chapters 4 and 5
Jessica was already home and greeted them.
“Good to see you awake Jenal.”
“And it’s good to see that you have recovered from your wound. How are you feeling?”
“Fine. I haven’t been able to sleep much though as I dream about when the bullet hit me. The pain was excruciating. I know you saved me with your skills.”
“I hope that’s not common knowledge.”
“I could only say that I didn’t know what had happened to me as I lost consciousness.”
“There must be a lot of speculation. We’ll have to be careful in the future. I should warn you though Jessica, that because I used my gift to heal you you need to be warned about what will happen if you speak about things that are confidential about me and what I say.”
Jessica’s face wrinkled in concern. “Oh my God. What will happen?”
“It is like a blood oath because our blood melded. A blood oath means that you will know when someone else has taken the oath because you will feel a tingle. It will also warn you if you are in danger.”
“That sounds okay.”
“The flip side is that if you reveal anything that you shouldn’t you will feel burning and the burning will consume you. Also, most blood oaths are a cut to the hand but yours was different so I don’t know how you will feel it.”
“Oh my God! That’s horrendous. What if they force me?”
“That’s the good thing, you cannot be forced to say anything that you do not want to say. You won’t be able to speak about it because you will be protected by the oath.”
Anderson commented, “That’s good to know as I’ve wondered about it. I now understand the power of the oath. Wow.”
Over coffee and apple pie, Janel and Jessica listened as Anderson related the tale of how Dareken and Jaeden had shared how had left their planet of Amaryl and came to Earth.
How do you know what transpired, Anderson?”
Janel nodded and Anderson began retelling what Danochuk had told him after he swore the blood oath.
“Encased in a rock capsule, once a half-mile in both diameter and depth, two men were sealed. It was the last remnant of an entire planet and its race. While their planet died and broke apart beneath them, they shot into space. The rock that encapsulated them, once a half mile in both diameter and depth, over the decades, survived asteroid belts, meteor showers, fluxes, and gravitational pulls. It survived traveling the two hundred and fifty years and the trillions of miles it had taken to cross the galaxy from their home planet, their plague infested, dying home planet.
Jaed surmised that the Earth's gravitational pull caught the much deteriorated rock that they were in and hauled it inexorably forward until it began heating up and burning as it entered the atmosphere and hurtled earthward. I checked it online, there were many sightings of the meteorite. The Regina Post newspaper reported a bright low-flying object that flew at an incredible speed. The projectile pierced the midnight sky as it hurtled across a territory, one province, and two states. The R.C.M.P. received several reports of a UFO that night, one from a Constable who had been waiting to turn left on a country road near White City. He reported an unknown object flying approximately thirty feet above the ground and headed across the highway and across the farmer's field before it was lost from sight. Its speed accounted for the brief sightings in the middle of the prairie. Some reports said that the piercing light emitted lit up on the area around the object.” Anderson, who’d been watching Jenaya’s face paused. “What were you thinking just now? You had such a faraway look in your eyes?”
Janel, startled out of her reverie said, “Sorry, I was thinking about that meteorite.”
“Did they tell you about it?” He asked.
“No, quite the opposite. I told them about it.”
Jessica leaned forward, “You told them?”
“Yes, I was there. I was going to the University of Regina but lived in a small town called Vibank. To get there I had to take the TransCanada Highway East and then turn right on Highway 48 which is just past White City. I was getting a ride home with a friend of mine. I was in the passenger seat when midnight turned into daylight. The meteorite was so fast. It was blue, I remember that. And it was so bright. I rolled down my window to watch it as it sped by. I saw the cop. He was at the stop sign on 48 to get onto the TransCanada. He had a good view also. It was over as quickly as it started. I can’t imagine the speed it was going. I was close. I think less than ten feet away. Now that I dwell on it I’m realizing how easily my life could have changed at that moment had it been lower or closer….”
Anderson and his wife stared at Jenaya as her words trailed off. Suddenly aware of their stares, Jenaya stood up, “I need to stretch my legs for a moment. I’m just going to step outside and get some fresh air. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow so perhaps you two should get some sleep.” She didn’t wait for an answer as she hurried to the back door and opened it.
Already it was getting darker outside and she could see some stars showing their faces. Her thoughts were so introspective, as she stared at the stars, that she was oblivious to her surroundings.
Jaed and Dareken had had less than forty-five minutes to extricate themselves from the capsule once it had crashed into South Dakota's surface. Immediately upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, their stasis broke them from their two hundred and fifty-year slumber.
After ascertaining the condition of the Amaryl, the life-force, they had braced for impact. There hadn't been time to gather the wealth of knowledge that made up their planet, its people, and its history since time began. The plague had come unbidden when one of their many visitors from other planets brought a biologically engineered weapon exactly made to match the Amarylions genetic structure, to mutate on contact and ensure easily spread mass destruction, mass murder of an entire species because, without exception, Amarylions did not leave their planet to travel the galaxy. Opting instead to provide the rest of the planets with scientific, medical, and aesthetic knowledge as well as inborn kinetic powers that allowed those trained for the field, production of any form of mineral or energy. That energy and mineral production had protected the Amarylions for 10,000 years. Their gifts were too powerful and necessary to destroy. Yet, one of the millions of species that had benefited from the planet Amaryl, had done just that, destroyed Amaryl and its citizens. Without exception, the planet quickly became infected with the genetically engineered virus which mutated, no longer dependent on touch, transmutable from being to being, for it mutated and became the very minerals and energy that had caused their planet to thrive. The planet had begun to lose its atmosphere and the very rock itself began to deteriorate.
When the Amarylion counsel realized the insurmountable magnitude of destruction they were faced with, they tried to evacuate the people but their many planetary visitors, upon learning of the plague, began panicking and evacuating Amaryl by the hour until only the Amarylions were left on their dying planet. Sentries, placed within vision of the planet, ensured that no Amarylions were able to escape. Every ship that left when the plague began was thoroughly scanned for any individuals with Amaryl genes.
The many species that had looked to Amaryl and its people for salvation now ostracized the planet. The planet’s inhabitants, once proud of the purity of their bloodlines, due to strict codes, began to fall ill. A mixed blood might have overcome the virus thus enabling the discovery of a cure but not on Amaryl.
Yet, like any controlled or uncontrolled test group, there is always an unknown factor causing a deviation in the predicted and expected outcome. On Amaryl, the standard deviation turned out to be two young men, friends from birth, who unknown to many, as children, had participated in an ancient blood ritual with an Excellias schoolmate. The schoolmate had later died in an accident but that ancient friendship ritual with its mingling of blood through knife slashed hands had provided the blood of Jaed and Dareken with that unknown factor. The Excellias’ blood had not changed Jaed or Dareken except to enhance their innate gifts and their physical abilities.
When the discovery of the two men without any sign of the plague occurred, an obvious blackening of the skin pigmentation and the rotting of extremities, they were hurriedly brought to the elders. However, the three-week old plague had already done its worst, the planet itself had begun to tremble and decay. Whole cities had been decimated as the planet’s surface rotted and spilled inward.
The last hope for redemption was gone. Instead, the counsel had the people ply their innate skills to the earth. Everyone regardless of age or degree of sickness plunged their hands into the earth, concentrating their life forces, their entire being into the once nourishing planet. Jaed and Dareken were encased in layer upon layer of rock and instead of panicking beneath the rock that began enfolding them, they calmed as the entire essence of all the people of Amaryl surged through and around them, providing for the long journey to a planet beyond their own galaxy.
It was during that journey that the sphere’s outer crust turned to stone, the life force gathering into the center and holding the two inhabitants and monitoring their stasis. The life-force, a collective essence of an entire species ensured the safety of its native sons, ensured their survival but what of the Amarylions. There could be no more Amarylion offspring. A mating with any other species would alter and forever change the Amaryl’s heritage. The Amaryl bloodline lost. Unless…the life-force sought out a planet that radiated compatible mineral and energy resources and it found a relatively primitive planet, compared with their own highly evolved planet, and entered the gravitational pull until its momentum pulled it down. With the last of its ability, the life-force changed its rock form in the center, creating a protective pocket that held the men within, cushioning them for impact.
The first awareness of their new home was a high screaming as the sphere split the sky burning like a thousand suns.
An ebony blanket with endless points of light were the first things they saw when the capsule disintegrated around them. The only trace of its existence was the deep hole left by the impact of the rock capsule and a single crystalline form. A crystalline vial no larger than Jaed’s pinky finger lay glowing. They quickly snatched it up and secured it in a soft pouch and there it had dwelt for ten years. Ten years in which Jaed and Dareken traveled from city to city, town to town, searching for the one individual capable of surviving the testing and transformation into an Amarylion. Yes, the impossible had been conceived in the ancient history of Amaryl, but had remained untested. It had never been necessary until now and the woman chosen might not survive the rigors that would tear apart her individuality by analyzing every thought pattern, every memory, every strand of DNA, every pore and hair follicle.
Janel’s shared memories, a gift of the Amarylion bonding, played Jaed’s recollections of that event. The man on the top of the dock glanced at Jenaya's hand. His face went white. He dropped the end of the cooler and watched in horror as the taxi driver's face froze in agony and a scream of pain erupted from her lips.
Jenaya glanced down at the source of her pain and saw liquid beading at the fracture just as the vial split in two with an audible crack. She watched as the contents of the vial spilled into her palm and the deep purple liquid vanished thirstily into her skin before Jenaya had time to react. By then, she couldn't react because the pain was intensely holding her body in a thrall.
Jaed hoped she wasn't aware of her body writhing and contorting on the asphalt or of the stricken looks he and Dareken shared as they abandoned their tasks, bending to restrain Jenaya's convulsive movements, and haphazardly managing to carry her inside the building.
