|posted on 6-Sep-2001 11:12:40 PM|
|Xan by Transparent Clear|
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, except Xan, of course.
Summary: Takes place after the psychic scene in EoTW... no future Max, no s*x w/ Tess, nothing... Years in the future, Liz must tell the truth to her daughter...
~*~ Part 1~*~
I’m Alexandra Maria Isabella Parker. My parents are Max Evans and Elizabeth Parker. They aren’t married, and they never were. They don’t live together, and I’ve never spent more than a matter of hours at a time with my father during my entire life. I know nothing about him from him. I know that he went to high school with my mom. They went to college together, and then just as Mom finished medical school, he left. He returned every once in a while to check on us, not often enough to settle down with us, though. Everything I know about him is from my Mom, aunt Maria, and uncle Alex. They are the only family I really have.
Growing up, they told me so many wonderful stories about my father, his sister, and their ‘brother’, and there were so many pictures of my father everywhere in our house. It was like my mother needed him all around her. It was almost like having him with us. Almost. But he wasn’t there. I wish he had been with all my heart, but there were things keeping him away. Things I wasn’t old enough to know about, my mother said. Things that never allowed him to visit for more than a few hours. Things that kept him from dancing with me when I learned to cha-cha. Things that kept him from being there for my mom when she was scared and alone. Things that kept me from feeling like I was truly his daughter.
I always wished that I knew what those things were. No one would ever tell me, not even Alex who I could normally charm into giving me anything I wanted. I always heard that I would find out when I was grown up and mature enough. Well, I’m 17 ½ now. Doesn’t that make me old enough and mature enough? Mom lets me drive her car and stay out as late as I want. I’m capable of handling anything. Or at least, that’s what I thought. Besides, what could my mother possibly tell me about my father that would be so hard for me to understand? I mean, I already knew he was a deadbeat father and unsupportive lover. I knew that the love he claimed he felt for us was probably more my mother’s dreaming than his real feelings. What could she say that could possibly change my opinion of him?
I knew I was being unfair going into this conversation I wanted with my mother with this preconceived idea that he had hurt the two of us. Maybe I just wanted the truth for a change. I wanted my mother to admit the truth that Max Evans had treated her horribly for the past 17 years and she was still sitting here, taking it, loving him. I wanted her to go on with her life, get married, have another baby, and finally live like I always wanted her to. I wanted the two of us to get on with our lives without Max Evans lurking in the shadows.
I never realized how involved in someone’s life you could be without even being there.
One uneventful Tuesday night, over a dinner of chicken and potatoes, I looked across the table at my mother. She looked tired; she’d just put in 10 hours at the hospital in the lab. She was working on a new treatment for cancer that was taking up a lot of her time, but she was so close she couldn’t bear to leave it. I looked at her and saw a lot of me. We had the same long dark hair, but somehow mine was a little bit curlier. I guess that had to do with some genetics. And we had the same body type: petite and slim. Everyone always said we looked alike, and I loved it. I loved my mother more than anyone or anything in this world, and I didn’t care who knew it. She was my best friend, biggest supporter and loyal protector. “Mom?” I wasn’t really sure how to start the conversation I thought we needed to have, but I knew that if I was honest with her, she would be as honest as she could with me. That was the agreement we lived by: honesty for honesty.
“Yes, Alexandra?” She smiled at me. She always called me Alexandra when she thought that I wanted to be treated like an adult. Otherwise, she called me Xan, a nickname whose origins I never really knew. I liked it, though. I sometimes dreamt about important people in my life calling me Xan, I knew it wasn’t my mother, Maria or Alex by their voices, but I could never see who those people were.
“I have a question that I really want answered.” I looked her in the eye. Our eyes were different. Her brown eyes were more of a dark coffee brown; mine were more a milk chocolate brown.
“About your father?” She always knew what was on my mind. It was like a super case of mother’s intuition.
“Yes. And I’m tired of hearing that I’ll be able to understand this better when I’m older. I’m 17, older than you were when you met and fell in love with him. Just tell me where he is, what he’s doing, the truth about him and you and me. I know there are all sorts of secrets around what I’m asking, but I need to know. As much as you can tell me.” My voice cracked. I couldn’t express how much I wanted an answer to what I was asking.
My Mom looked at me. Her eyes started to waver a little, like she was about to cry. I think she was finally accepting the truth about me. Her little girl was growing up and needed to know the truth about her life. “All right, I guess you are old enough to know everything. This might be a little hard for me to talk about, though. I’ve never really told anyone the whole story of us before so bear with me.”
“I will, Mom.” I touched her hand to give her some support. Nothing she could say to me would change my opinion of her, she must know that.
“Before I say anything else, I want you to know that your father loves you more than anything. More than himself, even.” Her voice was so even and smooth. I loved listening to her talk like that. I always tried to emulate her voice in conversation and I usually felt I had failed to capture it.
“Does he love you the same way?” I whispered. I had heard her say that he loved her all my life, and I just wanted to hear it again. Even though I was seriously mad at him for leaving us, his supposed love for my mother was one of the few things that made me feel any real connection to him at all.
“Yes.” She smiled this special smile she only got when she thought about my father. “That’s why he’s not with us right now. He doesn’t want anything to happen to us.”
“I don’t understand. What could happen? What could be so bad that he can’t be with us for a week or even a full day? All my life he’s been visiting for a few hours, and you just hold on to that, Mom, like it’s all you can have. I’m tired of seeing that. I hate hearing you cry when he leaves and I hate that you miss him so much that you can’t go on with your life. I barely know him, and yet I feel this weird connection to him that I hate because I can’t understand it. I don’t know him, but I feel like I’m supposed to love him, and then I feel guilty because there are times when I really don’t. I hate him for leaving us like this!” It all came pouring out of me in a mess of tears and deep breaths for fear that I was hyperventilating.
My mother reached across the table to me and let her palm run across my cheek. “Xany, God, I’m sorry. I should have told you this long ago. I shouldn’t have let you live with those feelings for so long. I’ve let you misunderstand possibly the most important person in our lives to the point that you could hate him because I was afraid to tell you this.” She wiped my tears away. “Let me just tell you the story. You know some of it, but the most important stuff you don’t.” She took a deep breath. “I met your father when we were kids in elementary school, but I didn’t really know him until years later when he walked into the Crashdown and changed my life.” She smiled. “He was the quiet kid in elementary school who always seemed to know just when to look my way. He was the quiet one in the back of the class; just waiting it seemed for something. He was the cute one at the Crashdown who always sat in my area so that I was always the one to bring him his fries and Cherry Coke.” She looked pointedly at the drink I was drinking. I loved Cherry Cokes even though my mother hated them. Of course, I liked them with a special ingredient, but it was still nice to see whom I got that taste from. “We were both 16 the day he walked into the Crashdown and stared at me like he knew me better than anyone. And that was the day my life nearly ended.” She looked at me, knowing that I couldn’t understand what she really meant to say.
“Maria and I were working, and there was a pretty decent crowd. Max was sitting with his friend Michael at one of my tables, as usual. I had just brought them their food when out of nowhere; these 2 guys come in wearing black hoods. They’d just robbed the bank on the corner and were being chased by the cops. It felt like an eternity, but it was only a couple minutes before they were getting ready to leave again. And then something distracted one of the men and the other got scared, and he pulled out a gun to threaten us. The 2 men started talking and didn’t really… I don’t know what was going through their minds. But the gun went off, right at me. The bullet hit me in the stomach.”
“You were shot? But I’ve seen your stomach, and there are no scars. Is it still inside you or something?” I started worrying for her health. What if it was lodged somewhere and it moved and hurt her? Could she have lived for so long with a bullet in her? Could she have had me with a bullet in her stomach? This didn’t make sense.
“No. Max came around the counter and looked me in the eyes. He had the clearest brown eyes, Xan. They were so intense.” She smiled. “A lot like yours.” I grinned. I hated to admit how much I loved it when my mother told me that I was like my father. It made me feel close to him. “He reached out to me and touched my stomach. We made this connection, and the bullet was gone and I was healed.”
“What?” I couldn’t have heard that correctly. She was talking like she was crazy!
“Your father saved my life.” Her calm, rational voice said slowly.
“I don’t understand.” My mind was swimming. “How?”
“He dissolved the bullet inside of me. I didn’t need to have surgery or anything, because there was no bullet inside me.” She said it so scientifically, like there was no argument or no way to misunderstand it.
“How did he do it?” There was no way he could do that. No one could.
“Your father has special abilities, Alexandra. He can heal people just by brushing his hand over the injury. He can do so much good.”
“But---” My head was swimming as I tried to understand what she was saying. “Mom, that’s impossible---“
“Your father is an alien, sweetie,” she smiled. “In his own words, he’s not of this world.” She kind of laughed at that like she was remembering something.
I jumped up. “Ok, Mom, now this is not funny! I really want to know the truth about my father, and you tell me these lies?” How could she do this to me? Couldn’t she see how badly I wanted to know the truth? How could she lie to me?
“They’re not lies. He is an alien. He came to earth in the 1940’s. He was in an incubation pod, kept alive until he was “born” in the 1980s. He was with his sister and another boy. They were born from their pods at 5 years old. The Evans’ found Isabel and Max on the highway and adopted them. Michael hid and wasn’t adopted. They were separated until they were nearly 7, when they found each other again at school. They discovered that they had all sorts of special powers. For instance, they could heal things and pop into the dreams of each other and eventually people they didn’t even know. They tried to stay separate from the human population, but they couldn’t. They had to live in the society around them, so they decided to hide their powers from everybody, even their parents. And they did, until the day I was shot and Max used his powers to save me.” She said it so quickly and surely that I didn’t think it could be a lie. She didn’t even have to think about a single word she said.
“Mom,” I was crying. I was scared of what was being said, and of what was going on. I didn’t want to believe that this was the truth, but at the same time, I couldn’t think of anything I could say to deny it. My mother never lied to me.
“Oh, Xany, I know how scary this must be to hear out of the blue. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know any other way to say it except getting it out as quickly as possible,” she squeezed my hand again.
“So my father is an alien?” I whispered. Silently, the voice in my head said, “That means I’m an alien.” I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around understanding that.
“Yes.” She looked me straight in the eye.
“What else happened? Keep telling me the story.” I urged her like I used to urge her to continue my bedtime stories when I was younger. Only this wasn’t a story about princes and princesses; this was my past.
“Well, Isabel and Michael were furious that Max told me the truth, but I’d forced him to. I’d threatened to blackmail him or go to the cops. He told me, and I couldn’t keep it bottled up inside me with no one to talk to, so I told Maria.”
“Aunt Maria knows? She would never tell me!” And God knows I had asked Maria for the truth at least a thousand times over the years.
“I made her promise not to.” She didn’t explain why and it didn’t look like she wanted to.
“So what happened?”
“We all became a group: me, Max, Isabel, Michael, Maria, and eventually Alex.”
“Uncle Alex knows too?” Every person I thought I could ever trust was involved in keeping me in the dark apparently.
“He was with us, Xan. Please don’t look at me like everyone’s betrayed you. They haven’t. We just had to make a lot of decisions that have wound up affecting all of us. We did what we thought was right, and while I do regret some of it, I can’t second guess the judgments we made then.” She said defensively.
“Mom, I know. It’s just so odd to believe that there are so many people in my life who know the truth about my father, but I don’t.”
“I know, love. I’m sorry.” She reached across the table and took my hand.
“What are they like? Max, Isabel and Michael, I mean? They all have powers? I mean, my father could heal you. What else could they do? And are they all really related or is it just by that adoption?”
“Isabel is Max’s sister. She is so incredibly beautiful. She has this outer persona of an ice princess, but once you get to know her, it’s so different. She protects what she loves with everything in her power. She had a really hard time accepting me because she was afraid I was going to take her brother away from her, but once we got to know each other, Is became one of my best friends. She eventually got together with Alex, and they were so great together. Alex was more alive with Isabel than in any other situation I’ve ever seen him in, I wish you could see them together, and Isabel was the same way. She was able to break down some walls when she was with Alex for some reason. It was beautiful to watch them together. Isabel has a power we called dream-walking. She could just go into people’s dreams and see into their subconscious. It was a really cool gift, but it was also so intrusive when she did it without permission. She found out far too much about me and my feelings for your father by dream-walking me.”
I smiled. I had an aunt. That was so incredible to realize. I had another aunt somewhere out there who was probably in some measure like me. I wanted to meet her! “What about Michael?”
“Michael Guerin thought he had to be a stone wall against humanity. He didn’t want to need any of us. He wanted to be on his own and to hell with everyone else. All he cared about was Max, Isabel, and finding his home. Then Maria came into his life and turned it upside down. It’s hard to say who needed whom more with those two. They were like this little codependent thing: she needed his strength and he needed her freedom. He had the soldier role of their group, and he lived up to that reputation. He has these amazing defensive powers. But deep down, he loves art. He’s really talented, too.”
I smiled. I wanted to know more about these people that were my family, but I sensed that Mom needed to get the rest of the story out. “What happened after he healed you?”
“Well, we lived in Roswell, New Mexico. People were always suspicious that there were aliens around us. The cops never left Max alone after he saved me. They knew, somehow, that there was a secret among us. We played around a lot trying to act like we weren’t hiding anything, but I think it was probably obvious to anyone who watched us. I mean, Max and I would spend hours just holding hands because when we touched each other we could feel everything each other felt. We got these incredible flashes of each other’s memories. It was so intense, Xany.” She smiled, remembering. “We had a lot of problems, though. Max became convinced that we needed to be apart, that there was no way for the 2 of us to be together due to certain planetary differences, but I couldn’t give up on him. I knew he was my soulmate and your great-grandmother Claudia had taught me young to never give up your soulmate. Even when someone else came between us, I didn’t give up on him.”
“What does that mean? Someone came between you?” Was that why my father had left?
“There was another alien on earth, a girl named Tess. She was sent with them, but she came out of her incubation pod after Max, Isabel and Michael did, and they didn’t meet until we were all 16 and in high school. She came to Roswell with another alien who was her protector, with claims that she remembered their home planet and the way things were supposed to be. According to her, Max was the King of their planet, Antar, and she was his queen in their past life and was destined to be his queen in their new life, and Isabel and Michael were supposed to be together, too.”
“Dad was married to her in his past life back on this other planet? And they sent them all to Earth so that they could find each other again?” I hated to even think about that. I mean, I was hearing that my father was supposed to be married to someone other than my mother. That wasn’t right! Even though they weren’t married now and technically weren’t even together now, it felt wrong to imagine that they weren’t supposed to be. Did that mean that I wasn’t supposed to be born? It was almost like being the child of divorced parents to find out that one of them was starting a new family, where the old family would be forgotten.
“In his past life on their home planet, they were supposed to be together, yes. And they were supposed to be together in this life, too. We even heard a message about that from Max and Isabel’s own mother. After everything we had been through up to that point, I was totally committed to Max, and he was to me. But hearing his own mother say that he was supposed to be with Tess, for the good of his people, made me feel so selfish and greedy. So I walked away from him. I decided to give up what we had together so he could fulfill this destiny he was supposed to be living. I left him so he could save his planet.”
“You walked away?” I whispered. My mother was so devoted to him. I couldn’t imagine her leaving him back then if she wouldn’t even go out on a date with another person now.
“I did. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, walking away from the cave that day. I could feel how much Max loved and needed me, but I kept walking. I had to. I forced myself to try to give him up, all the while knowing that there would never be another person in my life like Max. But he didn’t give up on me. That’s what always kept us together. It would have been so easy to just give up on us, but Max eventually convinced me we were meant to be together, no matter what Tess or his mother said about his destiny.”
I smiled, revealing some of the romantic in me. “How did he convince you? Can you tell me or would it take away from this story?”
She smiled. “I can tell you. I spent the summer in Florida with my aunt, and when I got back, he was waiting. Every day, he would tell me I was meant to be with him and vice versa. Every day, he would tell me that the only destiny he wanted in his life was what we made together. I refused, thinking I had to. And then one night, Maria, Alex, and I, who were all having alien love problems, went to a psychic and she told me that I was going to be with Max, that he would choose me over his destiny. Now Max had been saying that to me for months, but it just really clicked in my head when someone who didn’t even know us, told me that we would be together.”
“You trusted a psychic?” I laughed.
She smiled. “Yes, I did. I guess we believe what we want to believe. That night, he came to my balcony and sang me this ridiculous Spanish love song, and I knew that things had changed between us. He tossed me this bouquet of red roses from the street, but before they reached me he remembered that I liked white roses, and he used his powers to change them.” I wanted to sigh, that was so beautiful. “He climbed the balcony, as he did a lot, and just looked at me, and I gave in. I kissed him and it was so incredible. It was like everything around us stopped and the world was all right. It felt like there was all this extra electricity in the air, but that didn’t stop us. We connected and nothing else mattered.” She blushed a little. “Sorry for the over-share, Xan, but—“
“It’s all right,” I whispered. “I needed to hear that, I think.”
“We decided to make our own destiny which let me tell you really pissed Tess off, but eventually she fell in love with another one of our friends, Kyle Valenti, and after that she was a little easier to deal with. We survived high school somehow, and we all broke up to go to college. Max and I went to college and then medical school together--“
“He’s a doctor, too?” I realized I’d never even thought about what my father did for a living.
“He said it felt only natural for him to use his gifts.”
“Where were the others? Maria, Alex, Michael, and Isabel? Kyle and Tess?” I asked about them last, not really wanting to think about her. Irrationally, I felt like she had robbed my parents of something important. I felt like she had taken something important from me.
“School, too. Michael and Maria went off to Berkeley together. Maria shocked us all and decided to study business, and Michael gave in and studied art. Alex went to MIT for computer science, and Isabel followed going to Harvard to study chemistry. That was a shock, too. We’d all expected Isabel to just become this incredibly famous model; she was beautiful enough to do it, but she ended up studying chemistry. We got together on holidays and vacations. Your Dad and I were in New York so we took trips to Boston every once in a while, and Alex and Isabel used to visit us, too. We were like a little family. Tess and Kyle stayed in Roswell. Tess actually wound up working in the Crashdown as an assistant manager for my father while Kyle became a police officer like his father. They weren’t as involved in our family as maybe they should have been, but there were still a lot of problems between us all, a lot of unresolved issues between me and Tess, especially. We were still there for each other, though.”
“Why did they leave?” It sounded to me like they all had the perfect lives. Why would they want to just quit them?
“During our last year of medical school, the fear started again. We had felt safe when we were away from Roswell, in places where no one knew us. Michael and Maria were still in Berkeley. Michael had an art studio over their apartment, and he worked in a motorcycle repair shop for money, and Maria was manager of a cute little restaurant called Bistro. Isabel was working for a cosmetics chain, developing new formulas for long-lasting lipsticks. She’d found her calling. Alex was working for a think tank at MIT on artificial intelligence. And your father and I were in our final year of interning. We were all so happy. But then we found out that the FBI was looking into the ’47 crash again. They started looking into the things that happened with all of us, too. The underlying sense of fear that we all tried to ignore started growing. On the same day, Max, Michael, Isabel, and Tess were all visited by FBI agents who were asking questions about things that had happened while we were all in high school. It freaked us all out. We got together in New York. Michael, Max, and Tess were adamant that they had to leave all of us and go “underground”. They thought it was the only way to keep everyone safe.”
“And you, Maria, and Alex just let them go? What about this Kyle guy? Didn’t he want to stop the woman he supposedly loved from running away?” I exclaimed. How could my mother let the love of her life just walk away without even trying to stop him? It didn’t seem like a very Elizabeth Parker kind of thing to do. Wasn’t she the one who held on for too long?
“Of course not!” My mother exclaimed back. “We all begged to go with them; we swore that we didn’t care about our own safety. Kyle said that his police training might help them fight whatever was coming after them, but they refused us. They wanted us to be safe, Max kept saying that over and over again.”
“What about Isabel?” I asked. I’d noticed that Mom hadn’t really mentioned Isabel in that decision. I had to wonder if she had wanted to leave Alex if she loved him half as much as I imagined she did.
“Isabel was so torn up, Xan. She loved Alex more than anything, we all knew it. When he was around, she just seemed to shine brighter for some reason. But of course, that could be said about all of us. She knew what Michael and Max were going to say before they said it; she could feel it. She started crying before they even got the words out, but she didn’t say anything against leaving us. She knew that they needed to leave the country, to find some place where no one would know them or what had happened with all of us. And I think she knew that if we went with them, they’d never really be able to disappear. There would always be a trail with 8 people together. The 4 of them had learned young how to adapt and pretend to be something they’re not.”
“So they just left you? What was it? A quick decision, throw some things in a bag, and adios?” I wanted it to be like that. I wanted to be angry with them for that. I needed to be. I thought it might stop some of the pain I felt for my mother to be left alone without her soulmate. And where did I come into this picture? If my father left her, she had to be getting pregnant soon.
“No, that’s not how it happened, Xan. Your father and I only had a few more weeks of medical school left. Max knew how important it was to me and to his family that he graduate, so they decided to wait until school was over. I think they also figured that since everyone was going to be at the graduation it would be a perfect time to say goodbye without letting them all know it was a goodbye. I begged him every day for two weeks to take me with him. I threw myself at him, I cried, I seduced, I did whatever I thought might work. Nothing I tried worked, unfortunately. Graduation night, the night before he was going to leave, I cried and cried and made him promise to keep in touch somehow because I couldn’t imagine living without him. And he held me and told me all these wonderful things that he knew about us and memories that were so simple I had nearly forgotten them, but he never had. And that was the night you were conceived, Xan.” She smiled gently at the memories.
“Did he know you were pregnant when he left?” I thought it might be one of his powers to know what was going on with his soulmate. I kind of liked the idea that he knew about me from the first moments of my life.
“I think that somehow he probably knew. I mean, he always knew so much about what was going on with me. Maria used to say that he knew me better than I knew myself. So I like to think he did know about you.” She smiled.
“But he left anyway?” How could he leave my mother, knowing that she was going to have his child? How could he leave her alone? I couldn’t believe anyone could do that: leave your pregnant soulmate without even thinking about her.
“He had to, Xan, and I understood. It was the only way to keep him and the others and their secret, your secret, safe.” She held my hand again. “He came back the day you were born, sweetie. Just him, and he came to the hospital room where Maria and Alex were keeping this constant vigil over us to make sure we were all right, to make sure you didn’t do anything too weird.” She smiled and ruffled my hair. “And Max walked in. I couldn’t believe it. I’d been dreaming that he would be there during your first hours and then there he was. His face looked so much older, which was hard to explain considering he’d only been gone for 9 months, but they’d been through so much. He held you for hours, Xan, just staring at your face, and we decided on your name. He said he’s always loved the named Alexandra, but that he wanted you to be called Xan.”
“Why?” I’d always wondered why my family called me Xan instead of the more popular Alex or Lexi. I mean, I’d always loved it, but it was definitely unusual.
“That was his name on his home planet. And it served a second purpose,” she said cryptically. “And then he asked me to never tell anyone other than Maria, Alex, and Kyle who your father was. He didn’t want you to be in danger from him, and he knew that if people ever found out he was your father, you’d be in danger. The same people hunting him would be hunting you.”
“But wouldn’t everyone have figured it out that I was Max’s daughter based on the fact that you and he had such a close relationship for so long?”
“The day everyone left, Alex and Maria moved in with me. We put his name on your birth certificate. As far as anyone knows, officially, Alex is your father.” That shocked me. I’d never even thought about my birth certificate before. “It was Max’s idea, sweetie. He thought it would keep you safer.”
“I just can’t believe that I never thought about that before. Was Alex okay calling me his daughter?” I thought I knew the answer to that. Alex was one of my best friends. I loved him like a father anyway. He was there for me in a lot of the situations Max should have been there for.
“Of course, he was. He loves you like you’re his, anyway.”
“Was Max okay with it?” How did my father feel knowing that his only child was considered to be legally someone else’s?
“I think he forced himself to be. He trusted Alex and wanted you to be safe. He could rationalize that.” She smiled. “But I think it reassured him that you went by Parker. Technically, you could have gone by Whitman, but… it wasn’t right. We all knew that.”
“How long did he stay?”
“Just that one day and then he had to go back before anyone figured out who he was.”
I should have figured that. His visits were always short. “And you only see him when he comes to visit you? Have you seen Michael or Isabel or Tess since they left?”
“No. Max always sneaks away when he can to come see us. He never tells me where they’re living or what they’re doing. I just know that unless I get a call from him, everything is okay.”
“And what if you get a call from someone else?” I whispered.
“Than my life is torn apart.” My Mom whispered. I could see her eyes get dark with pain first and then watery with tears she would not allow herself to cry. If she started crying now, I didn’t now if she would stop.
I felt the need to hug her like I was 4 years old and scared of the dark again. “I know things will be okay, Mom. You and me are together, and we’re safe, and that’s what’s most important. Right?” Wasn’t that the point of my father leaving? We had to be safe.
“I know, love. I just wish you could know the rest of your
The idea of having a bigger family than just Mom, Alex, Maria, and me sounded so incredible to me. I’d always wanted a bigger family when I was little. I’d always wanted a little brother or sister to play with. I wondered if Mom felt the same way. “I wonder when he’ll visit us again. I’d like to talk to him about all this. I mean, he has to have some really cool perspectives on this whole alien thing. And,” I blushed a little, “I’d like to really talk to him as a daughter. I haven’t been the best child when he’s visited before.”
“I hope he visits soon, too, Xan, but there’s no predictor. Except I usually have a dream about him sleeping next to me before he shows up.”
“I wonder if I have any of their powers.” The idea that I could have powers suddenly occurred to me. I couldn’t imagine what that would be like.
“I’ve thought about that, too. I’m not sure. I guess now that you know the truth about everything, you’ll be able to see if what you’re doing is alien.”
“Mom, this is so unbelievable.”
“I know, sweetie. I feel that way a lot. But I know it’s real, you’re proof of that.” She smiled.
“So what about Michael and Maria or Alex and Isabel or Kyle and Tess? What happened to them?” I knew that Maria and Alex certainly hadn’t moved on in their love lives from Michael and Isabel. I wondered why I didn’t even know Kyle; where had he gone?
“First of all, Kyle went back to Roswell the day after they left. He just couldn’t be with us; he said it was too hard. We tried to keep in touch with him at first, but it was hard. About a year or 2 after they left, Kyle went missing. No one knows where he went or what happened to him. I know from Max that Tess left wherever they all are right around the same time, so we kind of just assumed that they’re together. We hope they are, anyway.” She looked a little sad for a moment, like she was wishing that that could have happened for her and Max as well. “After they left, Maria, Alex and I spent some time living together, scared for them and for ourselves because it had been so long since we’d been alone. And then we tried to go on with our lives, especially after I had you. We still lived together, and we all were raising you because I had such a hectic work schedule. We kept saying we should go out and start dating people again, but it was hard. I mean, we’d had our soulmates for so long, how could we be content dating someone who didn’t even know what we were thinking?” She smiled, but I could see the tears of truth in her eyes. “I think we used you as an excuse a lot, always saying that we wanted to watch you and make sure you didn’t have powers you couldn’t control. And it was so easy to say that we had to take care of you, rather than going out on the dates we were invited on. When you were 5, Alex’s job transferred him to Silicon Valley. And Maria decided she wanted to live in Seattle for a while. And then we moved out here in between them.” She smiled. “None of us have been in any serious relationships since they left. It’s really hard for us to imagine having a relationship with anyone else. Deep down we are all loyal to our first loves.”
“I’ve noticed.” I smiled. I always bothered my mom about how she was living a life more pious than a nun. I could totally understand why now, though. How do you live when your life has walked away? “But do Isabel and Michael ever come back to see them, too?
“Isabel visits Alex in his dreams all the time. Part of her dream-walking power is dream-creating. She can join their dreams so that they can share one. She never tells him where she is, but they can talk and be with each other as often as they’d like. Michael tries to see Maria sometimes. They sneak away for a couple days, with no warning. That’s why Maria is always her own boss. She wants to be able to leave whenever she can to go see Michael.”
“He like calls her and lets her know where and stuff?”
“Yeah. None of this is a perfect situation, but it’s the only one we can have. We’ve accepted the way it is, for the most part.”
“Than why doesn’t Dad call you like that? Why is he always so secretive about his visits?”
“That’s not the way your father and I work, Alexandra. I don’t like to evaluate this anymore than I have to. I’ve just accepted my life the way that it is. I’m not greedy enough to demand more.” She stroked my dark brown hair out of my face. “It might seem---”
She was starting to make excuses for her life to me. I couldn’t let her do that. She was living this way for me. “Exactly right, Mom. You’re doing the right thing.” I whispered. It wasn’t fair of me to start demanding that she find faults with the way she’d lived for 17 1/2 years. She did what she felt was right for us, and I love her for it. “I just want to see him again, now that I know the truth. I haven’t been very fair to him in the past. I’ve always resented him for not being with you and for leaving me. I understand why now, at least. I want to get to know him and Michael and Isabel.”
“I hope that someday you will, love. I think you could learn so much from them. And I know your Dad could learn so much from you.”
“Really?” I couldn’t imagine being able to teach my father something.
“You’re the most incredible person I know, Alexandra. I mean, you are so free and open and willing to share all your amazing gifts. I think your Dad could learn from that. He’s spent too much of his life hiding. With you, he’d see what it’s like to be open.”
I smiled. “Thank you for finally telling me all this, Mom. I really needed to hear it.”
“I know, baby. I think I really needed to tell it, too.” She smiled. “I’m going to call Maria and tell her I told you the truth. She’s been begging me to do it since you hit your teens.”
“I knew Maria would stand up for me!”
“Alex was ready to tell you the first time you looked at him with the eyes Isabel used to make that made anyone believe he was the only man in the room.”
“Alex usually was the only man in the room.” I stated the obvious.
“Well, I know that, but he doesn’t realize these things.” My Mom smiled. She kissed my forehead and went into the living room to get the phone.
I loved seeing her that way. She seemed so much younger and more beautiful and real when she honestly smiled like that. I started thinking about all the things I did that seemed different from my friends. Was this why I loved spicy foods so much? Why I crazed tabasco sauce on most everything I ate, even ice cream. And what about my powers? Did I have any? What would they be about? And then I started to wonder if I could get in touch with my father. It would be so cool to be able to dream-walk with him. Maybe I’d try that tonight. The only question was, how did you do that?
I sat down at my desk that night and opened my journal. I tried to write in it every night, regardless of what I had to say. It was a way for me to remember everything, I figured.
I finally know the truth. I can’t believe this! I am an alien. I wish I could say that that felt odd to say/write, but it doesn’t. It feels more right than anything I’ve ever felt before. I want to talk to my father! I need to tell him I understand why he left. I need to know what he’s like, really. I need so much to tell him that I love him. And I want to get to know my aunt Isabel and uncle Michael. They are so important to my life, and I don’t even know them. I’m going to try this alien power thing tonight called dream-walking or dream-creating, where I would enter the dreams of my father. I hope it works… I just want to see him again.
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 10/05/2001 01:06:24
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 10/05/2001 01:41:37
[ edited 1 time(s), last at 27-Jan-2002 1:25:43 PM ]
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 5:33:02 PM|
As I fell asleep, I thought about the person I most wanted to see. My father. And I fell into a deep sleep, but the dream wasn’t my own. I saw my father, looking young and in a high school hallway. Then my mother, at age 16 walked down the hall. She was wearing a navy blue t-shirt that said, “How many licks does it take?” and a picture of the Hershey’s owl on it. She looked so young and cute. He grabbed her hand and pulled her into a supply room. This must be the famous eraser room I’d heard so much about from my Aunt Maria. I did not want to see whatever was going on with them in there, but I wanted to talk to my father. I wondered if I could. Could I interact with my father in his dreams? My mom had explained to me that Isabel’s dream-walking had always just been watching, but I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to use these dreams as a way to get to know him. But how would I alert him that I was in the dream with them? The easiest way would be to knock on the door to the room. I wondered if it would work. Only one way to find out.
“Occupied!” My father exclaimed. I heard my mother giggle. I wanted to laugh, too, at the idea of interrupting my teenage parents making out.
The fact that he had even replied to my knocking told me that there was a way I could interact with the people in this dream, and no matter how cute my mother sounded, I wanted to talk to my father. “Dad?”
The door opened. My father was alone and his real age. “Xan?” He stared at me like he couldn’t believe that I was really there. How could he expect to see me though? He didn’t even know that I knew the truth about us.
“Hi.” I smiled an identical smile to the one he had on his face.
“I don’t understand. How are you doing this?”
“Mom finally told me the truth about you and me today. She said Isabel used to do this. I wondered if I could, just so that I could meet you without feeling angry with you.” I decided to be honest with him. He was my father; he deserved it. “I’ve never really been the best kid while you were around. I was always so mad that you’d left Mom and me without a word and that you’d never been there while I was growing up. So I wanted to meet you in here so that I could say that I understand why you did what you had to do and that I want to get to know you better.”
“Oh, Xan.” He whispered. “I never imagined that I’d get to meet you in here. I’ve wanted to talk to you about all this stuff for so long. I wanted to be the one to tell you, but whenever I came to see you, I always felt like you didn’t want to know anything about me.”
I had tears welling up in my eyes. I couldn’t believe we were talking so honestly. This was all I’d ever wanted. “I was scared. I thought that if I fell in love with you, I’d never be able to handle you leaving me. I didn’t want to get hurt. But now I can really get to know you, though. I can talk to you through this whenever I want, can’t I?” I was asking for permission for so much more than just dream-walking.
There was such a look of relief in my father’s eyes. “Of course. I want to know you, Xan, and I want you to know me. I think this will be an incredible way to do it.”
“Me, too.” I smiled. I almost guessed his next question.
“How’s your Mom doing? Was she okay telling you about all this?”
“She’s wonderful. I think it’s really relieving her that she told me about you. I know she’s worried about it, but now that I know, at least there are no more worries about me finding out the wrong way.”
“Why did she tell you today?”
“I kind of forced her. I sat her down and told her I was no longer a child and I deserved to know the truth about you.”
“That sounds a lot like something Isabel would do,” he smiled thinking of his sister at his daughter’s age.
“Will I ever get to meet her and Michael? There are so many things that I want to know about what I am that I know Mom just can’t answer.”
“Isabel and Michael would love to meet you, too, Xan. Maybe we can arrange a dream council or something. Isabel has been watching you grow up for years, by dream-walking you. She always said she just wanted to know her niece in case you ever needed her for anything.”
“I never felt her in my dreams.” Even as I said it, I wondered what that meant. How would I have felt her if I didn’t know she could do it?
“That’s because my sister is very good at what she does.” He smiled.
“It feels very good to hear you call me that,” he was nearly blushing as he said it.
“It feels good to say it.” I smiled and asked my question. “Will you ever come home again?”
“I want to, Xan. I just don’t want to put you and your mother in any danger.”
“Than let us meet you somewhere. I think Mom really needs you in her life right now. And I want to be able to hug you in real life.”
“Oh, me, too,” he whispered as I threw myself into his arms.
“Just promise me you’ll think about it.”
I heard an alarm going off in the distance. “Damn, it’s morning already.”
“Don’t curse. It’s a bad habit.” He teased.
“I guess I’d better wake up.” I didn’t want to. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was afraid that I’d never have this experience with him again.
“I love you, sweetie.” Then like he could sense my fear, he said, “I’ll talk to you tonight.”
I nodded, hugging him. “I love you, too.”
“Will you do me a favor? Tell your mother I love her.”
I woke up smiling.
“Why are you so happy this morning, Xany?” Mom asked me as she handed me a plate of eggs mixed with tabasco. She understood my cravings.
“I dream-walked last night into Dad’s dream.”
“What? You can do that?”
“Apparently. All I did was think about Dad, and I was there. It was so incredible, Mom. We talked all night.”
“Really? How does he look?” I knew she couldn’t help herself from asking.
“I can see why you fell for him.” I debated telling my mother about the beginning of the dream. I couldn’t let the opportunity slide. “So how many licks does it take?”
My mother’s eyes took a minute to focus after hearing that statement. Then it was like she remembered the shirt. “You saw me in his dream?”
“Yeah. I guess there’s really nothing you can ever say to yell at me, huh? I mean, you must have spent an awful lot of time in that eraser room.” I teased.
“Alexandra!” My mother blushed. I laughed.
“Mom, there’s something I’m wondering that I forgot to ask either you or him last night.”
“I’ll answer it if I can.”
“Is this why I love tabasco sauce? I mean, I go through it like it’s water some days.”
She smiled. “I’d forgotten to tell you that yesterday. Yes, it’s an inherited trait, apparently. Your aunt Isabel said it made the food taste real to them. When you were little and didn’t like your first foods, I found that mixing in some tabasco was the only way to make you eat.”
“This is just so crazy!” I wanted to twirl around in my chair, but I settled for laughing.
“I know, sweetheart. Believe me. I’ve been trying to understand it for 20 years.”
“Yes. One day when I was in high school, I had a shining moment of clarity where I understood everything, but I saw your father and any rational thoughts I had disappeared,” she smiled. We both laughed at the truth in that. I could tell just by looking in her eyes how head over heels she still was with my father, and I had seen the truth in him in our dream. They were perfect for each other, but they weren’t together. I felt partly responsible for that. I mean, if Mom hadn’t have had me, maybe she could have convinced him to let her go with him. “Hey, Xan,” my mother looked like she could tell what I was thinking, “don’t think like that.”
I looked at her. “How did you know what I was thinking?”
“Baby, we’ve always been connected, you know that. I’ve known parts of what you were thinking your entire life, from the minute I knew I was pregnant,” she whispered. “And you think like your father. He would naturally take all the responsibility for my happiness with him, just like you have for what you think is my unhappiness without him. But, Xan, you have to know that I love my life, even if I can’t be with Max. I have you, and we all know that that is more important than anything else to your father and I.”
“I know.” I whispered. I still felt bad that she’d missed out on so much with him.
“Xan, we do need to talk about this,” My mother said softly.
“We’ve talked about it, Mom,” I sighed, knowing what she really meant.
“No, I told you the truth about it. You know about your family now. The thing we need to talk about is how you are reacting to it. I mean, I know it’s a shock to find out this kind of truth about your family, and you’re taking it so well. When the rest of us found out that our friends were aliens, we took it interestingly. I mean, Maria probably sniffed a gallon’s worth of Cyprus oil in one day trying to calm down. Alex, he didn’t believe me at all for the longest time. He thought I was on drugs,” she smiled. “It took talking to Isabel to really convince him.”
“Well, I talked to Dad. And I know you wouldn’t lie to me, Mom.”
“But how do you feel about it? I mean, are you taking this as well as you appear to be?”
“How do I feel about finding out that my father is an alien? I don’t know if I could explain that in words. I mean, all my life I’ve known there was something special about him and me. I really have known that. But the thing was, I didn’t allow myself to think about it. I spent too much time angry with him to think about how we were alike. I didn’t want to be like him! I hated him for what he did to us. I thought he was just another deadbeat father who didn’t give a damn about you or me,” I said honestly.
My mother looked hurt that I had said that. “I let you believe that for so long, Xan. I knew you had negative feelings toward him—“
“Negative feelings? Mom, I hated him. I didn’t want him in our lives. I hated the way you always just lived for his one or two day visits every year. It killed me watching you cry as he left us again. I mean, I know you were trying to be brave for my sake, but I could see your hurt, even when I was young. That connection you mentioned, it works both ways, Mom. I felt how much his leaving hurt you. I knew he hurt you.”
