Chapter 12 – The return

Beth wakes up as Star Shining in The Vastness of the Universe enters the room, glowing in happiness.
– Beth, you were sleeping. Forgive my being late. It’s the baby. The baby’s born.
Beth smiles and immediately panics. Did she miss the return signal? She tries to reason to herself. “The return signal is an electric perturbation, not a sound. I might be able to perceive it while sleeping.”  But she didn’t feel anything.

– Do you want to see the baby? Come. Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain looks forward to showing her to you.
– Her? she says, as though she just discovered this news.
She begins to understand how the two Smiths had to live for those two months, pretending not to know what they knew. It’s not that simple. Even less among the empathists.
– Yes, an adorable little girl. Come on, the hospital isn’t very far.
– I need to know how much time I have left.
– I can sense you worry about it. I’ll go search my time convertor in a nearby room. We needed one to synchronize your return and the one for the guy who took your place on Earth.
He returns quickly.
– See, at the top of the screen it’s Dalygaran time, and at the bottom is Earth’s.
– Two hours. I’ve got two hours left.
– That’s quite enough to see the baby.

Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe is happier than she’d ever seen him before. He takes Beth by her arm to lead her to the hospital.
– Here they are, he says, pointing to a door with his index finger. Please, come in.
He opens the door and literally pushes her inside and follows her.
– Beth, I can’t believe you’re back. I didn’t understand everything this man here, who claims to be my husband, said. He tried so hard to cover things up . You saved us all. This I understood well. Thanks to you, little Moon Crystal here will grow up in a world not devastated with an illness.
Beth feels guilty for having to pretend to be surprised.
– Moon Crystal?
– It’s in tribute to the Major. He’s a hero now. He gave his life to bring back the only person able to save Dalygaran. This name won’t ever be mocked again.
– But, it’s a girl…
– Yes, I know that, answers Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain somewhat taken aback.
– Oh, I see. It may be one of those differences between our two planets. On Earth most names have genders. For example, Beth is for girls. No boys would be named Beth.
– There’s nothing like that here.
– I understand. What a cutie pie she is.
– Sorry?
– Great, now the translator chooses to play tricks on us. I wanted to say so adorable.
– She looks like her mother, says Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
Beth smiles.
– I agree.
– What’s this? asks Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain, pointing at the strap around Beth’s wrist.
– This is a revelator. If I push the round button, you’ll see me in my Earthling shape. The triangular button is to get back to my initial travel body shape.
– And the square one?
– It’s a call button. It contacts those who gave me this strap. I will tell you all this another time, Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
– Promise?
– Promise!
– I would like to see you…
– Sorry?
– Your human shape. You gave us a portrait. I’d like to see you. For real. Please, push the round button.
Beth looks at Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe who nods. She pushes the round button.
In light of her former hosts’ silence, she then pushes the triangular button.
– Your paleness always amazed me, finally says Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain.
Then she goes on:
– I’ll be out of here tomorrow, just in time for the Major’s funeral. Will you stay here?
– Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain, I can’t. I have to leave. But maybe I could come back tomorrow.
– Beth, it would be so much simpler if we can know when you’re about to come. You should have a communicator, says Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe
– You gave me one to call you when the delivery was about to happen. I put it in this drawer, says the young mother.
– Will it work on Earth?
– We don’t have several types of communicators. Those used for space travel are the same as those used on this planet. You’ll be able to call us from Earth, then. Do you remember how it works?
– Yes, it’s not such a long time ago. I’ll do a little return trip to Earth to drop this stuff off and then I’ll come back.
Beth kisses Fragrant Flower from Isadora Plain on the cheek and says to Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe:
– See you in the disembarkation room.
– I’ll co…
Beth dematerializes.
– … me soon. This girl will never change. Always in a hurry, mutters Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe.
Fragrant Flowers from Isadora Plain starts laughing.
– Hurry up now, go to meet her. Maybe she’s already there…

While the two spouses are talking, Beth goes to the two Smiths, in the room where she usually draws, and puts the communicator in the drawer where she put her soft pencils. Then she disappears immediately to reappear in the disembarkation room on Dalygaran.
It takes Star Shining in the Vastness of the Universe a little more time to arrive… and out of breath.
– You’re…
– … impossible. I know. Do you have my extraction pill?
– Here it is, he says, getting a little box out of a fold in his clothes.
He opens the box and gives the pill to Beth, who swallows it immediately, without even a glass of water.
– I’ll be back soon, she says as she lies on the couch.
Beth closes her eyes and her mind releases quickly.

On Earth she opens her eyes. Sylvester is asleep in the armchair in front of her. She sits, then goes to him and passes her hand softly on his cheek to wake him.
– Sylvester, I’m back, she whispers.
Sylvester opens his eyes and smiles at Beth.
– Hi, old brother.
– We worried a lot about you, you know. Thanks God it’s over now. All your comings and goings, our past, your future. It was exhausting.
– Where’s Paul?
– He’s in the next room.
Paul, alerted by the noise of the voices, comes out of the room to hug Beth.
– It’s such a responsibility to be older brothers, he says, happy to see her healthy looking. Did you succeed in your mission for Dalygaran?
– Yes, and I’ve plenty of things to tell you two.
– We’re sure about that, he answers. But I think you’d like to see our guest first.
– We have a guest?
– Yes. We’d like to introduce him to you. Come, he’s in the next room.
Paul opens the door and a man, in about his thirties, gets up swiftly from the armchair where he was sitting.
– Beth! he says with a hint of emotion in the voice. However, he hesitates to walk up to her.
Beth stares at him intensely. She can’t believe what she is seeing. Due to being in this Dalygaran body for a long time, she’s kept some abilities and has apparently developed others. And in spite of a radical change of appearance, she knows perfectly well who is in front of her. It’s definitely him. It’s the Major!


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