Chapter 31: Alis volat propriis

“She flies with her own wings.”

I found this quote today.  It was very appropriate.  Today, my oldest child graduated.  It’s quite the paradox for a parent, I think.  It is a moment of great pride… and one of terrible sadness.  It marks a great transition in the life of a Sim in this day and age.  I wish I had thought to ask my grandmother what it had been like in times past.  But then I didn’t understand the significance, I suppose at the time.  But now, it is indelibly ingrained.

It was raining, so we all hurried out in our nice clothes to Dad’s waiting van.  With so many of us, the van is the only vehicle we can really take.

Oh yes… So much has been happening of late that I didn’t mention that we lost Megara a few days ago.  That’s why my poor mother is grieving a bit in that picture.  It was an inevitability, really.  She pined around the house after Hercules passed.  But now she can join him again, wherever they are.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Luna’s graduation.  Jeff was on one side of me, Alduin on the other.  As I watched my daughter go across the stage, I couldn’t help but glance over at my boy.  Before I knew it, he’d be the one walking across the stage.  Time surely does fly…  The ceremony was relatively short, but I swear, the speeches also seem to take forever during this. Some of them are quite good, but still.  Brings back flashbacks of my own graduation.

The ceremony ended and we all headed out.  It was official.  My little girl was no longer so little.  While Alduin went off to go read one of his beloved books, Luna asked the rest of us if we could talk.  I felt a shiver of trepidation run down my spine.  My daughter had learned as a child to shield, both from getting stray thoughts, but also from broadcasting her own unless she wants to.  Strong thoughts still get out and emotions still flare up around her… she’s such a passionate person, it’s bound to happen.  I’m not sure if that trepidation I was feeling was from me or from her, honestly.  All I knew is I was dreading this talk.  Honestly, I was afraid she was announcing her intention to join the force full time.

Still, we all assembled at the dining room table.

Luna cleared her throat and we all sat down.  We looked at her expectantly.  My daughter bowed her head for a moment.  When she raised it, the determination in her eyes made me wither a little inside.  “I know you guys are worried about me,” she began slowly, looking each of us in the eye.  “And I appreciate that, I really do.”  She drew in a deep breath.  “I have decided [i]not[/i] to continue with the police department.”

A collective sigh of relief ran around the table and I closed my eyes in gratitude.  But something made me open them again and that feeling of trepidation returned with a vengeance.

“I want to become a private investigator.”  She looked at her grandfather and looked at him tenderly.  “I’ve always admired you, Pop, you know that.  And I believe in what they do.  But… just too restrictive for me.  I believe in the system, I do… but I’d be too afraid of taking shortcuts because the ends justify the means.”

We all looked at one another.  Dad spoke first.  “I understand your reservations there.  Luna, you know we’ll support you in whatever you want to do.  Being a PI would suite you quite well, I think.”  He grinned at her.

But she didn’t meet his gaze fully.  “I… Pop, there’s something else.”  She looked around at all of us again.  Her voice was quiet.  “Since I was little, I’ve had dreams.  I’ve told you about them.  I need to figure out what they mean.  To do that… I need to go to Bridgeport.”

Silence stunned the table and we could only goggle at her.  I couldn’t get any words to form as my mind went into a tailspin.  Dad looked stunned, Mom was biting her lip.  It was Jeff though that finally spoke.  “Luna… you’re 18 now,” he began, though I could see the war within him.  “Y-you’re old enough to make your own decisions… but… have you thought about this?”

Luna nodded.  “I’ve thought about this, Dad.  Thought about this for years now.  I thought about ignoring the dreams… but I can’t.  I need to find out what they mean.”  She swallowed visibly.  “I don’t want to hurt any of you.  But this is something I have to do.  Do you understand?”

No, no I didn’t understand!  She couldn’t go to Bridgeport, not to that cursed place!  But I still couldn’t speak.  Jeff was right… she was old enough to make her own decisions, so I remained silent.  Luna smiled at all of us.  “I won’t be leaving right away.  I have to get my PI license squared away, though I’ve started the paperwork on that.”  She stood up and the rest of us followed.  Smiling as if she hadn’t sent us all into turmoil, she went off to presumably check on that paperwork.  I stood there stunned for a long moment.

Dad tapped me on the shoulder.  “C’mon,” he murmured, “let’s go grab some of those burgers your mom made earlier.  Then we can talk.”

I nodded numbly.  As I sat at the island next to Dad, he was silent for a moment, thinking.  “Aurora, letting your kids grow up is one of the hardest things you can go through.”  He looked at me.  “I don’t like it any more than you do, baby, but… Luna needs to do what she thinks she has to.  ‘She needs to fly on her own wings’.  You were much the same.”