“I understood why, though, Xan. I should have explained it to you so you could understand, too.”
I looked at my mother. She accused me of taking too much responsibility, but here she was covering for my father. “How do you explain to a 6 year old that the reason their daddy isn’t living with them is that he’s saving the world? You couldn’t have done anything, Mom.”
“I still feel like I could have made it better.”
“No, you couldn’t have. I know that. You would have tried, and I would have rejected it. The same way I rejected Dad every time he came to our home and disrupted the perfect ease we lived in. I couldn’t have friends over. I couldn’t tell anyone. Everything was such a huge secret where Dad was concerned. Had you told me he was an alien, I probably would have erupted or something.” I looked at her. “You were right to wait until now to tell me the truth. I can handle it now, I think.”
“Do you still feel angry towards your father? For leaving us, I mean?”
I looked at my feet. “I don’t know. In the dream, I just wanted him to see me as this great kid. I wanted to replace every bratty image he had of me with this perfect grown up one of the acceptance he craved. I didn’t even think about what I was really thinking.”
“I think you need to.”
“Mom, I know I need to figure out what I’m feeling but it’s so hard. I mean, what if I do still hate him? What if all these situations we’re in isn’t enough to make me understand why he did what he did? I mean, I understand the basics, but I still feel cheated out of a life with my whole family. And I feel like a horrible brat for even saying that. All of your lives were in danger; you separated out of necessity not want, and here I am complaining that I didn’t get to grow up with my father and aunt Isabel. That is so greedy of me!”
My mother looked at me sternly. “Never think of having emotions of your own as being greedy or selfish. The most important thing I ever learned from your great-grandmother was to follow your heart, and doing that is the only way I have ever gotten anything I wanted out of my life. Listen to your heart, Xan, promise me. That’s so much more important than feeling greedy and stuff. Everything else is bull shit.”
You could always tell when my mother was serious. That was the only time she would ever curse. “I promise, Mom.” She nodded.
“Thank you, baby. As far as feeling angry towards your father, I understand. And I think he would too. You need to talk to him about it.”
“How? Enter his dream and be like, Dad, I’ve spent a significant portion of the last 17 years hating you. I just thought you should know? I do not think that will work.”
“Just tell him the truth, Xan. I know how scary that can be to think about, but the biggest problems our family has ever gotten itself into were because we keep secrets and lie to one another. He will listen to you. I promise.”
I didn’t want to think about this anymore. I just wanted to put some distance between myself and the facts of what was going on. “I’m going to go to school.”
“I love you, Xany. We all do.”
“I love you, too.”
“Be careful, sweetie. I’ll see you this afternoon.”
I walked out to my car and drove to school. I waited for my boyfriend, Matt Cravens on the steps into the school, like normal. He was always later than me, for some reason, even today when I’d left the house later than I usually did.
“Hey, babe,” he kissed me hello.
“Hi, Matt,” I still had all these things floating around in my head. The most important thought I had was that I now had secrets to keep. I couldn’t tell anyone about my family, not even my boyfriend.
“Did you get that calculus homework done? It took me half the night.”
“I got it done.”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot who I was talking to. Brainiac Parker.”
“Ha ha,” I mimicked then turned serious. “Matt, how well do you know your parents?”
“Well enough. I really don’t want to know that much more than I do.”
“Do you know them well enough to tell the truth even if it means you’d probably hurt them?”
He looked a little confused by the answer. “I guess. I mean, they know me as well as I know them, I suppose. They know the difference between what I’m really feeling and what I think I should be feeling. They’re my parents.” Matt thought for a moment. “Man, Alex, is this about your dad? I’m sorry if…”
“No, it’s okay, Matt. I talked to my Dad last night. I got to know him a lot better.”
Matt looked interested. “He actually called? I thought you said he never called.”
“Well, he did last night. It was so incredible, Matt. I just want to know everything there is to know about him, and at the same time I feel like I have so much to talk to him about my own life. I need to explain things to him that are so hard to understand. It’s going to be so hard to wait until the next time he calls.”
“Why don’t you see if he’ll let you go visit for your summer vacation?” He suggested. “I mean, I’d miss you because you were going to be my primary source of amusement this summer, but I think I can find someone else to watch repeats of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with me. Maybe even someone I could beat.” He smiled.
I started thinking about spending the summer with my father. It sounded like such a brilliant idea. “Matt, you are a genius.”
“I know.” He held my hand and we walked into school.
After school I decided to take a nap. It was the weirdest thing. I hated to take naps, but today I felt like I had to. It wasn’t so much tired as a wanting to talk to someone about the truth. So I went home and climbed into bed. I didn’t even consider thinking about whether or not my father would be in my dreams. I knew he would.
He was standing, waiting for me, in a big green park. There were trees and flowers all over the place, and in one corner there was an awesome elaborate playground complete with sand box. And across from it was a basketball court that had a basketball just sitting on it waiting to be used. It looked like someplace families would go on picnics with their kids. I wondered if he ever dreamt that he was taking me and Mom for picnics. “Xany,” he hugged me.
“It was the weirdest thing. All day long I’ve felt like you were calling me or something, like you needed to talk to me.”
I smiled. “I guess I have needed to.” I could only imagine the frustration he was feeling at my cryptic tone. I just didn’t know how to begin this. I mean, I was so scared to have this conversation for some reason, and knowing that it was right in front of me was worrisome to me.
“Xan, what’s going on? I can tell you’re nervous or worried about something, but don’t be. There’s nothing you can say right now to be worried about.”
How did she explain that she wasn’t so sure about that? What she was about to talk to him about could very well hurt him, and she didn’t want to do that. She hated hurting people, and she worked so hard to make sure that she didn’t. But her mother was right; she needed to be honest. “Dad, um, we need to talk.”
“Is everything all right, honey?”
“Yeah…I—I don’t know. I just think that I need to be honest with you, and if I’m not it will just lead to bad things in the future.”
Out of nowhere, 2 big overstuffed blue chairs appeared in front of us. “Let’s sit down and talk. I want you to be honest with me always, Xan. I need you to know that I can handle whatever you need to tell me.” He looked at me. “I know I’ve messed up this relationship, quite a bit. I mean, I’ve never ever been there for you, in the way a father should be,” he sighed. “Alex is more of a father to you than I am.” He looked almost ashamed at the truth in that. “But I think if we can be honest with each other, that will make the difference. We’ll be closer to what we’re supposed to be, I guess.”
I looked into my father’s eyes and nodded. “I just am so afraid that what I need to tell you is going to hurt you, Dad. I don’t want to do that! I mean, I understand why you had to leave us, but… I still feel…” I didn’t want to go on.
“Xan, I promise you that no matter what you say to me, I will be fine. Your words may sting, but you know I love you---“
“And I love you, too,” I needed to make sure he knew that.
“Then just talk to me.” He smiled. “Pretend you’re talking to your mother.”
“Well, Dad,” she had to tease him, “I don’t think you want to hear all about what my boyfriend was wearing to school today, do you?”
My father looked at me and I knew what he was thinking. My little girl has a boyfriend? She’s not old enough!
I wanted to laugh, but instead I focused on what I needed to talk to him about. “Anyway, um, I need to….” I wanted to work it out in some easy little pattern like thing, but there was no way I could. I had to just be honest and let it out. The thing was, what teenager could imagine having this kind of a discussion with their parents? It wasn’t meant to happen! But then again, they said there were no such things as aliens, too. “Dad, I am so angry at you that it scares me.” I couldn’t look at him. “I’m sorry, but I am. And I don’t know how to stop it or change it. But at the same time, I love you, almost as much as Mom. I just am so afraid to trust you and to be honest and to even dream about a growing relationship between us because what happens if you suddenly have to go further away and I can’t connect to you?” I rushed the words out as tears started to slide down my cheeks.
My father reached out and hugged me. “Thank you for being honest with me, Xan. I’m sure there’s more you need to say, but I want to say a few things, too. First of all, never be sorry for your feelings. They are so integral in who you are that you should never be ashamed for them. They’re usually the only things that you lead you right.”
I looked up at him. “That’s what Mom said.”
He smiled. “She always was the smart one. Secondly, I
understand that you’re angry at me. I would have been surprised if you weren’t. Before you knew the truth of all this, Xan, you only knew that I was your father who left you and your mother before you were even born. You weren’t given any explanations or excuses. Of course, you’re angry with me. And then you see me once or twice a year and for those few days, your entire world flips upside down. Your mother is suddenly not your mother anymore, she’s someone different in the presence of this man who calls himself your father. You have the right to be angry with me for all that. I’ve always been afraid that the distance between us would cause you to hate me, and to be honest, that’s why I’ve been so afraid about telling you the truth.”
“Dad, I don’t hate you. I mean, I understand why you had to leave us, I do. I’m just still angry, and I don’t know how to get it to go away. I don’t want all this anger I feel to hurt the relationship I want to build with you. I want to be your daughter, and I want you to be my dad, but I’m afraid that I will always feel this resentment towards you for leaving us.” I was crying again. I didn’t want to be this person who held these long-standing grudges for things that had happened so long ago. But at the same time, how did I stop it? I mean, everyone always said you needed to just let it go, but how did you do that? “How do I get past this anger, Daddy?”
“I don’t know, baby. I want you to, of course. Maybe the secret to it is us building a stronger relationship. I mean, maybe it’s something that will change as time goes on. You have to learn to trust me. I need to be there for you for that. I think our dreams are going to help with that, baby. I mean, you’ll get to know me and you’ll start trusting me, I hope.”
“But I understand that it will take a long time for you to get past the anger. Getting to know me better will help that, but no matter what, know that it is okay that you’re angry with me.”
I looked at my father. I wanted to laugh at him for some odd reason. I mean, the way he was talking was great, but it also didn’t seem very real-fatherly. I mean, how many fathers told their kids it was okay to be mad at them? How many fathers even knew the resentment most kids hold against their parents? Was it just this super-sensitive side of my father that allowed him to talk about it so simply? Or was this another trait of an alien male: unbelievable sensitivity? I nearly started laughing at that.
“Thank you for understanding, Dad. And we will work on this, right?”
“Yes. I meant what I said last night, Xan. Now that we can dream-walk or dream-create with each other, we’ll be close. We’ll get to know each other. You’ll understand what’s happened to me since I left your mother. And I hope I’ll get to know what’s going on with you. For instance, I want to know about this boyfriend of yours. I want to know about what your friends are like. I want to know all the little things I’ve missed.”
I smiled. I wanted to tell him. “Okay. It might take some time to cover all that, but I want to.” I suddenly realized how lucky I should feel. I was going to get to share so many thing with my father. I had all these friends who would kill to get to talk to their parents like I could. I knew how badly some of them wished they could tell their parents the truth like I just had. I knew how much they would like to be able to get to know their fathers for real as a person with dreams, goals, and commitments and not just as a provider and disciplinarian.
Knowing that half of the fight in anything is attitude, I decide to think of myself as lucky. I get to get to know my father. I get to ask him the questions I want answered. I get to know my father as a person, Max Evans, instead of just as my father. I think that’s pretty cool.
“Xan, I was talking to Isabel and Michael about talking to you,” he started looking at me. “They’d like to meet you.”
“Like in a dream-council or whatever?” I started to get excited. I could get to know the entire alien side of my family.
“Yeah, tonight. Are you ready to meet them? Or do you just want to talk to me tonight? We can get some things settled.”
I looked up at him. “I would really love to get to know them. I mean, I can’t wait to meet Isabel.”
“She can’t wait to meet you, either. And Michael is even excited about it.” He smiled. “They can’t believe you are taking this so well. They want to help you with it, too.”
“Then I guess I’ll see all 3 of you tonight.” I smiled.
“Okay.” Max smiled.
“I’m going to wake up now and make dinner for me and Mom. I’m glad we talked like this, Dad.”
“Me, too, baby.” He hugged me. “I love you, Xan, no matter what. Remember that.”
“I will. I love you, too.”
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 10/05/2001 01:14:38
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 5:41:01 PM|
I brought up the idea of spending the summer with Dad that night at dinner with my mom.
“Do you think he’d go for it? Would he let me stay with him for a summer? And you could come too!” I’d get to have my family together for a summer.
“Xan, I don’t know. He wants to keep us safe. He thinks that the best way to do that is to stay away from us and not to let us know where he and the others are. I’m not sure he’ll agree to having you come live with them.”
“But this way he could teach me how to deal with all these powers I’m finding that I have. I mean, I can dream-walk. Who knows? Maybe I can heal people, too. That would be so cool, but I won’t know how to do it properly without hurting myself or other people unless there’s someone who can help me do it the first few times and get me through it. I mean, I just want him to be able to teach me about the things that make me alien.” I whispered.
“I know, Xany. And I think you should ask him tonight when you dream. Maybe he’ll say yes, but I don’t want you to get upset if he says no. You need to understand that our safety will come before learning how to use your powers in his mind.”
“I know. But…I really want to go.”
“I know, honey. Who knows? Maybe he’ll love the idea.”
“And maybe if he doesn’t, Isabel will convince him that he does.” I smiled. “I get to meet her tonight, Mom! And Michael, too. I can’t wait to go to bed,” I laughed. “I mean, I finally get to meet all of them.”
“You may not know them yet, baby, but they already love you. I mean, it wasn’t just me and Max who had a baby, it was all of our family. Maria and Alex helped to raise you for a reason. You’re our dream, honey,” my mom sounded so melancholic.
“I know.” I hated to hear my mother get like that. I wanted her to be as happy as I was. “Let’s call Maria and Alex.”
“Well, they don’t know that I know the truth, now do they? They ought to know. I don’t want them to hide Michael and Isabel from me anymore. I want to know everything they can tell me, too.” I knew talking to Maria and Alex always cheered my mother up.
She smiled. “Okay. I’ll set up the three-way calling.” She ran to get one of our cordless phones while I went to my room to get the other. 5 minutes later, we were all on.
“You know?” Maria exclaimed.
“I do,” I tried to remain calm which wasn’t an easy thing to do considering who I was talking to. I usually thought that Maria’s energy was like a disease that everyone around her caught.
“Finally! This is so cool!” She laughed. “I would just like to say that I have been for telling you since you hit your teens, baby. I mean, if I had to learn at 16, I think you could handle it, too.” Alex and my mother cut up laughing.
“What’s so funny, Mom?”
“Maria, do you remember how you handled finding it out?” You could hear an humph from her end of the line.
“What? What did Maria do when she found out the truth?” I asked.
My mother was laughing so hard, she had to squeak out, “Alex, you tell her.”
“Alex, tell me!” I started to laugh in anticipation of what they were about to tell me. I mean, this had to be good.
“First of all, let me describe what she was wearing. It was some sort of Tick costume or something…”
“It was not the tick!” Maria exclaimed.
“Then what was it, Ria?” I asked.
“It was an alien costume for the crashdown festival, of course.”
“She just looked like a little green leprechaun,” Alex teased.
“Whitman, we may be miles apart, but I can still kick your ass,” Maria said.
“What did you do when you found out?”
My mother had recovered enough by then to tell me. “She ran out of the Crashdown screaming at the top of her lungs. I had to chase her down 2 blocks to stop her. She freaked out so much I thought I was going to have to dip her in cypress oil.”
I started laughing. I could just see my Maria running down the streets of Roswell screaming. I nearly cried thinking of her dressed entirely in green.
“So, Xany, how are you dealing with hearing that you’re an alien?” Alex changed the subject.
“Okay, I guess. I mean, it’s weird to think that I’m something I didn’t believe in until a couple days ago. But it feels right.” I squeezed my mother’s hand. We smiled at each other. “I can dream-walk, too.”
“Really?” Maria asked.
“I talked to Dad all last night.” I smiled just remembering the 2 conversations I’d had with my father. “And tonight I get to meet Isabel and Michael in my dreams.”
“Wow,” Alex said. “I guess I won’t be seeing Is tonight after all.”
I remembered that Alex and Isabel dreamt together every night. “Oh, Alex, I’m sorry. I can tell Isabel to go talk to you tonight after I get to know her a little.”
“No, it’s all right, sweetie. I want you to get to know Izzy too. I think she needs you a lot right now.”
“Okay. Thanks, Alex.”
“Just tell her I love her.”
“Xan, when you see Michael, tell him I love him, too. Will you?”
“And tell him I expect a call soon, and that we need to get together soon. And---“ Maria started going off. She stopped and laughed. “I don’t think the rest would be the same if it didn’t come from me.”
We all laughed.
“I think I’m going to go to bed now. I can’t wait to see them.” I could hear my excitement in the shaking of my voice.
“I love you, kid. Have a good dream with Max, Izzy, and Michael, Xan,” Alex said.
“Enjoy it, Xan. They’re incredible people, just like you,” Maria said. “I love you, babe.”
“Tell your father I love him,” my mother looked me in the eye. She was trying to hide it, but I could see that she was almost crying.
“I love all of you,” I said. I looked into my mother’s eyes to let her know I understand what she’s feeling. “Good night.” I kissed my Mom’s cheek and then go up to my room to go to bed.
I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow that night and went immediately into my father’s dream. He was standing in a room that looked like a very futuristic library, complete with oversized brightly colored furniture, but the thing was there were no books. My father was looking at what looked to be a picture frame. I wondered who was in the picture? I figured it had to be a picture of my mother or maybe even me, but I was too far away to really see it.
Standing next to my father was a beautiful woman who looked like she should be a model. That must be Isabel, I realized. She had long blonde hair that just flowed down her back. It made her look like a teenager because she had it pulled up in a ponytail. She was wearing fashionable modern clothes. I knew that when she was in high school she had been a leader of the popular girls, which I guess was what I was now. The role seemed to fit her still.
And sitting in the corner reading a book could only be Michael. He had dark spiky hair and just looked like someone Maria would love. I knew from my father that when he was in high school, Michael always wore black. It looked like he still did. There was an air of loyalty and protectiveness that just seemed to radiate off of him. I could feel that he felt that loyalty and protectiveness over me.
My father saw me first. “Xan.” He hugged me tightly.
Michael and Isabel turned toward me. “Hi.” I can’t believe I felt so shy all of a sudden. I was meeting my family for the first time. I wished I was wearing something other than my royal blue silk pajamas. I wanted to impress them, somehow, to make a good impression.
“Wow,” Michael said, as he looked me over.
He sounded so amazed by me, just like Maria. I smiled. “I can’t believe I’m really meeting you.”
“Oh, Xan, you are so gorgeous!” Isabel fluttered over to me and hugged me tightly. “I’m so glad we finally get to talk in somewhat real life. It’s been so frustrating just giving you advice in your dreams for all these years, and you haven’t been taking any of it at all.” She laughed as she tried to stop crying.
Michael hugged me next. “I don’t know who you look more like.” He teased. “Me, I think.”
I laughed. “I thought Mom said you never told.” It was so easy to loosen up with my family. They were all like Mom, Alex, Maria, and me. I understood why they’d been together just by the feelings I was getting from them.
“But you definitely have some of Maria’s sense of humor,” he grinned.
He seemed so different from Maria’s description of brooding, determined Michael. I wondered if Maria ever got to see him like this. I knew if she had she would fall even more in love with him.
“That’s what she tells me.”
“I know.” He looked at me. “Have you talked to Maria lately?”
“How is she?” He asked quietly. I could see how much he loved her reflected in his eyes. All these years I had felt so sorry for my mom, Maria and Alex being alone, but the love they had with my Dad, Michael, and Isabel must have made it all bearable.
“Happy. She’s glad I finally know the truth. And that I get to know you.” I felt so comfortable with them, no nerves at all. They were my family, and I knew that they loved me. I didn’t have to impress them with my clothes or attitude. They accepted me no matter what I did. I loved that feeling! I’d only gotten it before with Alex, Maria, and my mom. I’d always wanted more of it, and here it was with the rest of my family.
Max smiled. “How was your day?”
“Interesting. It was like I was seeing it all in a new perspective. I mean, I kept wondering what other powers I had, and if anyone could tell that I knew the truth now.”
“Do you think they could?” Isabel smiled.
“No, I mean, it’s not obvious, is it? I mean,” I teased a
little, ”did I grow antennae in the middle of the night?”
They all laughed. “Sorry. No new accessories for you.”
I looked at my family and asked the question I wanted to ask more than anything. “Where are you?”
“It’s safer if you don’t know,” Max answered for the group. Isabel looked away.
“I know. I’ve heard that for years,” I sighed. “I just want to be with you. I mean, I finally get to know the truth about myself and my family, and I don’t get to see you, in real life, I mean. I wish you could all help me figure out these new things that are happening to me.” I could sense that Isabel understood and wanted to help me. She seemed to understand my situation so well. “I just want to get to know you.”
“We want to keep you safe, Xan,” Michael said. He was backing my father up, just like a good second-in-command should. “That’s why we left all those years ago without taking your Mom, Alex, or Maria with us.”
“I know, but things have changed, haven’t they?” I asked. “Times have changed, and we live nowhere near Roswell anymore. And if you want, one of you can come and get me and then blindfold me or something to take me to where you are. I want to see you and live your life for a while.”
“How long?” Isabel dared to ask as her brother and best friend turned to her with warnings in their glares.
“Well, summer vacation is coming up. I could stay as long as you’d let me.”
“Have you talked about this with your mother? What did she say?”
“She said it was fine with her because she understood that I might want to have some time with you. She said it was up to you,” I used the line that countless children had used to set parent against parent. I hoped I did it right, it was my first time using it.
“I don’t know—“ Max said. I could see he was torn over this decision just by looking in his eyes. I felt guilty for putting that look in them.
“Max, come on. It couldn’t hurt any of us for her to get to know us in person. I think it might do us all some good,” Isabel pleaded.
I thanked her with my eyes. “Please, Dad.”
“Xan, I know how badly you want to come. I promise you I’ll think about it, and we’ll all talk about it. That’s the only promise I can make right now, though.”
“That’s great.” I smiled. “So have any fun stories to tell me about my Mom from way back when?”
Isabel laughed. “Fun stories? All we did was have fun, darling.”
“Really? That’s not what I remember,” Michael teased. “There was a lot of hiding and whispered conversations—“
“And then you and Maria came out of the eraser room,” Isabel laughed.
I smiled. They seemed so much like my Mom, Alex, and Maria that I could see why they were meant to be together. They teased so simply that you could tell they had been together forever. I wished I could understand everything they’d been through, but I knew that no matter how much I asked, no one would tell me everything that had happened to them. Maybe it was for the best, I didn’t really want to think about some of the things my mother had told me. All I wanted to do was enjoy the time I had with them before I woke up.
“So did you talk to your Dad again last night?” Matt asked as we walked into school together the next morning.
“Not only my Dad, but my Aunt Isabel and Uncle Michael, too. It was so incredible, Matt. I mean, I’d heard about these people for so long, but really talking to them was another thing all together. They were so…real.”
“Of course, they’re real, Alex.”
“They’re just so much like me.” I couldn’t explain my excitement over this seemingly obvious fact to him. He’d grown up with his entire family around him. He’d never gotten the chance to meet this entire side of his family. I had to look at it like it was this golden opportunity, not like it was expected.
“They’re your family,” he said it so offhandedly. “They generally are like you.”
“I know, but it’s so… relieving to finally find people who have the same traits as me. Mom and I are sometimes so different.” I laughed at the truth in that. Point one: tobasco.
“Are you going to talk to them again tonight?”
“I think I’m going to talk to Isabel tonight. Maybe my Dad, too.” I knew that Isabel wanted to talk to me about stuff, and I had so many questions for her.
“Did he say if you could come live with him this summer?” The way he said it was like he was trying to sound like he didn’t care.
I started to turn to look at him as we walked down the hall to the student lounge. Where had that tone of voice come from? Almost as soon as I thought it, I pushed that thought out of my head. I was not going to become paranoid now! “He’ll think about it. He’s not sure.”
“I don’t understand why he’s so cautious about letting you live with him for a summer vacation. I mean, what is he so afraid of?”
I couldn’t tell him the truth. Not only would that endanger my family, but he wouldn’t believe me anyway. “My dad’s always thought that Mom would be a better parent than him. He’s careful because he doesn’t want to disrupt my life.”
“But if you want to see him, couldn’t it be more disruptive to not get to see him?”
“I don’t know, Matt. I mean, come on, it’s a big change for him, too, you know. All of a sudden, his daughter wants to come live with him for the entire summer when he’s never really been around her for more than a day or two at a time.” As I said it, I felt an unexpected tide of anger rise through me. Why was I rationalizing for him?
“Alex,” Matt started slowly, “I don’t mean to point out this, but he’s your father. He should have been there for you your entire life. You shouldn’t be worrying over whether or not you can even go see him for the summer. I mean, even if your parents were just divorced, that should be a given.”
“Matt, you know that this entire situation is complicated,” I sat down on a comfy couch in the pretty much empty lounge. He sat facing me on the couch.
“I know it’s complicated, Alex, but I just don’t understand it. It seems like there’s more to it than what I know.”
He could tell I was keeping secrets? Since when did I keep secrets from my boyfriend? From any of my friends really? Oh, yeah, since I found out I was an alien with all sorts of freaky powers. “Matt, I’ve told you as much as I know, you know that,” I lied again. God, when had I started lying? I didn’t want to answer that.
He held my hand. “I know, Alex. I just hate to know that there are problems in your life I can’t help with.”
“Sorry, Matt, but there are. And you are helping me with this just by listening to me, you know. I need someone who’ll listen to me.”
“You’ve got me.” He rubbed his thumb across my hand.
“Thanks.” I smiled.
“So what are Isabel and Michael like?” He turned the conversation a little.
I grinned. “They’re awesome. Isabel is a dreamer, I think, like me. She has these eyes that are so expressive, Matt. I feel like I’ve known her all my life already. And Michael is… He thinks he’s this enigma to the people around him, but I can feel how loyal and trust-worthy he is.”
“Is that important to you?”
“I think it’s important to him that I know I can trust him. And the way they all interact. Matt, it reminds me of the way Mom, Maria, and Alex interact. They know each other better than anyone else could, and they’re not afraid to show that, even in the way they tease.”
“It kind of sounds to me like you’re jealous of that, Alex.”
My eyes nearly bugged out of my head when I heard him say that. Where did that idea come from? “What? You think I’m jealous of my family?”
“Yes, I do. I mean, they have what you don’t. They’ve been together for all these years while you’ve always felt alone.”
I looked at him and pulled my hand away from his. “Matt, I cannot believe you just said that to me. Yes, I am a little jealous of my family, but, my God, did you have to say it like that? I have told you how much it hurt for me to always feel alone, how much it hurt to watch my mother cry and know that there was nothing I could do to make her feel better. You’re the only person I’ve ever told those things to, and you just throw it all back in my face like that?” I tried to stop the tears I knew were waiting to fall. I wanted to hear what he had to say.
“Alex, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. I just don’t think it’s fair that you’ve been denied this huge part of your life.” He tried to hold my hand again, but I blocked him away from it. I couldn’t touch him right now.
“Don’t you think I know that I’ve missed out on things that I can never make up, Matt? I will never ever get to make up getting to know my father as a little girl. I will never be able to look up at him with the innocence of a child and think he’s a god. I’ll never make silly father’s day presents in school, hoping he’ll like them enough to validate me somehow. I’ll never make up going to father-daughter dances with my actual father. I’ll never get to make up all the little things that make a father a Dad, like him teaching me how to ride a bike or swim or even him warning me about guys. I’ll never get that back.”
“No, Matt, I need to get this out. And I hate that I’ve missed out on so many things with my father and Isabel and Michael. I am so confused about it. I mean, there are times when I feel this rising wave of hatred towards my father for the past 17 years of my life. And then I feel guilty about it, because I know the extenuating circumstances that made us live this way. But I still feel angry at him for leaving my Mom and me. I still regret all these things we didn’t get to do, when I know he wanted to do them as much as me. I still blame him for so much, and I can’t do that.”
“Why not? You can’t try to change your feelings, Alex.”
“What if I blame him for so much, I never get over it? What if I never get past the anger and hatred towards him?”
“Alex,” he ran his thumb over my tear-stained cheek, “it’s natural to be angry at him, I’m sure. I mean, you’ve missed out on so much for so long.”
“I know that, Matt. And that’s why I’m afraid to continue blaming him. What if it makes me miss out on experiencing life with him now? What if I put up this wall against him and never ever learn to take it down for him? I don’t want to do that, Matt. I want my father in my life. I want to be honest with him and talk to him about this, and we’ve started to, but it’s so hard to. I know that he blames himself as much as I could, probably more.” I stood up. I felt like I needed to pace.
“Is this why you’re pretending?”
“Pretending what?” I didn’t understand.
“That you love him so much? That everything is okay?”
“I’m not pretending, Matt. I do love my father. And I love Isabel and Michael, too.”
“But you barely know them.”
“But they are my family. I can’t explain it. I just know I love them as much as I know they love me.”
“Even though they weren’t around? Even thought you didn’t really even know they existed?”
“Yes,” I said defensively. I did not have it in me to be having this kind of conversation right now. I needed support, not questions. I looked at Matt and knew he didn’t understand, but I couldn’t explain right now. “I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later, okay?” I walked away without waiting for his answer.
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 5:48:35 PM|
That night, I went to bed almost right after dinner. I was supposed to be meeting Isabel tonight to talk to her about everything, as she put it. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I briefly wondered if this was another special trait of being an alien. I never had any trouble falling asleep. I didn’t really have too long to think about it as I was pulled into my father’s dream. I didn’t understand why I was there because I hadn’t been thinking about him.
“Hi, baby.” He’d taken to calling me that whenever we talked. It was so cute that even if it had bothered me, I couldn’t ask him to stop.
“What am I doing here?”
“I don’t know. I felt like you needed to talk to someone.” He smiled. “So how was your day?”
“Same ol’, same ol’.” I said like the normally unaffected teenager I was, but then I changed to the honest kid I was with him. “I had a fight with my boyfriend.” It occurred to me how odd it must feel for my father to be hearing about his daughter’s relationship problems. This was definitely a new situation for him to be in.
“Well, we were talking about the possibility of me going to see you this summer. It was actually kind of his idea for me to ask to spend the summer with you.”
“And now he doesn’t want you to go?” He didn’t sound too surprised.
“It’s not that really. He wants me to be happy. He just doesn’t understand how being the with you could make me happy, not after everything that’s happened.”
“So he knows about you being my daughter?” My father asked quickly. He sounded a little worried.
“Everyone knows I’m not Alex’s, if that’s what you mean. But all they really know is that my father just left my mother before I was born and that now you’re trying to make amends.”
I could see the wheel spinning in my father’s head, and I started to ask what he was really thinking about when he spoke again. “So Matt doesn’t want you to come with me because he’s worried I’ll end up hurting you again?”
“I guess.” I knew that that was not what my father had been thinking about.
“And you can’t explain that I won’t because that would require telling him the truth about what we really are.”
“Right.” I wanted to know what he was really thinking.
“Your life has gotten awfully complicated, awfully quick, hasn’t it?” He ran his palm down my cheek.
“There’s nothing wrong with complicated.” I smiled. I knew he would feel guilty about this, and I could not let him.
“Aren’t you supposed to be meeting Isabel tonight?” He changed the topic. “It’s all she’s talked about all day. She kept going on and on about alien girl talk.” He smiled that miraculous grin that made me understand how much my mother had fallen in love with.
I gave him the same grin. “Yeah, we are supposed to meet.”
“Well, Isabel doesn’t like to be kept waiting so I suggest you get going.”
I kissed my father’s cheek. “I’ll talk to you soon. I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you, too, baby girl.”
I left my father’s dream and found Isabel’s. She was sitting on an overstuffed blue sofa, waiting for me. I sat down next to her, wondering what all we would talk about that night. Mom had told me how badly Isabel had wanted another girl like her who could understand the things she was going through when she was my age. I understood that position very well, and I was so anxious to get to talk to her.
“Finally!” Isabel hugged me. “I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to talk to you.”
“Dad pulled me into his dream first. He said he thought I needed to talk.”
“Did you?” She raised an eyebrow at me.
“Do you want to talk to me about it?”
“I had a fight with my boyfriend today. He’s worried about me trusting my dad too much too soon.”
“He doesn’t want you to get hurt,” she smiled knowingly.
“Exactly. And I can’t tell him the truth that Dad won’t hurt me because then I’d have to tell him the truth about everything, which we both know I can’t do.” I looked at her. “Why are you smiling at me like that?”
“Because Alex was the same way with me when we were younger. He dealt with so much stuff with me because he wanted me to be happy, but he also didn’t want to get hurt. It killed him to stand by and watch me do some of the things I did to us.” She shook her head. “I was young and stupid, of course, but Alex stuck by me. He loved me enough to deal with my issues about everything from being an alien to destiny, and here we are.” She paused and looked at me quickly. “Of course, I’m not necessarily saying that Matt is your destiny or anything, but you never know,” she grinned.
“Speaking of our beloved Alex, is he mad at me?” I teased.
“What? Why would he be mad at you? According to him, you’re his favorite person outside his dreams.” She smiled, remembering. “That’s how he always refers to you, you know>”
I laughed. “But I’m stealing his dream girl away.”
“He told you about our dreams?” I couldn’t tell if she was surprised or upset.
“He did this afternoon. I called to tell him that I was doing this with you tonight. I asked him about your relationship and why he thought it’d lasted through all of this.”
She smiled. “What’d he say?” She looked so cute, like a teenager in love for the first time, needing constant reminders that he would always be there. I felt so bad that they couldn’t be together all the time. I could see that they needed each other, based only on how Alex lived. Just looking in Isabel’s eyes confirmed it.
“Because you loved each other, and you were actively working to keep it together. He said that your dreams were the easiest part of the work.”
“They keep us together. And now they’re helping to connect you to us.”
“Yeah,” I smiled. “I wonder why I never used to do this before I knew. I thought about my father all the time, wanting ot know who he really was.”
“Maybe you just had to know that you could.”
I thought about that for a moment. It made sense. “Do you think Dad’ll let me come live with you this summer?”
“I don’t know, Xan,” Isabel sighed. “I know he wants to, more than anything, but I know that he’s afraid to. I mean, for so long, he’s denied himself you and your mom by rationalizing that he was keeping you safe. He needs to do that, to feel like he’s taking care of you.”
“But how much danger is there now? Like I said last night, we’re so far away from Roswell. I’ve only been there twice in my life. Mom and me, Maria, and Alex all live normal, boring lives. No one knows about us or cares who we are or anything.”
“You can never count on that, Xan,” she said cryptically.
“What does that mean?”
“I know it’s hard to realize how everything works together, but your mom will always be known to have hung around us. They will always know that.” She sounded so suspicious, like she was sure there would always be something out there after them.
“Who’s they?” I had the feeling I already knew the answer to that.
“The government.” Isabel said it with the most passive expression on her face. She was used to knowing that the government of her own country wanted to capture her for what she was.
I was not. The idea of it scared me. This was my newfound family, after all. I didn’t want them captured or taken someplace where I would never see them again. “They’re still looking for you?”
She smiled, a little. She could feel my concern for them. “We don’t know. That’s the way we live, sweetie. We never know what’s out there looking for us. So we always watch each other’s backs and make sure everything works out for each other. That’s why we didn’t bring everyone with us. It would have been too hard, you know?” She was still trying to convince herself of that after all these years.
“Shouldn’t I be involved in that? I mean, what if someday, someone learns that I’m part alien, shouldn’t I know what to do, to take care of myself?” I asked. For the first time I thought about what would happen if I was found out. How would everyone react?
Isabel didn’t have an answer for that.
“I’ll talk to Max. That’s all I can do.”
“I know. Thank you for it.” I hugged her. “Can I ask you something kind of personal?”
“Sure.” She said it so easily, but I knew that if she didn’t want to answer, she wouldn’t.
“Do you ever wish that you and Alex had had a baby?”
Isabel’s eyes told the answer before she spoke. “More than anything. It’s what we both dream of.”
“Do you think that someday you might?”
“I don’t know, Xan. I want to, but there are so many reasons why we shouldn’t.”
“And there’s a really great reason why you should.” I hugged her. “I mean, you guys are so… right for each other. I think any child you had would be so lucky.”
“Even though it would only get to live with one of us for most of the time?” She looked at me understanding that I was the only one who could really understand the life her child would have.
“That’s the only bad part, trust me, I know. I mean, I wish that I could have grown up knowing my father in my life every single day, calling him Daddy, but I didn’t. But I know he loves me and that he did everything he could to take care of me and Mom. And it could be different for you guys. If Alex had to raise the baby away from you, you could always dream walk to them and teach your baby so many things. And if you raised it away from Alex, well, I’m sorry but I don’t think there is anything in the world that would stop Alex from finding you and taking care of the baby and you. With Mom and Dad, it was different. There were so many risks in them being together and definitely in them raising me together. I mean, can you imagine Max carrying around a crying, teething 7-month-old as you ran from place to place? I don’t think so, but you’re settled now, aren’t you? Why shouldn’t you have a family? And if you think that Alex is the right one and we both know that he knows you’re the one for him, than I think you should get back together and be a family. Alex would leave his life right now if you asked him to.”
“I know,” Isabel was near tears. “There have been so many times that I have wanted to.”
“Than why didn’t you?” I already knew the answer.
“Because I listened to my brothers. We were a danger to you guys.”
“Do you ever regret listening to them?”
“Yes and no. I mean, I know we did the right thing back then. We caused all the danger in your lives; we had to keep you from being hurt. But ever since, I mean, there have been so many times when I wanted to call and invite Alex out with me, and they always said I couldn’t. They were always so determined that I think they forgot the emptiness beside them each night as they lay in bed, filling it with the promise of your safety. But I was always so alone. For so many years, I had been alone and fine with it, but then I opened up to Maria, Liz, and Alex, especially to him. I got used to having someone who understood. Without him, it hurt so bad to even breathe. I tried so hard but I couldn’t go back to that ice princess persona I’d played for so long.” She wiped a long strand of hair out of her face. “I regret losing so many nights with Alex to the cause of safety. Sometimes I think that safety is a risk we all take, and we ought to be able to take it with whomever we want.”
“I figured you would.” Isabel smiled. “So tell me about your boyfriend. I already know what he looks like. I want to know what he is like, though. Does he ever get one of those weird little smiles on his face? That’s how I knew Alex loved me. That smile never left his lips when I was in the room with him.” She laughed.
I smiled. After all this time, Isabel still wanted her girl talk.
My birthday came, and it felt so special that year. I was 18 years old, an adult by modern American standards. I could not believe it. My mom gave me a new car, which was actually an old Jeep, and threw me this incredible party with all my friends and classmates. She took over a dance club for God’s sake and just let us have as much fun as we wanted. I danced all night, most of it in Matt’s arms. I felt like a Princess.
And that night when I finally went to sleep, I got an even bigger surprise. My father, Isabel, Michael, Alex, Maria, and my mother were all there in my dream at a big party for me. It was awesome. It was like the family birthday parties I’d always wished I could have.
“This is so incredible!” I was almost in tears. I mean, this was crazy. I had wanted this for so long, and now I was an 18 year old with my first family birthday.
“We wanted to give you something special,” Maria hugged me. “Do you like?”
“I love, Maria. This is incredible. How are we doing it?”