Strangely enough, she stopped screaming as they carried her inside. Instead, a low keening, like a wounded animal, came out between Jenaya's clenched teeth.
“What the hell is going on? We're not ready…”
“After all these years Dareken, could she be the one?”
Between them, they carried the taxi driver’s convulsing body to the loft.
“My room,” Dareken said as he struggled to maintain a hold on the woman.
“We have to restrain her so she doesn’t hurt herself.”
“I’ll grab a few ties from the closet,” Jaed replied.
Once they had tied her wrists and ankles to the bed, Dareken released his hold on Jenaya only to have Jenaya begin to scream. “God, I wish I could help her,” he moaned as he put his hand on one of her shoulders. Immediately, Jenaya stopped screaming and began keening. Experimentally, he lifted his hand and Jenaya began to flail and scream.
“Jaed, It’s amazing. She stops screaming when I touch her.” He gently began massaging her arm.
Jaed’s eyes and face radiated his astonishment and joy. “This is incredible if this is the woman we’ve been seeking.”
“Hopefully,” Dareken looked into Jaed’s eyes, “this is the right girl or this young woman is going to die and our hopes along with her.”
“I’m going to go to the taxi and check for identification.”
“What will we do with the taxi? It will draw unwanted attention to us immediately.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” Jaed replied as he ran out of the loft.
Jaed quickly retrieved the fallen cooler on the loading dock as well as the remaining items in the taxi’s trunk. “A quick search inside the taxi revealed a small hand purse locked in the glove compartment. He was wondering what to do with the taxi when he saw the electronic meter flashing her next destination and he pushed a few buttons to confirm her next fare.
“That should buy us some time.”
He returned to the loft and, along with Dareken, held their vigil with each of them alternating massaging and caressing Jenaya’s arms, legs, shoulders, and hair. Jenaya could not know it, but the two men were bonding with her. Once the change occurred, she would be tied to them as the Dareken and Jaed are tied to each other. She would be an Amarylion yet still have her human qualities and distinctiveness.
If she survived. It wasn’t over yet. The life-force had spread through her body integrating itself, everything Amarylion.
What a relief it was when the twitching stopped. Jaed and Dareken didn’t know that I was conscious of the extreme pain needling through my body without relief. Everything I’d ever thought or done was being reviewed, analyzed, digested, and dissolved. There was a sense of freedom that began coursing through me, as if a burden so black was lifted from my soul and then it was like hitting a wall of fire. My very essence was being asked to relinquish its control, no longer being me, who I was, but something else. I tried to fight giving up myself to whatever had me in thrall. Being me was all I had.
Dareken and Jaed’s heads jerked up in surprise.
Jaed bit his lip worriedly, “I think she’s at the point of acceptance or rejection.”
“Jenaya, it’s all right,” Dareken whispered into her ear. He’d learned her name from her driver’s license. “Don’t be afraid. No harm will come to you.”
Jenaya’s face turned to his voice, unseeing. Every fear and doubt, every mistake and bad judgment, every whisper of guilt from within her subconscious was brought out and questioned. She was on trial and her body began heating up.
“She’s burning up, Jaed! We have to cool her down. She’s human and she can’t sustain the heat.”
Jaed’s mind reeled with options and then blurted out, “The cooler, we’ll take her downstairs to the cooler.”
The life force had directed the capsule over as vast a tract of land as possible before burn out to ensure a wide spread sprinkling of life force falling earthward and come in contact with as many of Earth’s inhabitants as possible. The fallen life-force was doomed to dissipate if it failed to find someone compatible.
All that remained for Jaed and Dareken was a minute portion of the surviving life-force. It was the glimmer of a shared memory before impact, a woman had been receptive to the life-force, and a minute amount was absorbed into her body as she sat in the passenger seat of her car, window down, witnessing the meteor fly within twelve metres of the car. Jaed and Dareken’s only reason for existence was to find that woman. Without her, they were the last of their species and doomed to extinction.
Jaed and Dareken had carried the vial for ten years. They would enter a city or town and then go street-by-street, alley-by-alley, looking, watching the humans. They had learned quickly how to blend in, the necessity of blending in because they were witnesses to many inhumane actions. They learned quickly to protect themselves when they witnessed a brutal murder. They learned how to find unappetizing nourishment from watching ragged street people rummaging in the garbage.
They also learned how others ostracized them. At first they were mystified and worried that they’d fail their mission because they couldn’t adapt to this new planet’s ways, but they learned. Hour by hour, day by day, they watched, learned, and thrived.
They learned that there were many class structures and that money determined many of those hierarchies. If you had nothing, you could be living off the street. If you were addicted to drugs or alcohol, homeless, or any number of things, society considered that you were a part of the low life, the scum of the earth.
Dareken and Jaed had felt the scorn and derision of others during their initial days. Instead of despising those who treated them like foul creatures, they studied the behaviours. They began the slow climb out of the gutter with fascination. It was exhilarating to learn and expand their knowledge of another life form. They thrived with each new experience.
On Amaryl, they had been in contact with thousands of species and cultures, and they’d maintained their identity by strict adherence to age old customs and laws. Each city on this planet not only contained different classes, but different languages and cultures as well. It was such a concept. At first, they’d thought that there were many alien life forms that had already settled on the planet but, although there were different characteristics, they were all human.
And the rules! They were both amazed by them. There were many rules, but they varied and changed depending on the law of an area or the circumstances. The sheer complexity baffled them both. Why not have one system of governing for the entire planet? It seemed to vary from place to place, state to state and, when they’d entered Canada, they discovered, from country to country.
They didn’t understand why a planet couldn’t maintain one set of laws but then they realized that the current civilizations were much younger than theirs and so they recognized, as a father would his children, that this species would evolve over time, perhaps enough to be considered in the galactic affairs between other planets. Until then, although many of the things they saw made Dareken and Jaed shake their heads in sadness, they knew they could not interfere, as if they were time travelers afraid to change the future.
They checked South and North Dakota first because they had landed in North Dakota, wandering from community to community. At first, they traveled on foot to each location. They’d been highly excited that they would find the woman who the Amaryl capsule had chosen, shortly. Many communities and days blended into many cities and years causing the excitement to dry up and wither. A fierce determination and tenacity to survive had replaced it. They found out how to buy the essentials and necessities they needed. They’d used their innate skills to alter the molecular structure of rocks and created gems, gold and silver to pay for their needs.
At first they’d traveled and stayed wherever they searched, hotels, motels, room and board, even, on good sunny days, in parks and school grounds as well as camping out in fields, forests, lakes and road side stops. Later, depending on the size of the city and the surrounding suburbs, villages or cities they’d establish a base and return after every completed search, marking off the completed areas on a map so that they’d be able to continue the next day.
Of course, there were many random factors that they’d reluctantly began considering in the seventh year. The woman could have been in any one of the places they’d already been. She could have been at work while they searched her neighbourhood, at home when they searched her workplace. The chance of finding her was beginning to seem insurmountable. They agreed then that they would search for ten years, and then find somewhere to call home. By the time the ten years had ended, they’d explored all of the states, provinces, and territories that the Amaryl capsule had flown over.
They knew that they had to try to find her trail and, once they’d traced the tracks of their capsule that they had to come up with another solution and a more stable life for themselves. Since their lifespan was considerably longer than humans were, several hundred years, they needed to establish themselves somewhere, and after careful consideration, decided on Canada’s west coast. It was an increasingly popular destination for Canadians as wells as foreigners. All Dareken and Jaed had to do, they’d decided, was establish some sort of business that would bring the people to them and, after careful consideration, decided that a restaurant would be their best bet.
They found a warehouse in Gastown, a tourist haven. This area of Vancouver had existed for decades and boasted a steam clock that chimed out the hours. It was also relatively close to the waterfront, and Amarylions drew infinite energy from water. The restaurant would seat twenty people comfortably. There was a large loft apartment above the restaurant for them to live in as they created their new lives.
Starting a restaurant required a lot of research. They had little prior experience except for their ten years of traveling. Most of the restaurants that they had seen catered to families, travelers, and other varied foot traffic. The types of food available were as varied as the clientele who would frequent the place. They settled on a pub that would cater to people during the entire day, from tourists taking a breather as they visited the many tourist attractions to the locals relaxing at the end of a long work day.
After several months, their restaurant was nearing completion. They’d already interviewed and hired prospective staff and furnished the pub with most of the equipment and supplies necessary in anticipation of opening day.
With only a week before opening left, Dareken and Jaed went to Richmond in search of last minute additions to their restaurant and loft.
“Any ideas, what we’re looking for, Jaed?”
Jaed smiled, “Maybe we can find a few items for the loft, after all it will be our new home and it should be comfortable.” Then on a more serious note he added, “We should also figure out a storage system for the life-force. I don’t want anything to happen to it while we’re working.”
“You’re right about that. We have to consider both its security and its proximity to us at all times because the purpose of our endeavor is to be able to identify if and when the life-force recognizes our future wife.”
They had had a moment of shared hopes in their silence.
“The life-force willing,” Dareken had told me was the prayer.
With that goal in mind, they had spent the weekend searching through many unique shops, warehouses, and auctions. When Sunday began, they decided to go to Steveston and Richmond where they made several purchases. Unfortunately, their car broke down and they had to call for a tow truck and a taxi.
The twenty-eight-degree weather beat down on them and they were worried that the food stuffs would deteriorate. After a thirty-minute wait, a taxi finally pulled up beside them on the highway. They scarcely glanced at the driver as they loaded the taxi’s trunk and then gave directions to the cabbie.
Emergency crews were quick to respond. They turned off the gas main on the entire cordoned off street to prevent local traffic through the block. They evacuated the other buildings near the restaurant in case anything else happened. The fire caused by the explosion burned heatedly while people from the immediate vicinity began clearing the debris when they heard that someone was inside.
