The Apology (New Life Series)

I wrote this back in April during the time in which SaidBree ran this challenge, but I was unable to get it finished or edited in time. I wrote ‘The Apology’ to be the second part of the New Life Series. (You can find the first part here.) I am not sure how well it will read without the first part.

The Apology
(New Life series)
Leann Holland

“Mrs. Campbell, thank you so much for seeing me.” Veronica Snarski said sitting down in the armchair across from Amelia Campbell in her room at The Pines assisted living village.

“Of course, dear.” Amelia pushed herself into a more upright position in her green lift chair that doubled as her bed. “It’s good to see you. Klayton says that you saved my life.”

“I have thought a lot about that day over the last eleven months,” Veronica smiled leaning toward her, “You remind me of my grandmother.”

“Thank you, dear. Your grandmother must have been someone special.” Amelia said sitting up a little straighter.

“I came for two reasons. One is to ask your forgiveness.” Veronica tried to lift her eyes to Amelia but never quite reached them. “I am sorry.”

Amelia shuffled to the edge of her bed, and reached out to pat Veronica’s hand. “It’s okay, dear, you were selling me what I wanted, a pain-free ending. I just should have asked more questions and read the fine print. Oh my goodness, four hundred dollars an hour, I would never have been activated.”

Tears raced down Veronica’s cheek, “Thank you, thank you. I never wanted that job but when my grandmother signed the same contract as you. I didn’t have the money to see her. They offered me a job and one of the perks was the ability to access her for free.”

“Oh, dear, you can’t see her now.” Amelia said, sat back into her bed slouching once again.

“No, I can’t.” Veronica swiped at the tears. “And . . . and Klayton is helping me create a portal to access her engrams. We were able to secure them with the closing of New Life Enterprises.”

“So, you’ll be able to visit her when he gets it ready.” She grinned wide. The grin changed, she continued, “Maybe I could be the second one to use his program when it’s ready.”

“Please think about that carefully.” Veronica looked down at her hands crossed in her lap again. “With bodily death, my grandmother, a lady of faith, had expected that her engrams would be removed from the New Life World. Of course, we expected that she would live more than a year as her life expectancy was still ten to twenty years. She was just tired of the pain associated with the car accident that left her in a wheelchair.” Veronica took a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh. “When they started charging me the four hundred dollars, which I didn’t have they offered me a job so I could visit her for free as an employee. After my deep grief subsided, I realized there was a difference in my grandmother. It was weird but it was there. When we talked about the past, it was great all of her memories were intact. However, anything new had . . . a stilted feeling like. . .” Veronica drifted off.

“Oh my!” Amelia said. “That is definitely something I will need to think about.” She picked at her fingernails. “You said there was a second thing you wanted to talk about with me.”

Clearing her throat, Veronica began, “Hmm, where to begin. Okay, are you sleeping okay?”

“Yes, I am sleeping better than I have in years. Well, except. . .” Amelia paused.

When she didn’t continue, Veronica leaned in and prodded, “Except?”

“You are going to think I am a crazy old lady. So, please don’t laugh at me. I keep waking up at the same time every night for just a few minutes just after midnight hearing the sound of Taps. But I fall back to sleep within minutes.”

At Veronica’s deep intake of breath, Amelia’s eyes grew wide. “What? What’s wrong with me?”

“I keep waking up at that same time, feeling like I am forgetting something.” Veronica tried to stem the stream of tears. “I need to talk to Klayton.”

“Dear, please just tell me what you are thinking.”

“I really don’t want to worry you.”

“My dear, if it’s about me, I need to know. What do you think it means?”

“I was never really involved in the memory scanning or any other process that took place after I got the papers signed. But I overheard two memory techs joking in the lunchroom once about programming the New Life’s implant to play Taps at the hour of death every day until day of death.”

“Oh, dear. Oh, dear,” Amelia began to cry. “No! No, they said they fixed everything. It just means that I will wake every night until I died a natural death.”