Isabel smiled. “I pulled Maria, Alex, and Liz in. If I have this talent, I ought to use it, shouldn’t I?”
“I agree.” I wondered why my father didn’t pull my mother in. He could. I knew that much. “Thank you so much.”
Alex wrapped his arm around me. “It’s nothing, Kid. Now I must apologize for not being at your party, but I didn’t think you’d want your ancient uncle Alex at a dance club embarrassing you.”
“You could never embarrass me, Alex.” I smiled and looked at Isabel. “Besides, according to Isabel, you’re a good dancer.”
He turned an interesting shade of pink knowing what we were talking about. He glared at Isabel. “You told her about that?”
“She’s our niece. She should know our history.” Isabel laughed.
The rest of the family realized what we were talking about. “You told Xan about your 18th birthday party, Is?” Michael started laughing.
Out of nowhere, the music changed to some ridiculously old so-called dance song about a train.
“Do you feel like doing an encore performance for us, Alex?” My father teased.
It was so incredible watching him tease his friend. His eyes just sort of lit up and were so open. I wished he could be like that more often.
“Um, no.” I answered for him. “I’m young. Don’t scar me, Alex.” I teased him.
He wrapped his arms around me. “For you.” He kissed my forehead. “Now since I missed your party tonight, I thought I would let you see the gift that you will be receiving in the morning.” He turned me around and sitting on a table was the most awesome laptop computer. It had a shiny silver casing and weighed less than my purse did.
“Alex, I love it! This is so cool!”
“Yes, it is. And, for you, my darling little bad-typer, I made it entirely voice operated, if you chose.”
“Oh, Alex!” I hugged him. “Thank you so much! This is awesome.”
“You succeeded,” Isabel snuggled up next to him. “My present next.”
“Is! You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“I wanted to, babe.” She smiled and held out her hand. “They’ll be delivered with Alex’s gift, but I wanted you to see them first.” She held out her hand. I could see the excitement in her eyes. She wanted to see my reaction to this gift.
I took the black velvet jewelry box from her and opened it slowly. I blinked when I saw what was inside it. “No way, not for me,” I whispered and looked in her eyes.
“Yes, for you. You’re an adult now, Xan. And every woman needs this.” She helped me put on the long dangling necklace with a small diamond pendant on the end and the matching earrings. “They look beautiful on you.”
I hugged her tightly. “Thank you so much, Isabel. They’re beautiful.”
She was crying. I could feel her tears on my shoulder. “Not as beautiful as you, Xan. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Michael interrupted us before we could get too far into our crying. “Now I have never actually bought a real birthday present for an 18 year old girl—“
“God knows that’s the truth,” Maria put in.
We all had to laugh at that.
Michael continued undeterred. “But I wanted to give you something special. It’s coming in the mail by tomorrow, I hope, but I can give you a sneak peak at it. I hope you like it.” He had me look at the wall in front of us, and slowly pictures starting appearing on it, changing slowly. They weren’t really pictures though, at least not all of them. They were sketches, that Michael must have done through the years of my parents and family being together. They were incredibly detailed. I could see how talented Michael really was. There were pictures of my parents just sitting together looking at one another. There were pictures of the 6 of them together. There were pictures of everything. And best of all, Michael had captured the most important thing in my mind: the love that they all felt for one another. It was incredible.
“You’re sending me an album of your portraits?” I was ready to cry. I could hear Maria crying behind me.
Michael just nodded. He wouldn’t really look at me.
I grabbed his chin and turned his face to meet mine. “This is the most incredible thing anyone has ever given me, Michael. I love it.” I hugged him. “And I love you,” I whispered, figuring I had embarrassed him enough for one sitting.
Maria attacked him when I turned to look at a picture of my parents sitting together in the café my grandfather owned. “Oh, SpaceBoy! That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe you!” She hugged him.
I turned to look at my parents. They were holding on to one another again, and looking at each other exactly as they were in the picture. I couldn’t help smiling at how cute they were together.
“Okay, time for my present to you, Xany,” Maria started. “You did notice that I wasn’t at your party, didn’t you? Or were you too wrapped up in Matt to notice anything?” She teased.
“Maria—“ I whispered.
She smiled. “Anyway, I have always considered you my kid, and now that you’re legal, it’s a little scary to me. But I will accept it because you are too obviously grown up for me to deny it. I know that you’re an adult now and that means you’re going to start experiencing all kinds of new things but I still want you to remember everything you’ve come from. So my gift to you is our past.” She handed me a photo album. “We’ve recorded your life for every minute since you were born, Xan, you know that. Well, now I want to give it to you.” Flipping through the pages, I saw my entire life in pictures. Everything from first steps to first dates were in that book, and I could not believe that Maria had kept all of it. “I was thinking that maybe someday Isabel or Max could change some of the photos so that you really would have family pictures from when you were little.”
“Oh, Maria,” I hugged her. “This is awesome. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, babe.” She stage-whispered, “And don’t tell your mother when the crate of party clothes get there.”
“I won’t,” I promised. “I love you.”
“I love you.” She went over to stand, wrapped up in Michael.
“I guess great minds think alike, huh?”
“Yeah, they do.” Maria kissed him.
My mother smiled at me. “Well, you already know that I bought you that Jeep.”
My father’s head jumped up. “You got Xan a Jeep?”
She smiled and nodded. “I thought she should have one.” Their eyes locked and they seemed to have some sort of silent communication going on. They were so awesome to watch together. “But I want to give you something else, too. Something a little more personal to me and everyone else in this room.” She smiled and out of nowhere she held a book out to me. It was bound in the softest brown leather I had ever touched.
I was almost afraid to open it. I looked at everyone else in the room. They all seemed to know what it was. I looked at my mother. She was almost crying. “What is it, Mommy?” I whispered.
She smiled. “This is the journal I’ve been keeping ever since I found out about your father and what he is. I started it 5 days after your father saved my life, and I’ve kept it ever since, through everything. I want you to see how incredible my life was knowing this secret.” She hugged me.
“Thank you so much, Mom.” I whispered in her ear. “I love it! I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and read it all.”
“Me, either.” She was crying, and I was crying. This was becoming the best birthday I had ever had.
My father spoke next. “So that leaves my gift to you,” he smiled.
I wondered what he could give me that I hadn’t already gotten this evening. I didn’t want any gifts though, really. I just wanted him.
He took a deep breath. “I’m going to be coming to your house for a visit next weekend.”
I could not believe my ears. Subconsciously, my fingers reached out for my mother’s. My father was coming to visit us? I couldn’t believe that.
“Really?” My mother whispered.
“Yes.” He nodded and took our joined hands. “I’m coming to see you.”
“Oh, Max!” My mother went into his open arms crying.
I looked at them for a moment. I was in shock. My father was really coming to visit us? I was going to get to see him, in real life? We were going to get to really talk to one another. I could hug him whenever I wanted. I didn’t know what to say. This was all I really wanted in the world. I flew into his open arms and the family hug was complete as my mother wrapped an arm around me too.
I had truly gotten everything I had ever wanted for my birthday that night. After my parents and I just recovered from the tears of knowing we would be together soon, my family just hung out. We talked all night about everything, their past and my future. And then we all danced to music that they had grown up to and I had been raised to. And in the end, I got to watch my parents dance together and just be together again. It was the most beautiful thing to watch. When I blew out the candles on my dream cake that was my wish: I wanted my parents together again. For more than just a weekend.
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 6:00:43 PM|
I dreaded going to school Monday morning. I wanted to stay home and play with my toys, but I knew that Mom would make me go to school anyway. Sunday night, right as I was going to sleep, she gave me her journal. I think she was really afraid to give it to me, but I know that she wanted me to know the truth about her relationship with my father.
I took her journal to school with me the next day, unable to resist the idea of reading it while I was bored in class. My mom probably would have killed me if she knew I was taking such a personal book to school where anyone could read it, but I had to. I needed to know.
“Alex!” Someone yelled across the parking lot.
I was climbing out of the Jeep, which I had decided to name Bobbie in memory of my father’s first Jeep. It took me a minute to realize that that person was calling for me. It felt odd answering to Alex now. But it would have been so hard to even try to explain to my friends why I wanted to be called Xan. They thought it was some stupid nickname my mother had loaded down on me as a baby.
“Hi, Megan.” I hugged my best friend.
“Hey, babe. Let me just tell you I had a great time at your birthday party. I wanted to tell you Saturday night but you were kind of wrapped up in someone‘s arms,” my best friend Megan Jones teased me.
“Ha ha.” I had nearly forgotten about my party, considering the party I had had after it. “I’m glad you had a good time though. When you turn 18, I’m expecting a similar night for you.”
“Nope. Not going to happen. My parents aren’t cool enough to rent out a club.” She teased. “How did Liz come up with that idea?”
“I imagine she had some help from my aunt Maria.”
“Where was Maria? And Alex? I mean they’re always at your birthday parties.”
“They were at a private one after the party for my friends. They all felt old.” I smiled. “They didn’t want to dance with a bunch of kids, I guess.”
“Alex,” Megan looked at me, “are those real diamond earrings?”
“Yeah. My aunt Isabel sent them to me.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. For 18 years you never talk to her, and now she sends you diamonds? I need an aunt like that!” She laughed. “What else did your family get you other than diamonds and a new car?”
“Well, Alex sent me the coolest new laptop. It’s all shiny and cute. Maria gave me this incredible photo album of my entire life. It’s really scary how long that book is. My uncle Michael sent these incredible portraits he did of my parents.”
“What about your father? Did he get you anything?”
I wanted to tell Megan the truth so badly. I wanted to tell her that my father was coming to see me, but I knew I couldn’t. I loved her with all my heart and I knew she would be so happy for me, but what if someone else found out? What if someone overheard me saying that Max was coming and ruined my family because of it? I couldn’t take that chance, not even with my best friend. “I don’t know. He said it was a surprise.”
“Maybe he’s going to let you go stay with him this summer, Alex!”
“I don’t know, Meg. I mean, I would love that, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.” They were already high enough.
“I understand.” She wrapped her arm around me. “We’d better get inside before the bell rings. I do not want to face the wrath of the vice-principal again.”
My first class was AP Chemistry. Matt was in the class with me, but the assigned seats set him 4 rows and 2 aisles away from me. Since he couldn’t talk to me, I would have to find some other way to amuse myself in class. I hated to admit it, but it was easy for me. I understood chemistry. Since Monday was a lecture day, I sat at my lab desk with my chemistry book open, but with my mother’s journal covering it. I opened it to the first page.
September 23rd. Journal entry one.
I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. After that, things got really weird....
I had to smile at that, but then I read on, as she described her first connection with him.
I could feel everything he was feeling. I could feel his loneliness. For the first time I was really seeing Max Evans, I saw me as he saw me, and the amazing thing was, in his eyes, I was beautiful.
I wanted to cry. That was so beautiful. I had no idea my mother could write something that perfectly honest. That’s what I wanted, and it was so incredible that my mother had had it.
Max Evans has put a force on me. It's like my whole life changed in an instant. It's just so ironic that when something like this finally happened to me, it was with an alien. It's September 24th, I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. But then the really amazing thing happened. I came to life.
I had to smile at that. My mother thought my father brought her to life. That was so cool.
“Miss Parker, can you please explain what you have not been paying attention to all class?” the teacher Ms. Landson asked from the front of the room.
I looked up and hoped I could get everything I needed off the board. She had already erased everything she’d written. I smiled. “I’m sorry, Ms. Landson, for not paying attention. I believe you were talking about polysaturated carbon chains.” I prayed that was right. I remembered that was what she had finished Friday’s lecture on.
Ms. Landson didn’t say anything as she started passing out the homework assignments. I assumed I got lucky on that one. I quickly closed the journal and hid it back in my backpack.
Matt met me outside the classroom. “What happened there, Alex? You never zone out in class. And it looked like you were reading something else.”
“I was. I was bored so I pulled out a magazine.” I lied. I wanted to tell Matt about the journal, but I couldn’t. No one could know.
“So you faced the wrath of Landson to read about the best colors for the summer?”
I smiled. “Well, don’t you want to see me in the perfect pink bikini?”
He grinned at that. “Good point. Next time don’t get caught.”
“I’ll try.” I kissed his cheek and ducked into my English class. Luckily in this class, we were just supposed to be working on essays due the next day, which I had already finished. So I sat in the corner of the room by an open window and read my mother’s journal. It was incredible to think that she was writing most of this when she was younger than I am now. I loved reading it.
I had to smile as I read the next entry.
September 27. I'm Liz Parker and I will never look at the stars in the sky the same way again. I'll never look at anything the same way again. What did Max Evans mean when he said, "I'll see you in school?" Was it "I won't be able to breathe until we meet again" or was it just something someone says to, like, fill space? And what is he thinking right now? Is he also obsessed, tortured, going through one sleepless night to the next, wondering what's going to happen between us?
It was so perfectly human, so much like what I was thinking sometimes. And it’s actually kind of cool to see that my mother thought the same way when she was my age. Through this journal, I was getting to know my mother as a teenager, just like I was getting to know my father through the dreams. It was the perfect present.
The journal was just so packed with emotions. I wanted to cry when she wrote after my great-grandmother’s death,
The tough thing about following your heart is what people forget to mention, that sometimes your heart takes you to places you shouldn't be, places that are as scary as they are exciting and as dangerous as they are alluring, and sometimes your heart takes you to places that can never lead to a happy ending. And that's not even the difficult part. The difficult part is when you follow your heart, you leave normal, you go into the unknown. And once you do, you can never go back.
That’s so true, and I never realized that until I followed my own heart to believe my mother about my father. I was living in the unknown now, and it was so much better than what my ‘known’ life was. I didn’t want to go back, either. I was real for the first time in my life. I loved it. Maybe this was how my mom had felt after my dad saved her. Maybe, to her, alive meant being real and who you were.
I read through my entire class, hearing my mother’s voice make the words come to life. I could hear the pain she was in when she thought my father kissed Tess of his own free will. I heard the fear of the white room, I heard the hopelessness she felt after destiny. I could feel her joy at throwing destiny to hell when she agreed to go to a concert with my father, when they became bonded for life, when 8 people became a family.
After my parents bonded, the entries became sporadic. As she put it, she didn’t need to pour her fears and hopes out to a book when she could share them with the one person who understood her better than anyone else in the world. But then she started keeping the journal for memories, so she would always remember the first time of this or the way this happened. Like graduation night, when my grandfather opened the Crashdown for a huge party for the entire class, but all my mother could remember was dancing with my father. Or the night right before they left for college when my father took my mother out on a replay of their first real date, only this time there were no interruptions.
August 15, 2002
When Max was denying that we needed to be together way back during our sophomore year (I make it sound like so long ago), I always dreamt that he would be the one to make all my dreams come true. And tonight, he made a dream that I don’t think I had ever even admitted to having come true.
Since we’ve bonded, I always knew that we would be together forever, no matter what the future held. I didn’t even think about making it official in any way. As my mother would say, I was content to live in sin. (I love that expression!) But today Max changed that.
We were driving down 285 South, just trying to escape the boredom we felt from the daily schedule of work. And he pulled off the road and looked at me with the most honest eyes. I will never forget that he was blushing just a little bit. It was so cute. And his voice sounded exactly like it did the first time he told me he loved me; vulnerable yet so strong. And he just looked at me and said, “Liz, I love you. We will be together forever. You’re my heart and my soul and my life, be my wife?” I couldn’t speak. I was in shock, I think. I just started crying and kissing him. And when he looked at me, there was actual relief in his eyes when I exclaimed, “Yes!” Relief, like there was something else I could say? I love him so much, how could he have been scared that I wouldn’t say yes? But I think that hesitation is one of the reasons I fell in love with him to begin with. Max will never take for granted that I will always be there. We both appreciate every day. I hope we never ever lose that feeling, even when we’re 70 and playing with our grandchildren.
I loved that my mother felt appreciated and loved every day she was with my father. It also made me understand how she could be there for my father even through all these years without him. She couldn’t expect anymore than what they had because that was all she had ever wanted.
I skimmed through their first year of college and stories of their first time at a New York dance club. And my mom’s retelling of their Sunday morning traditions of Starbucks and a walk in the park. And hearing about the first time my mother made a B. And my father’s first time cooking Thanksgiving supper. And the time my father’s roommate caught them ‘less than dressed’.
The bell for my next class rang right as I reached the journal entry for July 21, 2003. Hating the bell more in that moment than I ever had in my four years of high school, I grudgingly put the journal away and went to my next class: calculus, where I actually had to pay attention to the pop quiz we were given. After that came lunch and then P.E. with my friends. I went through all the motions of happy-go-lucky Alex, deciding that there was a definite higher power at work keeping me from reading that journal entry. That day felt important to me, and I wanted to know why!
Finally, the last bell of the day rang and I went to my car determined to read that journal entry. I drove to my favorite place in this town: an old abandoned playground that had one last swing hanging to show what this place had once been. I took my seat in the swing and opened the journal.
July 21, 2003
When I was in high school, until Max came into my life, I thought I lived this boring, simple life. And I wanted something to change it. I wanted there to be something different or special in my life, but I didn’t know how to find that change by myself. Or maybe I was too afraid to leave the safety of that little life, I don’t know. But meeting Max changed it all. All of a sudden, there were secrets and dangerous late-night rendezvous’ and fear and hidden feelings and all this excitement. But looking back on it, those things were all external. I mean, there was never one moment in my life when on my own, I made this huge change in a situation or anything… Well, I did tonight.
The 8 of us were all home for the same week, back in Roswell for the first time since Christmas. And we decided to take a weekend trip to Las Vegas. It wasn’t that we really wanted to gamble or anything. It’s just that we wanted to go someplace new, and seeing as how none of us had ever been there before, we were Vegas bound.
So Max and I and Isabel and Alex borrowed Max’s mom’s new Jeep and drove down together and Michael, Maria, Tess, and Kyle borrowed Jim and Amy’s new Suburban and drove down together. And we got settled into a presidential suite of some casino-hotel. I still don’t know where Michael got the money for that, but none of us are complaining. And we went off to explore.
And somehow Max and I wound up passing by this tacky little wedding chapel that was decorated in pink and white bows. And I don’t know why this came out of me, but I looked at Max and asked him to marry me. He laughed and said I was too late because he’d already asked. But then I asked him to marry me today. He was so shocked, he tried to talk me out of it. I mean, he didn’t really believe that I wanted to get married at 19 in Las Vegas. And I don’t know why, but I had to convince him. It felt very important to me that we get married. And I did. I quoted Romeo and Juliet and told him how much I loved him and that this was something we needed to do for ourselves. I didn’t think I’d really gotten through to him, but he looked down at me and said, “Will it make you happy?” And of course I said it would. And he said he would marry me.
So we went back to the hotel and met up with our friends and made the arrangements. And 4 hours later, after a ceremony performed by Elvis that I honestly can’t remember a single word of, we are married. All I remember from the ceremony is looking into Max’s eyes and seeing how much he loved me, seeing that he always would. When Elvis looked at me questioningly, I said yes, and the next thing I knew Max was sliding a simple platinum gold band on my hand and we were married. I am married to Max Evans. I am Liz Evans! I never realized how much I wanted that, but now I don’t know how we waited this long.
The 8 of us celebrated that night until dawn. We took over the bar in our hotel, talking and dancing to the endless music that drifted from this old radio. And at dawn, just as everyone was getting tired and ready to turn in, the radio played Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe”. I have always loved that song, and Max looked at me and we started dancing again. This time we danced alone, and I think we silently agreed that that is our song from now on. I will always believe in Max and in our love.
We all had a long talk about it, and we’ve decided to keep our wedding secret from our families. This weekend was for us. It was our chance to throw safety and rules and hiding to the wind and to just change our lives in a way we wanted to for maybe the first time. Actually, maybe the second. The first was when Max saved my life. He threw his life into the winds of fate and my hands, and he changed everything for 8 people. I don’t think any of us will ever be able to thank him enough for that. I’ll spend my life trying to, though.
And I have to do this… I just can’t believe how beautiful my name looks.
My jaw nearly fell to the floor of my car. My parents were married! I don’t know why that shocked me so much, but I was amazed. My mother who was always so responsible, planning everything to the last detail threw caution to the wind one wild night in Vegas and married the love of her life without telling anyone but their best friends. I was so proud of her! I laughed at myself and drove home to make dinner for my mother and myself. I could not wait to pump her for details! I wanted to know everything about this wedding. As I drove out of the parking lot, I had to laugh. My parents had been married by an Elvis impersonator! That was too funny! I could just imagine his lip curl as he said “Thank you very much” at the end of the ceremony…
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 09/09/2001 18:06:13
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 6:00:55 PM|
I drove home in a daze. My parents were really married? My Mom had never told me. Since when did we keep secrets? Some cynical part of my mind said, “You’ve always kept secrets, Alexandra. Look at what you are.” It fit that my mother wouldn’t tell me entire things about her past and my life. Didn’t she think that I would like to at least know that my parents loved each other enough to get married, even if they kept it secret? God, I thought my mother trusted me, but as it was turning out, she couldn’t even tell me the truth about so many things.
I shook my head as I pulled into the driveway. I would not allow myself to fall into this cynical role. My mother must have had her reasons for not telling me. I had to believe in her and us and that she was just trying to protect me. After all, isn’t that what my entire life has been about, someone protecting me from dangers I didn’t even know existed? I just needed to talk to Mom and then I could try to figure it out in my own head.
I decided to make dinner that night, since Mom had to work until 7 at the hospital and I knew she wouldn’t be up for cooking anything then. I made chicken parmigiana, my specialty, with spaghetti on the side and a tossed salad. I even put my mother’s favorite wine in the fridge so it could chill for her.
I wanted to call Maria or Alex and ask why they hadn’t told me, but I knew that I ought to talk to my mother first. So to amuse myself as I waited for my mother, I read more of the journal.
We’re finally back to school. I missed it while we were gone. Here, in this little apartment we finally convinced our parents we should share, Max and I can be Max and Liz Evans. We don’t have to hide.
I get the biggest thrill some days out of just making dinner for the 2 of us. I mean, it’s so incredible to think that I’m cooking for my husband. Or when he comes in from class and looks at me lying on our bed studying, I don’t know what to say. He just makes everything incredible.
I feel like I’m this gushing girl. I can remember back when this journal held my most tortured words, but now it’s all about the ease and peace and happiness in my life. I love it.
I smiled. Hearing my mother’s thoughts were so great. I skimmed through college graduation where they had all danced till 4 a.m. I read about medical school and how my mother felt she never saw my father anymore. I read about how she thought that he was getting tired of her, no matter what he said. I laughed as she wrote an entire page on the evil that was the smell of med school. I cried when she wrote about her first patient who died, even though there was nothing she could have done as a first year intern. I smiled when she talked about the way Maria called to remind her that everything in their lives was as they’d dreamt it all those years before. I cried every time my mother wrote an entry celebrating their anniversary.
I wanted nothing more than to ask my mother all the questions that kept popping up in me. I wanted to know everything, but sometimes I was actually afraid to hear what she might say. I mean, what if these were things I couldn’t handle? What if my seemingly strong mother finally broke? Could I handle hearing all the fears and worries and emotions that my mother kept bottled up inside her? I wasn’t too sure of that. But I had to know about their marriage. Now I just had to wait until she got home from work.
“Xan, I cannot believe you did all this,” my mother gushed as we sat down to dinner that night. “I figured we’d just order some pizza.”
“Well, I was in a mood to cook so we’re having a real meal instead.” I passed my mother her wine and poured myself some water.
“You need to get in this mood more often, baby,” she teased. “How was school today? Everyone talking about your birthday party?”
I smiled. “Most were, yes.” I decided to approach this as honestly as possible. “The rest were talking about me getting called on for not paying attention in chemistry.”
“Why weren’t you paying attention, Xan? You weren’t talking to Matt, were you?” She said it somewhere between a tease and a serious issue.
“No. I was reading your journal.” I realized she might be upset about me taking the journal to school, but I needed to talk to her about what I’d read.
“My journal? You took that to school? Xan, that’s dangerous! If it had gotten into the hands of anyone, we could all be in serious trouble.”
“I know, Mom, and I protected it with my life. It never left my sight, I swear. I just couldn’t put it down. I mean, imagine being given a diary of Grandma Claudia’s that told you everything she was feeling when she met your grandfather and how she felt about him and the way they were together. It’s an unbelievable thing, Mom. I get to read they way you felt about my father. I’m learning all kinds of things about him and you, by doing it. It’s addictive.”
“My daughter can’t be addicted to drugs, she has to be addicted to my history,” she made a feeble joke that even she didn’t really smile at.
“Mom.” It was all I could think to say. How was I going to ask this again?
She took a drink. “How far did you get?”
“Far enough. Why didn’t you tell me? Especially after you finally told me all the truth?”
“I don’t know, baby. I wanted to. It was always just so complicated. How do you explain to a 6 year old that the reason her mommy can’t marry her best friend’s father, like in the Parent Trap, is because she’s really married to her father? I mean, we’ve been married forever, and our parents still don’t even know about it.”
“Grandma and Grampa don’t know that you’re married?”
“We kept it a secret, Xan. We couldn’t tell them.”
She sighed. “We were afraid. I mean, even when we felt safe, there was still the threat that Max and the others might be taken because of what they were, and we knew that if anyone knew that Max and I were married, they’d take me, too. Or use me to get Max to surrender himself.”
“And they wouldn’t do that if you were just his girlfriend?”
“I don’t know. I think we thought that if we pretended we weren’t together forever, we’d be safer. It made your Dad feel better.” She shook her head at that. “I don’t think we were really thinking rationally about it, Xan.”
“So you’re really married?” I asked suspiciously. I think I just wanted to hear my mother say it.
“Yes.” She smiled. “I’m so glad you know now, Xan. I think that’s one of the reasons I gave you the diary so you would find out without me having to find the courage to tell you.”
“What was it like? Marrying him?”
“It was all my dreams coming true. I still think that after all these years, Max still feels guilty that I never got my big church wedding, but I didn’t need it. That wedding was perfect, even if Elvis did marry us. It was me and your father, coming together for all time. And everyone we loved was with us. I mean, not our parents but our real family. That was what was most important. And we all celebrated it together. We danced and sang and teased and had a good time. It was the most real, honest wedding ever, Xan. I don’t regret a second of it.”
“Did he give you a ring?”
“Of course. This is your father we’re talking about,” she smiled. “He’d already given me the engagement ring,” she held out her hand to a beautiful round diamond, “and then he gave me a platinum wedding band.” I noticed what the diamond was set in.
“You combined the rings?” I smiled.
“So I could always wear my wedding band,” she smiled. She took it off and handed it to me. “Look at what the inside says.”
I read, Max and Liz 7/21/03. I smiled and couldn’t help the tears from forming in my eyes. “This is beautiful.” I handed her back her ring.
“I love it. I sometimes don’t think I’d know who I was without this ring. It always reminds me of the truth.” She put it back on her finger carefully.
“What’s the truth, Mom?” I figured I already knew it, but it never hurt to hear.
“Max Evans loves me more than life, and both of our lives changed completely because of it. But it’s something neither of us could regret. He and I are meant to be, somehow, and we will be.” She smiled and wiped at her teary eyes. “I’m sorry we never told you earlier, Xan. It was just so personal.”
“I can understand that, I guess.” I grinned. “I wonder how Maria ever managed to keep that a secret.”
“It hasn’t been easy. I sometimes think she’s forgotten it, but then she’ll ask me if I’ve told you to remind me that she will always remember everything there is about me.”
I smiled. “Thank you for telling me tonight, Mom. I mean, I know I already knew about it from reading the journal, but hearing you really say it makes it real for me.”
She leaned over and kissed my forehead. “I love you, Xan.”
“I love you, too.” I picked up my fork and shuddered when I realized the chicken parmigiana was cold. “Grrr… I can’t believe I forgot to eat.”
My mother laughed. “It’s okay, Xan. Just use your powers.” She smiled as if that ought to have been obvious for me to think of.
“Wow. I can do that, can’t I?” I wiped my hand over both of our plates and the food was toasty again. “That’s awesome.”
“I used to tease your father that that was his most handy skill. I mean, can you just imagine how great it was to have a bowl of spaghetti a day later and still have it taste as fresh as it was when you cooked it?”
I shook my head. “Geez, and here I was thinking that that whole healing this was his best skill. It worked pretty well on you, didn’t it?”
“You think like your father, Xan.”
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 09/09/2001 18:12:07
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 6:16:39 PM|
Friday afternoon, I was sitting in the open quad at my school during lunch beneath a big tree. I was still reading the diary. I was having a hard time finishing it because I kept re-reading parts and I kept having to stop to ask questions to my mother. This diary was so awesome.
The part I was most obsessed with was the entry my mother wrote the day my father left her…us.
I just can’t believe it’s real. I mean, I know that Max had to do it. Somewhere inside me I know that he had to leave me, but God, it hurts so much. I always thought of myself as this independent woman, but now I’m finally seeing that I don’t know who I am without Max. He’s my husband, my heart and my soul, and I don’t know how to function, yet alone live, without him. I’ve laid in this bed ever since he left it, savoring the feel and smell of him in it. I never want to change my sheets again. I never want to move from this place where he loved me so tenderly all night. All I want to do is just curl up and remember every moment we had together, everything he’s ever said to me, everything we ever promised we’d do. But I can’t. I have to go on, don’t I? I have Maria and Alex to take care of now. They’d kill me if they knew that, but Michael and Isabel asked me to look out for them, like I’m even strong enough to look out for myself, and I have to do it. I have to keep our family together, for whatever it’s worth now.
I just woke up from the most incredible nap. I know now why I have to keep our family together and why I have to go on living, not just functioning. I was sleeping when I just felt this presence, like the one I feel when Max and I connect. It was awesome, and I knew. I just knew. I’m pregnant. I’m going to have Max’s baby. I can already feel her and I know she will be so incredible. God, I can’t wait!
Part of me knows I should be scared. I mean, I have no idea how to take care of a baby, especially not an alien baby. And I know I should be scared of the possible complications me carrying an alien baby would have. Isn’t that why Max and I have been waiting all this time to even try? But I just know that everything will be okay; nothing bad will happen to us. And in the end, I will have a beautiful baby girl to remind me of what I live for. I hope she looks like Max but thinks like me. I just want her to be as happy as I have been.
I loved hearing my Mom talk about realizing she was pregnant with me. It was so incredible to think that she had loved me that much from moment one of my life. I skipped up a couple of pages and re-read about my birth and Max coming to see her.
I saw Max and I just knew everything would be all right, even though he couldn’t be with us. I cried when he said he wanted to name her Alexandra. I’d been thinking that was the perfect name, well, Alexandra Maria Isabella. They loved her so much from the second I told them I was pregnant. It was like she was all our hope for survival or something. And then Max said he wanted her to be called Xan, in honor of the planet he was from that none of us would ever see. I agreed to that. And everyone will argue with me on this, but I think she smiled when she heard her name, like she knew it was important.
I watched Max hold Xan for hours, just amazed at her and how incredible she is. He was crying and I was crying and I realized that this was all he had ever wanted in his entire life, but he wouldn’t get to really experience it. He would never get to be there for her first step or anything because no matter what we wanted, he had to go back. He had to return to wherever they are staying, for all of our safety. I asked him again to take me with him, to just take us and we would do whatever we had to do to stay safe with him, but he refused. He won’t let his wife or daughter be in any more danger than they have to be.
I sobbed as Max left, whispering his love and promises to return. I just want him back in our lives. I want Xan to know her father. I want Max to know who his daughter really is. And I’m so afraid that they will never really know each other. I have to make sure they know at least about one another. I will tell Xan everything about her father, someday, when she can understand. And until then, I will always let her know he loves her more than himself. I have to do that for Max.
I wiped at my eyes as I read that. I had already seen my birth through my father’s eyes and I knew how much it affected him to see me. And now I got to read my mother’s perspective on it.
“Alex?” Matt and Megan sat down next to me.
I wiped my eyes again and tried to smile. “Hi, guys.”
“What are you doing hiding all the way over here? You haven’t joined us for lunch all week.” Megan said.
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get caught up with some reading.”
“That doesn’t look like the book from English class.” Matt pointed out.
“Well, I never said it was an English assignment,” I said. “My mother gave me this book, and I really just want to finish it. It’s incredible.”
“So you have spent the last week avoiding all your friends so you can read some book your mother gave you?”
“Yes. This book is really important to me.” I didn’t want to have to explain what the book was to them, and a small part of me was upset that they were even going to make me try to.
“Whatever,” Megan said. “What are you doing tonight?”
“Um, I don’t know. Nothing, I guess.” It never occurred to me that today was Friday and that meant we were all supposed to go do something.
“Well, why don’t we all get together and go to the movies or something? I mean, just a big group of us hanging out.”
“Sure. That sounds great. Just call, okay?” The bell signaling the end of lunch rang. “I’ll see you later.” I dashed off to class with my book in my hand.
After school, I went home and sat around the house reading more of the journal. My mom got home at 5 but went right back out to get us something for dinner. I stayed sitting in the window seat in our living room, reading. I was reading some of my mom’s more recent entries.
I look at Xan everyday lately and wonder how much longer I can keep up this lie of her past. I look at her and sometimes I can see how much it hurts for her not to know her father. I can feel the pain she feels at his supposed abandonment. I want to tell her everything, but how do you come out and tell your daughter that she’s an alien? I mean, what if something happens to her because she knows? I guess I could argue around that with what if something happens to her because she doesn’t? I’m always so worried that there might be someone watching us, waiting to see if Xan has any of her father’s abilities. I don’t even really know if she does. I wish Max were here to explain all this to her and to answer all her questions. I wish Isabel were here, she knows how it feels to be an alien teenage girl. I don’t know what I’m saying sometimes. I want so much for her to know, but at the same time, I don’t want to ruin her normal life. And what would happen if all her friend were to find out? Would they stick by her? Would they turn her in?
I wish my daughter didn’t have to worry about this.
Xan knows everything. She’s trying so hard to be mature about it, but I think she needs to have a tantrum of some sort about it. I mean, she’s trying to embrace loving this father that she’s never really been able to know before, and I worry that she needs to get angry with him. She’s human, after all. I mean, she has to get angry sometimes. And if she doesn’t get angry at the father who in her eyes has abandoned her for all these years, I think she’s going to go crazy.
Max and Xan are going to meet soon. I want to be there so badly, just so I can see how incredible that first hug will be between them. Max is coming to us, and I want Xan to get to know him for the father he wants to be to her. I just hope Xan can accept him. She’s trying so hard to, I think. I love them both so much; I want this visit to be everything they’ve always dreamed about.
I smiled as I read that. She was nervous about us meeting for the first time? I was too, but I couldn’t wait. I shut the book and wrapped my arms around my legs. He was coming to see me! This weekend, he had promised. I couldn’t wait.
I went into the kitchen and got a bottle of soda. I was really getting anxious for my mother to get home with our groceries. I was starving. I thought I heard a car in the drive way and I made my way to the front porch to see if Mom needed help. She was getting out of the car and I could see someone walking over to her. I wondered who it was. It didn’t look like our neighbor, Mr. Barnes. He was tall and was wearing a baseball hat and a NY Yankees jacket to match.
“Mom?” I called to see if she needed anything.
She turned around to talk to me but stopped when she saw the person walking toward her. He was several feet away, still making his way up the sidewalk. My mom ran toward him and I could see she was starting to cry. Her arms flew around him and he swung her around in the air as they hugged.
Slowly I walked down the steps to the walkway. I looked at the man at the same time he looked at me and our eyes met. I saw my own eyes!
“Daddy?” I started to cry and ran toward him.
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 6:24:24 PM|
I could feel the tears pouring down my cheeks. I could feel my legs carrying me to my parents. I could feel my arms going around them, but as much as I wanted to be able to remember every thought going through me, I couldn’t. I couldn’t think. All I could do was feel my parents’ arms around me and all our tears mingling at the rightness of us being together.
We must have stood there for 20 minutes. I just didn’t want to leave this place where I felt so safe. I was in my father’s arms. It was so incredible.
“Xan, oh my God, you’re so beautiful,” my father looked at me like he’d never seen me before.
“Oh, Daddy,” I was sobbing. I moved to wrap both my arms around him. My mother backed away and my father wrapped his arms tighter around me.
“Let’s get inside,” my mother said quickly. She was starting to look around, rather paranoidly.
I held my father’s hand as we walked to my mother’s car. Without a second thought, he pulled out the grocery bags and started walking toward the house. I met my mother’s eyes. She was crying at how normal it all felt, how perfect it was to have him back with us, how easy it was for him to just join our lives, our family.
I reached my other hand out to her and we hurried into the house. We all went to the kitchen. It was magical. We just looked at each other.
“So what do we want for dinner?” My mother broke the silence. She started moving around putting things away.
I watched my father watch my mother. I was almost jealous of her. He was here to see me, and he couldn’t take his eyes off my mother! His eyes followed her every moment like everything she did was magic, like she made the simplest things appear perfect. Watching the perfect content written all over his face, I understood what he missed most about the entire time he was gone. He’d missed our normal, every day, ho-hum life. This was what he had always dreamed about and now it was standing in front of him, and for the first time, he was able to join in.
I squeezed his hand and walked over to help my mother. “Why don’t you let me help, Mom? I can make my to-die-for grilled chicken salad and those honey rolls you love.”
My father looked at me amazed. “You cook?”
I nodded. “All the time.”
“Xan is an expert cook, Max. She has dinner ready for me all the time.”
“Xan, I am impressed.”
“I never realized you could take so much after me.” He grinned and looked at my mother.
She burst out laughing. “Maxwell Evans, you have turned into a horrible liar!”
“You think our daughter takes after you in the kitchen?”
I pulled out the bag of already fixed salad and put the chicken on our electric grill. I kept watching my parents as I walked around the kitchen, though. They were electric to watch. I knew so many kids who never looked twice at their parents talking to one another, but I couldn’t look away. There was such an ease in the way they moved around each other, like they’d been doing it forever. And there was something underneath that, a level of intimacy that I couldn’t imagine that said they couldn’t wait to be alone.
“Since when can you cook?”
“Do you not remember all the dinners I made you during college and med school when you were so busy studying?”
“Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches do not constitute cooking, Max!”
“What about all the rice dishes—“
“That left an entire layer of burnt rice stuck to the pan!”
“You had to finish cooking with your powers because the poor things were still breathing!” She was nearly in tears from laughing so hard.
“Macaroni and cheese?” He laughed and looked at her.
“Max, stop embarrassing yourself. We all know you can’t cook.” My mother taunted right in front of him.
He slid his arms around her and in a loud whisper said, “I remember several times when you swore I was the best cook ever.”
I could see my mother’s cheeks turning read. I could only imagine what they were talking about, but I didn’t want to go there in my poor, over-visual head.
I tossed the easy-bake rolls I had in the oven and started making the salad dressing. My parents were whispering and hugging and teasing. They were so awesome together. My friend Megan regularly complained about how affectionate her parents were with each other, but I loved to see this. There was a beauty in watching them together, and a certain wholeness came to wrap itself around my mother that had always seemed to be missing. I loved to see it come back! I fully understood why it disappeared.
20 minutes later we sat down at the dining room table as close together as we could with my father in between me and my mother. We were trapped between wanting to talk about everything and just wanting to enjoy our time together.
“How are Michael and Isabel?” My mother asked.
