Monday, January 2, 2017
The surprise Betra had warned me about showed up in Mom’s room while I was visiting today. You could have knocked me over with a feather when his parents, Clan Serndi, came filing through the door.
While Mom stared in confusion at the noble-looking group walking in, Matara Elwa leading the way, I jumped up with a shocked cry. “Oh my gosh! I’m going to strangle Betra for not telling me you were coming.”
Elwa wrapped her arms around me. “Hello, my girl. You look beautiful but tired, as I feared you would. I knew you’d extend yourself too much.”
“I’m fine,” I assured her. “Anrel will be here soon. Her manny just commed to tell me they were on their way.”
“Wonderful,” Elwa said. “And here is your mother, Matara Eve. Hello, dear. My son is a good friend of Shalia’s, so our clan takes a great deal of interest in her. How are you feeling?”
I was more than a little interested in Mom’s reaction to Elwa, as well as worried. I kept an eye on her as I greeted Serndi, Hilon, and Alfra.
Mom stared at the tall Kalquorian woman who sat on the side of her bed. “I’m feeling better than when I first woke,” she said slowly.
“I imagine it was confusing when you regained consciousness after being in stasis for so long,” Elwa agreed. “And so much to take in! Finding yourself on Kalquor, discovering Shalia had given birth to a child, having surgeries you didn’t agree to…that you are so calm and handling it with such grace is astounding.”
Mom had nothing to say to that. She’d been taken by surprise. For my part, I silently thanked Betra for keeping Elwa informed of what was going on.
“But I do apologize,” Elwa said, throwing her hands up dramatically. “How ignorant of me! I didn’t even allow Shalia to properly introduce us. I am Elwa of Clan Serndi. And here are my clanmates, Serndi himself, Hilon, and Alfra. You aren’t angry that I was so rude, are you?”
She had Mom so off-balance that Elwa was forgiven immediately. “Not at all,” Mom insisted. “No, you’re fine. Thank you for visiting.”
The next thing I knew, Betra’s parents and Mom were chattering away, like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in years and couldn’t wait to reconnect. I watched in wonder and delight.
A movement at the corner of my eye got my attention. I turned to see Meyso standing in the doorway, looking from Mom and her new friends to me in bewilderment.
I went over to him. “Clan Serndi,” I whispered. “My ship’s liaison’s parent clan. They’ve come to visit Mom after hearing so much about her.”
“She seems happy to see them,” he said. “I thought she instantly disliked Kalquorians.”
“Mom has her charming days,” I acknowledged. “Plus Matara Elwa is hard to dislike.”
Aslada and Jaon showed up, with Snoy and Anrel in tow. They were brought up to speed, and the clan came in to present themselves to the visitors.
“Ah, Governor Aslada,” Dramok Serndi said. “We’ve spoken before about regulations on illegal software copying.”
The men began to talk shop. Elwa claimed Anrel from Snoy and cuddled her for a moment before handing her over to Mom. They fussed over the baby and talked child rearing.
Aslada, Jaon, and Meyso didn’t know how to act when Mom treated them with as much friendliness as Clan Serndi. They kept looking at me as if to say, who is this woman who looks like your mother? I had a hard time containing the laughter that wanted to burst out.
Mom indeed has had times where she’s as sweet as sugar. I’ve always thought of those times as glimpses into the person she could be if she wasn’t bipolar. After the procedures, I found myself wondering if she could maintain this friendly, sociable persona that she exhibited now. Did I dare to hope?
I did. I hoped with all my being.
Elwa disclosed the rest of the surprise after several minutes of conversation had passed. “I do apologize for imposing on you, Clan Aslada, but am I right in assuming you can spare room for our clan in your home? I’ve come to be of assistance to Shalia and Anrel until I am satisfied Matara Eve is well on her way to complete health.”
Aslada blinked in surprise. “Assistance, Matara Elwa? I assure you, we are providing Shalia and Anrel with all they need. We have a full staff on call at all times, ready to serve them.”
Elwa chuckled, sounding much like the mother gently guiding her son. “I am sure you are doing everything in your power, Dramok. But you are all men. I dare say your staff is made up exclusively of men as well?” She leaned close to Mom and whispered, “Poor things have no idea how little they understand about us.”
Mom smirked. “Less than nothing. Al couldn’t be more clueless.”
“Exactly.” Elwa smiled at the nonplused Clan Aslada as her clan exchanged slight smirks. “I assumed you would be generous with guest quarters. That way, we won’t have to find rooms that would accommodate Shalia and Anrel as well as ourselves.”
Meyso choked out, “Rooms for Shalia and Anrel? Outside of our home?”
Elwa shrugged. “If necessary. It is imperative that I keep them close and offer the support only a woman can give at such a trying time. Eve needs me as well, because Shalia will worry until it wipes her out. She’ll need frequent respites.”
“But – but we see to it that Shalia takes breaks. That she is taken care of.”
“Except for the emotional storms that only another woman can understand. Poor things, I know you’ve done your best for these ladies. But now I’m here, and the entire lot will fall into place.” Elwa beamed at them as if they’d already agreed with her.
I was as stunned by this demand as my potential clan was. I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful to Elwa for running to my aid or irritated by what amounted to meddling in my life.
However, I remembered what Betra had told me the day before. That this was coming from Elwa’s heart. That she was worried about me and Anrel. She’d interrupted her life…hell, her whole clan’s lives…to rush to my side. The realization put a lump in my throat. So I offered no resistance to her being there.
In the end, Clan Aslada couldn’t either. Elwa was too assured in her mission, too certain of being right about this. And Mom made no effort to conceal she was on board with the whole thing.
“Thank God there will be another woman to talk to,” she said. “Men are so ignorant about everything. I can’t believe you manage to deal with three of them at a time, Elwa. You must be a saint.”
And that is why the men of Clan Serndi are currently unpacking in a guest suite only steps from mine at Clan Aslada’s home while Elwa and Mom play with Anrel. I have been excused from coming to the clinic tomorrow by both my female elders – okay, I’ve been ordered to not show up – and to instead do whatever my little heart desires with Clan Aslada. That part seems to have settled a few of my suitors’ misgivings about this sudden change in the situation. We get to explore our potential as a clan at long last.
If nothing else, the next few days are going to be interesting.