“I am sure, but let me talk to Klayton just in case.” Veronica reached over and patted her hand this time. She didn’t have the heart to tell her that the Implants were only designed to last one year. Did it really mean anything? They said they fixed everything. But . . .

An hour later, Veronica and Klayton were sitting at an Alive coffee shop. After they had purchased their drinks and sat down, Veronica cradled her cup and explained to Klayton her worries about the New Life Implants.

“Are you hearing Taps as well?” Klayton asked her.

Searching her memory, Veronica asked, “I don’t think so. But what would it matter? I don’t have an implant.”

“Are you sure? They are very small and easily inserted without someone’s knowledge.”

“No, no! They wouldn’t do something like that.” Veronica wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. Her hands shaking, she place her coffee on the table.

“When did you start waking up?” He asked.

“Right after their lawyer asked to see me when I was arrested.” Veronica clasped her hands over her mouth. “Those dirty bastards!”

“I am fairly certain that my grandma is okay, but we will have both of you scanned.” Klayton sat back, texting.

Within the hour, they were back in Amelia’s room with an Implant specialist.

“I am so sorry, Klayton. I don’t know how we missed it in your grandmother. I really don’t think we did, but I have disabled them in both ladies, having them self-destruct.”



Two Prairie Girls

2018 Two Prairie Girls blog signedThis is the third entry in my new art journal from my ds. Twice a week, I take care of a very special lady who has Alzheimer’s. She loves some of the old shows. After watching two Walton episodes and two Little House on the Prairie episodes, I decided to draw “Two Prairie Girls.”

I wasn’t able to finish it that night. The next day while I watched my mother-in-law sleep, I finished the girls.



Mist and Light – Flash Fiction

Found time to write this week!!! I have sat down and started a flash fiction challenge in the past only to be disappointed in myself. Not this week, I checked out terribleminds flash fiction  challenge this past week.

Challenge Details:
1 Story under 1500 words
Use one of the randomly generated titles listed on the site: I chose “Mist & Light”
Due: Friday, June 8, 2018 noon EST

My Entry:

Mist and Light
Leann Holland

“Grandpa, Grandpa, tell me again of your days on Cieslik?” Marymay bugged. “It’s just the grandest story of anyone in our village.”

“Not now, Marymay.” He sunk down into his comfortable arm chair. While it was true that he was the only one from their small village that travelled to the Land of Milk and Honey, the planet Cieslik, he hadn’t returned the hero.

“Daddy says you haven’t told me everything.” Marymay tugged on his hand. “And I want to hear everything.”

Marwood laughed at her eight year old impatience. “What does he say that I have left out of the story?”

“All the good stuff,” Marymay said, crawling up into his lap. She snatched his mug off the side table.

“Oh, be . . .” Marwood began.

“That’s bad!” she wiped off her tongue on the back of her hand and when that wasn’t enough she scrubbed it on his rough plaid shirt.

“Marymay! What on Verhelle are you doing?”

She smiled up at him, “You taste better than that horrible stuff in the mug!” It wiped the smile from her face again. “How can you drink that?”

“I acquired the taste on Cieslik. Everyone there drinks it all day long.” A longing for times past hit him squarely in his heart. Would he never forget? Thirty five years plus, he was still unable to move past his greatest success and failure. Some days he struggled to decide what was a success or the failure.

She picked the mug back up, eying the contents with a look that made Marwood laugh out loud. He remembered the first time it was offered to him in the lunchroom at the Cieslik’s summer camp for disadvantaged youths. He signed up to work with a humanitarian group to work with the kids in the poorest city on Cieslik, Mahe. He taught himself to drink it, to fit in. Now, he drank it on days when the memories called the most.

“Marymay, you didn’t like it. So, don’t force yourself to change to fit other’s ways.”

“But Grandpa, when we get to Cieslik, I want to fit in.”

