Thursday, June 29, 2017

December 25

I woke after an awful night. The little bit of sleep I’d managed had been filled with nightmares. Most of them had consisted of me searching for Clan Seot everywhere and not being able to find them. It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure any of that out.

That’s when it hit me, as I sat with Anrel while she had breakfast. Yes, Betra knew me better than anyone besides maybe my mom…but there was another person who knew me almost as well. Best of all, Dr. Feru was actually trained to analyze a confused person’s issues.

“Anrel!” I said excitedly to my once-again sweet-natured baby. “Mommy has an idea that doesn’t suck! Feru is a man, but he isn’t a former lover. And he’s a real psychological expert. The guys can’t object to me talking to him about my problems. It’s honest-to-God therapy!”

She laughed at me from her booster seat at the table, her adorable face smeared with cereal. For that matter, all of her and the table top were smeared with cereal. She was a one-girl food fight. She jabbered with as much enthusiasm as I felt.

“I agree,” I said, grabbing my com. “Feru’s the man for the job yet again. I just wish I didn’t have to wait four days to get an answer.”

I recorded my message to Feru, detailing how I’d found the perfect clan. “But because I’m not the perfect woman, I’m mucking it up,” I told him. “And I don’t know why.”

I went over everything I’d done to sabotage my relationship with Clan Seot. While I was at it, I recorded for his amusement my messy Anrel happily flinging her food. He needed payment for fixing another Shalia emergency. I figured a good laugh at cereal-covered kid might cover the bill.

No sooner had I sent off the message than my intended clan commed me. I answered the vid transmission with, “Great, I haven’t fixed my hair or put on any makeup yet. How am I supposed to convince you to stick with me looking like this?”

They chuckled, though their hearts didn’t seem to be in the attempted merriment. “You know you’re always beautiful to us,” Cifa rebuked me. His eyes were swollen and red. Next to him, Larten looked grim.

“We wanted to make sure you were all right,” Seot added. He tried to smile but couldn’t quite pull it off.

“No. Not even a little bit,” I said. “I miss you too much to be okay.”

“We feel the same way. You look like you’ve been crying.”

“Oceans. I’m better than I was though.” The weight returning to my heart made that statement a lie. “I’m sorry. I really, really am. I’m going to make it up to you though.” That part was the truth.

“Don’t worry about us,” Seot insisted. “But if you need anything at all, including us rushing home early, don’t hesitate to say so.”

“I will. Especially if I get my act together sooner rather than later.” Come on, Feru.

Was there ever a more uncomfortable conversation? I doubt it. Even as stilted and awkward as the next hour was, we couldn’t seem to end the com. Anrel squealed with delight when she realized her daddies-to-be were on the vid projection. Cifa and I both developed leaky eyes over how obviously she wanted to be around them.

Issues or no, I will clan with them. For Anrel, I will make it work, even if the truth of what’s screwing me up continues to elude me.

When we were at last able to say goodbye, Seot told me, “We’ll leave you alone to do what you have to. It’s up to you to make the next move, my love. Com us when you’re ready.”

“I will. I love you.”

I finally got real smiles out of them. They chorused, “I love you,” back, and I started to cry. I clicked off before I could go full-tilt distraught on the poor things. They do not need any more of my ridiculous drama. Come to think of it, I’ve had enough of it myself.

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