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Delaney and Alexander had reached that point in their lives where, to all appearances, they were living the suburban dream: two beautiful kids, a beautiful home, and climbing steadily in their careers.
Meanwhile, Alexander was going through his days on auto-pilot, somewhere between despair and defiance.
He thought about his dad’s claims
: that he had lived many times in different places, their world was only one of many, that their fates were in the hands of a distant entity, that this entity was the reason Delaney’s family had died, and that these facts of reality could be explored through hacking. He was an intelligent man, used to dealing with complexity, but it made his head spin.
Mortimer had suggested answers were to be found through hacking. Even with his confusion and doubts, Alexander was giving it a shot. But although he managed to hack into several databases, such as the Lothario Trust Fund, he knew he hadn’t discovered anything as revolutionary as what Mortimer had alluded to.
Even relaxing with Dante and Ryleigh at the end of the day, didn’t help. Alexander couldn’t talk to Dante about any of this, it wasn’t even an option he’d consider.
And Alexander knew Delaney was worried about his malaise, but he hadn’t told her about The Rooftop Reveal
yet. How in the world could he tell her that his dad knew, or thought he knew, who was responsible for the death of her whole extended family?
So when people asked him what was going on, he just shrugged and said nothing,
And felt that weight pressing down on him, that big question of, is this dark reality real, or is my dad insane? Or both?
The kids seemed to be growing up happily. I mean, how cool was it to have a rocket in your own backyard? And watch it lift off into the sky, fire blazing from the engines, knowing your own mom that tucks you in, is piloting that magnificent machine?
Eventually, the kids became so oblivious to it, that even their friends didn’t watch lift-off in awe, anymore. They just kept on playing, barely noticing the thundering sound just feet away.
Ewan was off in his own world most of the time. He loved nothing more than creating art in his room, cocooned from the business of the world.
Although Delaney and Alexander did have worries about Ewan’s social development, because he sometimes came home early from the playground feeling left out. They were hopeful that he would outgrow this social awkwardness; and since neither of them were carefree as children, they both empathized with his social challenges and saw them in the perspective of adulthood.
Alexander started to realize the reason it was so hard to think about all the things his dad had told him, logically, was that he doubted his dad’s sanity. When his parents came over for his 35th birthday, he told his mom he was worried about his dad’s state of mind.
Surprisingly, his mom had some concerns of her own. “He’s always dangerously tired, and I worry about him all the time,” she told Alexander.
When Bella excused herself to check on the kids, Alexander gravitated back to his computer, without really thinking. He found Declan Hammond, a friend of Delaney’s, using his computer.
Delaney almost creepily, appeared, telling Alexander that Declan was helping her with a project for work.
Later that night, Alexander talked with Delaney and told him about their concerns for his dad’s health. She had noticed, too, how frail he was becoming, and she asked Alexander if he’d thought of asking them to move in, so they could all help take care of him. Cassandra could take care of the old home, while Mortimer, Bella, and Desmond moved in with them.
“Just as long as Bella needs help with Mortimer,” they agreed. Alexander was relieved that Delaney wanted to help, and they talked about expanding the house to accommodate everyone. Delaney was concerned about being able to get along with her somewhat Diva-esque mother-in-law, but she let Alexander comfort her that they would manage together.
They had a small guesthouse added, with a bedroom and bath, for Mortimer and Bella.
They also enclosed their master patio, moved Alexander’s office there, and expanded and remodeled what used to be the office, to accommodate both Ewan and Desmond. Fortunately, both boys enjoyed creative pursuits, and had similar personalities, and were good roommates. But Alexander found he had to monitor Elise because she preferred to do her homework in the boys’ room, as a pretext for needling them and getting a reaction.
Alexander saw a natural scientist when he observed his youngest child, Elise: she loved to create a hypothesis and test it. Hypotheses such as, “if I say this to my cousin Desmond, in these conditions, he will get angry.” Although Alexander applauded her scientific method, he was the local ruling review board for ethical practice in the household, and he often had to reprimand Elise’s practice with human subjects.
They also enclosed half of the huge patio as a sun room, leaving the fireplace wall, to make space for a family dining room attached to the kitchen. When it was finished, they all sat down to eat together for the first time as a household.
Alexander was about to stand up and give a welcoming toast over the tacos, when Bella cleared her throat and put up a finger to stop him.
“Although this is still the Tesla household, it is now graced with the name, Goth, a name with history and importance beyond this generation’s wildest dreams. We are grateful that you’ve included us, and may this be a benefit to this family line for generations to come.”
Alexander marvelled that he had turned out so normal, with parents with such delusions of grandeur.
As the lowly Tesla family adjusted to living with legends, all seemed peaceful and quiet, at least after everyone went to sleep each night.
A few of the appliances and some of the plumbing that had never been upgraded to be unbreakable, began to break more often with more people in the house. Delaney, who had always done all the repairs, appreciated Mortimer’s help, and they had many long conversations while making repairs together.
One day while Delaney was on a rocket mission, Bella wandered into the family graveyard and found Alexander, slumped, staring at the ground at Delaney’s parents’ graves. But he wouldn’t talk about what was bothering him. Bella figured that something was up, because Alexander never knew Delaney’s parents, and he wasn’t the type of person to be sentimental.
Delaney had also noticed Alexander’s preoccupation, and discontent. One night in particular, he didn’t even notice the new festive outfit she put together to distract him from his sudden obsession with hacking.
Alexander was so preoccupied, he didn’t even notice that Delaney was busy with her own projects. Ever since Cacey had announced her departure
, but not been able to say where, Delaney had been conducting her own research. She was really enjoying having a “partner in crime,” Mortimer, to help her explore her questions about geography beyond the known worlds of Oasis Springs, Granite Falls, and Willow Creek. Late one evening, they went to Willow Creek library to see what could be found in the archives there.
Mortimer rounded up books for Delaney while she pored over them.
Mortimer was having a lot of fun listening to Delaney, who was a certified genius, combine string theory and some of the historical data from archives that pre-dated Willow Creek. Somehow, he knew just where to find juicy little tidbits of text about places called Sunset Valley, Pleasantview, Strangetown, and the very mysterious N1. Delaney was interested in these places, but
she found no mention of Cacey Tesla in them.
At 3 AM on one such night of collaboration, Bella, concerned for Mortimer’s health, came and fetched them to take them home.
But Delaney was not finished with her research for the night. She quietly crept into the office without waking Alexander and logged on to the program Declan had installed for her. Maybe this time she would find the answers she needed.