Men, using nothing but their strong shoulders and determination, helped move heavy beams that blocked the restaurant’s entrance. They found Jaed beneath a fallen beam. He roused to consciousness when he heard their voices. He ascertained that he was physically unharmed and could escape at will but he sensed Darek’s thoughts and figured he would have to let the situation unfold There were too many witnesses.
When they tried to move the heavy beam off Jaed, they saw that a portion of the roof would cave in. The firemen evacuated the searchers and brought in steel support beams. Time crawled by for Jaed and Dareken. Darek knew that Jaed was fine; he could read his thoughts but when he asked up Jenaya, he felt cold fear; and Jaed didn’t know.
Meanwhile in the blasted remains of the cooler, Jenaya lay beneath a piece of concrete. The concrete had not flattened her; instead, it had all but crushed the stainless steel shelving that acted as a barrier around Jenaya. Moreover, because Jenaya could not, the life-force shot out a protective field around her as her body underwent the final change. Her body altered physically, the scoliosis that had formed, disappeared, the benign lump in her liver, dissolved. Sixteen years her body regressed. Thirty-five pounds melted off her body. Her spinal alignment underwent subtle changes, correcting the chronic problems that Jenaya had inherited over time. Sixteen years, her face became more youthful, her womb and the barrier to it were renewed. Her eyes…
The life-force had used its innate ability to dissolve the concrete. When it fell on the metal shelving, a fireman went to investigate.
“Here!” He yelled out, “There’s someone beneath the concrete.”
Jaed was removed safely from the building suffering from minor scratches and bruises. He had to undergo a series of tests at the hospital but was released after a couple of hours.
Jenaya, unconscious, had X-rays taken and reflexes checked. Her lack of consciousness had no ready explanation. She had a broken arm but not any life threatening injuries. They checked her pupils for dilation, her startling violet eyes remained unfocused.
Her husband came to the hospital when he received the phone call. He was startled and uncertain. A uniformed Constable met him and a nurse led to way to where his wife lay unconscious.
The Constable gave him a few moments to look at the woman before asking, “Is this your wife?”
Steve saw her brown hair and the outline of her face but, when he moved to the other side of the bed to get a better look, he paused. “What happened to my wife?”
The nurse replied, “She has a broken arm and a few scratches but hasn’t regained consciousness.”
To know one in particular he said, “She’s different.”
“What did you mean different?” The Constable asked.
“I’m not sure it's her. She’s older than this woman.”
“Are there any identifying marks or scars?”
Steve took her left hand but there was no scar. “She has a scar on her stomach from an appendix operation.”
The nurse discretely lifted the sheet and looked at the woman’s stomach. She shook her head, “This woman doesn’t have any scars on her stomach.”
A bewildered Steve left uncertainly with Constable Mcuvoney.
Once outside the door, he asked, “If this isn’t my wife, then where is she?”
“Your wife’s taxi was found at the same location as the explosion. She had already been reported missing by the company and I guess they assumed this was her. Would your wife have her fingerprints on record?”
“Hmm. I think so. She’s a substitute teacher and I think they have to get a criminal record check before they’re hired by the school district.”
Dareken and Jaed happened to enter the waiting room at that moment and were asked to identify the woman, if she was the taxi driver. Constable Mcuvoney saw them and motioned them over. “Glad you two could make it. This is Mr. Williams. We thought it was his wife they'd found in your restaurant. However, we might have someone else.
He turned to Dareken, “You mentioned the taxi driver dropped you off.”
“Yes, I went upstairs to the loft immediately after we unloaded our belongings from the trunk of the taxi. Jaed stayed to pay her and I assumed she left but he told me that she didn’t.”
“I heard her stomach growling during the taxi ride and offered her some lunch and, because her break was due, she said sure. She ate in the restaurant and then as she headed back through the kitchen to her taxi, there was the explosion.”
“You could identify her then?”
“Yes, I believe I can,” Jaed replied.
Both Dareken and Jaed moved towards the bed and were immediately shocked. They could feel the faint vibration of the life-force within Jenaya’s body but her facial characteristics had altered and she seemed to have lost the look of maturity she’d had and appeared younger.
“Where are her clothes?” Dareken asked.
The nurse quickly retrieved them and showed them to the men. Steve replied, “Those are my wife’s clothes.”
“Yes, that’s what the taxi driver was wearing,” Dareken confirmed.
Steve was incredulous, “If that’s my wife, what happened to change her?”
Jaed spoke up, “I’m not sure, but they did say she was surrounded by metal underneath the rubble and that some kind of power cable had been flowing through the metal. She was probably like that for three hours until she was freed.”
“But why didn’t they cut the power?”
“Maybe they didn’t realize that it was there,” Jaed said, playing along with Dareken. “I’ve read about that. That’s why there are so many debates about living near power lines, birth defects, etc.”
Constable Mcuvoney was uncertain but said, “Yeah, I’ve heard the debate. I live where the cables are underground, not on poles like so many places.”
By giving his opinion, the Constable had made the impossible, probable. He’d validated their story and, after several more questions about the length of time Jenaya had been there, etc., he was satisfied and ready to make his report. All he had left to do was investigate the source of the explosion. The hydro company suspected a hydrogen sulfide pocket had formed and caused it.
Jenaya, who had been unconscious, finally opened her eyes. However, her they did not reveal the hospital room, just darkness. The last thing she remembered was her last taxi fare, the rest was blank, as blank as her eyesight.
She sat up, tightly gripping the bed. She recognized the bed because of the pillows, but the bed was narrow, not hers, she was not at home.
Panicked she called out, “Help! Anyone? Is there anyone there? Help me someone,” she called desperately.
Because they were talking again in the hall with the door closed behind them, no one heard her calls. Jenaya moved her legs over the side of the bed and gingerly checked herself for injuries. She traced the cast on her arm. “How’d I do that?” It didn’t hurt. She realized that if her arm was broken and she was on a narrow bed, she must be in the hospital.
“There has to be a call button.” She began to reach for the wall, stood up, but her weak legs gave way and she fell against the tray beside the bed. The crash alerted the men outside.
“Did you hear that?” Jaed asked.
However, he had already opened Jenaya’s door and saw her sprawled on the floor. “Call the doctor!” He went in to where she lay. She was trying to stand up but, with her broken arm and general weakness, she could not.
Steve and Jaed moved quickly to gently pick her up and lay her on the bed.
“Jenaya?” Steve asked softly.
“Steve? Is that you? Thank God! What happened? Why am I here?”
Steve grabbed her hand, “You’re in the hospital. There was an accident.”
Jenaya was tightly gripping Steve’s hand. So tightly, he tried to withdraw it.
“No! Don’t leave me!”
“I’m right here,” Steve, who wasn’t an overly emotional man, didn’t offer anything but cursory comfort. He was not the hugging tender type.
Jaed, who saw the interplay, moved to soothe Jenaya. “It’s all right. You’re safe.”
Jenaya’s face and unseeing eyes turned towards her voice. The light was dim but Jaed was sure the eyes he beheld were violet.
“I…I can’t see you, anything.”
The nurse hurried in to interrupt the exchange, “You’ll have to leave. The doctor wants to examine the patient.”
“Steve?” Jenaya’s voice came out in a plea.
“You too, Sir. You’ll have to come back later.”
About ten minutes later, the doctor left the room and closed the door behind him. “Which of you is Mr. Williams?”
Steve spoke up, “I am.”
The other men had no reason to remain without being too obvious. “I’m sure she’ll be all right,” Dareken spoke reassuringly as he squeezed Steve’s arm. “We’ll be in the cafeteria if you need us.”
“Your wife is fine. Besides the broken arm, there is nothing that we can find physically wrong with her. However, we’d like to run some more tests. We have a specialist coming in.”
“Specialist? What kind of specialist?”
“A neurologist for one, although she’s already been checked, but also an ophthalmologist.”
“An optha who?”
“An eye specialist.”
“Your wife can’t see. She’s blind.”
Steve was speechless.
The doctor spoke gently, “She’s going to need your support. You can go in and see her for a few minutes and then she’ll need to rest.”
Steve fumbled in his pockets. The doctor looked searchingly at him.
“I need a cigarette,” Steve mumbled.
“You can have one after you see your wife.”
“No! I need one now. I have to think before I see her.”
“Oh,” said Dr. Jamieson disapprovingly, “I understand. I’ll speak to you if there are any changes in her condition.”
“Thanks,” Steve replied as he walked away.
In the cafeteria, Dareken and Jaed were drinking coffee. They had been joyous to discover that the life-force and Jenaya had accepted each other. The irrefutable evidence of her violet eyes, once a light blue, filled them with relief and thanksgiving. They’d been excitedly talking non-stop since they’d left the room. They were surprised Jenaya had a husband, a complication they had not foreseen, an unacceptable complication! It was imperative that Jenaya, once fully recovered, discontinue her marital and conjugal status. A situation that seemed nigh impossible without resorting to violence or kidnapping. They abhorred violence.
They squawking of a police radio caused them to look up just in time to see Constable Mcuvoney making his way toward them.
“Hello, gentlemen. I have some more information for you. The hydro company thinks that there might have been a garbage gas buildup from illegal dumping years ago. Your insurance covers you, but you might have to relocate. Sorry guys.”
Jaed spoke first, “Thanks for telling us. It’s amazing that they could tell us so quickly. We will have to think about what to do next with our business. I’m just relieved and happy that no one was seriously hurt.”
Constable Mcuvoney spoke up, “That reminds me. The taxi driver, well, she’ll be needing extra care for a while.”
Dareken interrupted, “Why? What’s wrong?”