“They’re good. Everyone feels better now that we can talk to Xan.” He smiled. “How are Maria and Alex?”
“Good. Alex just got another promotion. And Maria’s going to expand her business.”
“I still can’t see her as a business owner.”
“She runs it a little differently, but she’s definitely in charge. It’s in her blood, I think. Amy DeLuca’s store was different but she ran it like a chief.”
“Isabel is like that, too. She’s so comfortable in charge now. There are times when it’s hard to even remember the insecure ice princess she was in high school, but I still think she wants the same things she did back then.”
I smiled. “You mean Alex?”
“Xan, I cannot believe you just said that,” my mother laughed.
“It’s the truth, Liz,” my father backed me up.
We all laughed.
“Xan, this dinner is wonderful,” my father smiled. “Don’t tell your grandfather you can cook like this; you’ll be spending your summers away at the Crashdown.”
I shook my head. “No, thank you. That does not even seem like fun to me.”
“Hey!” My mother exclaimed. “I loved working at the Crashdown.”
“I think you had an ulterior reason there, Mom.” I smiled.
After dinner we all took the dishes into the kitchen. ‘Xan, I’m going to show you quite possibly the best power you will ever learn.” He ran his hand over the dirty plates and they were clean.
“Awesome! I need to learn that!”
“I’ll show you later,” he promised.
I saw my mother smile for a second and then she went back to teasing us. “My daughter will never do her chores the normal way again!”
“Yeah, Max?” She smiled as if she knew what he was going to ask.
“What’s so great about normal?”
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 6:28:21 PM|
After dinner we all went into the living room and cuddled up on the couch. My father was in the middle and my mom and I were on either side leaning on him. The TV was on and Dad had insisted we put in the cidwo of my birthday party. He kept teasing me about my clothes and my friends.
“Liz, you allowed our child to leave the house in that…shawl?” He was laughing.
“Hey! That’s my favorite dress!” I exclaimed as I looked at the black dress that only had one strap and a very short skirt line. I loved it!
“You call that a dress?” He teased.
I pretended to be indignant. He should see what adolescence was all about. “Absolutely.”
My mother got involved. “Um, Max, I seem to remember wearing a dress a lot like that to our senior prom.”
“There is no way your father let you out of the house like that.”
My mother reached up and kissed my father’s cheek. “You are so cute, Max.”
“Aw, after all these years, you still think I’m cute?” He kissed her.
I laughed and focused on the TV. My mom had turned the camera on me and Matt dancing.
“Who are you dancing with, Xan?”
“Her boyfriend,” my mother teased.
“Liz, you need to have a talk with this boyfriend. I don’t like the way he’s touching my little girl.” He squeezed my waist.
“Dad!” I laughed. It was so cute that he was playing overprotective father now that I was officially legal to do whatever I wanted, pretty much.
“Max, stop being such a hypocrite,” my mother laughed.
We all laughed about that.
“Xan,” my mother changed the subject, “I’m surprised you don’t have plans for tonight. You never spend Friday night at home.”
I realized that I had told Matt and Megan that they could come find me tonight. “Well, Matt and Megan were supposed to come get me to go to the movies or something, but I think I’m going to call and tell them not to come. I’d rather spend the night with you guys.” I realized they might want some privacy. “Unless you want the house to yourselves or something. I can go do something.”
My father wrapped his arm around me as I started to stand up. “It’s okay, Xan. We want you here with us.”
“We’ll try to control ourselves until you go to bed,” my mother teased. I think she was enjoying that she was getting to be the kind of parent who got to annoy her child with comments about intimacy.
I smiled. “Thanks.” I reached for the phone and called Matt first. “Hi, Matt.”
“Alex, baby, what’s going on? I was just on my way to pick you up.”
“Actually, that’s it. I can’t go out tonight.”
“I don’t know. My mom has to have some kind of talk with me or something.” I was such a horrible liar.
“On a Friday night?”
“Yeah, I know. But she says it’s important, Matt. So I’m stuck here.”
“I’m sorry, baby. Maybe tomorrow night.”
“Maybe. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Good night, Matt.” I hung up and looked at my parents. “I suck at lying, you realize this?”
“Well, some people would say that’s a good thing,” my father smiled.
“I don’t think it’s good until you are out of your teens.” I called Megan and gave her the same excuse. Then I turned to my parents. “So what are we going to do tonight to keep me entertained?”
My father laughed. “I thought you would do that. I mean, you are the youngest. You probably still have tricks up your sleeve that we don’t even know about.”
“You mean like powers?” I’d been thinking about those a lot lately. What were the extent to my powers? What could I do other than dream-walk?
“Well, there are those to think about, but also, hell, it’s been so long since I’ve been around teenagers, you could probably teach me how to dance or something.”
I broke out laughing and saw my mother was smiling. I quickly flashed back to an entry from my mother’s journal. It was about her senior prom.
I feel like I’m in a dream, and I never want to wake up. It’s 10 a.m. and I haven’t even really gone to sleep yet. Last night was the most magical night of my life, which is saying a lot when you consider the recent upturn in magical events in my life since I first met the Czechoslovakians
Last night was our senior prom. Of course we all went. We even shared the same limo, which was interesting. Kyle had “borrowed” some tequila from his father and kept trying to make Michael and Max do shots with him. I was tempted to tell Max to do one, because he was such a sweet, romantic drunk, but I knew I couldn’t do that to him. I mean, the last time he’d gotten drunk, he’d turned half the street lights in Roswell into disco balls. I couldn’t let him do that in front of all our classmates.
Max and I danced all night. He always says he’s a horrible dancer, but he’s wrong. I have never felt as safe as when I’m in his arms, and when we dance together, it’s so incredible. It’s like we move in this perfect unison without even thinking about it. Sometimes, when we’re dancing, I feel we belong together, no matter what his destiny was supposed to be. I mean, I know we defied destiny and chose to make our own, but it’s still kind of imposing and scary to think that someday that destiny could come back and haunt us. But when I’m in Max’s arms, I don’t think like that. I only think about all the things we’re going to do someday, when we leave Roswell, and when we can be together forever.
I can’t wait for those days!
I decided to tease my father. “I don’t know, Dad. From what I’ve heard from Mom you’re a pretty good dancer. Maybe you could teach me to sing.” I knew he would know what I was talking about. I loved that journal entry, too.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry right now. I mean, Max just did the most amazingly beautiful, embarrassing thing. He just sang to me, in Spanish! I was so torn between laughing and crying. I couldn’t believe that he would embarrass himself like that. My father came in halfway through and told him to leave, but I convinced him to let me go talk to him for a few minutes.
I know I’m supposed to be denying myself Max. I know all about his destiny and that he is supposed to be with Tess. I know that. I was the one that moved away from Max that day in the desert, after all. I ran all the way to freaking Florida this summer so I wouldn’t have to see him everyday. I really thought I was okay when I made it through the entire day without crying for him. But then I came back to Roswell and saw him, and I knew I wasn’t okay.
That first time he kissed me since I got back, I got the most incredible flashes. I saw everything, our history, his soul. I just wanted to reach out and keep him with me. But I told myself I had to be strong. All these people on this alien planet need him to return strong. The problems of a teenage girl in love were nothing compared to the problems of millions of people.
But I’m tired of being so self-sacrificing. I want to be greedy again. I mean, I’m a teenager, aren’t I supposed to be egocentric and stuff? I’m not supposed to think about all those other people; I’m supposed to think about myself. I want to just think about me and Max, about us together, happy, but how can I?
I don’t know if I made a mistake tonight. Max asked me to go to a Gomez concert with him. He was so excited. I could see it in his eyes. I agreed. I think I can go and just be his friend, his buddy. I just have to be around him. It has killed me these last couple weeks, being so close to him and not allowing myself to be near him. I can’t live like that! I won’t.
I need Max Evans in my life, and I will have him there. Even if only as a friend.
“You told her about that?” My father looked at my mother.
“Of course. That was one of the most important moments of our lives; don’t you think our daughter has the right to hear about it? I bet if we had had a normal, always together relationship, we would have told her it so many times as she was growing up that she would have gotten tired of hearing it long ago.” My mother said it without a hint of regret in her voice that they hadn’t had the normal life they’d both wanted more than anything.
“I bet.” My father agreed and kissed her quickly. You could hear the regret in his voice and I could hear my mother whisper to him that there was no point in regrets; that they just had to be happy with what they had. “I know, Liz. I just wish---“
“I know, Max. Me, too.” She whispered and kissed him again.
I sat next to them and silently wished there was something I could do to give them the life they had always wanted together. I knew there was nothing I could do to change the past, but I could make the future right for them. In all my teenage confidence, I believed that I could.
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 7:15:31 PM|
Saturday morning I woke up early, earlier than I usually liked to think about on Saturday mornings. But it was okay because I woke up to the smell of pancakes, bacon, and warm maple syrup. I pulled my hair back in a ponytail and ran downstairs. I loved it when my mother made a big breakfast like this. It so beat a bowl of Lucky Charms.
Walking into the kitchen I nearly fainted. My father was standing at the stove and my mother was leaning against the counter of the breakfast nook, watching him. I had nearly forgotten that my father was visiting us. I think I thought it was a dream.
I smiled at reality. “Good morning.”
“Good morning, Xan,” my father kissed my forehead.
“Morning, Xan,” my mom smiled.
“I hope you like pancakes.”
“Love ‘em.” I was amazed. “You’re making breakfast, Dad?” Didn’t we have this huge discussion yesterday about my father’s inability to cook?
“He keeps insisting that he can make good pancakes. I agreed to give him a try.”
“I can cook!” Max insisted again. “Who do you think cooks? Isabel?”
“I’m betting Michael,” my mom laughed. “He does have all that experience from the Crashdown.”
“Well, I admit that he does do most of the cooking. But I am an awesome breakfast chef. You’ll see.”
I sat next to my mother. She looked so happy; her eyes were shining as she watched my father. There was such an ease and wholeness to this situation. We were the perfect little family unit having Saturday breakfast.
Dad served us at the breakfast nook, even reheating the maple syrup with a wave of his hand. I poured a pool of maple syrup onto mine and passed the bottle to my mother as I reached for the Tabasco. My mother and I looked at each other, smiled bravely, and took a bite. We looked at each other in shock.
“Max, this is incredible!”
“Dad, these are awesome!”
“And you doubted me.” He teased, reaching over me for the Tabasco to add to his own plate.
“Never again,” my mother promised. “You can even make dinner tonight.”
My father’s face paled. “I think that should be Xan’s job.”
“Shafting the work to your daughter?” I teased.
“Hell, yeah.” He smiled. “What are your plans for today, though?”
“Nada. Just a lazy Saturday around the house, I guess.”
“I’ll make it less lazy. We need to work on your powers.”
“Really? Cool.” I smiled. “Can you teach me how to memorize my textbooks?” That would be so awesome! I’d never have to study again, not that I really did now.
“No! Max, you cannot teach our child to cheat.”
“It’s not cheating, Mom. It’s using my gifts!”
“Xan, do not try that excuse with me!” My mother looked at me like she was disappointed that I had even said it.
My father whispered, “I tried that one in med school. She didn’t talk to me for 2 days.”
I laughed. “Mom, it would be so cool. And it would be good practice for me to learn how to use different powers.”
“Xan,” she gave me that great mother’s stare that immediately brought up feelings of guilt, “finish your breakfast.”
I quickly put something in my mouth.
After breakfast my father taught me to clean the dishes remarkably quickly, a skill my mother encouraged him to teach me. I guess we all knew who would be doing most of the cleaning in the house from now on. Then she had to make a quick trip into the hospital to check on a patient. Dad and I went down into the basement, where nothing could disturb us.
“There are a lot of things I could teach you, Xan, but I want to focus on your own protection,” he started. “The fact that you can dream-walk so well makes me think your powers are most like Isabel’s, but—“
“Does that mean I can’t use other powers? Like Michael’s and yours?” I interrupted. If I couldn’t get all defensive like Michael, how could I take care of my mother if something happened?
“Let me finish, Xan. You do appear to have innate strength in dream-walking, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t develop your other abilities to the same strength. It just takes practice. That’s what I’ve been doing since we left you guys. We’ve all been working on getting strong in all abilities we find. And we don’t even know if dream-walking is your biggest strength, it’s really just the one you’ve manifested first and easiest.” He paused. “Now one of the things I’m best at is building a shield of protection. I want you to know how to do that, just in case.”
“Okay.” I nodded. That would be something valuable to learn. “With this shield, can I pull Mom into it, if something were to happen to us?” I didn’t want to think like that, but I had to be realistic. Something could happen to me and Mom and I would be the only way to protect us.
“Once you get good at building a shield, absolutely. The last time I used it in self-defense, I had Michael and Isabel both in it with me.”
“How long ago was that?” I wondered.
“A long time ago, baby. Things are relatively safe where we are.”
“Then the danger is here?” I tried to use some deductive reasoning skills to overcome my worry and fear.
He nodded. “Yes. The danger for me is here.”
“Is there danger for me? And Mom?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so.” His eyes had this vague quality to them that I didn’t like. “Let’s work on this now and think about that later, okay?”
“Sure.” I agreed easily. According to Mom’s journal, it was next to impossible to make my father talk about something when he wasn’t ready to. He would talk when he felt he could. It was time to just display some serious patience skills and wait for him to be ready. “What do I do?”
“It’s really hard to explain. Can we connect and I’ll show you?”
I realized that up to that point I had never thought about connecting with anyone, but that was something my father could do, something he often did with my mother. That was what had bonded them together really, their connection. And now I would get to be part of a connection with him? That was too incredible to have even contemplated before. “I’ve never connected with anyone. You’ll have to—“
“Don’t worry. I’ll show you,” he smiled.
That was such a fatherly thing for him to say. I relaxed immediately and let him do what he would. He put his hands to my cheeks and maintained eye contact, and the next thing I knew, I was feeling how he threw up his own shield. He broke the connection.
“Think you can do it?”
“I can try.” I said positively. I took a deep breath and a few steps away from my father. And I did what I felt my father had. And the next thing you knew I was surrounded by a pink shimmery shield. I started laughing.
“What’s so funny, Xan?” My father had this look of amazement mixed with achievement on his face. “You did incredibly! You got a shield up!”
“I know. I just can’t believe my shield is pink.” I had gone through a phase when I was 8 where I refused to have anything pink in my life because I didn’t want to be called a girly-girl. And now my own personal wave of defense was pink. I was sensing some serious irony in my life as I tried to explain it to my father. “Can I learn to connect with people?” I changed the subject. Now that I had learned one new alien ability, I wanted to learn as many as I could.
“Sure. We can try, anyway.” My father agreed.
“Will I always have to touch their face, and maintain eye contact?”
“That’s the easiest way for me to do it. Of course, your mother is also the only person I really try to connect with so… Maybe you won’t have to. I know touching the person is important in the beginning though.”
“Okay. Can I try to connect with you first? I’ll do it your way, too.”
“Fine with me.”
“If I connect with you, will I be able to see everything about you?”
“Theoretically. Of course, there are some things I have hidden in my head behind a big gate now so that you can’t see them.”
“Like?” I wondered if he was thinking where I was thinking.
“Where we all live.” He smiled. “Good thinking, though, honey. You are so my child.”
I laughed. “You can’t blame a girl for trying.” We sat in two of the comfortable chairs in the basement and I reached over and touched my father’s cheeks. We kept our eyes locked on each other, and then…
Flash! It was like the universe was flying around us and I could see it all. It was so beautiful.
I’d seen his memories before in our dreams together, but this was different. In the dreams, he’d been like recreating them for me, so I could see everything. Now, through this connection, I was seeing things as he was seeing them.
I saw as Michael, Isabel and my father emerged from their pods and looked at the fourth pod, expectantly. I watched them leave the pod chamber, confused about who and what and where they were. I could feel both Isabel and Michael’s hands in my own, in my father’s, as they walked through the cold desert. I could feel my father’s sense of loss when Michael ran away from the lights of the car that rescued him and Isabel. And the joy he felt in finding Michael in school. And then I saw the most incredible thing: the day my father first saw my mother. He was climbing down from a school bus holding on to Isabel, as if they were only safe together. And he saw my mother wearing a cupcake dress playing with a mini little Maria who looked even more like a pixie then she did now. I could feel all my father’s emotions as he saw her for the first time and it was heartbreaking how completely he fell in love. Was it possible for an 8 year old to fall in love? My father did. I watched through his eyes during all the years that he watched my mother, and the amazement the first time he caught her looking back at him. Then I saw the day my mother got shot. I felt his terror that my mother was seriously injured. I felt his confusion for the few seconds he allowed it to rule him before he went to my mother, doing the thing that would change all of our lives.
Seeing this all through my father’ s eyes was so intense. He was so afraid that she would reject him now, when he had never even truly known her in the first place. And then I felt the most incredible feelings come from him when he realized she didn’t hate him or wasn’t afraid of what he was.
She knew exactly what he was and he felt total acceptance from her. She wasn’t afraid of him; she was afraid for him. I felt as their feelings grew into love. I felt my father’s fear that something would happen to my mother. I felt that he wanted to protect her more than anything. I felt the pain he felt when he forced himself to push her away ‘for her own safety’. I could feel that he wished she would never give up on him. And I could feel his wonder that she never did.
My father broke our connection right after that.
“That’s incredible, Dad.” I whispered. I wanted to cry at the feelings of being alone and being different that my father suffered through for so many years. “Thank you for letting me in.” I knew there were a lot of things that he was hiding from me, but I could live with that. I didn’t care. I’d seen more than most people were ever allowed anyway. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Xan.” He kissed my forehead. “I think you’ve got the idea of the connection down.”
“Can I connect with someone and not allow them to know that I’m connecting?”
“With practice. You have to learn how to avoid their… consciousness, I guess is the right word. I mean, you were entering into areas of my mind that I am aware of. It might be possible for you to enter areas I’m not or without making me aware that you are. I just know it takes a lot of practice.” He paused, as if deciding whether or not to tell me something important. “Can I trust you with a secret?”
“I’ve kept the connection with your Mom slightly lingering for years. It makes me feel like I’m still involved in your lives when I can feel her emotions and sort of sense what she’s been going through. She’d probably kill me if she knew, but I couldn’t let go completely, and I hate to dream-walk her. It makes me feel like a trespasser or something.”
“So you have been connected to us all this time?”
“Yes. I had to know that you were all right. And it’s killed me to feel how much pain your mother has gone through because of me but I can’t change any of that. I sometimes think that’s the thing I regret the most of anything. I can’t take away your Mom’s pain.”
“You do, though, Dad. She feels more alive to me now that you’re here than ever.”
“But what happens when I leave?”
I could feel my anger rising at the idea of him leaving. “Then don’t leave.” I said simply. “Or take us with you.”
“Xan, you know I can’t.” He said firmly.
“Why not? Is there so much danger for us where you are? I thought you said it was safe.” I was so confused! Why did there always have to be so much secrecy? Why couldn’t he tell me the entire truth? I was an adult, I deserved it. I could know that I’m an alien and that there is the possibility that someone is going to come after me someday, but I couldn’t know how to take care of myself or who was going to come?
“Then take us there, Dad. Let us be safe with you!”
“Xan, it’s not that easy. I would love to take you home with me and keep you there forever, but that’s just what I’d have to do. You could never come back here, to your home. You’d never get to go to college with your friends or see your boyfriend again. You’d be trapped where we are because of us. I can’t force you and your mom to live like that.” He wouldn’t make us give up these lives we were halfway pretending our way through?
“Then give us the choice!” My voice was rising to a near yell.
“You could choose now and then come to regret it after being there for a while, and once you make that choice, there is no turning back, Xan. I can’t do that to you.”
“So you play God with us instead?” My voice was loud but perfectly calm when I accused him of this. I was just so angry that I had no power in this situation, and I hated that my mother was powerless, too. She’d been in control for so long it felt unnatural for her to be a victim in this too. “You decide when it’s safe for us to see you and when it’s safe to talk? You decide what would make us happy? What would make us safe? What we want? That’s not fair!”
My father just looked at me in shock that I had said that.
I tried to calm down. “I’m not sorry for saying it, Dad. You need to know that that’s what you’re acting like. Mom and I are adults, capable of choosing our own futures, but you’re treating us like children. I know you feel compelled to take care of us; that’s why you left us all those years ago. But don’t you think that at some point, you have to just let us live? You can’t take care of us forever; at some point, we have to take care of ourselves and make sure we’re happy and safe as we see fit. We deserve the right to make those decisions, and you won’t allow us to.” I was so near tears. I always cried when I confronted something really important to me. “I’m going to the store to get a drink.” I ran upstairs, leaving my father speechless as he watched me go.
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 10/05/2001 01:32:27
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 7:16:27 PM|
After yelling at my father like that, I didn’t know what to do. I’d never done that before, not even to my mother, who had been there through some of the worst of my adolescence. I felt so selfish and like I didn’t have any control over what I had just said. What I’d told him was true, though; I didn’t regret a word of it. It was just shocking to believe that I actually said it to him. I never really thought of myself as a person who would come out and say what she really meant. I was used to keeping things quiet and bottled up inside me and now I was just letting it all go.
I went out to my Jeep and drove away from the house. I needed to calm down before I went back there to try to talk to him again. I didn’t know where to go, but I ended up at my favorite Starbucks in the city: the one on the corner of Main St. I ordered a tall mochaccino with a shot of caramel and sat by myself at a table in the corner, keeping watch that no one saw me pour the Tabasco I had hidden in my purse into the cup.
Halfway through the coup, someone sat down next to me.
“Are you okay, Alex?” Matt asked, reaching out to hold my hand.
“How did you find me, Matt?” I looked around to see who else was there.
“I saw your Jeep on the street. What’s going on? You’re shaking.”
“I’m fine, Matt. I just had a fight—“
“With your mother?”
“My father.” I ran my finger around the edge of my cup.
“Is he in town?”
I looked up quickly. “No.” I knew I’d have to lie to cover this one up. I never should have said a word to Matt, but I was so tired of living with all these secrets. 2 months before, I thought I was this normal, everyday kid without a secret or concern; now I was this alien teen who had to keep everything from everyone she had ever known or loved. “That’s what we fought about, though. He called and I said something about him visiting us, and he said he couldn’t. I just got so angry, Matt.” I could feel my eyes start to tear up again. I could see the way my father looked almost defeated when I yelled at him like that.
“Alex, it’s ok to get angry at him. He was a pretty horrible father for 17 years.”
It hurt me to hear Matt talk about my father like that. There were so many extenuating circumstances that he just didn’t—couldn’t know. “Matt, please, don’t talk about my father like that, okay? He’s trying now and I have to give him that chance.”
“Alex, I know you want to believe in him but he won’t even come to see you. He’s not exactly making it easy for anyone to understand his motives.”
“I understand them, Matt. My mother does. I think that’s all that is important.” I finished my drink. I needed to get away from Matt. I needed to go talk to my father. I stood up.
“Alex, where are you going?”
“Home. I need to wait for a phone call.”
“Are we going out tonight?”
“I don’t think so. I have a lot to work out, Matt. I need some time.”
“How much time?” He asked, sounding quite exasperated. “You didn’t come out with us last night, you’ve been distant all week. What is going on with you?”
“Matt, I’ve just had a long week, okay? I’m sorry that I’m not around much right now, but I have to take care of some stuff.”
“Stuff you can’t tell me about?”
“Exactly. It’s important to my mother that I do this stuff, and I guess it’s important to me, too. I’m sorry, Matt.” I smiled and kissed his cheek. “I’ll talk to you either tomorrow or at school on Monday.” I walked out of the coffee shop and went home.
I walked into my house and heard my parents talking in the living room. I leaned against the wall in the foyer and listened.
“Max, it’s going to be all right.”
“No, it’s not. Liz, she’s so angry at me.”
“Well, what did you expect? Not only is she a teenager, which means she’s always mad at her parents for something, but she’s a teenager who feels like her father is keeping things from her. And you are. She doesn’t really care why.”
“I knew that she’d have all these conflicting emotions about me. How could she not? I’m not exactly the father I always thought I’d be.”
“Don’t make excuses for me, Liz. I do that enough as it is.”
“Max, you were trying to keep us safe. That’s not an excuse.”
“Sometimes I think it is.”
I leaned against the wall. My father sounded so vulnerable.
“Do you think she’s right, Liz? Do you think I’ve played God in our relationship all these years?”
My mom was quiet for a moment. I knew she was thinking. “Max, I know you’re trying to protect us. I just think that maybe you’ve taken it too far. You’re so concerned with keeping us safe that you forget that we won’t always be protectable. 2 kids have brought guns to Xan’s school this year. She could get into a car accident driving home from a basketball game. No matter how badly we want to, Max, we can’t protect Xan all the time. Believe me, I’ve tried. She’s going ot get hurt sometimes. And Max, I know you want to keep me safe, but did you ever think that maybe I don’t want to be safe anymore? I’d face all the danger in the world if it meant we could be together again.”
“Liz, I can’t let you sacrifice everything for me! What about your family? Your parents? Your practice? You’d have to leave your life behind.”
“Max, I don’t care. My job is just my job. I can be a doctor, no matter where I am. My parents haven’t seen us in 2 years; they’re happy where they are, and I’d like to think that they still want me to be happy. You and Xan are my family. More importantly, it’s scary for me to know that you two are my entire life. You’re all that’s important to me. I just want us to all be together.”
“And I want the 2 of you with me, too, Liz. God knows that. But how can I ask Xan to give up a future she hasn’t even begun to dream about yet? She’d have to leave everything: her friends, her school, the only life she’s ever know. And she says now that that’s what she wants, but what happens when she wakes up next year and realizes that she should be partying in college, when she’s trapped with us, trying to be inconspicuous.”
I chose that moment to walk into the room. “I realize that I am with my parents and my family, and that’s much more important than partying.”
“Xan, how long have you been there?”
“Long enough.” I smiled. “Dad, please. This is my choice, okay? I want to go with you. I don’t care that I’ll have to leave my friends and school. I just want to be with you and Mom together. You know, since I found out this whole secret, I’ve had to grow up a lot, and I don’t mind that. I like who I am. But I know what the important things in life are, and for me, it’s my family. I want us all together.” I smiled. “It would be awesome if Alex and Maria were there, too, but I understand that that might not happen. What’s important is that we do.” I walked over to him and hugged him. “I’m sorry for yelling at you earlier, Dad. I just needed to get that off my chest.”
“Hey, didn’t I tell you that we could be honest with one another? I’m glad you yelled at me about it and didn’t run off to bitch about me to one of your friends.”
I smiled, turning a little pink. “Well, Matt heard some of it.”
My father looked up. “You saw Matt?”
“Yeah. He found me at Starbucks. Why?” I always had this feeling that my father didn’t like the idea of my boyfriend. I thought it was just because he didn’t want me to date, but now I was getting scared that there might be something else.
“No. There is something. You always get so defensive and stuff when I start talking about Matt. Now what is the deal?”
My mother looked at him. “Max, is there something we should know? What makes you so uneasy about Matt?”
“I don’t know if I can explain it. I mean, I just don’t know what to feel about Xan’s boyfriend.”
“Max, are you upset because your daughter is in a relationship? She’s not a baby anymore. It had to happen, and Matt is a good kid.” My mother smiled at me, like that solved that.
“It’s not just that, Liz. I mean, I don’t really like hearing that my daughter is dating some guy who I’ve never met, but there’s more.” He started pacing and changed topics. “All of Xan’s friends know that Xan is not Alex’s daughter.”
“So?” I asked.
“That was your safety net, Xan. Alex’s name on your birth certificate was just another way for you to deny me.”
“But, Dad, no one knows you are my father. They don’t know who my father is.” I looked at my parents. My mother looked broken; my father’s face was a mixture of anger and frustration as he kept pacing.
“The problem, though, Xan, is that they know that 18 years ago, your mother and I lived together. They know that we’d been together for years. They know everything about us.”
I hated the way he said “they”. I knew he meant the government or the FBI, and that scared me. “But it says that Alex is my father. Why would anyone look into that?” I could hear the naiveté in my voice.
My mother reached out and took my hand. I moved closer on the couch to her. “Xan, the government still wants your father, Isabel and Michael. If you’re connected to them, they want you, too.”
“What about you, Alex, and Maria then? Does the government want you?”
“I don’t know. Probably. I know that we were all followed right after they left. I’m pretty sure they continued to follow us until we moved here. They even watched you.”
“Watched? As in past tense?”
“We don’t know.”
“I haven’t felt followed since we moved here,” my mother said. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been, Xan. They are professionals, and it’s been some time since I had to check over my shoulder every day.”
“So someone might have been following me all my life?” My voice was shaking.
“Xan, we don’t know that.” My father sat on the other side of me and he wrapped his arm around me.
“That’s what you’re worried about Matt for, isn’t it?” I started crying at the thought of all the lies I had been told by him. Was he really just in my life to see if I was an alien?
“You think Matt has been sent to follow Xan, Max?” My mother sounded horrified.
“I don’t know. I’m afraid that someone might be watching Xan. We know that more and more interest is returning to our story, Liz. Our sources inside the government says they’re thinking of setting up special investigation units into the activity we all did.”
My mother’s face paled. “Like Pierce’s unit?” My father nodded.
I was confused by that silent conversation, but I didn’t want to ask about it.
“What does this mean? Do I break up with Matt? Should Mom pull me out of school? What happens now?” My head was spinning. Could I trust anyone? What if it wasn’t Matt? What if the spy was Megan? Or one of my teachers? How would I ever face these people? I’m a horrible liar! And now I had to pretend that I didn’t know that there were probably people in my school watching me and waiting for me to do something that would confirm my abilities as an alien?
“Nothing. We don’t even know if Matt’s dangerous. He could really just be a 18 year old boy interested in you for only the things that 18 year old boys want. We don’t know. You have to go on with every day life, like nothing has happened.”
“Pretending I’m not suspicious of every single person I know?”
“Welcome to the life of the alien on the run, sweetie,” my father tried to joke.
No one laughed.
“Can I dream-walk him and find out if he’s after me or whatever?”
“I don’t want you to yet, Xan. You’re still relatively new to it and that might make it easier for you to mess up and make yourself known in his head.”
“You mean he could sense me?”
“Exactly. For now, you just have to pretend and start keeping an eye on the people you trust.”
“So I have to spy on my friends who are possibly spying on me?” I wiped at my eyes. I was past tears by then.
“I’m sorry, Xan.” He kissed my forehead.
“Xan, I know how hard this is. We all went through it when we were your age. You know who you can trust—“
“You, Dad, Maria, Alex, Isabel, and Michael appear to be it.”
“For now, yes. And eventually, we will figure out if you can trust more people you know but until then, you need to think of us as all you’ve got,” my mom whispered. “Because we are.”
I found more tears to cry. For the first time in my life, I felt alone, and I was not enjoying it one bit.
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 10/05/2001 01:37:26
|posted on 8-Sep-2001 7:26:27 PM|
The next morning, my father and I were in the basement working on my powers again. I had spent the most miserable night. I had insisted on being alone, partly because I didn’t really like an audience when I cried about my lost innocence and partly because I think my parents needed to just be alone for a while. I may not like to think about it, but I do know certain things about their relationship that are inevitable. Nothing had been said at dinner (made by Little Caesar—my father insisted he missed ‘real’ pizza) or later that night about my little outburst. I knew that they were both okay with it, but I wasn’t. I had never behaved like that and I felt guilty.
Finally, in between building my shield, which was still embarrassingly pink, and working on molecular manipulation, I sat down and looked up at my father. “Dad, I’m sorry for what I said yesterday. I—“
He sat down next to me. “I’m not sorry, Xan. I told you before: you can be honest with me. I’m glad you were. You needed to say all that to me before it got so bottled up inside you it led you to hating me. And whether I like to admit it or not, I needed to hear it. It reminded me of some serious things about our family, Xan, about what’s important.” He smiled. “After all, I get to bring you and your mother home with me soon.” He squeezed my hand.
“I wish we were going now.” I couldn’t help whispering that.
He chose to respond to it. “I know, but your mother and I want you to graduate high school first. After all, once you come with me, we’ll be together for a long time.”
“I know.” I said. “I can’t wait! Can Maria and Alex come, too? Can you, Michael, and Isabel offer to let them come with us?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment. “I don’t know. I mean, I hadn’t really thought about it.”
“Don’t even ask if they would be willing to give up their lives for it because we both know they would. And we both know that Michael and Isabel would love it.”
My father smiled for a second. “Yeah, they would.”
“Where are they right now?”
“Well, Isabel is actually visiting Alex on a business trip.”
“You’re kidding me?” I was so excited that they could be together in real life for a change. I wondered if they were talking about what I know Isabel wanted to talk about.
“No. When I decided to come up here this weekend, she decided to go see him. And Michael is visiting Maria. We all decided to take this weekend for ourselves.”
Something that needs to be done more often, I couldn’t help thinking. “That’s so great!” I exclaimed. “They all must be so happy!”
“I imagine.” He paused and then grinned. “Actually, I don’t imagine. Isabel is my sister and I’d rather not know what exactly was going on with her and Alex.”
“God, Dad, why did you have to go there?” I started laughing.
He grinned at the look on my face. “It might be time we have a little reality talk, Xan,” he teased.
I knew what he meant and I so did not want to hear that from my father. “No! We don’t need to talk about anything like that.” Hearing the most embarrassing talk with my mother in my life coming from my father was not something I was really particularly interested in doing. I turned serious. “Dad, can I ask you a question?” He nodded. “You said you’ve always had this connection with Mom?”
“And that is going to stay a secret between us. She doesn’t need to know that I’ve kept up with her feelings all these years.”
“Right. Well, did you ever dream-walk her?”
He hesitated. “I haven’t dream-walked your mother since you were born.”
“You dream-walked Mom while she was pregnant with me, though?”
“Yes. I had to. I had to make sure the two of you were all right. I mean, we didn’t know if it was even possible for us to have kids together, and I had to make sure that no matter what, she was going to be okay.” He smiled, remembering. “I will never forget when she was pregnant with you, Xan. Even though I was hundred of miles away, I was able to connect to you in those dreams, and it was incredible. Every night I could see changes in you. Your mother and I shared that, and I think it helped us through those first months apart. I know those dreams kept me sane.”
“But you haven’t dream-walked her since?”
“No. I’ve only kept the connection lightly so I could make sure she was safe”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I think dream-walking someone without their permission is obtrusive and I didn’t want to do that to your mother.”
I looked at my father and wondered if he really bought the excuse he’d just given me. “Right. Now what’s the real reason?”
“God, Xan, I just left her. I was always so afraid to go into her dreams because I was afraid that they were representations of the pain I’d caused her or the fear she felt because of the trouble I brought into your lives. I love your mother so much; I hate knowing I hurt her like I did. I didn’t want to see it.”
“You know that she understood any pain you brought her, though, Dad.”
“Yes, I did. But I still think that when you dream, in your subconscious, you admit to things that you wouldn’t necessarily admit in the day, maybe even things you didn’t know you felt. And I was always afraid that was part of it.” He explained. “Why? Did you dream-walk your mother?”
“No, but I’ve been thinking about it lately. I mean, I want to know the things I feel she’s afraid to tell me.”
“You think she’s afraid to tell you things?”
“I think she’s trying to protect me from the stuff that’s happened to us, that even you probably don’t know about.”
“Do you think you really have a right to dig into your mother’s subconscious like that? I mean, if she doesn’t want you to know about it, there’s probably a good reason for that.”
I didn’t really have an answer for that.
“Just think about it before you dream-walk her, okay? And if you do, maybe you ought to tell her about it.”
I didn’t want to admit that I felt like a sneak for even wanting to. And I certainly didn’t want to then have to tell my mother that I invaded her privacy, but at the same time I couldn’t help but want to see. “I don’t know if I can talk to her about it. It would be so weird. I mean, Mom and I have always been so open with each other, but I just know that there’s a part of her that she doesn’t want me to know about. And I really, desperately want to know it.”
“What do you think it is? Just the things she’s hidden from you to protect you all these years?” He was asking all the right questions.
“No, it’s more than that, I guess. It’s Mom’s irrationality. I mean, for so long, she’s had to be such a grown up. And in her dreams, maybe she gets to just be a teenager for another few hours. I don’t want to rob her of that freedom by crashing into her dreams.”
“She doesn’t necessarily have to know, Xan.” My father started playing devil’s advocate. One minute I should tell her, the next I didn’t have to.
“I know, but I’d feel like such a rat sneaking into her dreams.”
“Do what you think is right. Maybe it would be good for you to see what your Mom really dreams about,” my father pointed out. “I mean, there are probably so many things that your mom wants to say to you that she can’t.”
“Maybe.” I nodded. I decided to change the subject. I didn’t want to think about intruding on my mother anymore. “So have you really talked to Isabel lately?”
My father recognized the need for the new topic and let me go with it. “A little. We don’t really get the chance to just talk very often. She is starting to worry me, though. I mean, she’s so… I don’t know. I think she feels alone or left out or something.”
“I know she does,” I whispered.
“What does that mean?”
“Issy’s been alone for a long time, Dad. She understood leaving us and Alex when you had to, but now… I think she just needs to be loved for a while.”
“She is.” I knew he was talking about the dreams.
“In person.” I said. I knew that that was going to hurt him, and I hated to do it, but I felt like I had to speak up for Isabel.
For a few moments, he didn’t say anything. “She knows that she can’t—“
“But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to. What do you think she and Alex are talking about right now? He’s really the only person she has and I know that scares her sometimes that she can’t have the one person she wants.”
“It’s a pretty sad day when my daughter can make me have to rethink everything I’ve ever known to be true.”
“That’s what teenagers are for.” I teased.
“What does Isabel talk about with you?”
“Dad, you know I can’t tell you that. I just know that she’s lonely and I think it might be a really good idea to let Alex come with us when Mom and I come down there.”
He paused, thinking. “I can’t believe I’m about to ask you this. Does Isabel want a baby?”
I nodded. “More than anything. She’s tired of living vicariously through everyone else, I think. She just wants to be happy.”
“I know. That’s all she’s ever wanted.”
“Well, maybe now is the time that she takes that happiness into her own hands.” I hoped she would. No matter what my father or Michael said, she needed this. I guess it was true for all of us. We had let the government or whoever threatened us run our lives for so long that I think it was time for all of us to defy them and live for ourselves again. I found it odd that no one in my family had thought of this before, had never seen the possibilities in it. But I guess they were raised differently than me. My father, Michael, and Isabel were always afraid of what could happen. I was raised blissfully unaware of the could’s and only knew what should happen and what I wanted. Maybe a healthy dose of teenage optimism and arrogance that everything would be right was just what my family needed.
Edited by - Transparent Clear on 10/05/2001 01:41:04
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:06:32 PM|
My father left in the middle of the night. He wanted to wait until he felt that there was a limited chance of danger, at least that’s what he’d said. Mom and I stayed up till 2 a.m. with him, talking and remembering. Mom made alien blasts like they used to make at the Crashdown when I was little. And finally at 2, when the only noise you could hear was the crickets that were already coming out, my father stood up and looked at the door.
He hugged me first. “I love you, Xan.”
“I love you, too, Dad.” I whispered. “Take care of yourself.”
“You, too. Keep practicing, okay. And take care of your mother.”
“I will.” I made a promise to him in those words. I wouldn’t let anything happen to her; I couldn’t.