“I am sorry, child, I am never allowed back there.” Marwood saw confusion enter into her warm brown eyes.

“But I thought Daddy said. . .” Marymay clamped her tiny pink lips shut.

Marwood hated her silence, rolling his eyes. “What is the best part I keep leaving out of the story, Marymay?”

“Your first love!” Marymay clapped gently, “It’s my favorite part.”

“A romantic at heart are you girl?”

Marymay rolled her eyes, “How old are you grandpa? Nobody says things like that anymore.” She thought for a minute. “At least not here on Verhelle, maybe on Cieslik, but tell me the story, please.”

“So, you want to hear the story of grandma and me?”

She playfully swatted at his hand. “No, silly. You and grandma hated each other.”

“Who told you that?”

“It’s okay, Grandpa. Daddy explained everything.”

“Not always,” He interrupted. By everything that’s holy, Marwood hoped not. His son, Marson, knew how much Liese thought he was a failure. No matter how many times he explained to her. There was no way off Verhelle for him. She thought he wasn’t trying hard enough. Unfortunately, he hadn’t realized her motives in time to stop his disastrous marriage. Looking into Marymay’s eyes, he wasn’t sorry. She had Liese’s eyes, but held a compassion that Liese’s never did. His son had chosen more wisely than himself, although, in honesty, Marwood left his heart on Cieslik.

Marwood felt a gentle pat, pat, and pat on his whiskered cheek.

“Grandpa, where did you go?” She giggled, “One minute you were looking at me, then you were gone.”

“I seem to be getting lost in the past, Marymay.”

“Is it a good place to go?”

“Sometimes,” Marwood said smiling faintly.

“Please wait until I’m not here.”

Marwood smiled, holding a laugh in. “Yes, ma’am.”

Turning around in his lap, Marymay curled into his side, “Now, tell me your love story on Cieslik.”

“Where do you want me to begin?”

“Where did you meet her?”

“Half way through my career in the exclusive Upper Secondary School of Mahe, Miriam was a transfer student from the city of Delamare. Her dad was high up in the administration.”

Marymay whistled. Delamare was the wealthiest city on Cieslik. “But you were the fake adopted son of Wentz and Lenora Muir, by this time, yes?”

“I am not proud of that you know?” Marwood scowled. “I didn’t expect deception in the people of Cieslik. They were golden people who had all the opportunities. They didn’t need to lie or cheat to get ahead. Little did I understand. Then I didn’t know how to get out, which I wanted but I didn’t want to leave school. I had friends, success, and a future. For a few minutes anyway.”

“Grandpa, get back to the love story, please.” Marymay asked.

Taking her face into his hands, “Marymay, it’s never okay to lie and cheat.”

“But daddy said I had to today.” She frowned.


“Never mind, I need you to tell me the rest of the story. No lectures! Please grandpa?”

Marwood didn’t like to see her face worried like that, so he continued, “Miriam was smart, funny and beautiful. I had never met another girl who glowed like her. I thought she had everything.” He chuckled quietly, “She had her own struggles. Because her dad was high up in the government, she didn’t know who liked her for her or wanted something from her father. Her mother was extremely involved in her two brothers’ lives.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.” Marymay chimed in.

“Human nature says all problems are big ones.” At Marymay’s eye rolling, Marwood continued, “The school had a Verhelle Language Study program. Rausch, my best friend, and I headed the study group.”
Marwood enjoyed a few private memories. “Miriam was a quick study of Verhelle Language. Soon she and I were talking circles around the others.”

“How did your talking lead to you spending time in jail?”

“Remember how I told them I was a lot younger than I was. My relationship with Miriam wasn’t appropriate for her age.”

“But you loved each other. How is that wrong?”

A knock on the front door interrupted their conversation. Marymay raced to answer the door. “Yes?”

