Monday, July 24, 2017
December 31, part 3
The next instant I was in Seot’s arms, lifted into the air with our gleefully squealing daughter between us. Cifa and Larten crowded around, everyone laughing and kissing and celebrating our newly forged family.
I even stopped being afraid for the most part. It resolved into a kind of desperate need to do my best to never give the men a reason to walk out on me. No doubt that will have to be addressed in therapy. I’m sad to say that the desire to find fault and push away continued to make itself known several times throughout the day. But now that I know what’s happening, I can work on ignoring those urges as best as I can. It’s just fear. I’ve gotten through that emotion before.
Once we calmed down a little and were able to separate ourselves, Seot wasted no time in filing our status via his handheld. I was officially Matara Shalia of Clan Seot within minutes.
We spent a little while basking in the glow of being a unit. I could hardly believe it was happening. Cifa jabbered delightedly about a ceremony at sea or on one of the many beaches his line visits. He kept calling Anrel his daughter, nakedly relishing the sound of it. Larten made outrageous suggestions for the ceremony, like trading vows naked as some species do.
“I have a few trainees whose worthless hides would make a fine rug for us to stand upon before the priest,” he added with malicious delight. “I’ll begin making that threat right away.”
Seot simply sat holding me in his lap, his arms wrapped tight around me. He didn’t seem to feel the need to do or say anything, his lips curling into a contented smile.
After about an hour of soaking in our joy (in my case, adjusting to the fact that I had actually gone through with joining their clan), we made coms to tell our nearest and dearest. I had never spoken to my parent clans-in-law, so that was a little hair-raising. Cifa and Larten’s parents aren’t even on Kalquor – Larten’s live on a space station near the Galactic Council border, and Cifa’s reside on a colony on another planet in the system, about three days’ shuttle ride away. Seot’s parents are on the other side of the continent. It was weird to be introduced to my in-laws as already having been clanned, but they took it with grace. They all seem quite kind, and I look forward to getting to know them better in the weeks ahead. In the years ahead.
I actually got my mom on the vid too. “That’s not Al’s clan,” were her first words when she saw us.
“No, it’s the one I told you about. The better one,” I added, giving my guys a wink. They grinned. “And they are my clan. Anrel’s fathers from now on.”
“You boys have my undying sympathy. Shalia is a handful,” Mom remarked drily. She broke into laughter when I rolled my eyes. “Come on, Shalia, you knew I had to bust your chops a little bit.”
An amazingly nice conversation followed. Mom was every bit as pleasant to Seot, Cifa, and Larten as my new in-laws had been to me. She even called my clanmates by their correct names instead of her preferred trick of giving everyone Earther names. It was nice, if a tad jarring to see the changes she’d gone through.
From there, I messaged my dads, Betra and Oses, Feru, Joelle, and Elwa. Then my clan – my clan! – went to see Candy and Stidmun in person, who joined us when we trooped to the complex’s offices to tell Katrina the good news.
“How about I keep my granddaughter overnight?” Katrina offered, waggling her brows suggestively at Seot. “Just so you can enjoy yourselves as loudly as you want.”
He laughed. “After a celebratory dinner with my clan and child,” he agreed. “Thank you, Matara Katrina.”
It was a little weird to have Seot immediately make a decision on behalf of my baby…but I’d wanted Anrel to have fathers in truth. That meant they now had a say. Besides, I knew if I had any concerns or differing ideas, they would be met with respect.
It was unsettling but good. My Anrel has four parents now. Wow.
We went to lunch. Cifa wanted to arrange for the house staff to pick up my things at the Matara Complex and take them to my new home.
“Oh no. I’m not having people I barely know looking at my underwear,” I said right away. I also didn’t want people I’d be seeing every day to spy the few toys I enjoy. Yikes.
“Okay, I’ll let you pack your lace and silk away, label it in code, and then have it picked up,” Cifa agreed, snickering.
“Thank goodness I don’t have much to move,” I sighed. “Less to unpack. Again.”
As for lunch itself, I barely remember it. I was in a whirlwind of emotion, one moment elated, the next in shock that I’d gone through with everything. I lost count of the toasts. Other patrons at the cliffside restaurant bought our drinks and wished us well. There was a lot of laughter, particularly at our table. I looked from one happy face to the next, as if to memorize my Dramok, Imdiko, and Nobek in that moment. Their beaming faces are the one thing that stands out clearly from the afternoon.
We walked on the beach afterward. We let Anrel play in the sand despite her pretty dress. Like Seot said, we could always buy her more dresses. A sunny day like this one, when the world was so bright, should not be wasted over fabric and lace. When we decided to move on, the dress was easily enough brushed off, removing the worst of the sand.
We went to the underground market. We looked at furniture for the suites that would now belong to Anrel and me in Clan Seot’s home. My home. I’m not sure, but I think I picked out a few pieces. I was floating from the change in my life and from lunch’s celebration. The whole time, I chanted in my head, I’m clanned. I’m clanned. I’m Matara Shalia of Clan Seot.
It didn’t seem quite real. Not even a year and a half ago, I’d been fighting for survival on a dying planet. How had so much happened so fast?
My first hours as a clanned woman went by in a blur. Before I knew it, we were having dinner again, on the rooftop where Elwa and I had lunched only days ago. Had I suggested it? I can’t for the life of me remember. But some of the shock began to pass as we ate under brightly colored lights that sparkled and gave everything a mystical, magical feeling. The fountains and their rainbow arcs added to that sensation.
The sense of unreality was beginning to pass. The occasional throbs of panic grew less and less. My dazed inner mantra of I’m clanned, I’m clanned, I’m Matara Shalia of Clan Seot started to feel more like a cheer. Despite the growing night, I saw everything as brighter. A weight I hadn’t realized I’d been carrying lifted. Every time my gaze met that of one of my clanmates, my heart swelled with love. I had done the right thing.
We stopped by my soon-to-be-vacated quarters and packed Anrel an overnight bag. We dropped her off with Katrina, all four of us parents kissing our little girl goodnight. Then the clan took me home.
Home. My first real home since Armageddon ended my old life, sending me on a long journey to a new one. I’d made it. After everything that had happened, I was going to be okay.