Adventure of a Lifetime
Part XIV: Apologies
As soon as I got home, I started some food prep. Nothing complicated; just a simple marinara sauce that I put in the provided slow cooker so it’d cook all day long and be ready for dinner time which we could use a hundred ways.
There was about twenty minutes left before the start of class when my phone started vibrating. I sat up from the couch and checked my phone.
“Is it…?” Charlie asked.
“It’s my mom.” I sighed, just staring at the caller ID for a moment.
“Aren’t you going to answer?”
“I don’t know if I really want to…”
“I’m sure she just wants to apologize.”
“I guess you’re right.”
I got up and went outside to talk, sitting on the edge of the deck.
“Hey Caroline.” My mom said once I picked up.
“I hope I’m not bothering you.”
“No, I wasn’t doing anything.”
“Alright, well. I’m at the gate, would you mind coming down to see me?”
“I guess I have a few minutes before class start.” I said, not sure if I was ready to see her so soon.
“So?” Charlie asked once I was back inside.
“She wants to see me like right now.”
“Oh. Want me to come with you?”
I hesitated. It wasn’t right to drag Charlie into my drama. I mean she probably thought I was being dumb being angry over my mom being protective… But I didn’t want to go all alone either.
“Only if you want to.”
In answer she got up and gathered her stuff and coat.
“Ready to go.”
We walked out the door and I reached out, taking her hand in mine. She didn’t mind, instead she squeezed it firmly. We arrived at the gate after a few minutes, the guard wasn’t the same guy we’d met last time, instead, I could see a massive green and gold bug in a similarly colored armor waiting at the guard station. .
“Who’s that?” I asked nodding toward the creature.
“Oh that’s Shavek. They’re a Shivat, they’re a castaway, really nice, just don’t be weirded out by their speech pattern.” She said.
“It’ll go faster if you just let me talk.” She said with a chuckle. “You’ll see why.”
I nodded and followed her. We walked to the station and Shavek’s gaze fell on us.
“Greetings unmale shivat-untype fledgelings. How may Shivat-self assist?” They said, their voice digitized by something that had been installed on their suit. It was a good thing Charlie was there as it took me a second to understand.
“Greetings Shavek, we need to leave the colony for ten minutes to meet unself mother.”
“Affirmative. Shivat-self requires identification.”
Charlie took out her ID card and I did the same, letting the Shivat scan them.
“Thank you. Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, Shavek.” She then said.
“Have a safe and efficient day-cycle, fledgelings. Transmit Shivat-self greetings to fledgeling queen.” They said before opening the gate for us.
“What did that mean?” I asked in a whisper to Charlie.
“They want you to say hi to your mom for them. Queen and mom are synonymous for Shivats and the translator can’t do the difference.”
“Oh…” I mumbled “Well, that was weird.”
“Shavek’s really chill once you know how to talk to them. Like once you get pass the big bug thing, they’re a really nice person. Heck, they have their own ‘dear Shavek’ advice column in the school newspaper.”
“Nope. It’s pretty wild.” She answered with a laugh. “Hey, there’s your mom.” She then said, nodding in her direction.
I looked to where she motioned and saw my mom, sitting against the car’s hood, arms crossed. She noticed us and waved at us.
“You mind waiting here for a few?” I asked Charlie.
“Sure. I’ll be right here if you need me.”
“Mind holding this for me?” I said, giving her my bag. She took it and I went toward my mom.
“Good morning Caroline.” She said in a neutral tone.
“Morning mom.” I said, leaning against the hood next to her.
“So, I called you here so I could apologize. I’m really sorry about last night. I didn’t mean to hurt you, but I know what I did was wrong.”
“Mom, I know you’re trying to look out for me, but I’m a big girl I can protect myself. I’m not that terrified eight-years old in a hostile world anymore. I’m not only older and stronger but I’m somewhere where I don’t need protection.”
“I know… It’s just hard to see my baby girl grow up so fast.” She said, a sad nostalgic smile on her lips. “So, that’s why I’ve decided that it’s time for me to go home and stop being in your way. So that you can finally make friends and live your life. And who knows, maybe you’ll find someone you like here.” She said, ribbing me with her elbow.
I normally would have just rolled my eyes, but instead my thoughts became preoccupied by her words… Someone I liked… I’d never really thought about it. I knew I wanted children and that kind of required someone else, I’d never really thought about having an actual partner.
Although I knew I was definitely ace, I wasn’t as sure if I was aromantic as well…
My eyes drifted toward Charlie who was sitting on a bench further away. I couldn’t help but remember what I’d felt just a few minutes earlier…
“Caroline?” My mom said, calling me back to reality.
“Sorry, I got distracted.”
“Alright well, I better go if I don’t want to miss the ferry. But before I go, since I won’t be there for your birthday I think I should give you your birthday gift.” She said, going to the back of the car and taking out a box wrapped in a an abstract and colorful leafy paper. “Don’t open until Sunday.”
“I promise I won’t.” I said, taking the box.
“Oh, I decided to look into the local churches for you. Reverend Burke of Saint Andrew’s presbyterian church assures me that they are LGBT positive and that you’re welcome to attend services. You can look them up later.”
“Alright. Thanks mom.” I said, giving her a hug. Sure, a minute ago we’d talked about how I didn’t need protection, but church-finding was always a scary thing so I was glad she’d taken care of it for me.
“Goodbye Caroline, take care of yourself.”
“I will. Bye mom.”
I kissed her and she climbed into the family car before driving away. I couldn’t help but have my heart feel heavy from the goodbyes.
“Are you alright?” Charlie said, coming up next to me.
“Yeah, it’s just goodbyes are hard.”
She wrapped her arms around me and I hugged her back.
“Well, we better get to class.” I said. “Or we’re going to be crazy late.”
“Alright. What about the gift?”
“Eh, I’ll put it in the house at lunch time.”
Charlie and I ran toward the school building, arriving a only a few minutes after the bell rang. Still, Mr. Martin let us in without issues, not even asking why we were late. Thankfully the others had been nice enough to leave us a pair of seats together seeing as we usually worked together, what with being in the same grade and all.
So homeroom went really smoothly, Charlie and I alternating between English and Math lessons until lunch time came about. I went for the Mexican counter and Charlie followed me like a little puppy. Food in hand, we went to our usual table where the others started coming one by one.
I started digging into my chile verde when Allen came closer, just hovering about for a minute before coming next to me.
“Would you mind if I sit here?” He asked. “You said I had one more chance… And I don’t know where else to sit…”
“Alright, you can. Did you read what I gave you?”
He sat down and nodded.
“I did.” He went quiet for a moment, absently nibbling a few fries, before speaking up. “So… Ehm…” He began and I tensed just a little expecting trans-related questions. “You’re Christian, right? I mean, I saw your necklace…” He said instead. Reflexively my hand went to my neck where the little silver cross hung, it’d been a gift from my grandma the day of my first communion.
“Yeah. I’m Anglican.”
“Oh, I’m Baptist.”
There was another bout of uncomfortable silence, I could see in his eyes that he positively wanted to ask me a thousand questions, but didn’t as not to risk angering me or anyone.
I was halfway through my lunch when something dark and tall came into my peripheral vision, I looked toward it only to find the Rook fully dressed and staring at us.
“Class three of year one. It’s nice to see you’re all assembled here, that makes everything easier.” He declared. “Some of you have had the luxury of skipping our first class. I believe it’s time we rectify this.”
Immediately, we turned to the others; Allison, Jaeger, Sage and Allen. They were in for a crappy afternoon…