Take Me to the Moon 4.16
One day, Cacey returned to Delaney. It felt unreal, like a dream, but in her aunt’s hug Delaney found joy, here and now.
After a while, Delaney broke away so she could look at Cacey’s face.
Each of them tried to reconcile the changes of a decade of living, the person they’d built up in their mind, the person of their memory, and the person standing before them here and now. Delaney had been her own independent person for so long now, and no longer had the lithe, slight figure and face she’d had through her teens and early adult years. Years of training and hard work had earned her the broad shoulders of a body-builder. Cacey had changed even more. The frailty that was creeping into her movements, her greyed hair, and lines on her face were all new to Delaney. There was also a new sense of time slowing down, with Cacey. She had always been hot-headed and active, on the go, and now she seemed ever so slightly more at ease in the quiet moment.
Delaney suddenly realized that her mother-in-law, Bella, was also waiting to see her best friend of years past.
“Can you believe she’s back?” Delaney asked.
Delaney left the best friends to catch up while she went to find her cousins. Dashle, the eldest of the triplets, asked Ewan to join him in the kitchen.
Looking around the living room, it looked to Delaney like everyone was soaking in everyone else’s presence, smiling at each other. They knew they were important to each other, but they didn’t know where to begin catching up. Dennis, the middle triplet, began asking Elise and Desmond about school. Dennis had just graduated from high school, and was excited about the long summer of fishing and kicking back, before diving into his pre-med program in the fall.
Darryl, the youngest and most outgoing of the triplets, was quickly making friends with his youngest second cousin, Eric.
It wasn’t long before they invited Desmond outside for a game of cards.
Meanwhile, Ewan and Dashle had found they had a lot in common; however, Gavin got up and left the conversation. The finer points of visual and musical arts just weren’t fascinating subjects to him. He was still more interested in enjoying the outdoors with a crowd, and went to find Darryl.
Even with a four-year difference in age, Ewan and Dashle hit it off right away. Although Ewan was most interested in visual arts, and Dashle’s passion was music, they both spoke the same language of beauty and emotional power, using creative skill to fly with the imagination. Not only did they have a lot in common, but Dashle was older and was practically a legend in Ewan’s mind. Dashle exuded je ne sais quoi. Ewan revered his older cousin. In Dashle, Ewan found validity he hadn’t experienced before for his art.
Cacey’s family was staying at Delaney’s house for that first night, before the beginning the work of settling in to their new home in nearby Willow Creek. That night before they all turned in, Cacey and Delaney booked a campsite for the family at Granite Falls. Ewan invited Adrianna to come with them, but was disappointed that she was going to have to come the next day after work instead of travelling with the family.
They arrived at Granite Falls bright and early the next morning, and Cacey started grilling a breakfast scramble.
Dennis and Dashle couldn’t wait to get down to the river and fish. They talked Elise into joining them, but Dashle and Ewan bowed out.
It wasn’t long before Elise started getting bored with fishing and headed back to camp.
Ewan eventually found his way down to the river. He didn’t care about the fishing, but he could have looked at the scenery, and brilliant colors, all day. He got a few dozen photos, but vowed to come back to Granite Falls with his paints.
Back at the camp, Cacey was talking with Delaney and Alexander. They told her about how they had found her on the internet. Naturally, they were curious for more details about what she had done while she was gone. They did not discuss the fact that the the security threats that prompted her move had not panned out the way the agency had anticipated. It was too painful to accept that she had missed a decade with her family for a false alarm; they all preferred to keep some ambiguity around the issue, room to hope that there was more to her absence than they had privilege to know.
Cacey told her niece that Delaney’s exploration of the alien planet, Sixam, was connected with her reassignment, but that she couldn’t say more. Perhaps the policy makers at the space administration would deem Delaney’s rank “Need to Know,” but until then, Cacey was not at liberty to discuss details of her new assignment, which would probably be her last assignment as a secret agent.
“All this secrecy is ridiculous,” Delaney exclaimed, aggravated. It wasn’t really this secret, it was all the secrets that had such a painful impact on their lives. It made sense to Delaney and Alexander that possible contact with aliens was a national security issue; it did not make sense to Delaney that Cacey wouldn’t be more open with those who her job affected the most.
“All I can say is, your work at the space agency, and mine at the security commission, will probably be overlapping soon,” Cacey said. Delaney wanted to argue that the last time Cacey was so hesitant to share information she ended up being gone for a decade, but she could see Alexander giving her that warning look, to back off. After all, Cacey could be hot-headed, and they both knew she would not change her mind. The only result of further confrontation would be regretted words.
Dennis and Eric, oblivious to the turmoil in their parents’ hearts, spent idyllic hours enjoying watching the clouds float by.
As the light beneath the huge pine trees became dimmer, Delaney built up a fire, and Adrianna arrived.
Adrianna, who was very outgoing, hit it off immediately with Ewan’s second cousins, Dennis and Darryl. But the more fun she had, the more she got on Ewan’s nerves that evening. Maybe it was the way she was joking around with Darryl and Dennis as if they had all known each other for years, but Ewan was really peeved.
Finally, she noticed how aggravated he was, and pulled him aside.
“I don’t know… it’s just not what I pictured.” Ewan struggled to find words to express his feeling that things just weren’t what he hoped when they moved from best friends, to more. Ewan had a vague picture in his mind of he and Adrianna being a couple, and her being “his.” This lighthearted banter she had going with his cousins made him feel left out, and there was an intense feeling of the unfairness. He didn’t know how to tell her that, without making her think he felt entitled to her undivided attention. He didn’t feel he had a right to control, or own her. But it wasn’t just the cousins; even when it was just the two of them, alone, he still felt he wasn’t part of that exclusivity he had pictured. All of this raged in Ewan’s head as he struggled to make it into a coherent, and reasonable, response.
“You know, I came up here thinking maybe we’d be past this awkwardness,” Adrianna said, still hoping for a response from Ewan that would get them talking about the issue.
She hung her head. “But I just don’t know if it’s going to get better.”
Ewan’s head started to spin. “Are we breaking up here?”
Adrianna turned to him, and gently braced him with her hands. “Look at me,” she said.
“We’ve been friends since the day we met,” she said, “and that’s never going to change.”
Adrianna’s mom picked her up early the next morning. Days later, as Ewan dragged himself to cry it out in the privacy of his bed at home, Adrianna’s words kept clunking around in his head. “Let’s just back off this romance thing, and see what happens,” she had said. Now he just needed somebody needed inform his heart that being yanked out and torn to shreds wasn’t supposed to be a big deal.