My father hugged my mother and they kissed. It was like they couldn’t bear to break it off. My mother held on to him like she used to hold on to me when I was little after I’d hurt myself. “I love you, Max,” I heard her whisper.
“And I love you, Elizabeth Evans,” he grinned. “We’ll be together soon, baby, and once we are, I’m never letting you leave me again.”
“I’ll never want to leave.”
“I’ll talk to you soon, Xan,” my father hugged me again and then he left. My mother and I stood on the porch, watching him walk away into the darkness until the streetlights didn’t show him anymore. I started crying.
My mother wrapped her arms around me and held me like I was four again, whispering soothing words to me. “It will be okay, Xan. We’re going to be with him soon.”
“I know. I just didn’t realize how hard it would be to watch him go.”
“I know.” She led me into the living room.
“How did you handle him leaving before?”
“Well, when he first left, I had Maria and Alex to help me. The 2 of them took care of me for so long. I guess we all took care of each other, actually. I was so heartbroken, I needed someone to take care of me and they were so lost that they needed someone to take care of. And then there was you to think about. Knowing you were coming made me strong.” She smiled. “And every time he visited and then left again, I had to take care of you.”
“I just wish there was someone to take care of you, Mom.”
“I can take care of myself. I’m a big girl.”
“You shouldn’t have to.”
She looked a little melancholy. “I know. Let’s go to bed, Xan. It’s late and you have school in the morning.”
I was not looking forward to that. It was like Day One of my new life. “I know.”
“Xan, just remember that the people who are important in your life will always be here for you.”
“I know. I just don’t know who’s important.” We walked upstairs and went to our rooms. “Good night, Mommy.”
I laid down but I couldn’t sleep. I was too worried about tomorrow to sleep. And I kept replaying my mother’s reaction to my father’s leaving in my head. She was too calm about it. I mean, she had barely cried when he said goodbye. Then she focused on comforting me and being strong for me. I wished that she had at least cried. I wanted her to scream at my father for leaving her. I wanted to see her get mad about it all. I didn’t like that she was so used to it, I guess. She shouldn’t know this situation as well as she did. I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the calm reaction was a front for me. Maybe she didn’t want me to see her cry for him. Maybe she didn’t want me to see her get angry. Maybe she was holding all of this inside her.
I made my decision right then. I had to go into my mother’s dreams. I needed to know how she really was, and I knew she wouldn’t tell me the truth. I felt like a horrible person for doing it, but I couldn’t stop myself.
I waited till my mother fell asleep and then I closed my eyes and started thinking about her.
My mother was setting out a picnic on a big red plaid blanket that was in the middle of a big grassy field. She looked so happy and young. She was wearing a yellow sundress that I remembered from when I was a little girl.
Was she dreaming about when I was younger?
“Xan! Xan!” She yelled across the meadow.
A 6 year old version of myself ran to her. I was wearing an outfit that my mother had loved on me when I was little: these tiny blue jean overalls and a red shirt. “Yes, Mommy?”
“Help me set out the plates, baby. Daddy will be here soon.”
“When?” I started getting excited. “I want him to be here now!”
“Then what the princess wants, the princess gets,” my father spoke from behind me.
I turned around and threw myself into his arms. He handed me a stuffed puppy dog.
It was Wagner! I’d had that old puppy forever; he was still lying on the bed beside me. I couldn’t even remember where I had gotten him anymore. Was this real? Had I really gotten Wagner from my father?
“What’s his name, Daddy?” I hugged the bear close to me.
“That is for you to decide, baby.”
I watched my parents greet each other. They were holding on to each other so tightly, like they’d never let each other go. My father whispered something in her ear, and my mother laughed. She sounded so free, like she had no worries.
My father looked back down at me. “So what’s the dog’s name?”
“Wagner.” I said so seriously. I looked adorable.
My mother burst out laughing. She hid behind my father so I wouldn’t’ see her obvious amusement at the name.
“Where did you get that name, Xan?”
“I don’t know, but I like it. It fits him.”
“It sure does.” My father lifted me up into his arms. “I love you, baby.”
“I love you, too, Daddy.” I smiled and then I changed the subject. “Am I really a Princess, Daddy?”
“Yes, you are, Xan.”
“So that makes you the King?” I was trying to figure this stuff out. I could see my mother in me as I asked questions.
“Does that mean that Mommy is the Queen?” I looked over at my mother with excitement in my eyes. My mother smiled as she looked at the 2 of us.
“She sure is, Xan. She’s the best Queen there ever was.” He smiled down at her. My mother blushed adorably.
“Yay! I’m a princess!” I ran to my mom and hugged her. “And you’re the Queen. This is so exciting!”
I knew that that had never happened. There was no way I could forget such a thing. My mother dreamt about things she wished had happened? This was going to be hard to watch, I realized. She wanted us to be this normal family for all these years and there was nothing I could do to make her feel better or change it.
The scenery of the dream changed. This time we were in a park in what looked like Roswell. We were all aged up to today. It was the three of us together, though, and this time everyone else was with us! Alex and Isabel were over a few feet away on another blanket talking to one another. And Maria and Michael were sitting on two swings just holding hands. My father and I were talking about something “alien” and my mother was smiling as she watched us play with our powers.
“Your mom was always jealous of that power,” my father teased her as he showed me how to connect.
“Liz Evans!” He teased. He leaned over and kissed her hard. “I love you.”
“I love you.”
Out of nowhere, the sunny day turned dark and cloudy. Suddenly the 7 of us were the only people in the park. Then a large black truck pulled onto the grass and several men dressed entirely in black jumped out. They looked at Isabel and walked past; they looked at Michael and walked past, but they stopped at me and my father.
“Oh, God, no!” My mother started crying. She reached for both my hand and my father’s in one instant.
“Who are you?” My father asked, shielding my mother and I behind his body.
I didn’t say anything. I could feel the fear in my mother just by the way she was breathing. She was shaking and holding on to us with all her might.
Not another word was said after my name. One of the men reached out and grabbed me. He pulled me to him easily, no matter all the fighting my parents were doing.
Then another reached for my father and captured him too. It was over within a second and my mother was left standing alone, watching as my father and I were boarded into a black truck. She started screaming,
“No! Xan! Max! No, they can’t have you! God, no, not my daughter, too! She’s all I have left in the world. You can’t take them both! NO!!!”
I pulled myself out of that dream so quickly I woke myself up. I had just seen the one thing my mother lived in constant fear of: losing me and my father. And it was the one thing that could come true without any warning. How were we to know if at some point we would be taken? All the assurances in the world that we would be safe and careful would never be enough to take away that fear. It was a risk we had to take, and while I knew she understood that, she was terrified of it.
I wanted nothing more at that moment than to go to her and apologize for invading her dreams like I had. I wanted to tell her the truth, that there was no guarantee, but that we had to live like we were going to be fine. I wanted to tell her that the love our family had would get us through anything but that seemed hokie, like a bad greeting card. I wanted to tell her I loved her, but that seemed to simple. I tossed and turned the rest of the night.
I watched the sunrise and decided that from today on, it was time for some honesty. My mother and I needed to be honest with one another, especially if we were all each other had left right now.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:08:22 PM|
My mother was gone by the time I walked into the kitchen the next morning. I was relieved because it meant I had a little longer to figure out how to explain my late night dream-walking to her, but I was also afraid that I would lose the guts to tell her. I was afraid that I might be able to rationalize all my dream-walking away and never tell her, but I knew that I’d feel like an even bigger heel if I did that to her. All she left was a note on the refrigerator saying “Xan, they called me in early. I’ll be home by 6, though, and tonight I’ll make dinner. I love you, baby, Mom.”
I finished getting dressed and drove to school. I felt so normal. I was wearing my favorite Calvin Klein jeans and a t-shirt that had the name of an old band I’d never heard of but my mother had loved scrawled across the front. I was wearing my favorite shoes that always made me feel so daring. I had my backpack looped across one shoulder full of homework I hadn’t done, just like normal for a Monday morning. I even had a thermos full of Mocha Latte from Starbucks. I felt so normal, but the thing was, I wasn’t normal, not anymore, not ever really.
I wasn’t normal, and I couldn’t pretend that I was anymore. I wanted nothing more than to just be normal bordering on boring Alex Parker, but I knew I couldn’t. And my differences started to show the minute I walked into school. Normally, I would have searched for a friend to share my morning walk to my locker with, as we indulged in idle gossip. Now I walked alone, noticing how many people were grouped up, whispering and looking around. I watched as one girl caught my glance as she looked up. She started blushing and quickly turned away, back to whispering with her friends. I saw Matt and Megan talking a few feet away from my locker. They kept looking around anxiously. Why?
I was so paranoid! Were they talking about me? Was the girl I’d considered a best friend since I was 7 really spying on me? That seemed ridiculous. A child couldn’t be expected to spy. But what about her parents?, a nagging voice in the back of my head asked. They’d been around all the time when I was younger…they could have been watching to see what “unusual abilities” I had. God, I was suspecting my best friend’s parents of being spies because they had been good attentive parents? This was horrible!
But I couldn’t stop it.
And what about Matt? In the 2 and a half years I’d known him, he’d wormed himself into my life. First, he’d become my friend, as I tutored him in Chemistry. Then he’d been my buddy as he’d taught me how to play basketball. And then he was suddenly a member of my social group. And then he’d asked me out. It was all so normal. But what about all the questions he used to ask about my life? He’d always said he wanted to know me better and that he’d had to ask the questions because I never offered anything. That was true. I never liked to talk about my childhood and past. I always felt awkward because I was the only kid without a father, the only kid who hadn’t spent time with both sets of grandparents, the only kid who called her aunt and uncle who weren’t really an aunt and uncle by their first names. Maybe Matt did just want to know me better, and he’d ended up becoming a second best friend to me. I told him things no one else even knew about me. Was he taking notes all this time? Was he here just to get close to me and turn me over? Or did he just see the loneliness in me and want to know me?
God, what 16-year-old boy wanted that? I laughed as I thought it. But did that mean that he was my enemy? I wanted to scream! I hated to think like this. The closer I got to Matt and Megan, the more I wanted to turn around and run out of the school; I wanted to escape back to my house, the only place I felt free enough to be myself.
“Alex, finally, you’re here!” Megan rushed over to me and hugged me. She whispered, “Matt’s worried about you, Babe. We missed you this weekend.”
I nodded. “I know. I’m sorry.”
“So your Dad let you down again? He’s not going to come and visit?”
I wondered how she knew that. I mean, did Matt think it was his business to spread my personal information all around school? Well, of course, he did if he was an FBI agent. I shook myself out of that kind of thinking. He’d told Megan because he knew she was my best friend and would want to help me out. “I don’t know right now, Meg. It’s so complicated.” I was getting good at lying.
“Why? What’s so complicated about him coming to visit?”
“That’s my question, Meg.” The first bell rang. “I’ve got to run. I still need to apologize to Mrs. Landson for the way I behaved last week.”
“You mean not paying attention and reading whatever that book was instead?” Megan teased.
“Something like that.” I forced myself to smile. “I’ll see you in class, and tell Matt not to worry about me. I’m a big girl, and I’m fine.” I walked to the classroom.
The rest of the day was unbearable. I kept trying to assure all my friends that I was okay. I tried to at least act normal for them, but inside I felt these horrible walls going up around my heart to protect me from the possibility that one of them—I stopped myself from thinking it.
To prove my normalcy, after school I went out for coffee with Matt, Megan and a group of our friends. We took over a section of couches in the back corner and just hung out. We talked about what everyone except me had done all weekend. Everyone seemed to know what I’d done. And we talked about what we were going to do this coming weekend. Matt wanted me to go to a concert with him.
“I’ll have to double-check with my Mom,” I smiled, “but that sounds great.”
“I can’t believe you, Alex,” Megan’s boyfriend Adam Tygue teased. “You’re an 18 year old adult and you’re still asking Mommy for permission?”
“Adam, shut up. My mom is all I’ve really got right now. I respect her enough to talk to her before I make firm plans on anything.” I got all defensive and immediately regretted it. Since when did I start biting my friends’ heads off?
“Whoa, Alex, calm down.” Matt took my hand in his. “Adam was just teasing. We all know how close you and your mom are.
I relaxed a little and finished off my coffee. “I know.” I stood up and looked at my friends. “Does anyone want anything else?”
My friends all shook their heads.
“Alex, that will be your third cup of coffee today,” Megan pointed out.
I tried to joke it off. Everyone knew I was a strictly 2 cup girl. “I guess I’m just jonesing for some caffeine today. I’ll be right back.” I walked to the counter and ordered another mocha latte. I needed to calm down; I couldn’t keep freaking out like this. I had to act normal, like nothing was wrong with me! I couldn’t bite their heads off or jump down their throats at everything they said. And I couldn’t retreat into myself afraid of who they really were. These were my friends and they were acting like they always did. I was the only one acting weird. The only thing was now, I wondered who was real and who was acting. Walking back to the table, all I wanted to do was turn around and run home.
Once I sat down, Matt immediately wrapped his arm around me. I forced myself to smile and relax into him. “Are you okay?” He whispered.
“Yeah. I’m sorry. This has just been a really long, hard weekend for me.”
“I know,” he said sympathetically. “You know you can tell me anything, right, Alex?”
“I do.” I whispered, knowing I would never tell him another secret. I’d never share any of my secrets with any of these people again. I felt so sad at that thought. Even if they were all “clean” and not working for the FBI, I would still always have to be suspicious that they might turn me in if they knew anything was different about me. I felt like I’d lost a big part of me in that moment of realization.
“Just checking.” He kissed my neck.
I stayed at the coffee shop till a quarter to 5 with all my friends. After that, everyone started leaving and I felt free to go without having to explain anything. Matt followed me out on to the street by my car.
“Do you want to come shopping with me, Alex? I need to get my mother’s birthday present.”
“I can’t. Mom’s expecting me to cook dinner tonight,” I lied.
“Well, what are you cooking?” He changed the subject.
“I’m not sure. Maybe spaghetti, the best comfort food ever.” I had always found spaghetti to be the one thing that could make me feel better no matter what when I was younger and I continued that tradition today, always cooking it when I felt lonely or scared.
He smiled. “Maybe I should skip dinner with my family. I love your spaghetti.”
“Matt! You cannot skip family dinners!” I exclaimed. “I’ll bring you the leftovers tomorrow for lunch, if you want, though.”
“Promise?” He smiled the smile that made me fall for him in the first place.
“I promise.” I kissed him. “Tell your parents I said hi.”
“Will do. And I’ll call you later on, okay?”
I smiled and nodded as I got into the Jeep. “Bye, Matt.” When I got home, my mother was waiting for me.
“How’d today go, sweetie?” She asked sympathetically as she hugged me tightly.
“It was so hard, Mom.” She led me into the living room. “I kept second-guessing everyone all day. My friends, my teachers, everyone.”
“I know,” she whispered. “I could feel your confusion.”
I forgot that sometimes lingering mother-daughter connection we had. That could be a problem. “And all I wanted to do was search for normalcy again, but I knew I couldn’t. I kept suspecting my friends over and over. Anytime someone would whisper I’d think they were whispering about me. Anytime someone would look at me and then turn away quickly, I thought they were staring at me, watching me.” I jumped up and started pacing. “I’ve never been insecure but I am now! And I don’t like it. I feel myself turning into this paranoid creature that has no one to trust!”
“Xan, calm down!” My mother grabbed my hand and pulled me over to her. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. I just had 3 coffees today and I’m feeling kind of jazzed up.”
“3 coffees? No wonder you’re doing a pretty dead-on impression of Maria,” she teased.
“Very funny, Mom.”
“Xan, I understand how hard today was on you. I can’t tell you it’s going to get any easier. Just remember, I’m here for you.”
“I know.” I hugged her.
“So what do you want for dinner? I’ll make you anything you want.”
“How about spaghetti and meatballs?” I looked up to her like I was a baby
“Ooh, we’re resorting to the old standby, eh?” I nodded. “I understand. I can’t tell you how many alien blasts I went through when all this was going on for your father and me.” She kissed my forehead and walked into the kitchen. “Why don’t you get started on your homework?”
“Okay.” I agreed and started pulling books out of my backpack.
“Xany, did you want to talk to me this morning?”
“What?” I put the books down. Did she know what I had done last night?
“I don’t know. This morning, right when school was starting, I felt like you needed me. What was going on?”
I didn’t know what to say. “Nothing, Mom.” Oh, God, I needed to talk to her about this. I had to be honest. I had to tell her I had invaded her privacy, her dreams, because I was curious. I had to build my guts up and fast in order to do that, though.
45 minutes later, my mom came back into the living room. “How’s the homework coming?”
“Almost done,” I lied. I hadn’t touched it. I had sat here, silently trying to build up strength to tell my mother what I had done.
“Dinner’s almost ready. Why don’t you set the table?”
“Okay.” I reached into the cupboard and nearly pulled out 3 plates. I sighed and took out 2. I put them on the table and got us each a glass of water. My mother brought in bowls of spaghetti and sauce and a plate of bread.
“I have always been so amazed by the way you could carry all those plates,” I admitted.
“A waitress’ skills never die,” she smiled. “Maybe I should send you to the Crashdown for a summer so you can learn them too.”
“No, thanks,” I laughed and we ate. “Mom, I did need to talk to you this morning.”
“What about, Xan?”
“Something I did that I’m not too proud of.” I said cryptically. I knew I just needed to say it but that was so hard to do.
“What are you talking about, baby?”
“I need to apologize to you, Mom. I did something absolutely horrible. I mean, I broke your confidence in me and did something so intrusive that I think it I were you, I wouldn’t trust me for a long, long—“
“Xan, it’s okay. I know you dream-walked me.”
I looked at her incredulously. “What? You knew?”
She smiled that perfect mother’s all-knowing smile. “Yes.”
“Xan, how long have I lived around aliens?” She pointed out. “I know a lot of things you probably didn’t imagine I knew. Including being able to tell when someone is dream-walking me. Isabel taught me that years ago.” She smiled. “I even know that your father has kept a connection with me all these years.”
“But he said he was careful to make sure you never felt him.”
“Your father forgets that I always feel him. All those years he thought he was just keeping ‘an eye’ on me, I was doing the same to him through that connection.”
I looked at my mother with a new sense of awe. “That’s so cool!”
“Don’t tell your father I know, though, okay? I think it’s so cute how he still thinks that after everything we went through, he could still have a secret from me.”
I smiled then turned sober. “I’m sorry I invaded your privacy, Mom.”
“It’s okay, Xan. I understand why you did it. I mean, you were curious and you didn’t know how to ask. I went through the same thing when I was your age, but I didn’t have your abilities. I never really got to know my parents as well as you know me. I’m glad you did it.” She rubbed my cheek with her palm.
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, too, baby.”
We ate in silence for a few minutes. Then I asked her a question that had been bothering me all day. “Do you think that there really is another group like Pierce’s waiting to capture me and Daddy?”
She paused. “I don’t know, baby. But I do know that if there is, there is no way that your father or Alex or Michael would allow them to. I wouldn’t let them take you.”
“I’m not so much worried about me, really, as what would happen to everyone else. I don’t want to think about what happened in the white room to Dad happening to all of us. I want us all to be together and happy.”
“I know, Xan. And we will. Just keep reminding yourself of that, and it will come true.”
I hugged my mother and prayed that she was right. But I needed to change the subject. I didn’t want to think like that any longer. “So should I avoid any dreams of yours? I mean, would they give me nightmares of things children should never see their parents doing?” I teased.
“Xan!” My mom giggled. “You know it is inevitable for a child to catch her parents at some point…”
I burst out laughing. “Not this child.” I thought of something I wanted to see in her mind. “Can we try something?”
“Well, I’d love to see your wedding. Can we try to dream about that tonight?”
“I’d love to.” My mother smiled. “And by the way, you got clean up tonight.”
“I knew that would become my new chore.” I laughed grateful that it was just me and Mom again... like normal.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:09:50 PM|
That night I slept in my mother’s bed with her, holding her hand. She was holding a picture she’d just finally taken out of her bottom drawer of her wedding day. I’d stared at it for half an hour before bed. How was it possible for me to look so much like both of them? I couldn’t believe how perfect or happy they looked together as they stood in front of the church in their wedding garb. My father had this adorable grin on his face and was wearing a dark tux that just made him look like every Prince Charming I’d ever seen, and my mother was wearing this long white sheath dress that was so simple it was gorgeous. It had spaghetti straps and just fell around her body like it was made for her. She’d laughed and said it was because Isabel had “tailored” it for her. I smiled and wondered what kind of fun I could have with my own clothes.
“Mom, just think of that day,” I whispered as we fell asleep. And then I was in her dream!
July 21, 2003I moved out of my mother’s dream then, wanting to give her some privacy to remember whatever else she wanted to. So I went into my father’s. He was waiting for me.
“Maria, are you ready?” Liz paced in front of the door to Maria’s bedroom. I could hear her thoughts on the issue. ‘I should have told you we were leaving an hour ago!’ She smiled. ‘I bet Max is having just as much a problem with Isabel. She probably wants to bring 3 bags.’
“I’m almost ready, chica. It’s just hard to pack for this kind of trip, you know? I mean, what does one wear when she has a fake ID in Vegas?”
“Liz, don’t go there!” Maria warned from behind the door.
“Just don’t forget your cypress oil. None of us can handle you without it.”
“Ha ha.” She zipped up her bag. “I’m ready!”
“Finally!” Liz grabbed the bag from her. “We’re going to be late!”
“Honey, I think we’ll be early. After all, Isabel is coming, and that girl cannot be on time for anything.”
I laughed. Maria was one to talk.
“Ria, have you ever heard of the pot calling the kettle black?” Liz teased.
“Liz, shut up and let’s go. I haven’t seen my SpaceBoy in 2 days since he’s been working so much. I’d like to spend as much time with him this weekend as possible.”
“Aww, are you not getting to have your daily quality time with Max?” She teased.
“Shut up, Maria.” They walked out to Maria’s car and headed toward the Evans house where everyone was supposed to meet up. “Maria, have you ever wanted to do something completely crazy that would change your life forever?”
“Didn’t I already do that when I fell in love with an alien?”
“What if it could be even bigger than that?”
Maria stopped at the corner and turned to look at Liz. “Oh my God. Liz, please tell me you aren’t pregnant! And if you are, get your ass in the backseat and start digging for my cypress oil!”
Liz started laughing. “What? No! I’m not pregnant.”
Maria sighed. “Thank Buddha. We do not need any more possible alien problems.”
“You realize you just said Buddha. I think you’ve been spending entirely too much time with the step-brother there, Maria.”
“I know. I find myself saying it all the time.” She started driving again.
“I wish Kyle and Tess could have come with us. I mean, we hardly ever see them anymore.”
“I see them,” Maria teased. “But they’re busy, too, Liz. And this was kind of a last minute trip, you know. We’ll see them later.”
She sighed. “I guess.”
“So you don’t think that’s going to change the subject, do you? What were you talking about there?”
She smiled shyly. “You have to promise not to go crazy if I tell you.”
“I promise, but that promise is going to make it even harder to drive, you realize?”
“Good point. Maybe I should wait.” She watched Maria’s reaction.
“Elizabeth Ann Parker, if I do not hear something from you in the next 5 seconds, I will stop this car and never get you to your darling boyfriend’s home.”
Liz laughed. “Okay.” She took a deep breath. “You know Max and I are meant to be together—“
“Everyone who has ever met you knows that, Liz. You’re soulmates.”
“Right. And we’ve been engaged for a year.” She looked at the diamond on her hand.
“Well, I was thinking about maybe seeing if Max wanted to make it official this weekend,” she smiled.
“Oh my God!!!” Maria started exclaiming. “This is awesome! I can’t believe you, Liz! I mean, you’re going to ask Max to marry you this weekend. I never thought I’d see the day!” She forced herself to continue driving. “This is incredible! You and Max are going to get married this weekend!”
“If Max says yes.”
“Max can’t say no to you, Liz. When will you realize that?” Maria started getting excited as she realized this was really going to happen. “So how are you going to ask him? And my God, what will you do if he says yes?”
“Get married? I don’t know how to ask him, Maria. I mean, I’ve never done anything like this before, you know?”
“Where would you get married?” She started to ponder the practical questions.
“Maria, if Max says yes, I don’t care where we get married. We could get married by Elvis for God’s sake, and I’d be just as happy as if we were getting married by the Pope himself.”
“What about your parents, Liz? They’ll never be able to get there in time.”
“I know. And Maria, you know that if I told them I was getting married, they’d try to talk me out of it.”
“You aren’t going to tell your parents that you’re getting married?” She seemed shocked.
“No. I mean, I know it sounds bad, but come on. They would never support us.” She rationalized. “And besides, Max and I head back to New York next week, and we’re all ready living together.”
“I still want to know how you convinced your parents to let you do that?”
Liz smiled mysteriously. “I just feel like if we don’t get married now, we’ll never really be able to.”
“What does that mean, Liz?”
“Nothing,” she quickly said. “I just want this wedding to be for all of us, our real family.”
“Liz, what about all those plans we used to make for when we got married? Remember when we were little? That’s all we did for an entire summer was plan our weddings! Remember we talked about dresses and flowers and music--”
“Well, I think I’ve changed my mind on some of that. I no longer want the New Kids on the Block to provide music,” she laughed. “And none of that other stuff matters anymore to me. The only thing I want at my wedding is Max. And you guys to be there. I mean, the 6 of us are a family tighter than any other.”
“I know.” Maria whispered. “So you’re really going to do it?” She pulled up in front of the Evans house.
“If I can convince him to.” She smiled. “Maria, you had better not say a word to anyone until I can talk to Max about it.”
“I won’t. I promise.” She rang the doorbell.
Michael answered it looking decidedly flustered.
“Everything okay, baby?” Maria hugged him.
“Have you ever tried to talk Isabel into only bringing one suitcase?” He deadpanned.
“Ouch.” Maria said sympathetically. “Is Alex talking to her?”
“Yeah, the poor man,” Michael walked into the living room.
“I’m going to go check on Max.” Liz walked down the hall to his bedroom. “Hey, baby.” Max was just staring off into space. She thought he was so cute.
“Hi,” he kissed her. “Are we almost ready?”
“Alex just has to finish convincing Isabel that she can fit everything she needs for 2 days in one bag.” She smiled. How was she going to bring this up with him? “Let’s volunteer to take all the luggage with us in the Jeep. I want to talk to you.”
All of a sudden I could hear my father’s thoughts and worries, too.
What? Why does Liz want to be alone? Oh, God, she isn’t reconsidering the apartment idea, is she? I mean, I know she’s not happy to lie to her parents, but we want to live together.
Liz smiled. “Don’t look like that, Max. Everything is fine,”
Half an hour later, the Jetta and the Jeep pulled out of the Evans drive way. Max and Liz were alone in the Jeep. They didn’t really talk as they drove out of Roswell. I noticed that they just held hands, always having to touch. I could feel my father’s worry again.
How was it possible for me to feel my father’s thoughts? Unless maybe…was he in the dream, too? I felt like a freakin’ Jedi as I reached out with my mind until I could feel my father in this dream, too. This was so awesome! I’d get to feel both their thoughts!
Once they got on the interstate, Liz looked at Max and squeezed his hand. “Max I want to talk to you about something.”
Oh God, here it comes….
How was I supposed to say this? Now I know why the guy proposes…
“Max, I love you. I always have and I know I always will. I don’t’ care about however much danger we have to face or anything. So long as we are together.”
“Liz, what are you saying?” He was confused. This did not sound like the blow-off he was expecting.
She’d have to be blunt, she decided. “Max I want to be with you forever.”
Relief coursed through him. “Me, too, Liz. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
“I know.” She smiled. Maybe this would be easier than she thought. “Then marry me this weekend?”
Shock ran through him again. Had he heard her right? Had she just said that? Maybe he was just hearing what he wanted to hear. There was no way she’d just—
“Let’s just do it, Max. We’ll find some chapel; I don’t really care about that. And all our friends will be there and we’ll get married. It’ll be perfect.”
He sighed. God, that did sound perfect. They’d never be apart again. It was everything he’d ever dreamt of. And she wanted it too? He was overcome with joy. But then reality came crashing down on him.
They couldn’t get married in some Vegas chapel. Liz deserved more than that. He’d seen the flashes of her dream wedding. It had all her friends and her parents and a big church and a long white dress, not a tacky chapel in jeans.
“Liz, we can’t.”
“Why not?” She was ready for this. She’d known it would take some work.
“Liz, do you really want to get married in some tacky chapel?” He needed to change her mind before his determination fell to what he really wanted to do.
“I don’t care where we get married, Max, just so long as we get married.”
“What about your parents? Don’t you want them to be at your wedding?”
“Max, I don’t care.”
“Yes you do!”
She wanted to laugh. She loved it when Max thought he knew everything she wanted. “No, Max, I don’t.” She squeezed his hand as he focused on the road. “All I want is to be with you, for the rest of my life. I don’t care if we get married in a Vegas chapel; it will be perfect, because it will be me and you.” She rubbed her thumb along the back of his hand. “It doesn’t matter to me if my parents or your parents are there. Our family will be. Maria and Isabel will stand up for me, and Michael and Alex will do the same for you. They are our real family, Max. They know who we really are and that’s the important people I want at my wedding. They’re the people who have been there since day one of our relationship, before that even.” She had tears in her eyes remembering all they had gone through just to be together. “I love you, Max.”
“Liz, I love you, too. I just don’t want you to regret this someday.”
“Max, I could never regret marrying you.” She smiled, knowing she was going to win.
“But Liz—“ He could feel himself losing the will to keep this discussion going.
“And Max, if you’re insistent about a big church wedding, we can have one of those too. Later. After college or something.”
Before he gave up, he had to ask once more. “Are you sure?”
Liz laughed, knowing for sure that she’d won. “For the last time, Max, I’m sure. I asked you, remember.”
Max kissed Liz’s hand right over her engagement ring. “I love you, Liz.”
“I know.” She smiled and turned on the radio. Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe” was playing. She sighed. “I love this song. I used to think it could be about us.” She leaned her head on his shoulder and they listened in silence. She felt so safe and happy as she sang along with the last few lines, “Please say honestly you won’t give up on me. And I shall believe.”
Max smiled, content to feel her next to him forever. “I’ll never give up on you, Liz.”
“And I’ll always believe in you, Max.” She whispered and then couldn’t help herself from laughing. “Just think, this time tomorrow, I’ll be Mrs. Elizabeth Evans!”
“Tomorrow, huh?” He teased. “Who says I’ll let you make it through tonight without marrying me?” His eyes were laughing.
She loved to see him like this. This was the Max she fell in love with and she knew that she was sometimes the only one who could bring it out. She vowed that she’d spend the rest of her life doing it.
The next couple scenes flashed through my mind as I saw both my father and my mother getting ready to get married. I saw Isabel ordering everyone around because everything had to be perfect. I saw Michael, Alex, and my father hanging out the night before the wedding at the craps tables. I saw Maria, Isabel, and my mother spending the night watching sappy movies together. And then there was the wedding.
I saw from Max’s perspective as my mother came walking down the short aisle in the Elvis Chapel. I could feel how beautiful he thought she was walking toward him wearing a white sheath that suited her perfectly, thanks to Isabel’s magic. There was not a doubt in his head suddenly that they were doing the right thing. This was meant to be.
I could feel from my mother’s perspective how handsome she thought he was in his tuxedo. I could feel how much she loved him and how she knew they would always be together… no matter what. I could feel how anxious she was as she walked down the aisle, how she wanted to just run to him.
Max and Liz joined hands at the top of the aisle and turned to look at each other rather than Elvis. They could feel each other’s love and excitement. They said their vows clearly while they looked into each other’s eyes. And when Max put the beautiful platinum ring on Liz’s hand, she couldn’t stop her tears. It was perfect. She didn’t know how he’d gotten a ring like this with so little time, but she just wanted to kiss him for it. And then Maria handed her a similar ring to give to Max. She stared at them all in wonderment, knowing that at some point, someone in their group had thought ahead for them. She knew then that this was the perfect wedding.
“I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Max Evans. You may-uh-kiss your bride.” Elvis said with a shake of his hips.
Max and Liz looked at one another and melted together.
“I love you, Liz.”
“I love you, too, Max.”
“I thought you said you never dream-walked her.”
“I didn’t. Technically, I just dream-walked you. I didn’t know you’d be in her dreams, especially after we decided it wasn’t the most honest thing to do.”
“Mom knew I was in her dream. She invited me.” I smiled. “Why did you stay when you saw I was in there?”
“Maybe I wanted to relive that day, too.”
I smiled. “That was so beautiful, Dad. I still can’t believe you got married in an Elvis chapel.”
He grinned. “I always promised her another wedding, in a church with all our family there. But it seems like after that point there was never enough time for it.” He sighed. “I’m so glad she talked me into that wedding.”
“Me, too. Legitimacy is a good thing,” I teased.
“Ha ha.” My father sat in a chair he “made” and “made” one for me, too. “So there was a reason I came to look for you tonight.”
“I wanted to see how today went for you.” I sighed. “Talk to me, Xan.”
“It was horrible. I had to sit there, silently suspecting my best friends of spying on me. And while I did that, I had to act normal, like nothing was wrong with me. It was nearly impossible to do, Dad.”
“You did it, though, Xan,” he tried to reassure me.
“I know.” I couldn’t help the tears rising to my eyes. “I just don’t like it. I don’t like not being able to trust my boyfriend or my best friend. I want to know that they aren’t trying to find out information about me. I can’t keep getting jumpy every time they ask a question, you know?”
“Yeah,” he hugged me. “I don’t know what else to say, Xan, other than that at least you know the possibilities and that’s got to be better than not knowing.”
I sighed. “I’m not sure I agree with that, but it’s too late to go back, anyway. I wanted to know the truth, and now I have to deal with it.”
“Xan, soon you’ll be here with Isabel and Michael and me and your Mom and probably even Maria and Alex.”
“Are there other people like us, Dad?” It had never occurred to me to ask before now, but suddenly it seemed important.
“Yes.” He nodded. “There are lots of others.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. There were other people out there like me, going through exactly what I was going through? I liked knowing that. It made me feel normal again, almost.
“Xan, you can do this, okay? I know you can. I know it hurts, but you can handle it. And soon we will all be together again.”
I hugged my father so he couldn’t see my tears. I prayed he was right. But I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to make it through even another hour of sitting next to people who may or may not be spying on me. I just wanted to know for good, and I knew that dream-walking would tell me. So I had a decision to make: respect my father’s wishes and not dream-walk them just in case they could feel me or dream-walk them and find out who my real friends were.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:11:25 PM|
The next day felt surreal. It was like I was outside myself watching my daily activities. Every person I talked to, I thought about what would happen if I just did it, if I just used this one little “super” power I had and looked into their dreams. It would be so easy to do, and it would answer so many of my questions. I’d know who I could trust and who was betraying me. I’d know who I could stop thinking about. I’d know who I could be myself with, well, the old myself anyway.
But what if my father was right. What if I exposed myself and what I am by dream-walking them? What if someone caught me doing it? I wondered if they could. Obviously, people who knew the truth and had been dream-walked before could probably tell that there was someone else in their head, but could someone who didn’t even know that aliens existed sense us? I wondered if that had ever happened to Isabel? I needed to talk to her about it, but I wondered if she would tell my father what I was thinking about doing. I knew he wouldn’t like it. But I was so tired of feeling helpless.
That night I searched out Isabel. She was dreaming with Alex. They looked so cute together, lying on a big blue couch whispering. I hated to interrupt their time together, but I also didn’t want to see something they wouldn’t want me to see.
They looked up shocked.
“Xan!” Isabel jumped up to hug me. “We haven’t talked in a while. I’ve missed you.”
“I know.” I smiled. “But I think we’ve both been busy.”
Alex hugged me. “How are ya, kid?”
“Good. How are you two? How was your weekend together?” I smiled. “Wait! Don’t tell me anything that would hurt my poor young ears, please.” We all laughed.
“It was the best weekend I’ve had in 18 years,” Isabel smiled.
“Ditto,” Alex wrapped his arms around her. They just looked so content to just be around each other. I hoped Alex came with me and Mom when we left.
“You both know that Dad’s letting me and mom move with him when I graduate high school, right?”
Isabel looked shocked. “No! I haven’t talked to him since he got back. I don’t believe it.”
“I know. It’s incredible.”
“How did you manage to convince Max that you and Liz should live with him?” Alex looked at me in awe. We all sat down on the floor.
“Well, basically, I told him I was tired of him playing God. I told him that it wasn’t fair that I wasn’t allowed to make my own decisions. I told him that I didn’t care if I never got to come back to this home again because my home would always be with my family.”
“And he listened?”
“Surprisingly, yes. After I graduate, Mom and I are
Isabel looked at Alex. “Do you know what this means?” She was near tears. “You can come with them! You can come live with us, too!” She threw her arms around him.
Alex’s entire body sighed as he realized it. “We’ll never be apart again, Is,” he whispered into her hair.
I felt like I was intruding on this perfect moment for the two of them. I started to leave. I could talk to Isabel about this stuff later. She needed to be with Alex.
“Xan, wait!” She noticed I had stood up and was walking away. “Where are you going? Why did you really come to see me tonight?”
“It can wait. I’ll talk to you tomorrow night, okay? You and Alex need this time. I love you both. Alex, I’m going to call you tomorrow at work, okay?”
“Absolutely.” He kissed my forehead.
“I think I’m going to go talk to Michael for a little while. I haven’t seen him lately.” I hugged Isabel and then left her dream.
“Xan, is that you?” Michael asked as soon as I entered his dream.
“It’s me.” I smiled and hugged him. “How are you? I haven’t seen you since my birthday party.”
“I’m fine. How was your weekend with your Dad?”
I smiled. “Wonderful. It changed a lot of things for us, I think.” I decided it was fair to turn the tables on him. “How was your weekend with Maria?”
Michael grinned wickedly. “I wouldn’t want to taint your pure little ears,, sweetie.”
I burst out laughing and hit him on the upper arm. “Michael, I cannot believe you just said that!”
“It’s what you were thinking, weren’t you?”
I smiled. “Let’s just say we both had good weekends.”
“Deal.” He smiled. “So I hear you and Liz are moving here after you graduate.”
“Yes!” I exclaimed. I was so excited about it. “I couldn’t believe it when Dad actually said yes. It was like all my dreams rolled up together.”
“Well, I guess you got your birthday wish after all, huh?”
“Yeah, I did.” I smiled. “Are you going to ask Maria to come, too? Isabel didn’t even ask Alex; they just looked at each other and knew.”
“Well, Alex never could say no to her anyway.” Michael shook his head. “I don’t know if I’m going to ask Maria.”
“What?” I exclaimed. Oh, lordy, I was going to have to knock some sense into this boy’s head. “You’re not going to ask Maria to come live with the rest of us?”
“How can I, Xan? She has this other life going on that I can’t just interrupt.”
I sighed and looked at him incredulously. “Before I knock some sense into you, can I ask you a question?” He nodded. “Do you think you’re very different from Max?” I wanted to smile at how similar these 2 were, whether they knew it or not.
“I guess. I mean, he’s full-on leader. I’m more the quiet but lethal guy in the back, I guess.”
“Guess again.” I met his confused eyes. “Do you know what’s kept him from coming to me and my Mom in the past years when you’ve been safe and asking us to come live with him?”