“I. . . I . . . I . . . am looking for Marwood,” The lady looked down at the crumpled paper in her hand. “Trombley. Do you know him? Or where can I find him?

“I know you. You have talked with my daddy.” Marymay said, stepping out of the Marwood’s way.

“Miriam?” Marwood stood, slightly stumbling to the door. “After all this time, is that really you, Miriam?”

Somehow they met in the middle of the room. Marwood stared into those blue eyes from so long ago. “It really is you, Miriam.” He just stood. Did his mind just go? He was seeing Miriam. “Why are you here?” Marwood cried.

“To take you home with me,” Miriam said, cradling his bearded face between her hands. “They issued you a full pardon.”
Tears filled his eyes. Marwood knew that he couldn’t leave his son and grandchildren.

“Marwood, it’s okay.” She pulled him into a full hug.

He saw Rausch standing behind with a tear filled smile. Marwood’s tears fell harder. When he finally stopped crying, the three friends that hadn’t seen each other thirty five years sat in the comfortable chairs.

“How long have you two been married now?” Marwood asked.

Rausch cleared his throat. “That’s right we haven’t communicated since we made that stupid mistake.”

Marwood looked between the two. It had crushed him when they married but he knew that Rausch would be able to take care of her. He had given them his blessing and it had been the last time he talked to them. The next month he met Liese.

“Oh, Rausch, don’t be so dramatic.” Miriam smiled sadly. “We did share a love, but it was a love of you. But we don’t regret it. We have two wonderful sons that you’ll get to meet when we get back to Mahe.”

“And my wife, Sarah. She has heard so much about you. She helped Miriam and me get you a pardon.”

Tears threatened again. “I am an old man. My family is here now.” Marwood waved his arms. “I would love to come for a visit though.”

“My dear sweet Marwood,” Miriam said, “We were able to secure spots for you, your son and his wife with their children.” Miriam winked at Marymay. “In fact, Marson and his family have been very helpful.”

Marwood looked around the room then at all the faces in the room. When had Marson and Annemay arrived? “Okay, when do we leave?”


New Art Journal

For Christmas my oldest ds gave me a new art journal. It was a thoughtful gift but . . . I hadn’t finished the previous one, so to finish the other one first or not? Would the paper of this new one work with the water my favorite mediums used? Well, as with all the craziness in my life, I didn’t have time to do much art for myself.

After my youngest ds’s graduation, I am starting to feel like maybe I will have a few more minutes to create. Here is the second art journal page I created in the new art journal.

IMG_2204 trees blog signed

As I was searching on Pintrest for inspiration, I was unable to find any pins in this style. I know they exist. Just couldn’t find them. So, here is my original. Hoping to play more with this style. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. FYI- Intense pencils.

Hope it made you smile,



Life’s Changing

Life is changing. Doors are opening. Doors are closing. Hoping to post more about that in a future post.

A few of the things that have delayed my ability to focus on my blog recently are another death in the extended family, getting my mother-in-law set up with hospice, my son’s graduation from high school, a family feud, and lastly a nasty summer stomach virus.


My mom’s birthday was in May. It was very hard. I painted her the flowers in the photo above and sent it to her. The painting was inspired by CeeCeeCreation’s you tube video.  My watercolor is a little different as I didn’t want to outright copy it, but with everything going on, I really needed the outside inspiration. Happy Birthday, Mommy!!!

I hope your life has less drama!


Turkey Through the Windshield


Turkey Through the Windshield unboxingofkim signed 05132018
Turkey Through the Windshield by kimberhew

I had hope to post the second part of the New Life Enterprises short story. Unfortunately, I was unable to get it even a basic edit. I had another funeral this week. Rest in Peace, Miss Larna.

On Friday, my husband driving home from his mothers on a wet roadway successfully avoided a turkey. It inspired the above art journal page. Later that evening his mom was admitted to the hospital. She went home yesterday, good and bad. Mostly bad, I think as her pain is no longer under control.