“But she’s going to Bridgeport!” I hissed.  “How can you be ok with this?  That place has haunted her dreams for so long…”  Tears stood in my eyes.  “Dad, I keep seeing you in that hospital room and-and even worse, in that- monster’s office.  How can I let my baby go there?”

He didn’t speak right away.  Dad had always been one for thinking on what he said.  “When we love someone, we have to let them go.  We’ve prepared her the best we can, baby.”

“Luna’s tough,” a little voice interjected.  Alduin had come out to play a little chess.  He must have heard the conversation.  “S-she’ll be ok.”  My poor boy only knew some of the stories about what had happened to his grandfather.  But what he knew was bad enough.  “Right, Pop?”

Dad smiled at his grandson.  “Right, kiddo.  Your sister’s a smart cookie.  She’ll be ok.”

I wish I could be as confident.  I knew what Dad said made sense.  But that tightness in my chest wouldn’t go away.  Luna came out from her room and smiled at me.  The chair scraped along the floor as I got up.  “Luna…” I murmured.  I’d be calm about this.  I had  a right to voice my concerns, didn’t I?”

“You can’t go!” I blurted out.

I should have known better.  In this family, the surest way of getting someone to do something was telling them not to do it…  My daughter’s eyes narrowed.  “Mom, you don’t have a say in it.  I’ve already found an apartment.”

“I won’t give you the money!” I snarled.  Anger swirled with fear to the point I just couldn’t see past them.  I was desperate to stop her.  Desperate to keep her safe, even if she hated me for it.  Again, I should know better, though…

Her eyes turned icy and her chin went up.  I knew that defiant stance all too well.  We were a family, a close one.  But we fought.  I remembered that look all too well from the one rather large argument we’d had when I tried to convince her to go to her prom.  She’d dug her heels in, saying she just didn’t feel like going.  “I’ll pay for it myself then,” she hissed, “I have some money in my savings still.  You aren’t going to stop me, Mom.”

I opened my mouth to argue, but then I just burst into tears.  Sobs wracked my body.  Immediately, my daughter threw her arms around me and pulled me close.

“Mom,” she whispered.  “Please, I’ll be ok.  I-I need to do this.  Just like you needed to go to University.  To prove that you could.  I- need to know.”

Swallowing my tears, I pulled back and looked at her.  I saw her then, for the first time.  She wasn’t just my daughter.  She was a grown woman now.  She had the right to decide what she wanted to do with her life.  We weren’t normal.  These gifts we had made us who we were.  To deny her this would be unfair, even cruel.  “Yes, you’re right, baby.  You do need to do this,” I whispered, though each word took a sliver of my heart with it.  Oh Watcher… my baby was going to Bridgeport…


 

The last few days have been a bit of blur.  Once the family all agreed on helping Luna go to Bridgeport- we were going to do all in our power to ensure that would be as ready and as protected as we could arrange without knowing the future.  She’d showed us the pictures of the apartment she’d found online.  It was a nice little place, truth be told.  “Have you talked to the landlord yet?” I asked her.

“A little, mostly through email.  His name’s Roark Donovan and he seems nice enough.  He told me the apartment has been redone, all new fixtures, appliances, the works.  And it’s already furnished, so that’ll be nice.”

Something about the name struck a chord in me, but I couldn’t place it.  “That sounds lovely dear.  So…”  I grinned.  “I know you leave tomorrow.  Why don’t we have a little family pool party?  The weather’s beautiful.”

Luna grinned and did a little boogey.  “That’s a great idea, Mom!”

And so, we all ended up in the pool, splashing one another, having breath holding contests and other foolishness.  My mother, by the way, always wins.

I had to have a bit of fun, so I snuck out of the pool, then ran up onto the diving board and leapt in, tucking my knees tight to my chest.  I hadn’t done a cannonball since I was a kid.

“I give that splash a solid 6!” my son called out as he wiped water out of his eyes.  “Form was a little off, though.  Coulda gotten a bigger splash!”

He squealed when I reached for him, intending to dunk him, but the little brat escaped.  As my family cavorted among the gently lapping waters of our pool, I climbed out and looked at them all.  Tears gathered in my eyes as I realized this could be the last time we’d be together as a family like this.  I began to sob; nothing I did seemed to help.

Jeff saw me and got out, wrapping his arms around me.  “It’ll be ok, baby.  Sshhh,” he whispered, nuzzling his cheek against him.  “She’s a strong girl.  Just like her mother.  She’ll be ok.”

After a moment, he put me at arm’s length and smiled.  “Someone else wants a moment with you.”