“Your safety and happiness?”
“Partly that, but he didn’t want to break up our ‘normal’ lives. Michael, Maria does have a life in Seattle, but it’s not the life she really wants. I mean, she loves her store and being her own boss and everything, but she loves you more. She wants to be with you as much as Mom and I want to be with my Dad.”
“You think?” He still sounded insecure.
“Michael, I know. She loves you! You love her! Just ask her if she wants to go with you, and I think we already know what her answer will be.”
“But, Xan, I’d be asking her to give up everything. She could never go back. And what about her mother?”
“Grandma Amy has only ever wanted Maria to be happy. And after all these years, I think she knows that you are Maria’s happiness. She’d understand, Michael.” I switched tactics a little. “Just ask her. I mean, this way, when Mom and Alex and I leave she won’t leave left out. Either way, she’ll know.”
Michael smiled a little. “Change of subject. So how are things going with you? I know it’s bothering you having to doubt everyone.”
“I don’t know how you did this your entire life, Michael. I mean, I feel so alone, unless I’m at home. That’s the only place I feel safe.” He wrapped his arm around me. “I just wish I could know if my boyfriend is spying on me or if my best friend is spying on me. I want to know who I can trust and who’s been lying to me for years.”
“Do you really want to know that, Xan?” He asked. “I mean, take your best friend. The two of you have experienced some pretty incredible things since you met her, and you remember all those things happily. Do you want to have to start analyzing all your memories if you find out she was really spying on you? Do you want to have to start doubting what you shared?”
“I’m doing that anyway, Michael. I can’t believe in anything I’ve ever known outside my family because what if it’s all just a huge act on their part. I mean, I know I can’t tell anyone what I really am, and I understand that, but not knowing who’s in my life to spot any changes in me is hard. And it hurts so much for me to think like this. I have never been a paranoid person, but all of a sudden, I feel like I’m constantly second-guessing everyone and everything I’ve ever known for hidden ulterior motives.”
Michael looked at me for a long minute or two. “So what are you planning on doing about that?”
“Nothing.” I shrugged it off. I couldn’t tell Michael what I wanted to do. He would just tell me that it wasn’t a good idea or something.
“Hey, don’t lie to me, Xan. I don’t deserve that. Be honest. What do you want to do?”
I looked down. I couldn’t look him in the eye when I said it. “I want to dream-walk my friends to find out the truth about them.”
“What’d Max say about that?” He asked.
“He told me not to. He said that there was a possibility that someone would be able to feel me tooling around in their heads and would realize what I was.” I looked at Michael. “Can that really happen?”
“Xan, I don’t know much about dream-walking. You ought to talk to Isabel about it. She’s the one with lots of experience.”
“I know, and I will talk to her tomorrow. I don’t want to interrupt her and Alex again tonight.”
I could see the evil thought running through Michael’s head. “I think you should listen to your father. He probably knows what he’s talking about.”
“But that means I have to just wait! And I can’t do that. I need some answers!”
Michael watched me pace for a few minutes. “I understand, Xan. And honestly, I can’t believe I’m the one about to say this to you. I mean, I’m not known for my resolve or my calmness, but I think you need to listen to what your father said. I mean, your safety has to come first, in front of everything. And you could put yourself into serious danger if you look into people’s dreams. Especially when you haven’t had that much practice at it outside of your immediate family.”
“Well, how am I supposed to get experience dream-walking others if I can’t dream-walk them for fear that they’ll feel me?” I felt like this was a huge catch-22 or something.
Michael didn’t have an answer. “Xan, I’m sorry. You know I wouldn’t say this unless I thought it was important. I just want you to stay safe. Paranoia is better than being turned in or hurt because of what you are.”
“I know.” I smiled and hugged him tightly. “I guess I just need to think about this some more.” I knew that if Michael was telling me to be careful that something might seriously happen to me. I just had to be careful.
“So other than feelings of paranoia and mass amounts of fear, what else has been going on in your life?” He grinned.
“Not much.” I shrugged.
“Your father told me that once you move down here, he and I are going to have to go through your wardrobe. Something about ‘not fit to wear out’.” He teased.
“Michael, Maria bought me half of my clothes. Be careful what you say.” I smiled.
He shook his head. “She always did have interesting taste.” He looked up
wickedly. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you.”
“Michael!” I laughed.
The next night I went back to Isabel’s dream. She was alone, waiting for me. She held me so tightly when she hugged me. I could feel how much she loved me. I liked that feeling. We sat down on the same big blue couch we had had our first girl talk on.
Isabel looked me over for a moment and then asked, “Are you really okay, Xan? I’ve been talking to Max and Michael, and they’re both a little worried about you.”
“I figured.” I knew Michael would talk to Isabel about our dream last night. He would want to talk to someone about the danger I was in. I also knew he hadn’t told my father because he understood it was something I should talk to him about. “I’m okay, I guess. I’m just so tired of paranoia, and I’ve only been living under it for a few days, really. I don’t know how much of these feelings I can actually handle before I go crazy.”
Isabel rubbed my hand. “Oh, Xan, I understand.” I knew she really did. “I lived with those feelings all of my life, non-stop, until I met Alex, Liz, and Maria. I was always so afraid that someone would see what we were and turn us in. I never allowed myself to get close to any of my so-called friends because of it.”
“Then you met Mom, Alex, and Maria?”
“Yeah, and finally, I had people I could trust. That I didn’t have to be paranoid about. That I felt safe with. That was when I started really living, I guess.”
“But Isabel, there’s no one I can turn to like that. I can’t trust any of the people around me. How am I supposed to find that feeling?”
“You will, Xan. I promise. And it doesn’t have to be where you are, remember. I mean, you’re leaving there in a matter of months and coming to live with us. Maybe the people you’ll be able to trust are here, with us.”
I looked up at her and nodded. “Maybe.”
“But that doesn’t help you right now,” she said. “What are you thinking about doing, Xan?”
“Dream-walking my friends to see who I can trust and who I can’t, to see who I can be real with and who I have to hide from.”
“But?” She prodded.
“Dad told me not to because there was always the possibility that someone would feel me in their dreams and know what I was.” I looked into her eyes. “Is there such a possibility?”
“I really don’t know, Xan. I mean, it might be possible, especially for a beginner.”
“Did it ever happen to you? Did anyone ever catch you?”
“Well, it was different for me, sweetie. I mean, when I was learning how to control my power when I dream-walked, I was dream-walking people who didn’t know that aliens were real. They didn’t know to be afraid of someone sifting through their subconscious as they slept. You could end up going into the dreams of a friend who knows aliens exist. They might be more sensitive to feeling people in their heads,” she sighed. “I really don’t know, Xan. I think your father is right. You should probably avoid dream-walking anyone outside the family until you learn how to do it really well.”
“But how will I learn if I don’t have anyone to practice on?”
“You do, though, Xan. You have all of
“You can all sense me, though. Well, at least, you, Dad, Mom, and Michael can.”
“Then the trick is to learn how not to let us sense you,” she said it so simply. “I spent years dream-walking you, Xan, so I could see what your life was like. You never knew I was there.”
“I also didn’t know it was possible to do such a thing.”
“True,” she smiled. “What you need to do is find some way to block yourself from connecting with the person you dream-walk. It might be as simple as not allowing yourself to talk to them. You have to learn to just observe someone else’s dreams. With the rest of us, it has always been about the connection, to get to know each other by talking. Now you need to work on getting to know someone without interacting with them.”
I thought about what Isabel suggested. It was a good compromise. I would be able to get some experience in dream-walking, and I’d get to know my family better. And hopefully, once I was good enough at this dream-walking incognito, I could find out the truth about my friends. “Okay. I’ll try that.”
“Good. One more thing, sweetie. You mentioned that you want to know who you can be real with. Can I made a suggestion?” I nodded. “Just be real. It’s so much more rewarding and it’s definitely easier than playing the role of an alien trying to be human.”
“But what if—“
“You’ve been around these people all your life, Xan. I think that if they were going to notice odd behaviors, they would have done so before now. I mean, it’s not like when you found out the truth about what you are that you changed anything about yourself, right? You were still just Xan. Just be her. Take it from the original ice princess. It makes life so much better.”
I nodded. “Okay.”
“And it will help kill some of those feelings of paranoia, if you know you’re just normal. I think part of those feelings right now is that you are so conscious of every single action you make that you feel different than you always were. Go back to your normal routine, Xan. Kiss your boyfriend good morning every day, call your best friend at 11 at night just to ask her if you should wear that skirt tomorrow. Live your life, Xan. If you give in to the paranoia, you let the FBI win, and we can’t have that.”
I nodded. “Okay, Isabel. I love you.”
I had to hand it to my aunt, she was brilliant. If there was anything to get a teenager to do something, it was a sense of rebellion. I couldn’t let the FBI’s possible involvement in my life change my life in any way. If I did, I was letting them win. I was letting them turn me into an alien on their terms, not on my own. I couldn’t let that happen.
I woke up feeling refreshed.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:12:19 PM|
After talking to Isabel, I started dream-walking people to see if they could tell I was there. I didn’t want to get caught or anything so I only dream-walked my family. For instance, I dream-walked Maria or Alex or even my grandparents. I hated dream-walking Maria or Alex without telling them, but I needed to practice my powers, right?
Maria’s dreams were the most exciting to me. I mean, Alex always dreamt about Isabel, so his dreams revolved around them together in a little house with a couple kids running around. I loved those dreams, but I always felt like I was intruding on something holy and sacred with those. Maria was different. She dreamt in the most intoxicating colors and the loudest sounds. I thought of her dreams as a play-land where anything could happen. My favorite was the night she dreamt about a roller coaster. Of course, Michael was there for her to hold on to, but I managed to climb into the back car and feel the rush myself. I usually woke up out of her dreams feeling less than rested, but I didn’t mind. I liked seeing that Maria had so much joy in her that it reflected itself in her dreams.
One morning during a particularly dull Chemistry lecture, the lack of real sleep caught up with me, and I fell asleep hidden behind my book and the bodies of dozens of my classmates.
I was in the middle of my school. It was like a normal day. My friends were all around me and we were all talking like normal. I had no fear in me that they might be “watching” me to make sure I wasn’t different. I felt no paranoia. It felt like I was normal again.
Matt was standing next to me with his arms wrapped around me. He kept whispering about how much he loved me and how I was so special to him. And I believed him. I turned to him and kissed him.
Megan looked over at us and yelled that if we wanted to continue that, we needed to rent a room. We all laughed.
I felt so safe in this dream. It was incredible.
Then out of nowhere, a boy walked towards us. He was tall with black hair. He actually looked a lot like Alex, but he had eyes like Isabel’s. I was amazed to watch him. Was this my cousin or something?
“Matt, what’s wrong?” I asked holding on to his arm.
He looked at me. “Don’t you see what this boy is, Alex? He’s an alien.”
“What?” I asked shocked.
“He’s one of those scum-sucking aliens that is trying to take over our world.”
“Matt, what are you talking about?” I watched the boy get closer to us. He looked so much like Alex that I just wanted to run over and hug him.
“This boy is an alien.”
“Matt, there are no such things as aliens,” I denied.
Megan looked at me. “Of course there are.”
Matt pulled something out of his pocket. It was small and silver and shined brightly.
The boy was so close to us now. I looked him in the eye, wishing I could warn him in some way to stay away, to turn around and run, but he kept coming toward me. It was like he knew me and wanted to see me or something. He smiled.
Matt pointed whatever he had in his hand at him and smiled, too. He pushed some kind of button and suddenly, the boy fell to the ground. There was a large wound in his stomach. He looked so innocent as he laid there taking what was to be his last few breaths.
He looked up at me and smiled. “Xan,” he whispered and then there was nothing.
“NO!!!!!” I screamed.
Someone was shoving me. “Alex? Alex, are you okay?” It was Megan.
I sat up. I was still in class. Everyone was staring at me. It had all just been a dream, but it felt so real. I had watched my cousin die.
I looked at all the people in my class. Matt was standing up, walking toward me. He looked so worried. Megan was trying to hug me or something. Even the teacher looked concerned. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t say anything, and I knew I couldn’t stay here and try to explain it. I just grabbed my backpack and book and ran out of the room with tears streaming down my face. What the hell was that supposed to mean? And where had that dream come from?
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:13:50 PM|
I drove straight home from school. I didn’t stop at the office to check out or tell my teachers I was leaving. I just left. I knew they’d call my mother and that I’d be in trouble most likely, but I had to get out of there. I felt like I was suffocating. As I drove, I kept seeing the boy with Isabel’s eyes on the ground looking up at me. Was he real? My head was swimming with the idea of that boy and what had happened to him.
I had to take my mind off him. Instead, I started thinking about where that nightmare came from. Was it a figment of my own paranoid imagination? Or did it come from someone else in the class? I don’t remember reaching out to anyone, but what if I just picked up on the broadcast of that dream. What if proximity made me more open to dreams? Who else had been asleep during that class? How was I going to figure this out?
Once I got home I was so terrified of trying to figure out the dream that I ran up to my room and hid under my blankets. And I laid there till I fell into a peaceful, dreamless sleep. I woke up 3 hours later when my mother climbed onto my bed.
“Xany,” she whispered as she moved a few strands of hair off my face, “Xany, baby, wake up.”
“Mom,” I turned to look at her. “What’s going on? What time is it?”
“It’s noon. School called me at work. Why did you run out of class this morning?”
The memory of the nightmare came rushing back to me. I hugged my mother. “Oh, Mommy, it was so scary.”
My mother knew something was wrong when I reverted to the vocabulary of a 3 year old. “What was, baby? Talk to me.”
“I fell asleep in chemistry.” I looked at her sheepishly. “And I had this nightmare.”
“A nightmare scared you so badly you ran out of school?”
“Yes.” I looked up at her seriously.
“What happened? Tell me.”
“I was walking down the hall of school with Matt and Megan. And this boy started running toward me. It was like he recognized me, Mom. And we just stopped still. And Matt got all serious and said he wasn’t human; that he was an alien. That aliens were out to take over the world. And Matt took out this gun or something and shot him. I watched this boy just fall to the ground in front of me. Matt looked so pleased with himself. And the boy looked at me with the most beautiful eyes; it was like he trusted me, Mom. And then he called me Xan. And then he died.” I started crying again.
My mother hugged me tightly. “Oh, Xan, baby, it’s okay. It was just a nightmare.”
“It felt so real, though.”
“Did you recognize the boy?”
I looked at her. How could I tell her that I thought he was my cousin who as far as I knew didn’t even exist? I hated to do this, but I couldn’t tell her the truth. Not until I talked to Isabel, at least. “No, I don’t know who he was.”
“That nightmare was probably just a figment of your imagination.”
“What if it was the figment of someone else’s imagination, Mom? What if someone else dreamt of this?”
“You think you dream-walked someone? Who?”
“I don’t know. Usually, in order for me to dream-walk someone, I have to think about them. The only thing I was thinking about earlier was sleeping because I was so tired. I can’t figure it out but I think I was like pulled into someone else’s dream or fantasy.”
“Whose?” I could see the wheel in my mother’s head turning. She was worried about my safety again.
“I don’t know. I think it was either Matt or Megan because they were in the dream with me.”
“So you think one of them—“ She looked at me with wide eyes.
“I don’t know. I guess.” I had to stop myself from crying again.
My mother hugged me. “It will be okay, Xan. I promise. We will take care of this.” She sounded so determined. “We will be fine.”
I couldn’t argue with her. I needed to believe it too much.
My mother stayed with me throughout the rest of her lunch hour. Mostly she just kept hugging me to remind me that no matter what, I was okay. At the end of the hour, she looked at me, “Do you want me to stay, Xan? If you don’t think you’re going to be okay by yourself, I can stay home with you.”
“No, it’s okay, Mom. I’ll be fine.” I insisted, knowing I would never really be able to think this out if I had to edit it for Mom. “Today’s your meeting with Dr. Larson. I know how important that is.” I looked at her as she opened her mouth to object. “I know I’m more important, but I promise I’m fine. I’m probably just going to take a nap or something.”
“Baby, please, just don’t dream-walk anyone, okay? Just get some rest and we’ll figure out what’s going on tonight.”
She smiled. “I have this feeling your father is going to dream-walk me or something. We’ll all talk this out then.”
“Okay.” I nodded. That gave me the afternoon to get some of my own questions answered. “I love you, Mom.”
“I love you, too, baby.”
After my mother left, I called Alex at work. I wondered if he knew the answer to the one question I heard over and over again in my mind. The only thing was, how do you ask that question?
“Hey, kid. What’s up?”
“Not a lot, Alex. I just wanted to talk to you. Apologize for always interrupting your dreams with Isabel.”
“It’s okay, baby. We like seeing you in our dreams. Isabel misses you.” I could almost see his smile. “And of course I miss you. You’re my favorite kid.”
I knew with that comment that if there was a baby, Alex did not know about it. “Thank you, Alex,” I smiled, accepting the compliment while I still could. He was going to freak out when he found out! This was his biggest dream ever. I wondered why Isabel hadn’t told him yet.
“So why are you really calling me?”
“Can’t a girl just want to talk to her favorite uncle?”
Alex laughed. “I will tell Michael you said that someday, Xan. And the answer to that is not during school hours. Why aren’t you in school, by the way?”
“Long story. I need your help with a couple questions, though.”
“Xan, I am not doing your computer science homework, babe. Sorry.”
“Ha ha.” I tried to laugh. “This is actually about dream-walking.”
“Okay.” He paused. “Why are you asking me and not Isabel?”
“Because she’s not asleep. And you might be able to answer it for me anyway.”
“There are different types of dream-walking, right? The kind where you just watch and then what I do usually, where I interact with the dreamer, right?”
“So obviously the dreamer can feel me if I participate with them, right?”
“Right. Xan, stop asking elementary questions you already know the answers to. What is going on?”
“Okay. Has Isabel ever just strictly dream-walked you where she didn’t interact?”
“Sure. When we were in high school, she had to know if everyone could trust me with their secret, so she dream-walked me to find out.”
“How did you know? Could you feel her?”
“No. I mean, Isabel is good at doing that. It’s her favorite gift. She told me about it later, after we’d gotten together.”
“I’m just wondering.” My mind was spinning with how much trouble I was in. No matter what happened, I was caught. Whether it was Matt or Megan dreaming, one of them was the FBI and they had most likely felt me in their dream. Oh, God… What was I going to do? What were we all going to do?
“Xan, are you okay? You sound really weird.”
“I’m fine, Alex. Listen, I’m going to go. Days of Our Lives is on, and I don’t want to miss Jonah finding out he is really the cryogenically frozen son of John Black which means that he’s in love with his neice.” I tried to sound normal.
“God, your mother and Maria used to make me watch that show back when we were your age. I still haven’t forgiven them for the loss of all those brain cells.” He laughed. “I love you, Xan.”
“I love you, too, Alex. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.”
I hung up with Alex and started pacing around my room. I was caught. Someone knew my secrets, and they were going to use them against me and my family. Oh, God. What were we going to do? I needed to talk to someone, preferably Isabel about all this. I needed to know if it was true. Was she pregnant? Was the boy in my dream real?
But how could that be? I had fallen into someone else’s dream. Either Megan or Matt was dreaming about killing aliens. How could that alien be my cousin? How did this child who wasn’t even born, possibly not even real, be in a dream that someone else was having? I needed to talk to Isabel!
Maybe things were going to work in my favor today and Isabel was taking a post-lunch nap. I mean, if the answer to my question was yes, wasn’t she supposed to be tired? I just wanted her to be asleep.
Today was definitely not my day because she wasn’t. As I searched out with my mind as I slept, I could feel absolutely no one that I wanted to talk to. I understood that they were all probably busy working or whatever, but I needed them, and I hated that there was no easy way for me to communicate that to them. I briefly thought that soon I would be living with them, but that stopped when I realized that I was being watched by the FBI. How was I ever supposed to get to talk to them? I was going to be trapped here for the rest of my life, never really being able to see them. I had ruined my mother’s chances of ever being with my father again. And what about Maria and Alex? Not to mention Michael and Isabel? Had I inadvertently ruined their happiness as well? I flopped out on the bed and tried not to think about it.
It didn’t work.
I kept falling asleep and trying to find someone I could talk to about this. It was nearly 5:30 when I finally felt Michael asleep. I immediately went to his dream.
“Xan, what are you doing here? It’s the middle of the afternoon.”
“I know. I just needed to talk to someone.”
“What’s going on?” He immediately got all worried. “Xan, talk.”
I sat down on a big papasan chair that I had “created” and curled up into it. “Well, I had this nightmare today. In the middle of class.”
Michael tried to joke over the seriousness of the situation. “That’s my girl, falling asleep in the middle of class. I guess maybe your mom really did lie about who your father is.” He teased. I smiled with sad eyes. “Okay. Continue?”
“Um, in the dream, I was walking down the hall to my school with my friend Megan and my boyfriend Matt. And all of a sudden this boy came running over to us. It was like he knew me, Michael. He was coming straight to me. And Matt took a gun or something out of his pocket and pointed it at him. I freaked and asked why. And he said it was because this boy was an alien… and he shot him, Michael. And the boy fell to the ground. And he looked up at me with these big eyes and called me Xan. And then he died.”
Michael hugged me. “It’s going to be okay, Xan. It was just a nightmare.”
“No, I don’t think it was just a nightmare. I think it was more.”
“Like a dream-walk?”
”Something like that.” I sighed. “Someone knows my secret, Michael. He knows all of our secrets. And I’m afraid of what’s going to happen.” I started crying, which I hated to do to Michael since I knew he was absolutely terrified of a woman crying.
“Are you sure that someone knows? I mean, maybe it was just a nightmare. Or maybe someone who works for the FBI had the dream, but didn’t know that you are an alien. I mean, they weren’t shooting at you.”
“No, but I think… I just have this feeling that it’s out.”
“I hope you’re wrong.” He smiled slowly.
“Me, too.” I paused. “I have to find out though if it’s the truth, if Matt or Megan is really working for the FBI. I can’t just sit here and wait.”
“I know, Xan. But you need to talk to Isabel first. She can help you get through the dreams undetected, I bet. Just because you think they know doesn’t mean you have to confirm it to them.”
“Okay.” I agreed.
“You stay asleep and I’m going to go get Isabel and tell her to find you, okay?” He hugged me. “It will be okay, Xan. I promise.”
Cynically I thought that Michael shouldn’t be making promises he couldn’t necessarily keep, but I kept that to myself. “Thanks, Michael.” He left my dream and I sat curled up in the chair for another 10 minutes until Isabel showed up.
“Xan? What’s going on? Michael told me you needed to talk to me.”
I hugged Isabel. “I had a nightmare.”
She looked at me. “Okay.”
“I think I had it because someone was dreaming about alien hunting, pretty much. Someone really close to me.”
She sat next to me in the chair. “Okay. What are we going to do?”
I needed to ask her the question first. I needed to figure out what was going on. “Um, before we talk about that, I need to ask you a question.”
“Okay.” She smiled. “Shoot.”
“I don’t know how to ask this, but it does have to do with that dream. And I’m really curious about what the answer actually is, because it’s really scary for me to think about it. I mean, what it could mean and stuff.”
“Xan, stop babbling, and just ask me.”
I looked at her and smiled. “Okay. Is, are you-um- pregnant?”
Her face lost all its color. “Xan, how did you know? I haven’t told anyone, not even Max or Alex.” Her eyes started getting blurry.
My eyes teared up as well. I was so torn. This was the best news I’d heard in ages; I was so happy for her and Alex. But now I had to tell her the dream? How could I do that? I could see how happy she was and for me to tell her that I’d seen her son get killed…..that was just heartless.
“Xan, talk to me.”
I looked at her. “A little boy?” I whispered.
She nodded. “How do you know?” A few tears trickled down her cheeks.
I started crying, too. “My nightmare.” I paused. “I dreamt that Matt and Megan were walking me down the hall when a boy who looked exactly like Alex but with your eyes came running to me. And Matt shot him. He looked up at me and called me Xan… and then he died, Is.” I sobbed and hugged her tightly.
Isabel couldn’t say anything. She was practically in shock, I think. She held me tighter for a few minutes and then tried to compose herself. “And you’re sure it wasn’t just a nightmare?”
“Yes. It felt like I was in someone else’s
dreams, sharing it with them, almost. I mean, I could feel my reactions and I could sense them there.”
“Who was it?”
“I don’t know. Either Matt or Megan. I’m not sure which.”
“But it was Matt who shot the boy?” Her voice broke.
“Yes.” I looked at her. “You think it’s Matt? That he’s the FBI agent?”
She nodded. “But we’ll check out both of
“That’s what Michael suggested.”
“You told Michael?”
“Not about the baby. I told him I wasn’t sure if it was Matt or Megan and he said you’d help me check the 2 of them out.”
“Okay.” She nodded.
“Why haven’t you told Alex about the baby
yet, Is? He’d be thrilled.”
“I know. I’m just nervous and a little greedy. I can feel this baby already, Xan. We have this connection that is so incredible. Your mom had it with you, but I could never have imagined it would be like this.” She smiled.
“I’m so happy for you, Isabel. This is awesome. And I’m so sorry to throw this on you now.”
“It’s okay, Xan. We’ll work this out. I plan to raise my son with all of my family present.” She said determinedly.
I smiled. Whatever Isabel wanted, Isabel got. My mom told me that a little while ago. I hoped her streak continued. “So what are we going to do? Do we have to wait until they go to bed tonight to dream-walk them and find out what’s going on in their heads?” I didn’t think I could wait that long.
“No. We’re going to go into their heads now.”
“Well, Xan, once you get better at doing dream-walks, you find easy ways to get into people’s subconscious’s without waiting for them to fall asleep. And this way, we won’t have to deal with if it’s a dream or reality for them. Now we’ll know their realities.”
I sighed. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know. It scared me that people I trusted could be hiding something so serious. “Okay. So what do we do?”
“We look for Megan first. And I’ll take you into her mind. It’s a little shocking the first time you try it, so try to be prepared to see a whole rush of things at first until we can sort out what’s going on.”
“Okay.” I took Isabel’s hand and somehow we found Megan’s mind. We were hit by a blur of images and scents and sounds.
The taste of a cold pepsi.
The smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
“The sum of squares rule applies to….”
“A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me cry…”
“Gotta get gas”
“Damn it! I forgot my Spanish book!”
A blur of red as Megan took off her sweater to reveal a tank top. Looking through her closet for a new shirt. Reds, blues, greens swinging by on hangers.
“God, I hope Alex’s okay…”
Isabel and I focused on that thought.
“I wonder what that whole nightmare was about. I mean, she completely freaked. And I can’t believe she ran out of class without a word. She looked so scared. She couldn’t even look at me or Matt. It was like she was afraid of us. What the hell is that? Alex cannot be afraid of me! I’m her best friend.”
Megan’s mind flashed through a series of memories of the two of us. Playing dress-up in their mother’s clothes, learning how to cook together, doing homework, getting dressed for their first double date together.
Isabel and I pulled out of Megan’s mind and looked at each other.
“It wasn’t Megan,” I whispered. I was so torn. My best friend was really my best friend. She hadn’t betrayed me or anything. She was my friend through all of it. But that meant that Matt was working for the FBI. He’d come into my life specifically just to get information on me and what I was. He was waiting to hurt my family and destroy any dream I’d ever had. Thinking about that broke my heart, I started crying.
“I know, babe.” Isabel wrapped her arms around me. “Can you handle doing this? You don’t have to do it. I can go alone if it would hurt too much.”
“No, I have to go. I need to know all of the truth.” I said determinedly.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:15:36 PM|
|~*~ Part 27 ~*~|
I looked at Isabel and tried to make myself feel as positive as I sounded. It didn’t work. I was so not ready to see how this person I had loved could betray me like that.
“You can do this, Xan. Just remember that once you get through this, Matt can never hurt you ever again.”
“I think he’s hurt me enough now to last a lifetime,” I whispered and tried to stop myself from crying.
“Xan—“ Isabel wrapped her arms around me.
“I can do this!” I said determinedly. I had to do this.
“Then let’s get this over with.” Isabel took my hand.
We “found” Matt and got into his head. There was a blur of confusion once we got there, but once we could sort it out, it all made sense.
A tall blonde with a beautiful smile.
The sound of an announcer on a baseball game.
The hiss of a can of beer opening.
An FBI badge.
A family picture that was unlike any family picture he had ever shown me.
Agent Jeremy O’Neill.
We focused on that thought and it was like we were in a recent memory of his. We watched everything. The only thing that kept going through my mind was that I didn’t even know his real name. That hurt.
“Agent Jeremy O’Neill to see Special Agent in Charge Sassler.” He walked into an office with a short redhead behind a massive desk covered in paperwork and files.
“Agent O’Neill, it’s been a while since you’ve had anything to report.” She smiled. “What has been going on with Ms. Parker?”
I looked at “Matt”. He looked different; older, more mature. He was wearing a dark suit and had fixed his hair so that it laid flat against his head. But that wasn’t what was bothering me. He felt different, not like the “Matt” I knew.
He looked at her and carried on the report officially.
“Subject: Alexandra Parker, age 17, daughter of Elizabeth Parker and Maxwell Evans.”
At this point, Agent Sassler looked up from her file, presumably on me and looked at “Matt”. “The file says her father is Alexander Whitman.”
“He and her mother lied, to keep her safe. I have an audio tape from the night Alexandra found out what she is, proving that Evans is her father. And in conversation, she always refers to Alex as her uncle. She knows that Max is her father. They talk all the time, nearly every night.”
“Really?” She sounded shocked. “We have no trace of that, but than again, you never can tell with Evans.”
“In the past 5 months, she’s talked more about him than ever before.”
“Do we know who made the contact?”
“According to her, he did.”
“And does she talk to anyone else?”
“Isabel Evans and Michael Guerin.”
“And she knows what she is?” The disgust in this woman’s voice was apparent. I felt ill just watching this conversation.
“Affirmative. We have an audio tape from the recorder we put in the dining room of her mother telling her the truth. We also have video confirmation that her father visited her for a weekend several weeks ago, right after her 18th birthday. Audio from the dining room confirms conversations about talking to Isabel Evans between Alexandra and her mother.”
“Do we have anything from the time Max Evans was at their home?”
“No. As best we can tell, they talked about everything serious in the living room or the basement.”
“And were there not bugs in those rooms?”
“The bug in the dining room hasn’t been functioning for about 5 months. We believe that a glass of wine was spilled into it at a Christmas party. Unfortunately no one on my team has been able to get in and either fix or replace it.”
“I see.” She looked through my file again. “What about Maria Deluca and Alex Whitman? Has anything come from the bugs at their residences?”
“There are still phone conversations between Mr. Whitman and either Alexandra, Elizabeth, or Maria about him talking to Isabel but we have no confirmation of that. The same weekend that Max Evans came to visit his family, Alex disappeared for 3 days. He successfully lost the man following him and disappeared on a Friday afternoon. He reappeared Monday morning and nothing has been unusual since. Ms. Deluca gets occasional untraceable phone calls from Michael Guerin. We believe that he comes to visit her on occasion, but we are unable to confirm that it is him.”
“And you believe that Alexandra Parker will lead us to them?”
“Yes. She’s going to spend the summer with her father and presumably Evans and Guerin. So either he’ll have to come get her, or she’ll meet him somewhere and we can track her.”
“And she has no idea what you really are?”
“No. She thinks I’m the perfect boyfriend.” He smiled.
“Perfect.” Sassler smiled. “Stay with your assignment for now, O’Neill. You should be out of there soon. You’ll be able to resume your real life again.”
“Yes, sir.” He smiled even bigger. “I can’t wait to get out of this little hell hole and come home.”
Isabel and I looked at one another after watching that. She was ready to leave. We had the information we needed, but I wanted to know one more thing. What was the deal with that dream?
I “walked” through his memories and went to that dream. It was Matt who was dreaming it. He had thought all those horrible things about killing aliens. He wanted me to see that. He knew I could dream-walk him, and he wanted me to see that. I felt ill.
Isabel and I stepped out of his mind.
“Xan, are you okay?”
“Isabel,” I started crying. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen.
She hugged me tightly. “Hang on, babe. I’m going to go get Michael to come in here for you. Then I’m going to get everyone else. We all need to talk about this.”
I looked up at Isabel. “No! How can I talk about this? I have ruined everything, Isabel? Because of me, the FBI knows everything. How can I look at all of you and admit that?”
“Xan, it’s not your fault. You heard him. He bugged your house. He betrayed your privacy and your trust. You couldn’t have known.”
“I should have thought about this!” I knew that was completely irrational.
“Xan, you didn’t even know the truth about yourself. How could you have known that there were people out there evil enough to worm their way into your life just to betray you at the earliest opportunity? You were just a 17-year-old girl looking for answers. You did nothing wrong.” She wrapped her arm around me.
Suddenly Michael came into the room. “If anything, we should have thought about this years ago. If anyone is to blame for this, it’s us.” He hugged me and Isabel.
“No!” I insisted, wrapping my arms around him.
“I’ll be right back with Max and everyone else.” Isabel looked at Michael poignantly, as if to say ‘take care of her’. She disappeared.
“Xan, it’s going to be okay.”
“Michael, no, it’s not.” I sounded so sure of that. “Nothing is ever going to be okay again.”
“I take it Matt was the one.”
“Yeah. His name’s not even Matt; he’s Jeremy O’Neill. He came into my life specifically to find out things that would lead the FBI to you.” I sounded so bitter. It was unreal. “And now he knows enough and we’re all screwed.”
“Xan, don’t talk like that, okay?” Michael hugged me again. “I’m not doing this really well, but this is probably the first time I’ve ever gotten to play the one positive things would work out. Max or Liz or Maria usually plays this role. I know we’re in trouble, Xan. But we’ve always been. Someone has always wanted us, and we’ve always faced that. And look at us: we’re still together, in the best ways. We haven’t let them beat us, even when we’ve been separated for years. And we won’t start letting them hurt us now. We’re stronger than that.”
“Thanks for saying that, Michael.” I didn’t necessarily believe it, but I loved that Michael cared so much about me that he would talk to me like that.
“It’s the truth, Xan. And trust me, this O’Neill guy can’t be any worse than Pierce and we survived him. In fact, we kicked his ass.” His eyes got haunted.
I knew that Michael had been forced to kill Pierce and that he had been left with feelings of guilt and his own evilness. I hugged him. “Very true. We do what we have to do to protect all of us, right?”
Maria, Alex, and Isabel came into the dream.
“SpaceBoy!” Maria ran into Michael’s arms. She hugged him tightly. “And SpaceGirl!” Maria threw her arms around me.
“SpaceGirl?” I had to laugh at that. Maria was always the person who could make me smile at my worst moment. I needed her now.
“I’ll be right back. I still have to get Max and Liz.” She smiled mischievously. “Please don’t let them be dreaming together. I can’t handle intruding on that tonight.” She disappeared.
Alex hugged me and then Michael. “What’s going on?” He looked between us.
“Alex-“ I started.
“Why don’t we just wait till everyone is here? This way it only has to be told one more time,” Michael suggested.
Alex looked me over. “Are you okay, though?”
“Yeah.” I smiled as bravely as I could for him.
He nodded. “Okay then. Start making some couches and chairs. We’re all going to need someplace to sit.”
Maria and Michael were having this odd little conversation with their eyes. It was so beautiful to watch. God, I hoped I hadn’t ruined all of this for them!
A couple minutes later, Isabel returned with my parents. My mom ran over to where I was sitting in my chair and hugged me. “Xan, what’s going on? Isabel said it was an emergency!” She ran her hands over my arms and legs as if she were looking for wounds. She hadn’t done that since I was about 10.
My father hugged me. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “I’m okay for now.”
“For now? What does that mean?”
Isabel took over. “Okay. I think everyone should just take a seat and we all need to talk about this.”
We were all sitting in a little circle. Couples were paired up on chairs or a sofa and then I was alone in my papasan chair. I felt alone. I took a deep breath. I knew this was my story to tell.
“Something happened today and it’s really not good.” I sighed. That was a horrible way to start a conversation like this, but I didn’t know what else to say.
“Xan, I don’t like this new dramatic side of you,” Maria said. “What’s going on?”
“Okay. I was in chemistry this morning, and I fell asleep. And I had this nightmare. In it, I was with my friend Megan and my boyfriend Matt. And we were in school in the hallway and all of a sudden this boy came running up to us. And Matt pulled out a gun and shot him. And the boy fell to the ground and looked up at me. He said my name, and then he died.” I could see the tears in Isabel’s eyes as I re-told the nightmare.
“Did you know the boy?” Michael asked.
I looked at my mother who was about to answer for me, and nodded. “I’m sorry for lying to you, Mom, but I did know him. Well, at least I recognized him.” Isabel’s eyes got wide. I couldn’t betray her secret then. She needed to tell everyone when she was ready to. “He looked a lot like me, with Dad’s eyes and your smile, Mom.” I lied.
My parents let out a collective gasp.
“It scared me so much because he looked so much like me, like the two of you, and he called me Xan. And Matt killed him, calling him an evil alien out to take over the earth or something. I couldn’t tell you about the boy until I was sure that it was Matt’s dream and not just some figment of my imagination.” I reached out and took my mother’s hand. She had a steady stream of tears going down her face. My father wrapped his arms around her and let her cry on his shoulder.
“We won’t let that happen, Liz. I promise,” he whispered over and over.
I looked at Isabel. She was trying to fight her tears, but she couldn’t tell people the truth. Not now.
“Go on, Xan,” my father encouraged.
“So I talked to Michael and Alex and then finally I got to talk to Isabel, and we went into Matt and Megan’s minds. We wanted to see if there really was something going on in one of them, all the while hoping that my imagination was better than it really is.” I took a deep breath. “Megan’s mind was clean. She was worried about me. She really is my friend,” I cried. I just realized that my best friend was still my best friend. It felt so incredible to think that. I felt like calling her and crying to her for thinking that she would have betrayed me.
“But Matt?” Maria said.
“His name’s not Matt. He is Jeremy O’Neill, an FBI agent assigned to me for the past couple years. His job was to find out how much I knew and to find you guys. In his mind, he was turning me in, basically, telling his supervisor, a redheaded bitch named Sassler all about me. And you.”
“What did he know about us? All of us?” My father started worrying. I could practically see the wheels turning in his head. How could he make everyone be safe again? Where would they have to go? What would he have to do to make sure none of us were hurt? What would have to be given up in the name of safety?
“He knew the truth about you guys and me. He told his supervisor everything. They had bugs in the house. They’ve known everything from the night Mom told me the truth. They know that you were here for a weekend, after my birthday. They know everything.” I took a deep breath. “If you come to get me, they’ll arrest us both, probably. If I go to meet you, they’ll follow me. There’s no way for us to be together.” It had occurred to me that no matter what I was in trouble, both Mom and I were actually. The FBI knew I was an alien and that my mother had given birth to an alien. We were definitely wanted. I didn’t want to talk about that though. I knew what would happen, and I didn’t want to watch my father fall further into this nonstop guilt that he kept torturing himself with.
My Mom hugged me as I cried. She understood how much I hated every single word I’d just said.
“Xan, there has to be a way. Especially now,” Maria said.
“What does that mean?”
