It’s where I feel I’m meant to be.”

I rose from the table, feeling Sept’s magnet-pull exert its force on me.


We looked at the stars in silence while his family talked of setting up new homes here in this town by the bay.

“Quick,” I said. “Your pops isn’t looking!” I snuck in a kiss on the cheek. “I love your family,” I whispered. “I think I’m beginning to feel at home.”

“Wherever you are is home for me,” he replied.


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Author’s note: This chapter is set a few years ahead of where Ny and Ally’s stories are as of date of publication. Think of this as a preview for Whisper and Alienated , rather than spoilery!

Thank you to Ny275 and Allysimbuilds for co-writing this with me! They contributed Whisper and Emmanuel’s dialogue, insights into the characters’ psychology and relationship dynamics, and ideas for future plot developments.

Septemus 75

Cross Country and Home


I took a day for myself. Xirra and Shésti were coming the next day, and Whisper and Emmanuel soon after.

My mind still spun with the jokes of Panda and the worries of Anakin, and I needed to let the wind blow through me to clear everything out.

Some of the kids I run with at school talked about training at the state park at Oasis Springs, which is criss-crossed with trails and open spaces. I got up early and caught a bus.

By noon, I was running through the desert.


I had been here before. Once.

The crash site was near here.


I didn’t know where, exactly. It had been cordoned off, the records classified. I could have found a way to get them, if I’d wanted. But I didn’t. I didn’t feel a need to.

Still, once I was there, I felt it all around me.


The crash happened here, the defining event for the lives of one-hundred-and forty-five of us, plus those who care for us.


I couldn’t hear the silence of the desert for the pounding of thoughts and fears, trying to get in, banging to get out.


I hit the trail before I even decided to run, and my legs moved, propelled by an energy that didn’t seem to come from within me.


It could be anywhere, any valley, any clearing, any ravine where young trees grew back from a fire fifteen years before.


The trail wound upwards through rock bluffs.


This was where it had happened, somewhere around here.


I ran up the trail until it ended at a rock cliff, and then I climbed.


Pulling myself up the final ledge, I found myself in a high meadow.

The breeze carried the dry scent of sage and cinquefoil.


I fell into myself. My hearts slowed with each breath. It is beautiful here.


My legs ached from the running and my shoulders were tight and sore.

I stood at the edge of the cliff and looked over the valley.

I had seen those distant mountains before. I shuddered.

Hands held me, a soft voice spoke. The scent of strawberries.


The scent of strawberries. What memory had that come from?


The road snaked between cliffs. My legs trembled.

The sound of a truck rattling down the road, its cargo clanging with every bump. “Keep them safe! Drive slower!”

A whisper and a song.


A cactus wren sang from the top of a creosote bush.

Blue morpho butterflies hovered over the desert poppies.


This planet is so beautiful.


I lay down in the sun in a clearing.

Our ship had been up there, in this very sky.


Xirra told me that it burst into flame when it entered the planet’s atmosphere.


My legs began to shake. I didn’t stop them. I lay on the desert floor, while tremors rattled through me.

I closed my eyes.

Situ held me. She whispered to me, kissed my forehead, and placed me gently into the travel pod.

The walls echoed with the clang of the metal clasp as it snapped shut.

I opened my eyes and breathed to let the tremors fade. Something inside me knew both not to stop the shivers when they came, but also not to go too far, too deep, too soon.

I breathed and looked back at the sky.


When I was ready, I closed my eyes and let the memories return.

It was dark and still inside the pod.

Then the language-learning tapes began.

“Hello! Can you tell me the way to the library? Thank you very much!”

“Hello! Can you tell me the way to the library? Thank you very much!”



Silence. My ears burst from the pressure.

I opened my eyes again. I breathed.

It’s OK, I reminded myself. I am safe. Sanghi.

I felt the warmth of the sun. I listened to the wren sing. I thought of Pops, Octy, Panda, Anakin. I breathed. I remembered that Xirra was coming, with Shésti, and Whisper and Emmanuel would come. I thought of of Xilla, Kedi, little Fi, the little songbird Taimi, Momo, Rocket, Amber. We were all on the ship together. Oriana, Cheddar, and more, whose names I didn’t know, whose songs I hadn’t yet heard, but we were here together.

This is my home.

I thought of Situ, who brought us here.


I closed my eyes again, and I sank into the dark silence.

Still. Black.

I was clawing, pushing, kicking. The shell didn’t budge. My legs trembled and I pushed.

A crack of light.


A white ring opens.

I cry out. The light hurts my eyes.

Hands hold my ribs, and I am lifted out.

Yozimufi. Sanghi,” says a soft voice, don’t cry, you’re safe, and I smell strawberries. Something that feels like water brushes my face–a blond braid.

“Stop!” shouts a voice. “Don’t open the others! We have to get them back to the lab!”

I am nestled into warm arms, and the strawberry voice hums a lullaby that Situ used to sing.

When the trembling stops, I open my eyes and rise, unfurling.


I am home.

I look across the wide desert. My ears fill with the songs of vireos and the scents of home: sage and sand and wind and rain and the dry dirt composed of carbon, nitrogen, potassium, and sulfur. The minerals of home.

I’m not Baxin’ivre. I am Septemus Sevens, and this is the site of my birth.


This is where I am supposed to be.

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