Mcuvoney averted his eyes and swallowed before he spoke, “She’s blind. Can’t see a thing.”
“Wh…You’re sure?” Dareken was so shocked his words wouldn’t come out straight.”
“A specialist has been called in and maybe he’ll have something positive to say.”
“How did her husband take the news?”
“Badly from what the nurse told me. He went to have a cigarette instead of comforting his wife and now visiting hours are over. She must be going through hell!”
Dareken was seething inside but managed to ask, “Is there anything we can do Constable?”
“You’ve done enough, I’m sure and you have your own things to worry about. If you don’t mind dropping down to the precinct and signing your statement, I’d appreciate it.”
“Sure, we’ll drop by later.”
“Thanks,” Mcuvoney said as he put away his notebook. “I’ll talk to you later.”
When he left, Dareken and Jaed sat wordless at the table for several minutes.
Jaed looked at Dareken, “What do you think happened?”
“Let’s be positive. I think the circumstances were not exactly conducive to an easy transition for her body. All we can do is wait and see what happens.”
“We do have a time constraint you know,” Dareken reminded him.
“You know she’s married and he has conjugal rights…”
“She can’t mate with him!” Jaed blurted out so loudly that people at other tables turned to stare. He lowered his voice, “What are we going to do?”
“We need to get more information on both of them and then we’ll work from there.”
Jaed stood up anxiously, “Let’s go home. Or should I say, to a hotel.”
They left the cafeteria talking together, “What do you think caused the explosion?” Dareken asked.
Dareken grabbed Jaed’s arm and stopped him, “She what?”
“If I remember the ancient rites, the chosen one had to acquiesce to the life-force for the final melding to occur. That’s what must have happened but what about the explosion?”
“All that I remember is that she got hotter and hotter, and then it was like time stood still. Everything froze and then there was a blinding blue light. And… you know the rest.”
“Yes, Darek. It’s incredible and fortunate for us, our long awaited answer. We have found the mother to our children, the continuance of Amaryl’s heritage.”
“Yes, Jaed.” Dareken said wryly, "We just have to solve a few problems.”
At ten the next morning, carrying a bright selection of flowers, Dareken and Jaed entered Jenaya’s hospital room. They found her sitting on the edge of the bed brushing her hair. She froze when she heard footsteps and dropped the brush.
“Excuse me,” Dareken’s deep voice said as he retrieved the brush and placed it into her hand. “We didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Who are you?” Jenaya asked as she grabbed the sheet to cover herself.
“We brought you some flowers.”
“They smell wonderful. Maybe you can find something to put them in.”
“Actually, this arrangement has its own vase.”
There was a pause as Dareken realized his faux pas. Jenaya saved him from further embarrassment by joking, “Then you’ll have to put them somewhere where I can see them.”
The two men looked uncertainly at each other.
Jenaya tied her hair back and then reached out to place the brush on the cabinet beside the bed. “So what can I do for you gentlemen?”
“We feel responsible.”
“You don’t remember dropping us off in your taxi?”
“Sure I do, but anything after that is very vague.”
The nurse bustled into the room. “I’m sorry,” she began, “I’m so late for your show...er.” She said as she saw Jenaya’s wet hair.
“I managed to find the shower on my own.”
The nurse was surprised, “You should be more careful. You could have hurt yourself.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to cause a problem.”
“I suppose you got the cast wet.”
“I tried not to, but I couldn’t find anything to wrap around it.”
“Let me take a look. I suppose we’ll have to have it removed.
She pulled and prodded the cast. “Yes, it has lost its firmness,” she harrumphed. “I’ll see if we can get it done before you go home today.” The nurse bustled out of the room.
“You’re leaving?” Jaed asked.
“I’ve got some eye tests scheduled later in the week, but I can go home once Steve gets here. I have to phone him to bring me a change of clothing or he’ll have to make two trips.”
“They’re releasing you?”
“Sure. I guess, besides the arm and the blindness, I’m fit as a fiddle and they need the bed space.”
“Can we help you somehow?” Jaed asked.
“If I gave you a telephone number, could you leave a message on the answering machine?”
“Sure. I’ll make the call right now. Anything else?”
“No, thanks. Wait. Would you mind picking up some type of sunglasses? I think people would feel more comfortable talking to me if they couldn’t see my eyes especially people who know me. It will take them time to adjust.”
Darek was uncertain of what to say, “Uh, sure. I’ll find an appropriate pair for you.” If he was amazed at how quickly she adjusted to her condition and how she managed to consider other people’s feeling, he didn’t show it.
“Thanks again. I’ll pay you back when I find my wallet.”
“Don’t worry about it. Jaed, you stay and visit, if you don’t mind, Jenaya.”
“Please stay Jaed. Talking to someone chases the darkness away.”
Darek started heading out the door, “Hey, Jaed. I don’t have any change.”
Jaed saw Darek’s wink and turned to Jenaya, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back.”
In the hallway, they whispered together. “If you agree, I think we can supply her with some suitable clothing.” Darek said.
“I’ll modify it to fit it with the human manner of dress.”
“Wonderful idea, Darek. I’ll see what our future wife has to say about herself.”
Darek grinned at him before he walked down the hallway.
“So, Jenaya,” Jaed began, “how are you doing?”
“Do you mean besides being blind? I couldn’t be better.”
Jaed’s face reddened and he was thankful that Jenaya couldn’t see him, “I keep saying the wrong thing don’t I?”
“I’m being facetious.”
“I’m pulling your leg.”
Jaed looked at his leg, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“You’re not from here are you?”
If Jenaya could have seen his face, she would have seen the guilty look in his eyes. When he didn’t speak, Jenaya said, “I didn’t mean to embarrass you. It’s just that the lower mainland gets a lot of new immigrants and visitors from other countries. I can hear an accent when you speak. Besides,” she reassured him, “I’m an English teacher and my ears have been trained to pick up such things.”
“You’re a teacher?” Jaed asked in surprise.
“You thought I was just some dumb taxi driver, huh?”
“No, that’s not what I thought.”
“Taxi driving is only for a summer job but it’s not something I’d want to do all the time.”
“Why do you drive a cab then?”
“Well, ever since I graduated from university, I’ve been trying to get a full time teaching job. I taught at a private school but there wasn’t any security or future at that position. I took a chance and became a sub-teacher for the public school system and, until I get a contract, taxi driving fills in the financial void.”
“Isn't your husband working?”
“Oh, yeah, but I feel better if I can help out with the bill paying. I don’t want him to feel like I’m a burden.”
“No one could ever think that!”
“I’ve noticed the tension lately, especially because most of my money has been going to pay doctor bills.”
“Oh. That must be hard. I thought Canada provided medical care.”
“They do, but I need physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, and lately even acupuncture. I got whiplash earlier this year and it exasperated my already existing neck problem.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. How is your neck now?”
“It hasn’t bothered me now that I think of it. Not since, I woke up. Thank God for that.”
“What do the doctors say?”
“They each have an opinion, try something, give me hope, and then I start again.”
“If it’s gone, maybe your pain will be too.”
“That would be wonderful,” Jenaya lapsed into silence.
“Is something wrong?” Jaed asked.”
“No, I was just thinking that perhaps not seeing is worth the price of not having pain but what will I do now? I can’t read, I can’t write, the two things that make life tolerable.”
“Is life so bad?”
Jenaya sighed, “It has had its trials but it’s still my life and I do enjoy being alive especially when I’m learning or discovering new things or,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “when I feel loved.”
Silence fell for a few moments.
Jaed could see unshed tears in Jenaya’s eyes. He felt bereft at seeing her pain but, just as he was moving to comfort her, he saw the stern nurse heading into the room.
“Oh no, Mrs. Stonebottom is coming,” Jaed whispered conspiratorially.
“Is that her name?”
“You haven’t been upsetting my charge have you?” She demanded as she approached the bed. She glanced at Jenaya and then at Jaed, “I think you’d better leave until later. I need to take Mrs. Williams to get her cast removed.” She spoke firmly and stared at him until he stood up to leave the room.
“I’ll check on you later,” Jaed said but quickly left when he saw Mrs. Stonebottom’s impatient stance.
“The orderly is bringing the wheelchair,” she paused. “Ah, here he is now.”
Once settled into the wheelchair, the orderly wheeled Jenaya through the hospital. It was her first blind experience outside her room. Noise assaulted her from every direction. She unconsciously cringed in her seat as if warding off unseen blows. She jumped whenever a voice boomed near her or a clatter startled her. The orderly was oblivious to her discomfort or he would have noticed her tightly closed eyes and mouth along with her death grip on the arms of the wheelchair.
Jaed, who was in the elevator, happened to look up and see Jenaya’s look of fear just as the elevator doors closed and blocked the view of the hallway. He was furious with the orderly for being so oblivious to his patient’s feelings.
As soon as the elevator stopped, he pushed the button to return to Jenaya’s floor but Jenaya was nowhere in sight. He strode to the front desk and asked where they had taken Mrs. Williams and then he marched quickly down the hall, oblivious to the stares he received. He paced impatiently outside the room for a half-hour until Mrs. Stonebottom came to take Mrs. Williams back to her room.
She looked up at him as she walked down the hall, “May I help you?”
“Yes, you may, Mrs. Stonebottom. When the orderly brought Mrs. Williams here, I happened to see her face as the elevator door closed and she looked terrified. It was the first time she’s been out of her room as a blind person!”
“I’m aware of that.”
“Could you speak to the orderly in the future? When you wheel her back could you warn her or talk to her to reassure her as she hears all of the noises?”
“Look, I’m a busy person. I don’t have time to coddle everyone.”
“I’m not asking you to coddle her just be more aware of her feelings.”