“If they had your house bugged, there’s no way they haven’t done the same to me and Alex. I mean, the reason you were being watched was because your mother spent a lot of time with Max. Alex and I spent just as much time with Isabel and Michael. They have to be watching us too.”
“Yeah! Matt—“ I stopped. That wasn’t his name. Matt was a good person. “Jeremy mentioned that there were bugs in both your apartments. They know that you talk about talking to Isabel all the time. And they are nearly positive that Michael came to visit you the same weekend Dad came to visit us.”
“Damn it!” Max exclaimed. He started pacing around all of us.
“Do you think they know we communicate with each other?” Maria asked.
“Only through Xan’s boyfriend.” Alex said. He held on to Isabel’s hand, gently rubbing his thumb over the top of her hand. It looked so natural for him to do that.
I shook my head. “No, they know more. When Mom told me the truth, we were in the dining room where they had a bug planted. She told me about Isabel’s ability to dream-walk. That’s how I started talking to you, because I decided to try to figure out how to do it. Jeremy knows that we can communicate through that.”
“He didn’t tell Sassler about it,” Isabel pointed out. “Maybe he didn’t believe we can actually do that.”
“No, he knew. When I looked into his head and found out that my nightmare definitely came from him, it was like I could feel that he had the intention for me to see that dream. That he wanted me to know that he could do something like that.”
“What are we going to do?” Isabel asked. “Is it safe to leave you guys in your current situations, trying to ignore the fact that people are following you?”
“Do they know about all our powers?” Michael asked.
“Jeremy didn’t really mention any to his superior. HE just said I knew everything. He didn’t tell her if I had any powers.”
“Then that might work for us.”
“I taught Xan her powers in the house, though. They have to know.”
“No. We worked on them in the basement. That wasn’t bugged.”
My mother’s eyes got big. “Matt-Jeremy knows we suspected him! We talked about that in the living room the night you talked your father into letting us come live with him, Xan.”
“No, I don’t think so, either. Matt said the bug he’d placed in the living room had stopped working somewhere around Christmas. He thought someone had poured wine on it or something.” I said. “So they don’t know that I have certain powers or that we knew he was possibly bad.” I started pacing the room. “I just don’t understand why he didn’t tell Sassler the truth about the dream-walks.”
“Xan, don’t worry about that right now. We need to think about some other stuff first.” Alex said.
“Like what are we going to do?” Isabel asked.
I looked at them bluntly. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? We all stay where we are. Mom and I try to live like we don’t know we’re being watched and recorded every minute of the day. Maria and Alex do the same. You guys stay wherever you are. We see each other in dreams, maybe an occasional phone call.” I started crying. “We give up.” I didn’t even want to think about the fact that Mom and I would probably be arrested for our “alien-status”.
“Xan, I cannot believe you just said that,” my mother said.
“We most definitely do not give up,” my father agreed. “We’ve been through things like this before, and we’ve come through. And we’ll come through this too.”
“The most important thing is to make sure everyone’s safe, though. That means we stay where we are.”
“No, it doesn’t,” Maria whispered. “At least not you, Xan.” She looked around. “Think about it. They know Xan is an alien, and they know that Liz gave birth to an alien. You don’t think the FBI is going to give up the opportunity to take her?” She voiced my every fear. “And they’ll probably want to see what having an alien child has done to Liz’s human genetics.” I started crying more.
There was an eerie moment of silence in the room. We all looked at one another trying to figure out some way to deny what Maria had just said. There was none.
“So we get Xan and Liz out of there.” Michael said.
“How? You know we’re being watched.” I hated sounded so negative but I had to be the voice of reason, if I could.
“Xan, Xan, Xan, you need to realize that with the people around you, we can do anything we want,” Maria smiled. “So let’s start with basics.”
My mother spoke up. “No matter what, Xan has to be safe. I can handle anything if I know she’s okay.”
“Mom, don’t talk like that!” I insisted. I couldn’t handle hearing my mother talk like she was okay with being experimented on as long as I was okay. I needed her to be okay, too.
“We all have to be safe,” my father agreed. “But you’re right. Xan is most important. She’s the child of an alien-human mix. They want to see what that’s like. So how do we get Xan out of there without drawing too much attention to her?”
“Do we assume that someone is watching her 24 hours a day?” Alex asked.
“What about making her like a runaway?” Michael suggested. He started walking around the room too. “It could work!” He looked at all of us with a light shining in his eyes. “Okay. Obviously, we need to get Xan out of there safely without alerting anyone specifically Jeremy that she knows what’s going on. So what if she just ran away? Left letters for everybody even. She drives away and meets one of us somewhere and we bring her here.”
“Why would Xan run away?” Isabel asked.
“Maybe Liz tells Xan that she’s not allowed to see Matt anymore,” Maria added. “And that she won’t be going to spend the summer with Max.”
“They’ll know Mom and I never talked about this.”
“No. Because when you tell Matt all about being forced to break up with him, you tell him that your mother sat you down in the living room last night and told you all this.” Alex finished.
“Then you go home, and in the dining room, you yell at your mother that you did what she asked. That you gave up your life because she wanted you to. And you fight, stuff about never forgiving her would be nice. And then that night, preferably tomorrow night, you sneak out to your car and drive away.”
“What if someone is following her?” My mother asked.
“Then Xan drives in such a way that would make her lose her license if she were to get caught, but don’t get caught.” Michael smiled.
“That could work.” My father agreed. “Think you can pull off lots of fake tears at school in the morning?”
“They wouldn’t necessarily be fake. They might not be for what I’m talking about, but I’m sure I’ll be crying.” I agreed. I could do this plan. I would get out of there. “But what about everyone else?”
“That we’ll do as planned.” Max said.
“Planned?” Maria exclaimed. “There’s a plan now? I want to know what the hell is going to happen? Liz and Xan are going to go off and live with you guys. And Alex and I are supposed to just stay here? Trapped?”
“No!” Alex insisted. “We go, too. I won’t lose Isabel now that we’re so close to being together.” He wrapped his arm around her.
“How?” Maria asked. She looked straight at Michael.
Michael looked at her. “We’ll figure it out, Maria. Don’t worry.”
At those words, it was like Maria could just calm down. She believed in Michael enough that she knew it would happen if he said so. It was so cool to watch.
“So it’s settled. Tomorrow, Xan, you break up with Matt, make mention of fighting with your mother and write some run away letters,” Michael said. “Then tomorrow night you’ll leave to meet us. And we’ll all meet again to discuss how everyone else is going to come to meet us.”
I nodded. “Sure. That’s all in a day’s work for me, I guess.” I started crying.
My mother wrapped her arms around me. “It’s going to be okay, Xan.”
“No, it’s not. I’m so sorry. I got you all into this again. I mean, you were all so happy and everything was finally going to work out. And now it’s not. And it’s all my fault. If only I hadn’t trusted that---”
“No, honey, it’s not your fault. This is what is supposed to be happening. We can’t stop destiny, even when we want to,” my Mom said wisely. I didn’t miss the look she shared with my father. “And when you met Matt, I agreed with you that he was a great guy. I should have thought about it, that maybe he was someone out to get you. I mean, I knew he was new to town and that should have told me to be careful, but I didn’t. I allowed us to become complacent in our silly little civilized busy life. I should have taken more care for us and your security. I mean, you are an alien. I have known that since the first second I realized I was pregnant. I should have protected you,” she was crying and holding on to me as I cried on her shoulder.
“Stop,” Isabel said. I could see she was near tears. “Blame and guilt is going to get us nowhere.”
“Than what are we going to do?”
No one had an answer for me.
“It’s almost time for you to go to school, Xan. I think we all just need to think about this today, and we’ll figure something out by tonight, I’m sure,” my Dad said. “Just be sure to break it off with this guy, but don’t make it suspicious. He can’t know that you know the truth about him.”
“Right.” I nodded. I didn’t know if I could really do this, but I knew that I had to. I had to take care of my family. That was what was most important.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:17:12 PM|
I walked into school the next day, looking rough. I hadn’t even tried to fix myself up. My hair was pulled back in a shabby ponytail and there were still tear tracks down my face. I made my way to my locker and tried very hard not to look at anyone else. I was almost afraid of what I’d do, especially if I saw Matt. Or Jeremy, whatever his name was.
All I wanted to do was find Megan and hug her until I felt better. My best friend was really my best friend! She didn’t have any ulterior motives; she just wanted to be my friend. I felt horrible for even thinking she had.
“Alex!” Megan said coming over to my locker. “Where were you last night? I tried calling like a thousand times.”
“I turned off the ringers and just slept. Sorry.” I whispered and turned to look at her for the first time.
“Oh, my God, Alex, are you okay?” She hugged me.
I started crying. “No.” I might as well start getting this story out.
“What’s going on? You haven’t really talked to me in weeks. I feel like I don’t know anything about my best friend’s life anymore. Talk to me, please?”
“Meg, it’s gotten so confused.”
“Everything. My relationship with my mother, my father, with Matt. My future. Everything.” I started crying again.
Megan led me to our first class and sat down with me. “Okay, Alex, calm down. Now tell me what’s going on.”
I wiped my eyes. “It all goes back to my Mom. It’s like she has decided to make my life miserable.”
“That doesn’t sound like Liz.”
“I know. It’s like she’s become this deranged version of my mom. She keeps saying over and over how she can’t let me turn out like her. And that she has to protect me. And that she’s doing it for my own good.”
“Well, first she’s making me break up with Matt.”
“What?” Megan looked shocked. “Your mother is making you break up with Matt? Why?”
“She says she doesn’t’ think I need the stress of a boyfriend at this stage in my life. And that ever since I got with Matt, I’ve changed. And she keeps saying she doesn’t want me to turn out like her. She doesn’t want me to get so serious with one guy so soon.”
“Alex, I’m sorry. That’s so unfair.”
I looked at her with tears. “It’s like she thinks I’m going to be with Matt and he’d do something like my father did to her. Does she think I’m that passive? I saw what my father put her through! There’s no way I’d ever live like that!”
Megan hugged me. “Oh, Alex, I’m so sorry.”
“And then she tells me that I won’t be going to see my father this summer.”
“And she’s going to talk to him and tell him that he’s not allowed to have any contact with us anymore. She’s cutting him out of my life.”
“Oh my God, I cannot believe that Liz would do something like that.”
“I know. Me, either. It’s like she’s trying to kill me or something.”
“Are you going to listen to her?”
“I’ve got to. She’s my mother, and she’s all really have. No matter what, I need her.” I started crying.
Megan hugged me. “I understand.”
“But I am so angry with her right now that I can barely stand to look at her. I mean, we can’t even talk without fighting.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know. Break up with Matt. Live with my mother till I go off to college, as far away as possible.”
Megan hugged me for a few more minutes as I cried. “I’m sorry, babe. Things will get better, I know they will.”
“So what was that nightmare about? Why did you run out of class like that?”
I shook my head. “My mom and I were fighting in my nightmare. And she started saying things that I can’t even repeat. And she slapped me. And in my dream, I reacted and slapped her back. It was so real, Meg. I mean, it freaked me out how real it felt. I hit my mother. I would never do that to her, and I know that she would never hit me. I had to get out of here, I had to go see my mom to make sure she was okay. It freaked me out.”
Megan nodded. “I bet it would. So what are you going to tell Matt?”
“I don’t know yet. The truth, I guess. He has to have seen something like this coming. I haven’t really talked to him as more than a superficial conversation in weeks.”
“We’ve all noticed that.”
“Maybe he won’t question this then.”
“Alex, you know he will. Matt loves you. He wants you in his life.”
“Maybe if he talked to your mother, she’d let you stay together.”
“You think she’s going to trust him? My father probably told my grandparents that he’d never hurt my Mom and look at what he did.”
“You can’t compare the 2.”
“Mom can and does.” I whispered as the bell rang and the room started filling up. “Don’t say anything about this to Matt, okay? I need to tell him.”
“Right.” Megan hugged me again. “Everything will be all right, Alex. We’ll figure something out.”
“Thanks, Meg.” I walked back to my desk and put my backpack on my seat. I met the teacher at her desk and apologized for my behavior the day before. And after giving me an extra homework report, I’m sure she felt better, too.
The bell was ringing as Matt walked in. He stared at me. “Take your seat please, Mr. Cravens.” He nodded and walked to his seat beside Megan. He kept turning around to look at me. Even though I could feel his eyes on me, I never looked at him. I focused on my notebook and filling it with Mrs. Cranstom’s words.
Halfway through class, I realized that this was going to be the last day I was even in this class. Tomorrow I would be God only know where doing who knows what. And all because people like Jeremy O’Neill had to make my life miserable, just cause I was ‘different’. It was so unfair.
People like Jeremy had robbed my parents of a life together. My father missed out on watching me grow up. I lost 17 years worth of getting to know my father. Maria had never gotten to have kids, which I knew was her most honest and secret wish. Alex never got to show the love of his life off to all his friends in the geeky computer industry. Michael didn’t know what it was like to live this perfectly normal life that he never thought he could have but was so close to grasping before people like Jeremy had ruined it. Isabel had lived the past 17 years without knowing the perfect simplicity of living with the one person who mattered most to you. My mother had been forced to live 17 years of loneliness without being able to tell anyone how loved she was. My father was forced to live without the one person who gave his life meaning. I might never get to find the one person in the world who would love me like my father loved my mother. Because of people like Jeremy, I missed out on everything.
And I could understand that fear drove him to do it, but that didn’t stop me from hating him and all the people like him. Why couldn’t he understand that just because we’re different doesn’t mean we want to hurt him? I thought getting to know a person who was different from you was supposed to lessen your prejudice and hatred of them. Why couldn’t Jeremy have watched me and seen that I am just like him? That even if I do have alien powers, I am still the same girl who watched Who Wants to be a Millionaire? with him and let him win because I knew how important winning was to him? Why couldn’t he see that I was just like him except I didn’t lie about who I was, well, not because I wanted to? I wiped at my eyes before I started crying again.
I gave myself a quick peptalk. ‘You’re strong, Xan. You can do this. Remember why you’re doing this. That’s what’s most important.’
The bell rang and I hurried out of class to my locker. Matt met me there.
“Alex, what’s going on with you? Are you all right? You look like you haven’t slept all night.”
I looked up at him and started crying. Just knowing that behind those beautiful blue eyes there was a monster was enough to kill me. “Matt.” I hugged him tightly wishing everything was different.
“Alex, what’s wrong? You’re worrying me.”
“Meet me for lunch, okay? Just the 2 of us. We need to talk.”
“What’s going on, baby?”
“We’ll talk at lunch.” The bell rang and we dashed into our English class.
Lunch came much too quickly, and I still wasn’t’ sure of what I was going to say to him. How do you tell someone that you can’t be with them anymore? I’d never done this before.
“Alex, what is going on?”
We were sitting outside under a big tree. It was such a perfect day.
“Matt, there’s stuff going on in my life right now, and I’ve been trying very hard to keep you, well all my friends, out of it. I don’t know if I should have now.”
“What is it, Alex? Why have you been so distant?” He asked. “You know that you can tell me anything.”
I tried to smile through my tears. “I’m just not sure about how to tell you this, I guess.”
“It can’t be that bad.”
“It’s worse.” I took a deep dramatic breath. “My mother is making me break up with you.”
“What?” He sounded outraged.
“You heard me, Matt. Please don’t make me say it again.” I tried to sound distraught.
“She gave me all kinds of reasons. My grades are dropping, she never gets to see me. Stupid excuses really.”
“I don’t get it. I thought your Mom like me.”
“Me, too,” I sighed. “I think she’s just afraid.”
“Me turning out like her.”
“A highly successful doctor and mother? Since when is that a bad thing?”
“Matt, she has been in love with my father her entire life. She’s still in love with him now, years after he left her pregnant and alone. They’ve been together less than a dozen times during my entire lifetime, and she can’t give him up. She doesn’t want me to wind up like that.”
“Alex, we are not your parents.”
“I know.” Silently, I added, Cause they’re honest and in love and they mean everything to each other. “But my mother still worries about that.”
“So because your mother can’t get past your father, she’s punishing us?”
“She’s punishing all of us, Matt. Even my father.”
“How?” He looked at me. I could almost see the eagerness in his deceptive little eyes.
“Remember that summer trip to see my father?” He nodded. “She’s cancelled it and has told my father he is to have no contact with me at all, ever again. Well, she’s telling him that tonight.”
“You’re kidding me!”
“No.” I’m just lying my ass off to you right now. Big difference.
“She can’t do that.”
“Matt, she’s my mother. She can do whatever she wants.”
“What are you going to do, Alex?”
“What can I do? She’s my mother.”
“And you’re an 18 year old adult, Alex. She can’t order you around.”
“Matt, she’s my mother, the only real family I have in the entire world. I can’t lose her, you don’t understand.”
“So you’re really breaking up with me?”
“I have to.” I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see the relief in his eyes. I was making his life easier, I supposed. “I’m sorry, Matt.” I reached out and touched his arm. “I love you, but—“ I ran away.
‘I can do this.’ I chanted that thought over and over. No matter what, I would do this.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:19:20 PM|
|Part 29 |
My mother met me at the door to the house that afternoon with a big hug.
“How’d it go, baby?” she whispered.
“Okay.” I sighed and started crying. “I’ve got to stop crying.”
“Xan, if it helps you to cry, cry.”
I nodded. “It’s not like wanting to stop actually helps me stop.”
“Why don’t you go pack whatever you’re taking?” She suggested. “You can use the time to prepare for the big fight.”
I nodded, knowing I’d need the time to prepare for that. I didn’t know how I would be able to handle yelling at my mother after everything else that had been going on in the past few days. “How much can I take?”
“Try to keep it to a backpack, okay? Just in case someone catches you. I’m going to hide a backpack of photo albums and other important stuff in your car, too.”
“Try to bring a couple days worth of clothes with you, too. Just in case.”
“Right.” I felt like I was in shock. I was just going through all the appropriate motions, doing what my mother told me to.
“Xan, it will be okay. I promise.”
I hugged my mother and went to my room. I put my 2 favorite pairs of pants and my 4 favorite shirts in my backpack alone with my hairbrush and other essentials. On top of that, I added a box with all my jewelry, including my diamonds from Isabel, and other ‘treasures’ in it. I pulled the pictures of my family and of me and Megan out of their frames and slid them in my journal and added it and my mother’s journal to the bag. It was a little scary to realize that my entire life was going to fit in a backpack, but I knew that once we got to wherever we wound end up, we’d all build a new life together. And that was cool with me.
The thought of that new life was what kept me going. I couldn’t wait to get to watch Alex and Isabel as parents. And maybe Michael and Maria, too. And maybe I could finally get that little brother I’d always wanted. I knew that would make my parents so happy. I couldn’t wait.
I thought about whether I would ever have those things again. I mean, watching my parents together, I knew that was what I wanted some day. I wanted someone who looked at me and could see all the way to my soul or something. But how could I have that if I had to hide everything about myself from everyone else? I couldn’t have the love and relationship I wanted without honesty.
“Alexandra!” My mother yelled up to me. That meant it was showtime, time for me to go ‘fight’ with my mother. I knew that this was all planned but I hated to fight with her.
I met her in the dining room and hugged her quickly. “I love you,” she whispered in my ear.
“I love you, too,” I whispered. Then I walked away to a corner and sat in a big chair. “What?” I made it sound as close to attitude filled as I could.
“Xan, don’t cop that attitude with me! We have always had a good relationship based on respecting each other.”
“Mom, you’re showing me absolutely no respect so how can you expect me to show you respect?”
“I am your mother. And while it may seem that I’m not respecting you now, I am respecting your future. I’m taking care of you—“
“By ruining my life?” I exclaimed. I picked up a notebook off the table and wrote a quick note to my mother. I love you.
She smiled. ‘I’m trying to protect you.”
“Mom, sometimes I have to get hurt. You can’t protect me from everything.”
“You’re my baby. I can’t help but try to protect you. Especially from making the same mistakes as me.”
“Mom! What are you talking about? You’ve got this great life!”
“Xan, I’ve lived only half a life, at least it feels that way. I’ve missed out on so many things—“ She stopped herself. “I don’t want you to wake up some day and feel all these regrets, too.”
“Mother, I do not believe I’ll wake up one of these days with regrets. I love my life.”
She smiled at me, knowing the truth in the statement. “I didn’t really plan on waking up with these regrets, either, Xan. But I have them.”
“And to protect me from these regrets you make me break up with my boyfriend? It seems to me like that would create the possibility for more regrets.”
“Don’t get coy on me.”
“It’s the truth. Matt could be so important in my life, Mom, and you’ve pushed him out of it.”
“He could also hurt you worse than anyone should.”
“So instead, you have!”
“It’s the truth. You’ve pushed my boyfriend away. You’re going to talk to my father tonight and forbid him from having any contact with me. What else? Are you going to push Maria and Alex away too? All you’ve done is make me alone, just like you.”
“Xan—“ My mother gasped appropriately.
“It’s the truth. I was just a normal kid with a great boyfriend and lots of friends. And ever since you started getting scared that I might find my own life, you’ve worked to destroy it.”
I help up a note saying ‘I’m sorry’. She smiled and nodded.
“Don’t try to deny it, Mom. You say you’re trying to protect me, but it’s not that. You’re trying to keep me with you forever. You saw me getting closer to Matt, and you got scared. So I had to break up with him. You saw me and Daddy getting closer. First by phone, and then by him visiting. And when he was ready to agree to let me go live with him this summer, it scared you. You thought he might take me away from you forever, and you couldn’t have that. So you have to separate us. So tonight when he calls, you’re going to tell him to stay away, to not contact us. You’re being selfish, I think. Just because you’re alone and angry, you have to destroy me and my father.”
“Xan, I’m not destroying you or your father.”
“Oh, really? My father has always wanted a family. And we dangled that in front of him, and now we’re taking that way from him. Because of you. And all I’ve ever wanted was to know all of my family, more than just you, Alex, and Maria. And I was so close to really knowing my father, but you stole it away. You did, Mother. I don’t think I can ever forgive you for that.” I raised my voice as loud as I dared to. I hated saying that to her. I wasn’t having to pretend to cry for the tapes. This was all too close for comfort.
My mother responded, loudly but calmly. She kept smiling at me and using her eyes to remind me that this was all just an act. “I can understand you think I’m destroying your life, Xan, but I think you’re forgetting one thing. Yes, he’s your father, but Max is the love of my life. I have waited for him for years! And he has never come for me. Not once. I have dreamt that he would come and take us back to wherever he is, but he never did. And I’ve watched you these past couple weeks talking to him, falling in love with him, and I can’t let you wait for him for the rest of your life, too. You deserve better, Xan. And even better than Matt. I know you don’t understand now, but someday, I hope you will understand. I love you.”
“You have a funny way of showing it,” I muttered.
“I have to go to work for a little while. You’re on your own for dinner. I’m sorry.”
I didn’t say anything as my mother kissed me on the top of my head and left the house. I walked slowly up to my room and cried. Then I pulled out a box of stationary that my grandmother had sent me months ago, but I’d never used. It had all kinds of stars on it. I loved it, but I wasn’t really a letter writing person. I was more of an e-mailer. But the letters I had to write tonight were not meant to be sent to a computer. I would drop these off in lockers tonight as I drove out of town.
I don’t really know what I’m doing. I can’t believe I’m actually writing a letter like this. I mean, 4 months ago the idea that I’d be fighting so horribly with my mother that I would run away from home was just bound to be followed by a punchline in a really bad joke from my uncle Alex. But this certainly isn’t a joke, and so much has changed.
I wish I could tell you everything, but I don’t think there’s enough paper in the world for me to write it all on. You know the basics, though. And tonight we had this fight that just hit me to the bone. I know she thinks she’s protecting me, but I can’t help but see that she’s being greedy from fear. And I cannot live like that.
So I’m leaving tonight. I don’t know where I’m going, not that I’d really tell you anyway. My mom’s going to think I went to see my father, but I don’t even know where he lives. I imagine they’ll look in all the normal places I’d hide: Alex’s, Maria’s, maybe even my grandparents’. I won’t be there.
Meg, you have always been my best friend, and I want to thank you for everything you have ever done for me and with me. You are the best person I could ever imagine entrusting all my secrets to, and I hope that someday we can get together and share even more. I have the feeling that the next time I see you, we will both have more than enough ‘adventures’ to share with one another. (Do you remember how that was all we wanted when we were little? To have adventures? Well, now I think we’re heading for some fairly adventurous times, and I’m really not sure how they’ll turn out.)
I’m making you a promise here and now. Someday, you’ll get a phone call or an email or maybe even a real letter, and it will be from me, telling you when and where to meet me. And we’ll get together again, and talk.
I love you, Megan. Thank you for being the sister I always wanted and the best friend I’ve always needed.
That was the easy letter to write. How did I write a believable running away letter to the person who was causing me to run away?
Dear Slime-Sucking Asshole,
No, that wouldn’t be good. It’d let him know we were on to him.
Nope. Same reasons.
Too true, but not right.
Not exactly what I wanted to say to him, but it was good enough. What can I say to him? I had to let him believe I still loved him.
I am so sorry. I’ve hurt you in ways I could probably never pretend to understand.
Ha! I understood real pain more than that bastard ever could.
I didn’t want to, and I do regret it, more than I could ever say.
Unlike you, you lying bastard. You probably are giving yourself mental pats on the back every time you think about me and my stupidity to actually believe in you.
I know you think I should just tell my mother no and live my own life, but I can’t do that. Even though all we’ve been doing lately is fighting, I still love her. She’s my mother, and for the past 18 years, she’s been the only constant in my life. She’s still really the only family I have, and I can’t lose that. She’s right; boyfriends come and go. Moms stay with you forever.
I had to smile as I wrote that. But I don’t know where to go now; I have to convince Matt that I am running away and telling him how much I love and depend on my mother is not a good precursor to it.
Of course, just because I love her doesn’t mean I’m not angry with her. I’m so pissed at her that I can barely stand to look at her, and I definitely cannot live with her.
Okay, Xan, now it’s time to rationalize this. You can do that!
I mean, all we’re doing is fighting, of course. She just can’t seem to understand that I am not like her, at least not always. I have my own life and I will live it. And I know you would say that I should prove this to her by staying with you, but Matt, I can’t. I mean, do you really think we’re going to be together forever? If there’s one thing getting to know my father has done for me is, I don’t think I believe in forever anymore.
Nothing like throwing in a few more lies here. I knew I believed in forever, I just didn’t believe he was worth forever. I knew that true forever came with honesty and love, not with Matt.
I do love you, but we’re growing apart. I know I caused this rift, but maybe it’s for the best. I mean, you’re going off to college next year at State. And I’m going to Stanford. Do you really think we can survive long distances? Our relationship would just turn into an obligation and not the privilege we currently have. I don’t want that.
I will always love you, though, Matt. Never doubt that. You will always be my first real boyfriend, the first guy I ever thought I was going to be with forever, the guy who taught me how to shoot the perfect free-throw, the guy who believed I was smart enough to do anything. And I will always love you for it. But I don’t think we’ll be together very much longer.
Actually, I know we won’t. Because by the time you read this letter, (I know…I’m being predictable), I don’t know where I’ll be. I do know I won’t be here. I’m going someplace where maybe I can prove to myself (and my mother) that I am an adult and mature enough to take care of myself. I don’t know what I’ll do, but I will prove that I can live a life just like I want to.
Yep, with my mother and father and aunts and uncles. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
And I know this is a really horrible thing to do. Just leaving you this note to say goodbye, but Matt, I don’t think I could do this if I had to look you in the eye and say goodbye. Not again. Running away might seem completely pointless in your eyes, but for me, I’m seeing it as my only hope and salvation.
I love you, Matt.
Truth. I did love Matt. I just wished I knew who he really was.
I smiled and stuck the letter in an envelope.
Part Two of our plan was done. Now all I had to do was deliver these to their respective owner’s lockers and then I could get out of here.
5 minutes later, I threw my backpack in my car and drove to the school. I snuck in through an old door in the science wing that never completely locked. They really needed to fix that, I thought. I snuck down the dark hallways to Megan’s locker and slid the note I’d written for her in. “Bye, Meg,” I whispered.
Then I went to Matt’s locker. I was just about to slide his note in when I heard,
“Alex what are you doing here?”
I spun around slowly and looked at the person who’d caught me.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:20:23 PM|
“Alex, what are you doing at school at 9 o’clock at night?”
“I needed to get something out of my locker,” I said quickly.
“Then why are you standing by my locker?” He asked.
Damn, I hadn’t thought about that. I looked at him. “Fine. I’m not here to get something out of my locker. I wanted to leave something in yours.” I might as well be honest. Wasn’t that the best way to lie?
“What?” He asked. “I think you made it rather clear this morning that we are through.”
“Matt, I’m sorry. I had to do it. My mother is—“
“Not the boss of you. You’re an adult, Alex. You ought to behave like it.”
I didn’t reply to that. “You know, I realized this afternoon that I ought to make decisions on my own more often. So that’s why I was coming to put this note in your locker,” I pulled out a note Megan had passed me in class that afternoon from my pocket. “I wrote this tonight. It’s actually asking you out for coffee. I know what I said this morning, and I regret that. I want to just be with you, no matter what.” I felt absolutely sick lying to his face. I hated lying in general, although lying to him wasn’t really causing any real moral problems for me.
“Alex,” Matt hugged me. “I knew you’d come to your senses. We’ll be together again. Your mom can’t keep us apart.”
I decided now was the time to put into play all those acting talents I dreamed I had. I smiled. “I know.” I kissed him. I tried not to think about how nasty this was. “What are you doing here?”
“I was on my way over to your house actually, when I saw your car heading this way so I followed you,” he said.
Right. He was probably watching the house to see if anything “interesting” happened. “I’m glad you did.” I sighed dramatically. I was getting better at this lying and scheming thing. Maria would be so proud. “Are you sure you can deal with this relationship, Matt? We’re probably going to have to sneak around on my mother and stuff. For some reason, I do not see her changing her opinion of this relationship anytime soon. We’ll have to hide at least until we both head off to school.”
“I can handle it, as long as we’re together, Alex.”
I wanted to die when I heard those words come out of his mouth. He was such a lying bastard. I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t even want to be around him anymore.
I looked up at him and smiled. “Well, I’m still going to leave the note in your locker for you in the morning, Matt. Promise me you’ll wait till then to open it.”
“Only if I can walk you to your car.” He said it in such a way that I knew I was going to have to kiss him again tonight. I didn’t want to do that, but it was better than some things.
“Okay.” I smiled and slid his note in his locker. “Let’s get out of here. My mom will be home soon, and I really do not want to have to explain to her where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing.” I held his hand and walked out to my Jeep. “Thanks for being so understand, Matt. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“Absolutely.” He smiled. “And we’ll make it through this, Alex, trust me.”
I smiled. “I do.” I kissed him quickly. “Night.” I jumped in the Jeep and drove away.
I drove home and stayed there waiting for my mother. It felt like I was really alone for the first time, and all the little fears and insecurities I was feeling about this came out. Could I really do this? I mean, I was barely 18 and what did I know about running from anybody, least of all men specially trained to track me? What if I screwed up and led the FBI right to my family? I would jeopardize and probably lose everything they had been working for for so long. Isabel would have to raise her baby in a cell. That poor little boy would be raised with tests and surrounded by fear. Just thinking that made me understand the only option my father had felt he had all those years ago. I could not let that happen to that baby or to the rest of my family. I had to make it through this, I had to keep them safe. The only question was, how?
What if I was followed? What if I were caught? How could I ever keep them safe? I started doubting everything. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea for me to go live with my father. Maybe I needed to just go on living my life here, trying each day to not cause suspicion to myself, to live knowing that there were men outside in cars watching every move I made.
Just thinking about that, I knew I couldn’t live like that. I’d go crazy. It freaked me out now, knowing that out in that blue sedan there was a middle aged FBI agent watching me and my mother to see if we did anything suspicious. I couldn’t live like this forever. I had to get out, and my mom had to get out too. It was the only fair option. I refused to allow myself to even think that the world wasn’t fair. I might be living in my own little fantasy world refusing that kind of thinking, but damn it, it was nice there.
I jumped nearly 5 feet out of my chair when the door opened and slammed.
“Xan?” My mother walked into the living room and my pulse returned to normal. I had known it would be my mother, but….
“You ready to go?”
I looked at her. No words were required. She came over and hugged me. “Baby, it’s going to be okay.”
“But what if it isn’t? I mean, something could happen. We could all get captured or we could lead everyone into a trap. Matt could follow me and hurt them. Or—“
“Xan, stop thinking like that. It isn’t going to help you.”
I couldn’t stop thinking like this, though. It was the only thing going through my brain. “And what in the world makes me believe that I can make it, running from the FBI? I mean, Mom, half the time I can barely hide from that annoying guy at the grocery store who wants a date, and I’m supposed to hide from the FBI? I do not think so. I know absolutely nothing about running away. And I can’t imagine what to do when running from the FBI. I mean, I’m not built that way. All I want is a safe little life!!!”
My mother smiled. “Do you think any of us were ready to run from the FBI? It’s not something you can think about, honey. It’s something you just have to do.”
“Have you?” I asked. She nodded. “When?”
“Form a connection and I’ll show you. It might be hard for you to see, but I think you need to. It might help you through this. I mean, if Maria, Alex, and I can run from the FBI, you most definitely can, kiddo.”
I had to smile at that. “You, Maria, and Alex ran from the FBI?”
“Yup.” She met me square in the eye to make the connection. I formed the connection quickly. It was so easy to connect to my mother.
I saw the rescue from the white room. I’d only heard stories about that so far, but now seeing it was kind of scary.
My mother drove with several Jeeps following closely. I could hear my father’s ragged breathing and I could feel how scared he was. I heard the shots that blew out the windows. I saw them running down a hill. God, my father looked ready to collapse. Then they came to the bridge. They were trapped on all sides but one.
They looked at one another. Then they looked at all the men coming in to surround them. They kissed. I could feel how much they loved each other in that one kiss. They joined hands and jumped off the bridge.
My mother had jumped off a bridge? She had that much faith in her and my father that she jumped off a bridge, without even thinking of her own safety? I mean, I’m sure she knew that there was water down there to break their fall, but still, she jumped off a bridge. She loved him so much, so young? I could feel my heart clench, both in joy at how their love has lasted and in pain, knowing that I would never have that experience.
I saw my parents trapped in that van. I could feel their fear. God, they loved each other so much. I heard my father’s vow to my mother.
“I just wish that I could have stopped you from saving my life that day in the CrashDown.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Max, the day you saved me, your life just ended.”
“No, that was the day my lfie began. Liz, when I was in that room, and they did what they did to me. You’re what kept me alive. The thought of you. They way your eyes look into mine. Your smile. The touch of your skin. Your lips. Knowing you has made me human. Whether I die tomorrow or fifty years from now, my destiny is the same: it’s you. I want to be with you, Liz. I love you.”
“I love you.”
The connection broke there. I hugged my mother. She’d gone through so much that day. I knew that was the day they had found out their so-called destinies. That was the day my mother tried to walk away from my father. “I love you, Mom. That was incredible.”
“I love you, Xan.”
“I can’t believe you ran from the FBI.” I smiled.
“We do what we have to do, Xan. Remember that. You never really know what you can do until you do it. I mean, I never thought I could raise a child, but look at me now. I’ve raised the most incredible girl in the world.”
I hugged her again. “We do not need to start crying now, Mom, okay? Let’s save the tears for when we’re safe.”
I sighed. “Let’s get this show on the road. I just need to grab my backpack from my room.”
The doorbell rang. We stared at each other for a second. Who would be ringing our doorbell at this time of night?
“Calm down, Xan. It’ll be okay.” She squeezed my hand. “Run up the back stairs and change into some pajamas. Then come back down.”
“Be careful.” I whispered.
“Yes, Mom,” she smiled. I ran up to my room trying to listen to what was going on. I threw on a pair of flannel pants and grabbed my backpack. I hid it in the kitchen and walked into the foyer.
“Mom, who rang the bell?” I walked into the living room.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:21:35 PM|
There was a tall, dark-haired guy standing in the middle of the living room. He was dressed entirely in black and looked to only be a couple years older than me. My mother stood about 5 feet away from him. His palm was out to her, like he wanted to give her something, but my mom wouldn’t take it. They were locked in a staring match.
“Mom?” I whispered. “What’s going on?”
At once they turned and looked at me. I could see the worry and concern in my mother’s eyes. She looked almost confused, like she didn’t know what was going on. The man’s eyes were completely different. They reflected someone who knew they had a purpose, a goal. But something else grew in his eyes when he saw me. It was like a sense of recognition, like he knew me. But I had no idea who he was.
“What’s going on ?”
“He says—he says that—“
“Max sent me to you. There’s danger. You need to come with me.” He spoke with such a soft, determined voice. I looked at him for a second.
I looked back at my mother and knew she wasn’t sure if she should trust him. “And we’re supposed to believe this? Do you have any idea how much we have been through to just trust the words of some complete stranger? We need some proof.”
He held his palm towards me. There was a ring in it.
“What is this?” I looked at it for a moment. It was like I was afraid to touch it. I turned to my mother.
“He says it’s—“
“Max’s wedding ring,” this nameless man finished.
“And we’re supposed to believe that? Anyone could have faked a wedding ring.”
“Which is why one of you ought to take this ring from me. Then you’ll know the truth.”
“You’ll be able to sense it, to feel the owner of the ring. You’ll know this is truly Max’s ring.”
I looked at my mother. “Have you ever gotten flashes off just an object before?” I knew I never had. Although I hadn’t really tried or anything. I mean, I didn’t necessarily want to get flashes of the previous 8 owners of my calculus book or anything.
She nodded. I still hesitated from taking the ring from his hand.
The man started getting frustrated. “Listen, we do not have a lot of time for this. We knew you wouldn’t trust me and that’s why Max sent the ring. God, only 7 people in the world, plus me now, even knows you’re married, Mrs. Evans. Please just take the ring so you can trust me and we can get out of here.”
I looked at him and quickly snatched the ring from his hand. I was hit by wave and wave of emotion from my father. There was no way anyone could have ever replicated these feelings. I felt all the love and longing my father had for my mother. I felt his love and concern for the 2 of us. But I also felt something new on it. Someone else was worried about my mother and I. I turned to look at this mystery man again. His eyes met mine. I stared for a minute. I couldn’t look away. It was like those eyes were right where I needed to be.
I realized we were wasting precious time. I handed the ring to my mother. She started to cry immediately.
For the first time in my life, I knew I had to be the strong one. And for some unknown reason, I felt ready to do this. I hugged my mother. “It’s going to be all right, Mom. We can do this.”
“I know,” she whispered. “We need to get out of here.”
“Right.” I turned to look at this man who I knew was here to help us. “Okay. Who exactly are you? Name? Any other really important information?”
“I’m Seth Ronan. Max sent me to get you and take you back to Roswell.”
“It’s the only safe place to meet?”
“All of you: Alex, Maria, and you will be coming with us.”
I nodded. “Okay.” I looked at my mother. “Mom, go grab what you absolutely need.”
She smiled. “I’m ready.”
“Are you sure?” She was really ready to give up everything?
“Okay.” I hugged her. I looked up at Seth. “How are we getting out of here? We know we’re being watched.”
“Well, we’ll just have to lose them,” he smiled wickedly.
I suddenly feared for my poor Jeep’s life. “Let’s go.”