Thanks for your patience. Hope you enjoy my art journal page.






Where the Roses Never Fade

Where Roses never Fade blog signed 04302018Sorry that I have been missing for a couple of weeks again. An aunt that I previously eluded to decided to call hospice in. I joined her kids, grandkids, and a sister in helping take care of her during this time of transition. She had great faith. Her funeral was over the weekend and today is the burial.

Above is the mixed media piece I created inspired by the time I spend with her. Aunt P., you are going to be missed. I love you.



New Life Enterprises – Flash Fiction Story

I found a few minutes in between one family member being released from rehab, another admitted into the hospital for three days, and a third going in for some testing. Unfortunately, I wasn’t unable to comply with all the rules. I didn’t want to cut the story back to fulfill the requirement. However, I did want to give credit to the inspiration. Thank you, terribleminds , for the this week’s prompt.

New Life Enterprises


Leann Holland

Amelia Campbell walked through the sliding glass doors of the New Life Enterprises, panting and clutching her two wheeled walker. Her family refused to bring her here. “It’s a scam” reverberated in her mind. Her sister Eileen and her two sons, Baker and Travis out right laughed in her face.

Cynthia, her assisted living roommate’s granddaughter, knew how to call for the new kind of taxi service from her phone. Every year life got more complicated. Things she used do are now an exercise in frustration. These young people didn’t realize this was their future as well. Amelia had sent a thousand silent apologies to her parents and grandparents for all the comments she had made through the years.

Spying a chair, Amelia hobbled over to it. With a deep sigh, she sank into it.
A lady appeared on the screen behind the counter, her face not quite real. “How may we help you today, ma’am?”

“I would like to talk to you about your services and what options you offer.” Amelia responded. The sign above the screen barely catching her eye, you were recorded everywhere these days, even in your own home.

“Are you alone?”

“I’m afraid my family doesn’t approve.” Amelia wiped away a tear from the corner of her eye.

“Do they know you are here?”

“I don’t think so,” she proceeded to explain how she arrived at the offices. “I lied on the sign out sheet at The Pines, my assisted living village.” Amelia smiled, she had thought of everything.

“Are you comfortable?”

“Mostly,” she said. Her hands shook.

“Are you ready to commit today?”

“I think so. I am so tired of being in pain and nobody able to do anything.”
A door on the wall to the right of the screen swung open. “Step into this room there are more comfortable chairs available and someone will be in shortly to assist you.”

Fifteen minutes later, Amelia was reclining in a very comfortable chair. This time the sign claiming they were recording you was unnecessary as an unwieldy camera was mounted to the ceiling above the chair opposite Amelia. The door behind the camera opened and a smart dressed woman walked into the room.

“Hi, I’m Veronica Snarski and your consultor today.” She tapped the papers in the folder she was holding on the small table between the two chairs. “Where would you like to start?”

“Is this legal?”

“As long as you are here of your own free will, it is legal. No one can be pressured into it.”

Amelia flinched. There were rumors of unexplained deaths at the Pines to make room for new or wealthy individuals. But she said, “The protesters outside scared me as I had to push past them.”

“What did they say to scare you?”

“That New Life kills people.”

“Do you believe that the government would allow us to kill people?”

“Then why do they say those awful things?” Amelia asked wiping at the corner of her eye again.

“Do you understand the services we provide?” Veronica asked silently handing Amelia the contract.

“I think so, Virtual Reality Living.” Amelia quoted the tagline from their commercial barely glancing at the contract in her hand. Her name was already typed in, when had she given them her name?

Anyways, her first date with her sweet late husband was at a Virtual Reality Arcade almost forty years ago. Throughout the years, they watched and played in the virtual reality playgrounds. The big breakthrough, twenty years ago, was the brain mapping you could do it all without moving. All you had to do was think it. Even the Pines had fifth generation Stripes brand Virtual Reality Communicator in every room. Her grandson, Travis’s son, Klayton created his own virtual reality business by creating a program and artwork for a story world he and his friends wanted.