“I’ll consider what you’ve said. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”
Jaed reluctantly let her go by but waited until she reappeared, without Jenaya.
When Stonebottom saw him waiting, she said, “She’s not here. They sent her to x-ray.”
“Because, once her cast was removed, Mrs. Williams began waving her arm around and it appears it’s not broken. They’re taking an x-ray to verify it.”
“Is that possible?”
“Who knows? There’s no point in following me because from what I understand, she left a half-hour ago and hasn’t returned so she’s probably back in her room by now.”
“Thanks,” Jaed replied as he hurried away,” but not before he heard Stonebottom mutter, “You’d think he was the husband.”
Jaed returned to the room only to find Darek waiting inside.
Darek stood up when he saw Jaed’s face, “What happened?”
“They took her to get her cast removed. You should have seen how scared she was when he pushed her down the hall in the wheelchair! She cringed at every sound and that orderly didn’t even notice.”
“Where is Jenaya?”
“They took her for an x-ray. Her arm might not be broken after all.”
Darek’s voice lowered, “The life-force?”
“You have visitors Mrs. Williams,” Mrs. Stonebottom said as she pushed Jenaya’s wheelchair back into her room.
“You’re all right?” Jaed asked. “Where’s your cast?”
“I guess it wasn’t broken after all,” Jenaya replied tiredly when she heard his voice.”
They noticed that Jenaya seemed a bit strained.
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to leave as our patient seems a bit tired at the moment.”
They were disappointed but they could see that Jenaya needed some time to herself. Darek spoke up before he left, “I made that phone call that you wanted and picked up the sunglasses. I also took it upon myself to find you something to wear. I’ll leave them on the chair.”
“That was kind of you.”
“Gentlemen!” The nurse admonished them.
“What did you learn?” Darek asked.
“I learned a lot. Let’s go back to the hotel. I don’t think we are going to be able to see her again today. Her husband will be picking her up shortly.
Steve showed up around 5:30 to find Jenaya dressed and sitting quietly in a chair beside the window.
Jenaya had been waiting for two hours. She had donned the proffered clothing and sunglasses. At first she’d been embarrassed that a total stranger had bought her clothing even the most intimate apparel had been included. She wanted to wait until Steve brought her own clothes but, when she felt the soft texture of the material and discovered that it was a skirt and blouse, her usual attire, she was tempted to put them on.
At first, the clothing, including the bra, seemed large, but when she buttoned the top button of the blouse, everything fit perfectly. The clothing seemed to have a life of its own, or at least, she thought, it feels so luxurious.
Steve, if he was surprised to see her dressed and waiting, wearing unfamiliar clothing, didn’t say anything about her appearance. He said hi and kissed her briefly on the mouth, his usual greeting throughout the last year of marriage.
“Are you ready?” He finally said.
“Yes, we can go.” Jenaya bent to retrieve her bag near the chair.
“Can you see?” Steve asked when she unerringly located the bag.
“No, I just knew the bag was there.”
His ‘oh’ made Jenaya feel as if she’d let him down somehow. Her jaw tightened tensely as she thought of how she would be burdening him even more. She banged into the door on the way out and it caused her to call out his name, “Steve!”
Sorry was all he said as they continued out the door through the hospital and out into the parking lot. Steve was more solicitous and Jenaya had no further mishaps.
It was all so very weird to be in the car, recognizing the seat, the door handle, all familiar, yet strange. The silver door handle was now just a long cold piece of metal that moved. Suddenly, to Jenaya, the future stretched out in one long endless bleak reality. She’d been dissatisfied with the influence of her poor health on her life. She’d been unable to participate in many outdoor activities and her whole day revolved around how she felt. Sometimes she was nauseous, dizzy from her whiplash, making her days uncertain and sometimes panic-filled. At least that seems to have stopped for now,” she thought.
The seatbelt was a restricting force against her. Every curve, bump, and nuance of the ride made her feel nauseous as if she were on a roller coaster. After only a few blocks, Jenaya was counting to herself, had the window down, and was trying not to be sick. Finally, she said, “This car makes me feel sick with all the gear shifting and the jerky streets.”
Steve didn’t say anything.
“Maybe we can take my car next time.”
“We’re going to sell it. You don’t need it anymore,” Steve said perfunctorily.
“No! What if we sell it too soon and my vision returns?”
“Then we’ll buy a used car from Miro.”
“But I know what my car is capable of doing.”
Steve turned on the radio in response as if to dismiss her concerns, and it proved to be a welcome distraction to both of them. Jenaya managed the rest of the trip from Vancouver to their two-bedroom apartment in Burnaby without losing her lunch.
It was a relief when the car finally stopped and Steve helped her out. She held onto his arm as they used the elevator and then got out and walked down the hallway. Jenaya let out the breath she’d been holding as they walked down the long hallway to their corner apartment on the second floor.
The apartment door closed behind her and she leaned again the wall. It was a relief to know where she was, the lay of the land. She put her hand on the wall and felt her way to the living room. She walked gingerly because, although she was familiar with the layout of the apartment and everything in it, she had no way of judging distances and after hitting her leg on the edge of the couch, she moved even more slowly.
Steve left her to stand on the balcony outside and Jenaya could smell the acrid smoke of his cigarette as it wafted through the open balcony doors.
When he returned, he turned on the television and plopped himself down on the couch. Jenaya could imagine exactly how he lay; his usual position.
He hadn’t even commented about her arm.
The evening passed quietly, the silence punctuated by the odd outburst from the television. TV was boring before her accident. Jenaya usually did cross-stitch or read a book while TV was on. Now, it was devastatingly boring and lonely especially with Steve’s silence.
After an hour or so had passed, she made her way to the bedroom, one hand trailing on the wall as she slowly walked down the hall. She felt her way to the bed and then bent at the waist so she could feel her way around the bed to the dresser. She only hoped that she’d put her nightgown on the right way because she couldn’t tell if it was inside out or not.
It took a lot longer to wash and it was a lot messier. Brushing her teeth was a fluoride mess as she squeezed the tube with one hand placing its mouth on the brush near her strategically placed finger. She squeezed out the paste until she thought the brush was covered. When she reached to put the brush in her mouth, she had to guide it with her other hand because she couldn’t trust her judgment and didn’t want to hit her face. As it was, she had put too much toothpaste on the brush causing the excess to fall on her nightgown. She smeared it further when she tried to find the dripping.
Getting ready for bed took four times longer than usual with one tooth brushing, two face washings, three hand washings, and one change of nightgown. Jenaya was frustrated, and by the time she found the bed, slid under the cold covers, she was exhausted from her efforts and fell asleep immediately.
“So, what did you learn?” Dareken asked Jaed.
“She’s a teacher, hasn’t been married long and there is tension in the marriage.”
“What kind of tension?”
Jaed looked at Dareken, “Financial, new marriage, no full-time employment, and health problems.”
“A neck injury from whiplash has caused her a lot of problems.”
“Does she still have neck problems?”
“I think they’re over along with her unbroken arm.”
Dareken looked worried, “Did anyone comment on that?”
“Not that I’m aware of, but I think we should do a little record cleaning before her Amarylion tendencies to self-heal, are noticed.”
A big grin lit up Dareken’s face, “You’re right, she is showing Amarylion traits.”
“Amazing,” Jaed grinned back and his eyes crinkled in happiness.
“Yes, we have our Amarylion at last.”
“Details, Jaed, details. I’ll do a little more checking on Mr. Williams, his job, etc., and we’ll come up with a plan to make him walk away from the relationship.”
“A bit cruel, don’t you think?”
“I’ll check how much he cares for her before I do anything. The worst thing we could do is to banish some of his memories.”
“What about Jenaya?”
“If she’s attached to him, our job will be more difficult because we can’t banish her memories.”
“I wonder about his attachment to her. He does not seem overly emotional. He did leave after he found out she was blind. He should have been there to comfort her.”
“She did say something about being blind. That it would be difficult because she couldn’t read or write anymore. Those things, to her, make life tolerable.”
“Tolerable? That sounds so negative! Nobody’s life should just be tolerable. There should be joy.”
“She got whiplash earlier this year and she’s had a lot of pain to get over.”
“The pain is gone. She said it was almost worth being blind to have the pain disappear.”
Dareken’s face thundered, “By all that is holy, her life has had such grief. Surely, there is something good.”
“I did ask her if she thought her life was unhappy and she said no. She is happy when she is learning new things or,” he paused, “when she feels loved.”
“She said that? Do you think she was referring to her husband leaving her during her first night at the hospital?”
Jaed shrugged, “Possibly.”
“Could she have been referring to something else?”
“I don’t know, Darek.”
“What are we doing next?”
“We need to go for a visit.”
“We don’t know where she lives.”
Jaed was silent for a moment and then he smiled, “Her wallet. It’s at our place.”
“Don’t you mean, what’s left of our place?”
“That too!” Jaed retorted, nonplussed.
“Incredible!” Darek breathed out.
“It sure is a mess.” Jaed agreed. “It’s good you had time to self-heal before they found you.”
“Yes, a fractured clavicle would have been hard to explain.”
“Jenaya’s self-healing took a bit longer. Do you think that was a result of her physiology?”
“Possibly. She wasn’t totally Amarylion yet and although there are similarities between our species, humans have their own unique qualities.”
They had opened the door to the upper apartment that, except for the wall closest to the kitchen roof which had fallen in, was virtually undamaged. They saw that a couple of pigeons had flown in and left their calling cards on the floor.
Darek moved cautiously to the bedroom where Jenaya had lain. There was no evidence that she had been there. He bent down and searched beneath the bed until he pulled out her portfolio.
“Any luck?” Jaed called.
“I found it.”
“Let’s grab a few things before we leave. I think they’ll condemn this building. Too much structural damage.”