We went to the garage and opened the door. Seth jumped in the driver’s seat. I climbed into the back and my mom sat shot gun.
“Just keep your eyes open for me,” Seth asked.
“Xan, keep yourself down,” my mother said.
“We are about to be in a chase for our lives with the FBI. I think you need to worry less about me and more about yourself!”
“Alexandra Maria Isabella Parker Evans, I am your mother. It is my job to worry about you more than I worry about myself. Now keep your head down.” She looked at me as seriously as she ever did.
We were all quiet for a long moment. Then my mother and I burst out laughing at the very oddity of our conversation. Seth looked at us like we were crazy and started the car. He backed out of the driveway and started driving slowly through the streets.
“Seth, correct me if I’m wrong, but when you’re being followed by the FBI who wants to hunt down and imprison the people in your vehicle, should you not go a little faster than 15 miles per hour?”
“We’re in a school zone, Xan,” he said it so logically.
“Silly me! Rescuing us is not more important then speeding through an area where children will not be for another 8 hours!”
Seth and my mother both started to say something.
“Xan, if we start speeding now, they’ll know we suspect them. We have to be cautious.”
“You know, baby, sometimes I think I left you alone with Maria way too much when you were little.”
“Seth, first of all, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that we let those people know that we know they’re watching us. And Mom, are you implying that I’m over-reacting?”
“I would never imply that, baby.” She turned around and smiled at me. “That’s a direct statement that you’re over-reacting.” She laughed.
Seth looked at my mother. “Do you always act so casually when you’re running from the FBI, Mrs. Evans?”
“What am I supposed to do? Freak out? We usually had Maria around to do that for us. It was more important to me to stay calm and that’s how we did it. This one time, I made Max sing to me the entire time we were driving to whatever was on the radio. For as long as I live, I will never forget Max Evans singing “Genie in a Bottle”.” She laughed.
“Oh, my God, that’s why you always play that song on long car rides, isn’t it? I thought it was just to torture me!”
“And, Seth, thank you for calling me Mrs. Evans. It’s been nice to hear it after all these years, but my name is Liz.”
“Okay.” He looked at my mother slightly in awe of her. I smiled. That meant that people knew about my parent’s relationship. The fact that they respected her so easily meant that they knew just how important it was for my parents to be together. It would make all this so much easier on my Mom.
“So where exactly are we going in Roswell?”
“The podchamber. Max said it was the safest place for all of us.”
“What’s the podchamber like?” I asked. I was lying on my back staring up at the ceiling of the Jeep. I really needed to clean it more often.
“I’ve never been,” Seth said quickly.
“It’s probably one of the most important places for you to see, Xan. It’s where the pods holding Max, Isabel, Michael, and Tess—“I watched Seth’s face when my mother said Tess’s name. It was obvious he didn’t like her. I wondered what the story was there. “--were held until they were—“
“Hatched?” I laughed. I knew Maria used to say that about them.
“Born,” my mother laughed.
I turned to serious as I remembered what else had happened in the podchamber. “That’s where you heard the destiny message, isn’t it?”
My mother nodded. “Yeah. Worst day of my life.” First my father had told he loved her, that she was all he’d ever want. Hours later, she heard that it didn’t matter what Max wanted, he was meant to be with Tess. For such a short time, she’d had everything. And then it was all stolen away.
I reached out and held my mother’s hand. “Just remember, it worked out in the end,” I whispered.
We drove in silence all around town.
“Seth, have you noticed that black sedan behind us? They’ve been there for about 20 minutes.”
“Well, let’s see if we can’t lose them then,” He turned quickly without using his blinker.
“What if we can’t lose them?”
I felt like an emotional yo-yo varying from really worked up to perfectly calm. I wanted to believe that everything would be okay, but I didn’t know if I could. I wanted to be the strong alien princess I was supposed to be, but I was really so scared and unsure about what I was doing.
“Are they still behind us?” Seth asked as he watched the curves in the road.
“Yes.” My mother said tensely.
I wish I could see. This was so nerve racking. “Is it now time to put the pedal to the metal?”
My mother laughed at me. “Yes.”
Seth immediately sped up. He started driving like I’d only seen on Nascar, taking risks even the craziest teenager wouldn’t dare.
“Boy!” I exclaimed. “If you get us killed, my father will be seriously pissed.”
Seth laughed. “Will you ever be satisfied, Xan? First it’s go faster, now it’s be careful! What next?”
“Just so long as I’m alive,” I laughed.
“Xan, keep your head down! Please.”
“Xan.” She looked at me with those eyes that could always make me feel guilty.
“Will the two of you please just hold on?” Seth exclaimed. “My God, I wonder if Max realizes what he’s getting into.”
“He does, and he can’t wait.”
“Are they still following us?”
My mother turned around again. “Yes, and they’re getting closer.”
I lifted my head a little from the seat and looked out the rear window. The sedan was getting really close. I focused on the driver. It was Mr. Young! He’d substituted for my chemistry class last week! God, these people were such bastards. Not only were they destroying my faith in boyfriends by sending a mole into my life, but they were ruining my education, too! Sending in agents as substitutes? How low could they go?
“Xan, head down!”
“Okay,” Seth said. “We’re going to lose these people before we hit the interstate.”
“We’re going to take the interstate?” My mother asked. “Wouldn’t it be better if we took small backroads? Less possibility of coming into contact with cops?”
“We will. This is just the fastest way to our next stop.”
“We need to get rid of the Jeep.”
I wanted to object. This was my car, my baby, but I knew that getting rid of it would keep the FBI off our backs for even a little while longer. Bye, bye, darling Jeep, I thought.
Seth took a corner on 2 wheels. I slid across the seat. I watched my mother turn to check on the sedan. They were still there.
“Okay,” my mother started thinking. “You need to floor the gas, Seth. At the first red light, turn right, then turn right into the first alley, and go all the way down to the other road and turn right again. If this works, we’ll end up behind them. And Xan, for God’s sake, keep your head down.”
Seth and I both looked at my mother with serious awe in our eyes. I never knew my mother was so good at forming escape plans. Seth followed my mother’s instructions to the letter.
I sat up a little and watched him drive. My mother kept looking behind us. We were completely silent in the car. We were on 2 wheels again as we turned down the road and immediately into the alley.
“Turn off your lights,” My mother encouraged, “and drive quickly!”
“I hadn’t planned on slowing down,” he muttered.
I wanted to laugh at that. It was totally something I would have said.
We pulled out from the alley and started driving toward the interstate again.
“Anyone behind us?” I asked.
“Nope,” my mother smiled.
“Great directions, Mom. I am suitably impressed.”
Seth smiled for the first time. “So here’s the plan. We’re going to stop in the next little town and switch cars, and we’re going ot change the way the Jeep looks a little. Then you 2 need to change the way you look, too. And then we go to the podchamber.”
“How are Alex and Maria getting there?” I asked interrupting him.
“Michael went to get Maria. They’re making her disappearance look like a break-in/attack. Isabel went to get Alex—“
“Isabel?” I asked quickly, interrupting again. She was pregnant! What was she thinking putting herself in danger?
“Yes, she insisted.”
Crazy, stubborn woman!
“Alex’s disappearance will look like he just walked away from his house to go for a walk and never returned.”
“And we’re all meeting in the podchamber?” My mom asked.
“Yes. We’re all supposed to be there by 7 a.m. tomorrow.”
“And Max is waiting there?” Her mind covered the most important things first.
“Why didn’t he come get us?” I asked.
“It’s too dangerous. We have sources inside the FBI. They found out that the FBI was coming to capture you in the morning. He sent me to you because he knew if anyone saw him you’d all be taken immediately.”
“But he’s okay?”
“Yes. He’s anxious, waiting for you.”
“Xan, can you try to sleep and dream-walk him? Let him know we’re okay.”
“I’ll try.” I laid back down on the seat. As always when I wanted to dream walk, I fell asleep immediately. I thought I’d have to look for him, but he was waiting for me.
“Xan, are you okay?”
“I’m fine. We’re fine,” I stressed.
“Seth Ronan is there?”
“He’s driving right now.”
“And your mom is?”
“Fine, Dad. She’s just anxious to see how you are. She’s the one who suggested I try to find you around here somewhere.”
“She understands I worry.”
“And I’m sure she’s worried about you, too, Dad.”
“Tell her I love her. And tell Seth to be careful.”
“And I love you, Xan. Keep your eyes open, okay?”
“Once you get to Roswell, come straight to the podchamber. Liz knows where it is.”
“Okay. And then we’re going home, right?”
“Right.” He smiled.
“I’d better wake up then, Dad. Just in case.”
“I’ll see you soon.”
I smiled, realizing how true that was. “Okay. Be careful.”
I woke up and looked at my mom. “Dad’s fine. He’s waiting for us.”
“I hope everyone’s okay,” my mother said quietly, Knowing that both my father and I were safe allowed her to start worrying about everyone else.
“I’m sure they are,” Seth tried to reassure her.
“Absolutely,” I agreed. “I mean, compared to making it through their teens, this is a piece of cake.” I paused. “And they get to be together, at least.”
“Yeah,” she laughed. “Maria and Michael are probably fighting over what type of music to listen to as they drive.”
“And Alex and Isabel are probably planning how many kids they’re going to have, and picking out baby names.”
My mother squeezed my hand. I smiled.
15 minutes later, we stopped at a closed gas station. We grabbed the 2 backpacks and switched them into the new car. I changed the color of the Jeep and Seth stole some Kentucky license plates off a broken down car.
“All we need to do now is change your appearance.” He looked at me.
I’d never done this before, I was a little nervous about doing it.
My mother stopped in front of me. “Do me first, Xan. I’ve always wanted to be a blonde.”
“Mom—“ I looked at her. I knew she’d be able to see my doubt.
“You can do it, baby. I have faith in you.”
I smiled. “Blonde?”
I took a deep breath and tried to remember everything my father had taught me about molecular manipulation. I ran my hand over my mother’s hair and opened the eyes I hadn’t realized I’d closed. She was blonde!
“Now change the clothes!”
I laughed and gave her a form fitting black dress.
“A dress will not work here, Xan,” she smiled mischievously. “But I will take it later when I’m alone with your father.”
“Mom!” I exclaimed. I saw Seth blush as he leaned against the car. I put her in a pair of sweats and a red tank top.
“Better.” She smiled. “Now do you!”
I gave myself some serious fire red hair and changed my clothes to a pair of training pants and a tank top. I was comfy.
“This is so going to keep my wardrobe fresh! Being an alien is great!”
Seth laughed. “I’ve never heard anyone rationalize it that way before.”
“I’m sure Isabel’s thought it a time or two, though,” my mother interjected. I laughed, agreeing with her.
He looked at us. “Okay. Now we start fluctuating between interstate and small country roads. The way we’ve figured it, we should get to Roswell around 7 or 8 tonight. We’re all going to need to take turns driving though.”
“Works for us,” my mother smiled. “I’ll drive if you want to get some rest, Seth.”
He gave her the directions he had and climbed into the backseat. We headed out. Within 10 minutes, Seth’s breathing had evened out and we knew he was asleep.
“You okay, baby?”
“I’m really proud of the way you’re handling this. You’re doing a wonderful job.”
“I just can’t believe it’s all happened so quickly. I mean, I knew I was going to have to run away, but I didn’t think it would be like this.”
“I know. But just think, this time tomorrow, we will be with your father.” She smiled.
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:22:29 PM|
My mother drove for 6 hours through the night. I stayed up with her for most of it. I started dozing just as the sun came up. I felt kind of bad leaving my mother all to herself but I was just so tired. We stopped for breakfast a couple hours later, and Seth took over driving while Mom and I both slept.
I woke up around noon, completely disoriented. I was sitting in the front seat, and through the window I could barely see trees and other cars passing by. I sat up and looked around as the memory of it all came flooding back to me. I leaned back against the seat.
“Good morning, Xan,” Seth said quietly.
I looked at him. “Is it really good?” I started playing devil’s advocate in my head, thinking of all the changes and all that could go wrong.
“We’ll be meeting your father in several hours. Don’t you think that’s good?”
“Well, yeah. It’s just—“ I stopped myself from complaining to Seth. He hadn’t signed up to hear all the problems in an alien teenager’s life. I started to wonder why he had even volunteered for a job like this. “I’m sorry. You don’t want to hear about this.”
“You can talk to me, Xan. I’ll even try to understand,” he smiled.
I noticed for the first time how adorable his smile was. I hadn’t really seen it the night before between car chases and all. “It’s just weird to think I’m really leaving.”
“You’ve already left. We’re hundreds of miles away from there.”
“I guess it’s just hard to believe that I’m really leaving. I didn’t realize how hard it would be, emotionally, I mean.”
“To leave a place where you’ve been lied to your entire life?”
“Yeah. The thing was, that lie was such a small part of my life. There was a lot of truth there, too.” I didn’t think I could really explain this well. Even though, I had spent my entire life there being lied to by Matt, there had been so much truth in the relationships I had with Megan and my other friends, and even in the life I lived before I found out that I was an alien. After that, everything changed.
“But you’re leaving it for someplace so much better.”
“Better, because I get to be with my family, yes. But in exchange for that, I have to lie to everyone I meet.”
Seth looked at me. “Why would you have to do that?”
“Seth! Do you know what could happen if anyone found out the truth about me? About my family? I mean, that’s why my mom and I and Maria and Alex are running like this. It’s bad enough that you know.”
“That I know?” He started to smile.
“I mean, it’s obvious that you know. And that my father trusts you. He wouldn’t have sent you if he didn’t. But how many people are there in the world that I can completely trust, to the point that I let them know I’m an alien?”
“In the world, I don’t know. In the community we live in, 3,000.”
I turned to Seth in shock. There was no way I had just heard what I just heard. “What do you mean 3000?”
“That’s how many of us there are in our community.” He knew what I wanted to know but he was stalling.
“And by us you mean?” I prodded. He’d obviously never met anyone who’d been raised around Maria. I could ask questions all day.
“So you’re an alien, too?” I forced myself to whisper this thought. I was afraid I’d wake my mother up otherwise. This was too much to believe.
“Yes. The community we’re going to, where you’re going to live, is made up almost entirely of aliens. The rest are humans who know our secret and have chosen to make their lives with us.”
“You have to be kidding me!”
“Why didn’t anyone tell me? My father never said a word about that!”
“I don’t know. Maybe he wanted to surprise you or something.”
“This is….” I didn’t know what to say!
Questions started whirling through my head. “So wait. What’s the deal? Where is everyone from? Will my mother be okay? Are we safe? Will I be able to learn more powers? What does everyone do there?”
Seth smiled watching me. “Do you really expect me to answer all those questions at once?” He’d adopted an attitude that reminded me of Michael.
“Yes!” I laughed. “Okay. First question first. The destiny message said that my father was supposed to go back to wherever he came from—“ I looked at Seth for a little help there.
“Antar,” he supplied.
“Right. To fight against their enemies from their past lives and take it back.” I looked at Seth to see if I had it right. Or maybe I was testing him to see if he really knew what was going on with the whole alien history? I just couldn’t believe that he was really an alien. I mean, rationally, I knew that no one would say they were an alien if they weren’t, but it was so hard to accept that there were other aliens… After I’d been so afraid that I would never really be accepted again.
“Okay. So why haven’t we gone back? Why didn’t my father go back? He’s their King, after all. And why are all these Antar—“
“We like to call ourselves Antarians.”
“Okay. Why are there so many of us on Earth?”
“Well, you’ll remember that the destiny message also said Max was supposed to be with Tess. But he was determined to be with your mother. Destinies change.”
“Because I’m with Max?” My mother spoke up from the back seat. I wondered how long she’d been awake for.
Seth turned to look at her. “Liz, no! You and Max being together has nothing to do with so many Antarians being on Earth.” Seeing as how my mother didn’t ask anything about that, I assumed she’d been awake for quite a while. “I was just trying to explain that destinies aren’t necessarily set in stone. At one point, to return to Antar was Max’s destiny, but that changed. And it had nothing to do with him falling in love with you, Liz. The war back there was apparently getting worse. I don’t know too much about it. They never really like to explain it—“
“The people who went through ti.”
“No, I was born here on Earth.”
“Really?” I was amazed. That meant the aliens must have been here for years before I was born.
“Yes.” He nodded. “Anyway, the war turned brutal. Khivar was going crazy. He did something to destroy the atmosphere of the planet. He’d become maniacal. So the leaders of the resistance at the time decided that instead of waiting for our savior—“
“Max?” There was a hint of a smile on my mother’s face at calling my father a savior.
“Yes. Instead of waiting for him, we decided tocome to him.”
“24 years ago.”
“We were all together then, in school.”
“Yeah. We didn’t make contact right away. We actually didn’t make contact until they’d left you.”
“Why did you wait?”
“I don’t know. I think it was a shock to their system when the survivors first got here. They’d been fighting for so long, I don’t think they really remembered how to live. It took them some time to get settled, to form homes.”
“How did you get in touch with them? With Max, I mean?”
“I don’t know really. I mean, I was so young then. I just remember them coming and feeling like it was the best day on the world.”
“So there are 3000 aliens on Earth?” My mother asked.
“Well, there are 3000 people in our community. And there are several other communities and groups. I know that 11000 Antarians came to Earth.”
“11000? That’s it?” My mother asked. This had been an entire planet full of people and 11,000 people were all that escaped?
“Yeah. Khivar destroyed us.”
“So you came to Earth and started building a new society?”
“Right, and we’ve succeeded. It’s incredible. You’ll love it.”
“I’d love anyplace where I can just be myself.” I said wistfully.
My mother reached up from the backseat and squeezed my shoulder. “We’re going there, baby.”
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:23:38 PM|
The next couple hours in the car were pretty much quiet. I think we all kind of retreated to our own corners, to think through everything that had just come out in that conversation. Well, Mom and I did anyway. We’d both learned quite a lot. At the next rest-stop, I took over driving. I thought better when I drove. I kept repeating over and over in my head, there are at least 3,000 other aliens in the world, on Earth. There were 3,000 people on this planet who were just like me. Ever since I found out about this whole alien thing, my biggest fear was that I would be all alone for the rest of my life, lying to everyone. And now, I found out that I didn’t have to be alone. I could maybe someday find my soulmate or at least someone I could fall in love with. My life just suddenly opened to at least a million possibilities I’d tried so hard to not think about. I couldn’t believe it was true! It was kind of hard to accept in just a few minutes.
And underneath all these happy feelings of getting to be like everyone else was total confusion. My father had been in this safe community for all these years, and he had never sent for us before? He and Isabel and Michael had been living off in this safe little accepting home, and they just left the rest of us out there to do as we would, to survive in a world where we would constantly be under suspicion. Because of our relationship to them! They left us to live like that! My God, now—
My inner monologue was interrupted by my mother. “Xan, we’re about an hour from the podchamber. Are you sure you want to keep driving? You’ve been going straight for hours.”
“I’m fine, Mom. I like to drive, remember.” I tried to smile for her.
She wrapped her hand over mine. I had a brief flashback to her teaching me how to drive a stick, her hand had morphed over mind on the gear shift so she could teach me the motion and the feeling of it. That was such a great day… It felt like such a long time ago. “Do you want to talk about it, Xan?”
“Whatever has been going through your mind for the past couple hours?” She smiled.
“I just can’t believe that there are really all these other aliens. I mean, I thought I was going to have to spend the rest of my life along, lying to everyone about who I am. But now, it looks like I’m going to have all these chances to be real. Maybe even more real than I’ve ever been before. That’s a little overwhelming.”
“Right.” My mother ran her hands through my hair just like she used to when I was little and upset about something. She’d always had the power to calm me down. “So now why don’t you tell me what you were really thinking?”
I looked in my mirror. Seth looked dead to the world back there. I glanced at my mom. “I-uh-I guess I’ve just been thinking about why Dad never told us where he’s been living.”
“Well, Xan, we haven’t really talked to him every day for all these years.”
“By his choice.” I could hear the biting tone in my voice.
“Mom, it’s not like you would have hung up the phone had he called. He chose not to call and be in contact with us.”
“Xan, it’s not like he had a choice.” My mother’s voice was weird. She was trying to sound confident, but at the same time, I think she was wondering the same thing as me.
“Didn’t he? He’s been living in this Utopia-esque community for the last 18 years. Why didn’t he call us? Why didn’t he ask us to move down there with him? He knew we’d be safe there but he left us here, in constant danger!” My grip on the steering wheel tightened.
“It feels like one minute I was so excited, almost unable to wait to go live with him, but now I’m so angry with him that I just want to yell at him till I can’t breathe anymore!”
“You know you have to talk to him, right?”
I nodded. I needed to talk to him about all this. I needed to be honest with him and hope he would be honest with me. “What do I say?”
“You have to figure that out. But just remember, whatever you said last time worked out really well.” My mother smiled.
I nodded. “Right.”
45 minutes later, we were in Roswell. Mom gave me directions to the podchamber.
“Wake up, Seth!” I exclaimed, parking the car at the base of a rock formation. “We’re at the podchamber.” I wanted to smile for a minute as I watched Seth adjust to the glaring sunlight and the obvious change in surroundings. He’d fallen asleep and there’d been grass, now there was nothing but desert.
We took our bags with us and climbed to the entrance.
“How do we get in, Liz?”
“I guess we bang on the door here till Max comes out to let us in,” my mother laughed. “The only people I’ve ever seen the podchamber work for are Max, Isabel, Michael, and Tess.” She pointed to a panel that looked like rock but had a gloss like smooth surface. “I think that scanner is programmed to recognize their genetic signatures.”
“Which means—“ I put my hand on the panel. “This machine should recognize me.”
The door slid open.
“Awesome.” I smiled and walked in. “Dad?” I called. “Where are you?” My mother took my hand and we walked into the chamber.
“Max?” She said once. Then she started looking around the chamber. It had been a long time since she was in here. It hadn’t changed much, according to her description of it.
I walked around, and looked in total amazement at the pods that had once held my family. They looked so old. I reached out and touched one and was amazed when I got a flash of my father coming out of this pod.
“Xan,” my father whispered. He entered the chamber from another one further in.
“Dad!” I couldn’t help myself. I ran over and hugged him. I was still so happy to see him, no matter what questions I had for him.
My mother joined us, wrapping her arms around the 2 of us.
“Are you all right?” He looked the two of us over. “Did anything odd happen on your way here?” He looked at Seth.
“Everything was fine, Max. No problems.”
“Ok. I need you to go hide that car, Seth. Destroy it if you have to. No one can recognize it.”
“Right.” Seth left the podchamber.
“Is anyone else here?” My mother asked.
“No, just us,” my father smiled. He held her hand. “I’m so glad we’re finally together.” He looked me in the eye.
I had to look away.
“Xan, what’s wrong?” He asked.
My mother let go of his hand and walked to the door of the chamber. “I’m going to go help Seth. I’ll be back.”
He watched her walk out of the chamber. “What’s going on, Xan?” He looked at me.
“We need to talk, Dad.”
He was acting so calm! Couldn’t he be at least a little worried? “Okay,” I took a deep breath. “Seth told us you’ve been living in this Antarian community ever since you left Mom.”
“Well, we ran and avoided the FBI for close to a year first, actually.”
“So you were still running when you came back on the night I was born?” I filed that information away.
“When did you actually move to the community?”
“Right after you were born, I started having the weirdest dreams. It felt like someone was trying to contact me, only they called me Zan. After a few weeks, Isabel started having similar dreams. Then Michael did, too. Then Tess. We worked out what those dreams meant and met up with some people from the community a week later. Then we all went back together.”
“So you’ve been there 17 years?”
“You’ve been in this safe, secure community for 17 years and you never though tot ask Mom and me to come live with you? You left us in that kind of danger!” I could feel all the anger in me pouring out of me.
“I really want you to explain this to me, Dad. I mean, I don’t understand it at all, and that is really scary to me.” I tried to be as honest as I could. I didn’t want to hide what I was feeling anymore. I shouldn’t have to, not with him.
My father sighed. He wiped his hand over his eyes. “Xan—“ he started. He looked at me for a minute, like he knew that whatever he was about to say would change everything.
“Okay, the truth. When we got to the community, the first thing Michael, Isabel, and I did was start making plans to bring you to us. At that point, you were all living together in New York still. The plan was so easy,” he smiled. “We were just going to go in and take you, no covers, nothing. Kind of like what we did today.”
“Then why didn’t you?” My voice became very small when I asked that. I think I was afraid of the answer.
My father started pacing. It was a little odd to see him nervous now. I just wanted him to be honest with me, and it seemed that that scared him which in turn worried me.
“You’re going to hate me for this, Xan,” he started.
“Just tell me, okay? I’m going with you either way.” I tried to smile, but I was really nervous.
“Michael, Isabel, and I went to the apartment you were all living in. I think you were about 6 months old. We were disguised and everything, Isabel had been working on the power that you used today to change appearances. She was so proud,” he remembered. “Anyway, we went to the apartment. We watched as your mother and Alex took you for a walk. It was kind of chilly and they had you wrapped up in the most adorable little pink coat. I don’t know which of you Isabel wanted to run to more, you or Alex. She just fell in love with you from that second.” Despite my worries about what was being said, I smiled. “We figured we’d watch your routines for a couple days and then just take you all as you were on a walk or out to dinner or something. That night, Liz had to work, and we watched as she left and Maria took you out to the store for some groceries. I could hear the breath catch in Michael’s voice as he saw everything he had ever wanted walk in front of him. We started watching in shifts. For 4 days we watched as Alex left for work, and then Liz would come home and Maria would leave and Alex would come home. We watched them have these conversations with you in front of windows pointing toward the stars. On the fifth day, we all sat down in this little coffee shop across the street from the apartment, and we compared your schedules and figured the best time to get you. But then we started discussing your daily routines and anything weird in them. And we realized you were all being followed. There were always people watching you, from the cabbie who took Liz to the hospital to the guy who always hit Alex up for money on the corner.”
“We were being watched even back then?” I whispered again.
“Yes.” He ground the word out through clenched teeth.
“So why didn’t you take us then?”
“We wanted to. God knows, we wanted to just burst into your apartment and grab you and run until they couldn’t catch us.”
“Why didn’t you?”
He sighed. “Because there were certain responsibilities that we had to live up to.”
“That overrode our safety?” I was shocked that I had to ask that question. I mean, I thought my father always put my mother and I first.
“Yes.” He looked me square in the eye. I could see the haunts of his past in his. I could see how much he hated to tell me this. “See, Xan, on Antar, when I was Zan, I was King. It was my responsibility to put the lives of my people in front of my own and to make sure that they were safe and alive. That’s why I married Tess in that life, because a union with her family would provide my people some safety. It wasn’t like it is here on Earth, where we get to make choices. We did what we had to do to protect our people. And I had to do that again that day.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I had to choose between my own happiness and protecting the community full of people I had failed in my last life.”
“You couldn’t do both?” I wanted all of this to make sense!
“Not at that point.”
“Xan, had we taken all of you that day, it would have been confirmation to the fact that yes, we were aliens, and yes, so were you and that your mom, Alex, and Maria were our accomplices. The FBI would have never stopped looking for us. They would have followed us to the community. They would have destroyed us.”
“So instead you left us there to be followed for our entire lives?”
“The FBI didn’t know for sure anything at that point. They didn’t know that we were really aliens, they just had suspicions, correct suspicions, but no proof. They didn’t know that you were an alien. They were essentially just following you hoping that we would come back so they could capture us then. They could never do anything to you without proof.”
“Pierce captured you without real proof.”
“Pierce warped all the rules of the FBI to capture me. We made sure that that wouldn’t happen again when we sent Nasedo into the division.”
“But what about all the tests he ran on you? Wouldn’t that prove you’re an alien?”
“We destroyed it all. The FBI wouldn’t didn’t know anything for sure about aliens until—“
“They followed me as a teenager,” I provided.
“Yes. That’s why we had to come get you now, today.”
“Why? How did you know?”
“We’ve got informants in the FBI now, in the division that’s been following you for so long. She got us word 3 days ago that they were going to take you today. We couldn’t have that happen.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?”
“We didn’t want to worry you, in case this didn’t succeed.”
I got a chill up my back at that thought. If Seth hadn’t gotten mom and me out of that house last night, we’d be in FBI custody right now. What would they be doing to me now? I would be their own little experiment to do with what they would.
“Xan, I have regretted for so long not taking you with me that day. I mean, what kind of father just leaves their baby and the love of his life to deal with people following them every day of their lives when he can take them away from all that? I hated that I had to protect the community over you, but there was no way I could let all of them pay so I could have a little time alone with you and your mom. As much as I wanted to be selfish, I couldn’t. Not that time.” He sighed. “Please forgive me for this.”
I started pacing around the podchamber. I needed to think this through. “Is this what it’s like to be King, Dad? You have to make decisions like this, huh?”
“Yes. Usually they’re much easier, but every once in a while, you have to decide things that make you hate yourself.”
“But all these years, you’ve always known we were okay? That the FBI wasn’t going to hurt us?”
“Yes. We infiltrated the division right after we left you in New York. We’ve always known that all of you were okay.”
“And when you found out that we weren’t? That they were going to come after us soon?”
“We started making plans to get you out of it. I promise you, Xan, I would never make you and your mother live in more danger than you could handle.”
I almost smiled when I realized he just assumed we could handle levels of danger. “So now we’re going to go to this community?”
“As soon as everyone gets here, we leave.”
I nodded. “Okay.” I didn’t know what else to say. I smiled up at him.
“Yeah, we’re good.” I said. I understood now why he had done it, that didn’t mean I had to like it, but at least I could understand it. “When does everyone else get here?”
|posted on 27-Jan-2002 1:24:24 PM|
After my little talk with my father, I went outside and got my mother and Seth. They were sitting behind a boulder just talking. My mother hurried into the chamber, needing to be as close to my father as she could be. Seth hung back and walked in with me.
“So did you get to talk to your dad about everything you needed to know?” He asked slowly.
I turned to glare at him. We were still just outside the chamber. “How did you know what I needed to talk to him about?” I looked forward, wondering if my mother had told him.
“Your mom didn’t tell me, Xan. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I woke up in the car while the two of you were talking.”
I nodded slowly. “I guess this isn’t the image of a so-called alien princess you’ve always had in your head, huh? Who ever thinks of a princess drifting in insecurity? Or being suspicious of her father?”
Seth stopped me before I walked into the chamber. “Xan, you don’t have to explain your behavior to me. I mean, it’s understandable.” His eyes clouded. “There are things I’d like to ask my father about that are a lot like the conversation you just had with Max.” He paused and his hand came up to squeeze my shoulder. “And I never had a preconceived image of an alien princess, Xan.” Somehow, his thumb grazed my cheek. It was the softest touch.
I looked at him for a minute completely in awe of how safe I felt around him. “We’d-uh better get inside. You know my parents, they tend to be overprotective.” I started walking in. I had the most incredible feeling of butterflies in my stomach just talking to him.
Seth laughed. “Right.”
Inside the chamber, my parents were sitting over in the corner, as close to each other as they could get and remain decent, whispering back and forth. They barely looked up when Seth and I walked in. We walked over to the other side of the room, near the pods.
I couldn’t help staring at the 4 pods in awe. My father had lived in one of these pods for years. I reached out and touched one of them.
My father came over almost intuitively and smiled. “That one was mine.” He touched the one right next to his. “Isabel’s.” Across from hers, “Michael.” Then he pointed to the one in the corner. “Tess.”
I could see the anger in both my father and Seth’s eyes even at the mention of her name. I wondered what the real deal on her was. I knew my mother only told me what she knew, but obviously some stuff had happened before she left them that had caused such an impression on Dad and Seth. I wanted to ask, but before I could, my father silenced all of us with a look.
“There’s someone outside.” He whispered. My mom grabbed my hand, and my father walked over to the entrance.
I knew that it was most likely Isabel or Michael, but I still felt a jolt of something like fear, maybe anxiety, going up my spine. My mother looked at me and smiled as if she knew how I felt. This mixture of anticipation at meeting my family and fear of what was behind the door was eating at me.
The door slowly opened and in walked Maria with Michael following behind her, checking carefully behind them to see that they weren’t followed.
“Maria!” My mother hurried over to her.
“Chica!” They hugged.
I watched Michael whispering to my father about something. He looked so real! I don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, he looked the same as he did in the dreams, of course. I guess I was expecting some difference or something. He looked just like the uncle who had gotten me through the scariest day of my life, without ever having touched me or anything. I needed to hug him.
At once, our eyes met. He smiled. “Xan,” he whispered. I rushed over to him and the next thing I knew I was trapped in his tight hug. I heard Maria’s breath catch as she watched Michael and I hug. Michael kept whispering how glad he was that we were together. I don’t think Maria had ever really seen him like this.
I was crying when we separated, and I knew Michael was a bit overwhelmed too. I watched Maria walk over to him and wrap her arm around his waist. “Maria, his hair isn’t so bad! I think you were overreacting when you said he looked like someone off bad 80s TV.” I teased.
Everyone laughed. The overwhelming fear and anxiety started to fall off of us as we started to feel a little safe with one another. Now all we had to do was wait for Isabel and Alex. Then we’d all be together again, and we’d be heading to our new home. It felt good to just think those words. We were all going home.
Maria came over to me and hugged me. “You okay, babe?” She whispered.
“Fine.” Maria gave me that patented ‘I-don’t-believe-you’ look that I only thought mothers had and I sighed. “I’m just kind of overwhelmed with some stuff I learned today. I’m fine, though.”
“Okay,” she smiled. “I’m here to talk if you need me, though, babe. Remember that?”
She looked over my shoulder to where Seth was watching all of us with a quiet smile on his face, like he had never seen anything like us. “Who’s he?” She whispered.
Knowing there was only one person in the chamber that Maria didn’t know, I whispered back “Seth. He’s from the community we’re going to.”
“Aaah,” Maria whispered. “Michael told me about that place. All aliens, huh?”
“I know. It’s hard to believe that soon I’ll be living in a place where I won’t be different from the everyone else.”
“Well,” Maria teased, “you’ll always be different.” I smiled. Maria looked back at Seth. “So tell me about Seth.”
“I don’t know that much, Maria. Dad sent him to bring me and Mom here.”
“So Max must really trust him, huh?”
“I guess.” I knew that he did.
Maria was quiet for a moment. She started to smile. “He’s cute.”
“Ria!” I exclaimed.
“He is.” She said simply. “Don’t tell me you hadn’t noticed!”
“Ria, he is not my type.”
“Bull shit.” She called my lie. “I think we spent quite enough time in parks staring at men in your life for me to know that he is exactly your type.”
I looked at Seth. Maria was right; he was my type. He was tall with dark hair that was just a little bit too long, like he’d forgotten to get a haircut for a couple weeks. And he had the most incredible blue eyes. They were so bright and alive! Just talking to him was a selfish act on my part because I got to see all the emotions turning his eyes into hypnotic devices. And the way he moved reminded me of the soccer players back at the park we always went to in New York. I was so young when we were there, but I can still remember the ease and grace in their movements. Seth had that.
Maria laughed at the way my cheeks started blushing. “Told you!”
“Shut up, Ria.”
“Why?” She smiled. I knew she wanted to just break out into a little “I-am-right” dance.
“Because nothing is going to happen, okay? I just got out of the most hideous relationship, and for all we know, Seth has a girlfriend back there. He’s my friend, and that’s it.” I said firmly.
“Right. Convincing yourself?” She taunted.
I sighed. “Mom,” I exclaimed, “Maria’s making fun of me!” I sounded like a child complaining about her sister and Maria laughed at it.
“I always wanted a kid sister!” She exclaimed.
Michael walked over to us and wrapped his arms around Maria. “Baby, stop annoying your neice.”
“So,” my mother walked over to us and wrapped her arm around Maria’s waist, “how’d you get here?”
“Well,” Maria started getting all excited, “I was completely shocked when SpaceBoy showed up at my apartment. I mean, there I was, getting ready to watch a few Tom Cruise movies on another boring Thursday night, and someone’s knocking on my door.” Maria sat on the floor and looked up at the rest of us expectantly. She was going to tell her story and she wanted to get comfy. My parents and Michael joined her on the floor. I walked over to Seth who’s sitting by the door to the chamber.
“Why don’t you come join us?” I asked quietly.
“It’s your family time, Xan. I don’t want to interrupt. I’ll just wait here, in case someone else comes.”
“Come join us, Seth. There’s no need to stay here.” I don’t know why I’m trying to convince him to join us; it was just going to give Maria more ammunition for the whole ‘Xan-likes-Seth’ campaign, but I didn’t want to see him alone. I knew better than most that feeling alone was the worst thing in the world, and I didn’t want to see him go through it. I took his hand and led him over to the semi-circle my family had formed. I sat between him and Maria. I looked at my parents and couldn’t help myself from smiling. My mom was sitting between my father’s legs with his arms around her. They looked like high school students all wrapped up in each other.
She was continuing the story. “So basically, we turned my apartment into someplace that no one would recognize and left.”
“Did you get to call Amy?”
“I did. I told her I loved her, but of course I couldn’t tell her what was going on. I think she’ll understand though. She wants me to be happy.” She squeezed Michael’s hand. “And even through the long hours of riding in that godawful truck with no air conditioning, I’ve never been this happy.” She smiled. “So I’m assuming that Isabel and Alex will be joining us shortly?”
“They should be here anytime,” my father looked at his watch. “Isabel dream-walked him and told him exactly how they were going to leave. So it shouldn’t have taken too long.”
“Of course,” Maria started with a tell-tale twinkle in her eyes, “we never can tell what happened once they actually got together. I mean, it’s been a while since they’d seen each other.”
My mom and Michael started laughing at the look on my father’s face. “Oh, dear God, don’t make me think that way about my sister ever again.”
We all laughed, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the reason they were taking so long was because Isabel had told Alex her surprise. I could only imagine how he would take the news that he was going to become a Daddy. He was probably being extra careful with her, taking only the safest routes and lots of breaks. I couldn’t wait to see the look in his eyes of him knowing he was going to be a father. It’s what he’d always wanted.
“Xan,” my mom started, “are you hungry?”
Her voice pulled me out of my revelry. In the space between us, there was a large picnic basket filled with food. My stomach growled. I smiled sheepishly wondering if anyone else had heard that. I saw the smallest smile on Seth’s face. “Yeah, I am. What’s for dinner?”
My father opened the basket. “Well—“
“Wait! You didn’t cook it, did you?” I teased.
Michael laughed. “She knows you well, Max. No, he didn’t cook it. Well, he did make it but I don’t think anyone can mess up sandwiches.”
“Eat.” My father tossed me a wrapped up pepperoni sandwich. I loved this stuff; in some varieties it was hot enough to eat without Tabasco.
“Thanks, Dad.” I smiled.
We all sat around for the next couple hours, talking about the future and how different our lives were going to be. Seth and I talked alone for a little while about the other kids my age on the ranch. I had to wonder a lot about them. I mean, they knew who I was. Would that make my relationships with them different from the ‘normal’ I wanted? I overheard my parents talking about Mom practicing medicine with my father. And Maria told Michael how badly she wanted to do something useful in the community, but she was afraid that she didn’t know what to do. No one said a word about how long it was taking Alex and Isabel to get here. It was like we were afraid to open our mouths for fear of what could come out or something. But I knew that underneath the pleasant conversations, all of us were thinking, “Where are Alex and Isabel?”