Amelia reminded Veronica of her own grandmother. She wanted to scream, “read the fine print,” but in accordance with her work contract she explained, “Most of the protestors don’t like any virtual reality. They want us to go for a walk in the real parks and trample all those endangered species plants instead of enjoying it from the comforts of our homes.” She adjusted the papers again, disguising her computer input motions on the table top computer screen. “Any other questions you have for me?”

“Your commercial states that you will accept my government benefits like the Pines?”

“Yes, we will.” Veronica nodded. Her inner voice continued to scream. Six months left on her employment contract before she could leave. Of course, she would have to have another job, which were hard to come by. New Life may try and stop her from leaving she had the best conversion rate of walk-ins to clients.

“Well if the government pays for it, it must be good. Let’s get the paperwork signed.” Amelia said.

As Veronica showed her where to sign, Amelia shared, “My oldest grandson, Travis’s son, Klayton created his own virtual reality business by creating a program and artwork for a story world he and his friends wanted.”

Veronica’s head came up, crap! This could be good or bad, now, how to cover her ass and maybe protect Amelia. “That’s nice.” Veronica tapped the table top to turn off the phone jammer, while stealthy swiping Amelia’s phone. “Are you finished reading and signing the contract?”

“Yes dear.” Amelia patted Veronica’s hand. “You are such a nice girl dear.”
The door behind Veronica opened. “Here is Pender. He will guide you during the medical transition. I will follow behind and gather your belongs for your family.”

An hour later, the glass doors to New Life Enterprises glide open. Amelia’s family entered. A door to the left of the counter swung open. The screen announced, “Please enter,” with an arrow pointing to the door.

Once the family entered, the door swung closed. It was a cold, white sterile room with only a screen, camera, and a table. A small shoot opened and a bag slid on to the table.

Veronica’s avatar appeared on the screen. “These are Amelia’s belongings.” Veronica followed the corporate script. “This is her wish. Please honor it.” In the upper right hand of the screen, the recording of Amelia’s intake played on a hushed volume. “She left a special request for Klayton in her notes.” Veronica’s voice broke. Damn it. She really hoped no one in the office caught it.

A metal door to the outside swung open. “In her notes, you will also find the instructions on how to access her New Life Virtual Profile. She will be available in two days. It has been a pleasure to serve Amelia.” The screen went dead.

Veronica prayed. Their lives, hers and Amelia’s, were in the hands of her grandson, Klayton, an untested virtual designer.


Stumbling outside, Baker reached into the bag searching for her phone. Handing it to Klayton, the family climbed into Baker’s van.

Klayton hunched over the phone as he accessed the note: “Hopefully, you understand the risk I am taking. The advanced brain mapping developed by New Life is extremely thorough. There will be no residual brain activity except autonomic functions like breathing, pulse, etc . . . If you do not transfer her in time, you will be able to “visit” her for the next year. The government gives families a transitional year after which her remains will be sent to you. And, it will cost four hundred dollars an hour to access her stored engrams. See the enclosed files.

Please save her #0418-0503-6185-3333. And if you can find it in your heart, forgive me and save me as well. Veronica Snarski #8001-3875-6747-5555.“


Twenty two hours later, the employee door of the patient room of New Life Enterprises slammed opened. Veronica jumped to her feet when she recognized Klayton with the local police detectives. She cried, “You can’t be in here, patient privacy issues.”

“We have an attempted murder arrest warrant for one Veronica Snarski. Are you her?” The lead detective asked.

“Yes,” she squealed. She didn’t want to go to jail but hopefully, she’d be free of New Life. She was sick of selling death. Of course, this job had never been her choice. She prayed that she was given a chance to explain.
“Ms. Amelia Campbell has been located and transported to the local hospital for assessment. You better hope she’s okay.” The detective announced as he snapped the handcuffs on her wrist.