“I don’t know; Jaed I think a good architect could fix this place up without difficulty.”
“Dareken, we don’t need it as a front anymore. We don’t have to keep searching.”
“You’re right of course but we’ll need something respectable until we win over Jenaya.”
“What kind of business would draw the fair Jenaya?”
After only a moment’s pause, “A book store?”
The day after Jenaya returned home, Steve went to work as usual. If he gave his wife a second thought, it didn’t show as he swung into the routine of hauling and stacking lumber. It wasn’t that he didn’t love his wife, but his work required concentration to prevent injury from the fast moving equipment and other workers.
On the drive to work, he’d thought of Jenaya briefly. Mostly because he was still stunned by the twist of fate and he had yet to adjust to the fact that Jenaya was blind.
Jenaya’s first day home began when she awoke to darkness and momentarily panicked until she recalled that she was at home. She touched the bed beside her and discovered that Steve had gone to work. At least I know it’s a workday, she thought to herself.
Sitting up in bed, gingerly touching the carpeted floor, Jenaya started her day. She reached for the alarm clock and turned the switch on the side until the radio blared a Stone’s tune at her. She almost dropped it. She figured the DJ would eventually announce the time.
With her hand on the wall, she located the washroom and entered the dark cavity. Out of habit, she reached for the light switch and then laughed at the lunacy of her action. The fan, however, roared into life, so much so that the noise seemed to make the bathtub vibrate as she stood beneath the hot steaming shower.
God! God! She thought, what now? Aloud she cried, “How do I bear this?” Overwhelmed with emotion, Jenaya finally cried belated tears. “At least I am not in pain anymore but…” and the tears intermingled with the water that coursed down her body.
At the hotel restaurant, Jaed, who had been drinking coffee, paused when a strange feeling of sadness washed over him. He looked up and saw Dareken’s hand frozen halfway to his mouth, his eyes registering a sudden pained expression.
“You feel it too?” Jaed asked.
“A feeling of…sadness, loss.”
Dareken thought a moment before replying, “Yes, I think that describes it.”
“Wasn’t it you?”
“No, not at all.”
“She’s very upset about something for us to feel it.”
“We shouldn’t be feeling anything, Dareken. Those stirrings don’t occur before the ritual.” He was referring to the ceremony that bonded individuals, involving two men and a woman.
On Amaryl, a woman had two mates and this tradition had existed for thousands of years, especially during Amaryl’s fledgling years when there were more men than women. Even now, birth tendencies were usually three against one for male children. Such a tradition ensured that their species continued to thrive. Women were well-protected, provided, and cared for and it wasn’t until the actual mating and blood bonding took place, that Amarylions developed an innate sense of their mates. They knew, no matter where they were located, how the other was doing and were quick to respond to each other in times of distress and trouble.
Dareken agreed, “You’re right, I’ve never heard of the stirrings happening before the ritual. Maybe human physiology has a few traits that we’ve never considered.”
“Can we comfort her from this distance?”
After careful consideration, Dareken replied, “I don’t think so, we haven’t undergone the ritual blood bonding.”
“We can sense her so why not the other way around? Maybe the Amaryl reacts differently on this planet.”
“We can try connecting but we should go somewhere more private than this restaurant.”
They quickly paid their bill, food scarcely touched, and went to their hotel room where they immediately placed the palms of both of their hands together but after several minutes they stopped.
“Nothing,” Jaed sat back disappointed.
“We tried,” Dareken reassured him. “Wait a minute! Do you have her wallet? Give it to me.”
Jaed patted his pocket, “Here it is. What do you intend to do with it?” He watched as Dareken flipped it open, searching the compartments, even taking out the money, and flipping through it.
“What are you looking for?”
“Ah, here we are.”
Jaed glanced into the empty money compartment. “I don’t see anything.”
Dareken just smiled and pulled out a long, single strand of hair. It curled slightly as he held it. “Naturally wavy! I like that on a woman.” He carefully laid the strand across his palm.”
“What if it’s not hers?”
“Jaed, sometimes you exasperate me with your comments. Have faith.”
They joined their palms once again and a brief warmth flashed through their hands like a closed circuit before vanishing.
“What do you think? Was it enough?”
“Perhaps,” Jaed replied, no longer feeling as stressed out now that they’d been able to complete the circuit. “It was a brief connection.”
As suddenly as Jenaya’s tears began, they stopped. The hot water, combined with a sense of calm, helped her regain her composure and lighten her spirits. She finished her shower in a much lighter mood.
The following week, Jaed joined the staff at Sparceland where Steve worked. Steve recognized him from the hospital, commiserated with the loss of his business, and said he must be down on his luck if he needed the hard laborious job that a sawmill provided. After careful discussion, Jaed had convinced Dareken that he needed to get to know Steve on a more personal level and getting a job where he worked might give him some insight to him. Dareken could not refuse him. It was a sound idea and might provide them with a solution to their dilemma of having Steve in Jenaya’s life.
Jaed sounded Steve out on many different topics over the first three weeks at the mill. It was a physically demanding yet routine job and there were many opportunities to chat if they could make themselves heard above the din of the machinery. The lunch room was an even better location to while away the time. They talked of soccer, hockey, and Jenaya.
Jaed discovered that Steve loved his wife but this was his second marriage and he found that after only a year and a half of marriage, he wasn’t as close to his wife as he could be. He was frustrated that, as a teacher with a degree, she was unable to get a full-time job.
He’d imagined at the beginning, how his income from the mill, combined with hers as a teacher, would give them a comfortable lifestyle. Instead, her health problems meant her earnings went to chiropractors, massage therapists, and physiotherapists. Moreover, because she was only a substitute teacher, finances weren’t predictable. Those thoughts and many others whirled through his head, “Maybe, I’ll win the lottery,” he had frequently joked.
Steve always seemed to take things in stride. His European upbringing, family, and work ethics had followed him to Canada. It was this attitude towards life that endeared him to Jenaya but Steve didn’t know that because, although they talked with each other, they still didn’t know each other very well.
Steve told Jaed how Jenaya had refused to live together so they got married. Theirs had been a whirlwind romance. They’d met when each were dating someone else. A year later, when they met at a dinner party, Steve had mentioned that he was taking a communications course and had to do a speech. Jenaya, having once had to make a speech for one of her classes, had volunteered to help him. They’d met at his second floor apartment where they spent several hours sitting on his blue chesterfield creating the speech.
Several hours later, they’d gone out for a bite to eat. Three weeks later, he’d proposed and Jenaya didn’t know why, except that it felt right, said yes. They had married three months later, Jenaya would be the first to admit how difficult it was and how little Steve and her actually knew each other. However, they’d managed and were now into their fifteenth month of marriage. They were closer to each other yet still strangers in many ways.
Steve had discovered that Jenaya was an emotional person given to hugging and kissing and other affectionate behaviours. He, on the other hand, knew nothing about being romantic and wooing a woman.
During one conversation between Jaed and Steve, Steve revealed how Jenaya had had an inkling of who he was but soon after it seemed to Jaed, that Jenaya accepted Steve despite his distant behaviour but Jaed couldn’t accept that she didn’t desire a closer relationship than Steve offered
Under those circumstances, Darek and Jaed’s way was paved. All they had to do was orchestrate the separation.
During the initial three weeks Dareken was also busy but in a different way. On the second day of her return home, he’d rung the bell to Jenaya’s apartment. At first, he heard no response and then he recalled that her blindness might be the problem. He rang again, holding the bell a bit longer. Jenaya’s distant voice across the static-filled intercom rewarded him for his diligence.
“Hello?” Jenaya fumbled with the intercom receiver.
“It’s Dareken, I thought you might like a visitor.”
“Uh, sure. Come on up,” Jenaya said hesitantly.
It had taken Jenaya a moment or two to trail her hand along the wall from the living room while avoiding the furniture until she reached the wall where the intercom buzzed. She wasted time fumbling against the wall trying to find the intercom phone while not knocking down the picture off the wall.
She succeeded in locating the intercom but knocked the receiver out of its cradle. Fortunately, her visitor had the presence of mind to consider her blindness, she thought. As it was, she was torn between doing three things before he knocked on the apartment door and they were changing her clothes, brushing her hair, or putting the water on for tea. Vanity and convenience won out. She went to the main bathroom that was close to the front door and fumbled for her comb to rake through her long brunette tresses. The tapping of the knocker caused her to yank the comb and catch a knot. She knocked over the toothbrush holder as she tried to hurry.
“Tap, Tap, Tap,” sounded again.
“I’m coming,” she called.
Jenaya opened the door a crack.
“It’s me Darek.”
She opened the door wider, allowing him to pass by as she stood behind the door.
“Have a seat in the living room. Would you like coffee or tea?”
Darek turned, expecting Jenaya to be right behind him. However, she’d turned into the kitchen. He rounded the corner and watched as she held the kettle under the water tap until it filled. It must have had too much water because she dumped some out before she turned on the stove burner and then waited.
Darek was about to offer his help, “I’ll have coffee please.”
He saw her holding her hand above first one burner and then the next. Finally, she set the kettle down on the one that was beginning to give off heat.
“What brings you to this neighbourhood?” Jenaya asked as she moved to the counter, retrieved two cups, and then the plastic coffee container.
“I thought you might like a visitor.”
“Yes, it has been rather quiet here,” she replied as she opened a drawer and slid her hand from utensil to utensil until she found a spoon. Jenaya nervously tried to appear as functional as possible thinking, I can do it, as she opened the lid of the coffee container and reached in with the spoon. She held her index finger above the spoon to ascertain how much coffee there was as she dumped it into the cup.
“How’s your husband?”
“I don’t know, adjusting? He hasn’t said much. We’ll see how things go.”
