Going back to leap forward: from the end of “Echoes of Family Lost”, when a certain character declares his love for another (are there not Spoiler Tags in WordPress?), we find ourselves ten years in the future, on the beach, but around the dinner table just a few minutes before.
They walked along the beach holding hands as they always did. It was typically warm: he’d a plain white tee shirt besides his navy swim trunks and she a translucent white wrap over her school-issue dark blue one-piece. There were clouds, but, of course, no sun. Just the brightness.
Nothing ever changes here, he thought, just us.
He’d the small celebration with his parents and his sister for his thirteenth birthday only a little time ago. Faustina had been calling for more cake when he looked up sharply to his mother and father. They were getting used to when his girlfriend called.
“Mother? Father? May I…?”
He saw his father toss his hands into the air.
“Whatever!” He said, deferring to his wife, who’s sister had been their gateway to the other’s world.
“We know time passes differently there,” his mother said, “but I want you back here by ten, and in your own bed for sleep!”
She paused a moment. He saw her eyes flick to her husband of these many years. A tiny smile.
“You… you’re a teenaged boy, now, Gary! You’ve your honor, the family’s, and your Intended’s love to uphold!” His mother took a breath. “Be good!”
“Of course, mother,” he replied. He understood that she was talking about several different things at once.
“However,” he continued, “after ten years, Henge and I – ”
“Shall not be married until you are seventeen!” His father said, suddenly speaking up. Father was not like Mother, a Catholic, who had rediscovered her faith after being found by her sister, but he had some very particular notions of honor, Gary knew.
“So,” his father continued, pouring himself another homebrew from their aluminum keg, “do be… discrete, pretending your mother didn’t just hear that!”
Who was putting their dishes into the sink with a series of clanks and rattles. And a smile.
“Big Brother’s off to see his girlfriend, Cousin Henge?!?” Gary’s eight year old sister asked around the cake in her mouth.
Gary saw that Mother continued pretending.
“Well, you know, Faustina, ‘cousin’ is a bit a stretch… given that Henge is…”
“I love Henge! And our whole Other Family!” The little cried. For the nth time, Leslie wondered at how her turquoise eyes glowed like that when she was so enthusiastic. Was is something they did?
“So…?” Gary asked.
A small wave from his father.
“Tell your Intended we all say ‘hi’…”
“And love her!” Faustina shouted.
Gary’s mother turned from the sink to watch with her husband and daughter as his body eased down into his chair; unconscious.
“What a world!” Callie whispered.