Luna stepped up and then grabbed me in a hug.  “Mama, please don’t cry,” she whispered.  “I can’t stand to see you cry.”

“I’m your mama,” I whispered back.  “I have to cry when I know my baby’s leaving.  I love you.”

“I love you too, Mama.  I promise, I’ll email or call every other day.”

I looked at her suspiciously.  “I thought the deal was for you to do that every day…”

“Well, I’ll try,” she replied with a grin.  “But if I’m on a case or something, might be better to say every other day, right?”

“Hm… I suppose…”


 

Why is it that when you want time to slow down, it seems to speed up and when you want it to speed up, it seems to take forever?  My father says that it’s a conundrum that will never be solved.  I suppose he’s right.  But that evening flew by.  After our dip in the pool, we went back in the house and sat around the living drinking hot chocolate and just laughing and sharing stories.  There was still a tension there, an uneasiness about the unknown.  But sitting there, with all my family there, I begin to believe that it will be alright.  It has to be…

And now, it’s 4 am and we’re all gathered in the kitchen.  Mom gave Luna her car.  She’ll drive it to the airport, then it will be ferried to Bridgeport for her.  Her stuff was all packed and ready.  Since her apartment was already furnished, she didn’t need much and despite Luna’s glamorous appearance at times, she was a light packer.  We all milled around, waiting to say our goodbyes.

Luna started with Mom first.  As my mother squeezed her granddaughter in a surprisingly strong grip, I heard her murmur, “You take care yourself, girl.  Don’t take any nonsense, alright?”

“You got it Nan.”

Next, it was her father’s turn.  Jeff put his arms around her.  “Take care, baby girl.  You know you can call me anytime you need to talk.”

“I know, daddy,” she murmured.  Her voice was thick with emotion already.  I realized that this was something she wanted, but it wouldn’t be easy for her, being away from her family.  Shame flared in me.  I hadn’t made it any easier on her by acting the way I had.

She came to me next.  “Mom,” she whispered, her voice cracking.  I grabbed her into a hug, holding tight.

“We love you so much, Luna.  I’m sorry.  I just… I’m going to miss you.  Be careful, alright?”

“I promise I will, Mom.  I’ll be careful.”

Alduin waited there, looking off to the side.  It was hard not to notice the bit of moisture in his eyes.  He looked up at his big sister.  “You’ll write and call won’t you?”

Luna smiled and gently ruffled his hair as was her habit.  Normally, it elicited a boisterous response with a lot of pretend griping.  But just then, my son sniffled and he flung himself at his sister.  She held him tightly, closing her eyes a moment.  “Hey,” she whispered.  “Remember what I told ya, ok?  Don’t be afraid to be who you want to be.  But don’t hide yourself away all the time, either, alright?  I love you, lil brother.”

“I love you, too, Luna.”

Lastly, she went to my dad.  He grinned at her and held out his arms.  “C’mere kiddo.”

I heard the catch of her breath and a soft hiccup of a sob as he wrapped his arms around her.  “I have every faith in you, Luna,” my father told her.  “You’re so strong.  And you know we’re here for you.  We’re only a phone call away and can be in Bridgeport if you need us in a matter of hours.”

“I-I know, Pop.  Thank you.”

“Take care of yourself, my little Eclipse.”


 

 

As the family gathered around her one last time, Aurora stepped forward, a large book clutched in her hand.  “Your grandfather and I talked it over, Luna.  It’s time.  You’re ready to take over now.”  She placed the book in Luna’s hands.  Luna’s gaze met her mother’s.

“I’ll do you guys proud, I promise.”

Aurora sniffled.  “Oh baby, you’ve always made me proud.  Now, go out and show them what a Wyvern can do, ok?”

Then, Luna turned away and left.  She didn’t dare look back until she was in her Nan’s car.  She saw them there, her mother and father, her little brother, and her grandmother and grandfather.  The ache in her heart was fierce, but this wasn’t goodbye.  This was important.  She knew it was.

“I’ll be back, guys,” she murmured as she pulled away.


 

The flight itself was over 8 hours.  Her Nan’s car wouldn’t be shipped over for about a week, so Luna took a taxi from the airport to the address of her new apartment.  She stepped out and looked up at it.  There was something about this place.  She couldn’t have said what.  Maybe it was all those memories from when she’d been four and waiting in a hospital waiting room, but while the cityscape was pretty beautiful, there was a feeling of something beneath the surface.  Still, there was a feeling of belonging.  In this time, in this place, she was right where she needed to be.

With her head held high and awaiting new adventures, Luna walked into her apartment building.


 

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