The kettle began to whistle a few minutes later and Jenaya grabbed the kettle and moved her hand towards where she thought the cups were. She almost knocked them over but quickly pulled back.
Dareken, who couldn’t sit still a moment longer, stood up, moved into the kitchen and said, “May I do that? I don’t want you to burn yourself.”
He saw her lips tighten, as she said, “No, thank you. I have to learn how to do it myself.”
“You can go in the cupboard above the sink and grab the chamomile tea.”
Jenaya put a finger just above the inside of the cup and began to pour. She jerked her hand back quickly when the boiling water splashed her hand, “I guess that one’s full.”
Dareken who’d been watching her out of the corner of his eye took the kettle from her and brought her to the sink. He held her hand under the cold running water. He realized he must have held it a moment too long because Jenaya pulled her hand away after a moment two and gave him a brusque, “Thanks. It’s better now. I don’t even feel it.”
The moment passed as Dareken reluctantly released her hand. He’d felt a slight charge as if electricity had suddenly coursed through his veins. He wondered if Jenaya had felt it also. If she had, she didn’t say anything.
They talked about trivial things. Not yet acquaintances, conversation didn’t flow quickly and Dareken tried to fill in the silences until finally he rose to leave after he’d seen Jenaya yawn.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“Almost three. Why?”
“Steve will be home at four and he’s happier if supper is ready.”
“But you’re blind!”
Jenaya turned on him, “Don’t you think I know that?”
“I’m sorry Jenaya. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“That’s all right. If you could show yourself out…”
“Maybe I can help you?”
“No,” Jenaya said abruptly, “I have to be able to do something.”
“I’ll go but I was wondering if you’d like to go outside tomorrow for a walk.” He said it quickly because he sounded like a boy asking for a date.
“No, I don’t think that would be appropriate.”
“As a friend,” Dareken gently said. “I know you must feel so alone. Let me chase away a few of those dark shadows.”
His soft soothing voice acted like a balm on Jenaya’s tension and she acquiesced, “Well how about the day after tomorrow, around 10:30?”
After Dareken left, Jenaya began the once easy task of making supper. She reached for the thawed meat in the sink. She felt the length of the package to determine if it was chicken like she’d thought. “It feels like chicken and it smells like chicken…”
It was the small things that were time consuming. Finding the frying pan by touch in one cupboard and then the olive oil above the stove were relatively easy. Trying to figure out the temperature controls and the readiness of the heating oil were more complicated. Covering the chicken with breadcrumbs and unknown spices before placing the pieces into the oil was an adventure that left Jenaya wearing half the ingredients but feeling satisfied that she’d actually done it.
Humming, she tackled the next chore of peeling the potatoes and quickly noticed that the potatoes shrank in size as she cut. She heard keys rattling in the door by the time she finished. “Hello Sweetie-pie,” she called but all she heard was a mumbled hi in return. “How was your day?”
Steve wasn’t much of a conversationalist, “Okay. What in the world are you doing?”
“Peeling potatoes for supper. Why? What’s wrong?”
“You’ve missed half the peel. Here let me finish,” he said abruptly as he grabbed the paring knife out of her hand.
“I’ll set the table,” Jenaya replied less cheerfully than before.
That night, lying on her side of the bed, she heard Steve’s snoring and she couldn’t fall asleep. Before she’d lost her sight, she’d worn earplugs to bed to block his sonorous snores. Now, however, she waited until she was too tired to stay awake. Once, only once that night did she reach into the nightstand drawer, locate the earplugs by touch, and then waited until she’d received Steve’s goodnight kiss before rolling them up between her fingers and wadding them into her ears. The darkness and lack of sound was eerie. Where before it had been wonderful to block the sound and close her eyes, now it made her feel like she was entering a black endless void where nothing penetrated. The sheer isolation made her feel panicky because she had no control over it. When she had her sight, she could open her eyes and see the dim outlines of the furniture and her husband beside her in the bed.
The first time Steve had reached for her in the night, she had jumped. Startled she had pulled away from him. Ever since then, he’d studiously avoided touching her and she slept without her earplugs.
At a time when Jenaya needed comforting, she was feeling bereft and lonely. She began withdrawing more into herself and became a mere shadow of her former self. She spent her days trying to do the chores and the cooking even if it meant beginning at six in the morning when Steve left for work, and going non-stop. She’d had her guilt of not being able to contribute as much financially as she would have liked towards bills and extras. Now, her guilt was compounded two-fold.
Dareken, on his fifth visit, noticed how tired Jenaya looked especially around her deep violet-hued eyes.
“How have you been sleeping?” he asked over tea, her favourite beverage it seemed. He made a mental note to bring her some new flavours.
“Not so well, I’m afraid,” she replied.
“Why?” Is there something bothering you?”
For a moment Jenaya didn’t speak but then she said, “It’s Steve’s snoring,” she began embarrassingly. “I used to wear ear plugs to block the sound out so that I could sleep but, “she swallowed, “since the uh, accident, I’ve stopped wearing them.”
Dareken looked in her eyes to see if she was serious but realized, he had to trust her words, “Why?”
Her whispered words caused him to lean forward, “Too dark.”
Dareken wasn’t sure what she meant but he said, “Oh, he snores that much?”
“I don’t seem to block noises very well. I can’t stand a wind-up clock with its constant ticking either.”
He laughed, “You’re sure that’s all that’s bothering you?”
Jenaya fell silent, unwilling to reveal too much and then she blurted, “I’ve been having strange dreams.”
Fortunately, Jenaya couldn’t see Dareken’s shocked expression as his eyes registered the surprise information. He fumbled for his cup and saucer and Jenaya asked him if anything was wrong.
“Humph, humph! No, I was just clearing my throat. What kind of dreams?”
“I’ve always been a vivid dreamer, but these dreams are incredible. I have never dreamed about other planets, space. Usually, my dreams reflect things I’ve seen, thought, or done. I’ve even had dreams that come true but these are a first.” Her words rushed out like a wave, Dareken just sat there with his mouth, and eyes wide open in astonishment.
He leaned forward and spoke softly, “Does that bother you?”
“Yes and no, I used to think it was neat to have movie-like dreams, but some doctors and health professionals think it’s unhealthy. It’s a lack of chi or something like that.”
“When I had acupuncture, he asked me if I dreamed vividly and when I said yes, and he, being a Chinese herbalist, wanted to test my chi.”
“It sounds fascinating.”
“Did you want to tell me your dream?”
Jenaya licked her lips and then said, “I don’t recall anything specifically. The dreams were about unusual people and places. There were many things that remind me of Science Fiction.”
“Different, I guess, watching movies in one’s head would be a good cause of your sleeplessness.”
After a moment, Jenaya added, “I ate late too and that sometimes causes weird dreams.” She shrugged off the dreams and asked Dareken if he wanted more tea.
“Sure, that would be nice but why don’t you let me do it? As he walked into the kitchen, he asked, “Perhaps, you’d like to go out for coffee tomorrow?”
“No!” Jenaya blurted, “I’m…I don’t feel comfortable enough to do that yet. I’m sure I look horrid with my mismatched clothing and messy hair.”
Dareken re-entered the living room, “That’s not true. You look fine.
She spoke, ignoring his words, “I’m not ready yet.”
Dareken's voice dropped as he knelt beside her on the couch. Carefully putting one hand gently on her skirt-clad knee, “When will you be ready?”
She shook him off as she stood up, “I don’t know.”
“Look, Jenaya, I only want to help.”
“You’ve done enough already!”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Jenaya, who usually was not antagonistic, grit her teeth and said, “Never mind. What’s done is done.”
Dareken’s eyes widened in shock, “You blame me for your blindness!”
“No, it was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s my kind of luck. It’s just that through everything that has happened to me, I always figured that at least I’d have my eyesight. I could read, and write still. There would still be things that would make life bearable…” Her voice broke off suddenly.
Dareken wanted to reveal the truth to Jenaya and take the consequences, but he didn’t. Instead, he asked, “What do the doctors say?”
She tried to sound optimistic but failed dismally, “Traumatic blindness or something like that. I might get my vision back or I’ll remain blind. I guess, I can get a seeing-eye dog and learn Braille.”
He gave her an assessing glance as he tried to read her body language. The nervous way she tapped her fingers betrayed her forced lightness. He began, “The insurance from our business will be coming through very shortly and, because we feel partially responsible, and we know you don’t have adequate insurance, we’d like to pay for your expenses and provide a settlement for your future. I know this can’t even come close to giving you back your eyesight, but with time and training you can have a decent life still, albeit, not the same as you would have with your vision intact.”
He paused before continuing, “If you’re open to suggestions, we’ve located a health resort that specializes in blindness and rehabilitation. You could relax while learning some new skills. If you want, they can even provide a trained seeing-eye dog to work with.”
Jenaya absently stroked her chin with her thumb, “That’s quite an offer, but I’ll need some time to think about it. I’ll have to discuss this with my husband. I’m sure he would be relieved to know something would be provided. How long is the rehabilitation?”
Her mouth dropped open in surprise, “Six months?” I don’t know.”
Dareken tried to reassure her, “We’ll pay for everything.”
“I’ll be by myself.”
“Steve can visit anytime he wants. We’ll fly him down.”
“What do you mean by flying him down? Where is this centre?”
Agitated, Jenaya brushed her hair away from her face, “Switzerland? Why choose Switzerland and not the U.S. or Canada as a location? Surely, we have something available in Canada. We’re not that backward.”
“I’m sorry. This particular centre is very luxurious and I wanted to send you to the best facility as possible.
“I’m sure Steve would love to visit me in Switzerland, especially since his family lives in Poland, but I don’t know if I’m ready to leave my home for six months. I’ll be bored there.”
“I promise you, you won’t be bored. Jaed and I will take turns visiting you.
Before Jenaya could respond, she heard Steve’s key in the lock. She usually gauged his mood by his first response to her when he arrived home.
“Hi Steve,” Jenaya moved to the hallway.
A low, “Hi,” barely audible, was his reply that to her meant he wasn’t in the greatest of moods.
“How was work?”
Silence fell. She could tell he was looking into the kitchen to see if supper was ready. Even before her blindness, he’d done the same thing and then his approval or disapproval would set the mood for the rest of the evening.
Her mouth tightened as she threw her words into the silence, “We have company. Mr. uh, Dareken, wants to talk with us.”
The two men exchanged pleasantries. Steve seemed to become a different man when other people were around.
“Would you like a cup of coffee, Steve?” She asked.
Dareken started the conversation, “I hear you’ve been working with my partner, Jaed.”
“The new guy.”
“Jaed and I had the restaurant until it got destroyed. He says you’re a very hard worker.”
“He’s pretty good too,” Steve added.
“I don’t know if he mentioned that he might be leaving work…”
“He mentioned something about a settlement.”
“Yes, an insurance settlement for our restaurant.”
“He’s lucky. I’d love to leave Sparceland.”
Dareken smiled, “That, Steve, is why I’m here. Why don’t you take a shower and I’ll order some take out and then we can relax and discuss the future.”
Steve never said no to food, “That sounds like a good idea.” He entered the kitchen and kissed Jenaya on the mouth before he went for his shower.”
Dareken saw Jenaya’s surprised look. “Do you have a phonebook?”
“I’ll get it for you,” she replied.
“Just tell me where it is and I’ll get it.”
“I’m blind, not disabled!” Jenaya retorted as she reached for the cupboard beside the stove and pulled out both the yellow and the white pages for him.
“Is there anything in particular you’d like?” He asked politely, ignoring her abrupt behaviour.
“I like Greek or Japanese food but you can order whatever pleases you. Steve likes Chinese food or even pizza.”
“Is there a Japanese restaurant near here that delivers?”
“Yes, there’s a restaurant called Kamei.”
“How is that spelled? This phonebook seems to have Burnaby and Vancouver listings.”
“K-a-m-ei, I think.”
A few seconds of rifling pages filled the silence, and then Jenaya heard him say, “Here it is. I’ve never had Japanese food before.”
“Sushi is very tasty and…I’ve changed my mind. May we have pizza instead?”
“Are you sure?” Dareken asked.
“I can eat pizza with my hands. Japanese food requires chopsticks and coordination.”
Dareken laughed, “How about pizza and buffalo wings?”
“Even better. Could you order some twisty bread?”
“Coming right up.” Dareken dialed a nearby pizza place and gave his order. “What’s your exact address, Jenaya?”
“6667 Silver Avenue.”
Dareken repeated the information and, when he hung up the phone, said, “It will be half an hour until they arrive.”
By the time the pizza delivery guy rang the buzzer, Steve had showered and joined Jenaya and Dareken in the living room. While they ate, Dareken repeated what he had said earlier to Jenaya. Steve listened avidly. He was surprised when Dareken mentioned Switzerland, but he wasn’t averse to it.
“Six months is a long time even though I can visit, I’ll still have to work,” Steve said as he picked up another piece of pepperoni and mushroom pizza.
“Well, no,” Dareken began, “the other part of our settlement will not only provide Jenaya with funds for the rest of her life, but yours also.”
“Wow, that’s great,” Jenaya heard Steve say. She could imagine a grin on his face and a sparkle in his eyes. She’d known him less than two years, but already she knew he’d always wanted to win the lottery so that he wouldn’t have to work. In a way, Dareken’s offer was like winning the lottery but at her expense. Jenaya immediately resented Steve, couldn’t help it. She wondered if he’d remain with her, now that he faced financial freedom. She figured that it took a special kind of person to deal with a person’s handicap. Theirs wasn’t a head-over-heals love. They’d married for logical reasons. It had been her naïve thinking that, perhaps with time, their love would grow deeper.
It was the third repetition of her name that got her attention, “Uh, sorry. What were you saying?”
“I was just mentioning to Steve that there is an opening at the centre at the end of the month and that is only three weeks away. I can make the necessary arrangements.”
“Three weeks? That’s so fast. I haven’t been blind that long. Maybe the blindness will reverse itself and my vision will return.”
“They might be able to help speed up the process if it’s only temporary.”
Jenaya’s voice was shaky, “It’s all happening too quickly. Excuse me, I need to have a minute.” She got up and went to the bedroom.
She wasn’t in the room when Steve asked, “How much of a settlement?”
“Oh, didn’t I say?” He’d intentionally waited for an opening when Jenaya wasn’t in the room, “One million. You’ll probably want to be with her during her rehabilitation and can’t work. Probably things will be easier for your marriage if you’re around more.” Dareken looked Steve in the eye and deliberately emphasized, “She’s going to be needing you more than ever. Do you think you’re up to it?”
Steve looked away from Dareken’s piercing eyes but Dareken pushed ahead, “Let me be blunt. Can you handle being married to a blind woman for the rest of your life?”
Steve still didn’t answer but had stepped to the end of the room and was staring out the window.
“I won’t rush you for an answer, but you need to make a decision. Dragging out the relationship will only make things more difficult in the long run.”
Steve turned and nodded in agreement, “I’ll need time to decide.”
“You’ll have the next few months.”
Jenaya returned just as Dareken and Steve finished talking about the money. Dareken thanked them for the evening and excused himself.
“You did the cooking,” Jenaya joked. “We should be thanking you.”
“It was my pleasure. Perhaps we can do it again.”
Meanwhile, when Dareken told Jaed that he’d made the offer to Steve and Jenaya, Jaed calmly asked, “How did they receive the offer?”
“Jenaya was definitely defensive about the entire process. She feels rushed.”
“That can’t be helped, Darek.”
“I know! We’ve managed to keep them apart so far, but how are we going to manage the next three weeks?”
“What kind of pretense can we come up with to keep them apart and what makes you so sure that they haven’t mated yet?”
“I’ve been reading between the lines, Jaed.”
“What do you mean, you’ve been reading between the lines?”
“You need to work on your idioms if you want to fit in.”
“Here? In Vancouver? With all the immigrants, we fit right in, accents, idiomless or not.”
“Yes, we can’t ask for a better place to live, can we? It has only been four weeks and Jenaya and Steve have had to adjust to her blindness. It won’t be long until he demands his conjugal rights.”
“I don’t agree with you, Darek. Ever since I’ve been working with Steve, he has seemed rather unsure of how to approach her. He mentioned how he scared her accidentally during the first week of her return from the hospital and now he doesn’t know how to get closer to her.”
“We could use that to our advantage.”
Jaed looked doubtful, “I don’t like doing this to them. Breaking apart their marriage for our own selfish purposes.”
Darek placed his hand on Jaed’s shoulder, “I don’t like it either, but I think of the survival of our species, our way of life, our history and heritage,” he paused, “of us.” His voice lowered emotionally, “Hundreds of thousands of years gone. No, we’re not being selfish. We’re doing what it takes to ensure that who and what we are doesn’t cease to exist.”
“I know Darek, but winning her over to our side isn’t going to be easy.”
Dareken tried to be light as he said, “We have several hundred years to win her over.”
“Then why don’t we just take her and leave?”
“For one, communications, our ten years here ought to have taught you something.”
“We’ll leave the country. Go where she can’t possibly be identified.”
“I’ve consider that, but she has family, her own history. We can’t just up and take her away from it.”
“Once she knows who she is, she’ll realize there’s no other way.”
“Jaed, I know exactly what you mean. It’s her only choice and we don’t have the right to take that away from her.”
“What are you suggesting? That we meet her family?”
“If need be.”
“That brings us back to the next three weeks. What are we going to do?”
“We already know we can break them up while she’s away by planting suggestions and, of course, making him a financial offer he can’t refuse.”
Jaed interrupted, “And in the process, we alienate her from her husband and cause her pain and possibly, if he truly cares, him pain.”
“Someone somewhere will get hurt!”
“Then we have to come up with a solution that will let Jenaya and Steve accept their inevitable separation.”
“Is all this necessary? Maybe she wants to break up with him!”
“Why don’t we just come out and tell her the truth?”
“What truth? That we’re not from this planet. We intend to break up your marriage, and, of, by the way, you’re no longer human?”
Dareken hoped that by being facetious, he could point out the sheer ludicrousness of the idea. He was surprised when Jaed blurted, “Yes, why not? She already, even if she doesn’t know it, incorporates the entire essence of Amaryl so she, even though she doesn’t know it, is already naturally drawn to anything reminiscent of Amaryl.”
“That may or not be true.”
Jaed continued as if Dareken hadn’t spoken. “Her predisposition is towards us but she does have her humanity to contend with.”
The next week flew by as Jenaya prepared to leave Canada. Steve and Jenaya talked about what they would do with the money. Steve kept suggesting a house and Jenaya finally acquiesced.
“That means we can get rid of all your books.”
Jenaya, whose favourite thing to do was reading retorted, “No way!”
“You’re blind and you can’t work. You don’t need any of the photocopies or school work you’ve been saving.”
“What if I get my sight back? I’ll have to start all over again.”
Steve glowered and said, “Maybe you’re right. After all, they are sending you to a special place in Switzerland. Okay, how about we put everything into storage until you get back?”
Jenaya’s breathed in relief, “Great.”
“Do you think you can pack it up before you leave?”
“In two weeks?”
“Sure, why not?”
“If you get the boxes, I can probably pack them while you’re at work,” Jenaya replied, resigned to the inevitable. Steve had always complained about the clutter that accompanied teachers with pack rat tendencies.