Klayton winked at her. Hope rose in her chest.

Thank you for reading.


Fan Art

Maze Runner Fan Art – kimberhew

My daughter and I hope to go see the third and final movie in the Maze Runner Trilogy soon. So in preparation, we watched the Maze Runner Movie (the first movie) tonight. While watching, I let my mind and hand create this journal page. (I also used a prime photo (Kindle) filter on the photo.)

Have you read the YA series Maze Runner by James Dashner? I loved it. I begged my daughter to read it with me seven years ago. She wasn’t ready. She read it several years after me and loved it. We have enjoyed the movies as well.

What is your favorite book(series) made into movie(s)? Please leave it in the comments below.


Awakening Part 2

Week Four of Said Bree FFC2018 Flash Fiction challenge:

The prompt:
Pick a number. Then, pick another number. Write a story involving both:
(I chose #14 & 18)
14. An inheritancewriting challenge badgea_participant
18. An argument
under 1000 words, and posted before midnight January 22, 2018. – The rules.

This week’s story is a continuation of the story from last week. I wasn’t planning it but a story presented itself after I read the prompt. Here is the link to last week’s story –Awakening. I am really enjoying this writing universe. You may see more, or I may try to develop another avenue of publication for this developing series. Hope you enjoy the story below:

Awakening Part 2
Leann Holland

Standing in front of the bathroom mirror, Naomi surveyed her makeup one last time. It was the first time she’d left the house alone since Ward and Madeline disappeared on their college reunion trip to Los Angeles last month.

She and Mick had been keeping the girls closer. They maintained weekly phone calls with Faye, the other survivor of their trip. In yesterday’s update, there still wasn’t any news regarding Ward or Madeline.

Not sure she would be leaving Mick and the girls if it wasn’t for her best friend, Ellen’s step mom’s funeral showing tonight. Ellen’s mom watched the girls for them while they were in LA. Ellen was quite close with both sets of her parents. She’d asked Naomi to be there for support as her boyfriend was out of state for a business trip.

An hour later, she and Ellen sat outside Lloyd’s Memorial funeral home. Naomi reached over patting Ellen’s hand.

Flashes of the memories of her walking into her mother’s funeral caused a falter in her steps.
Ellen reached a hand towards Naomi’s elbow. Naomi waved her off mumbling that she’s okay. Then she experienced a flash with her mom’s face all red and angry. Naomi stopped.

Ellen stopped, “Everything okay?”

Walking again, Naomi said, “What happened to Ward and Madeline has triggered strange dreams and memories. I’ll be fine.”

The next half an hour passed in a blur of names and faces. They were approaching the casket. The smiles of greeting and pleasantries disappeared. Friend supporting friend, knees forced to hold. Tears not reigned in. The flower arrangements, large and small, smelled overwhelming.

Naomi stumbled into the nearby sofa, one of many lining the outer walls. Her mother’s angry face blurred her vision. Somehow, Naomi knew her mother wasn’t dead, just very angry at her for leaving Whastle and her families inherited wealth.

“Naomi, are you okay?” Ellen asked, kneeling down beside her.

“Sorry, I am supposed to be here for you.” Under her breath, she murmured, “Whastle?”

“Maybe this was too much after the trauma of your friends disappearing.”

Naomi nodded. “I just keep seeing my mother and I fighting.” Color leaving her face, Naomi added, “Someone mentioned coffee earlier, could we go find some to warm me up?”

“Sure.” Ellen said.

Naomi avoided the casket. Luckily, Ellen seemed fine with it. They kept the conversation light and mainly about Naomi’s girls. But that didn’t stop Helga, Naomi’s mom, from plaguing her thoughts.

Turning the car off in her carport, Ellen turned to Naomi asking, “Are you feeling any better and are you going to tell Mick? He will worry about you.”

“Okay, struggling with distractions. You’re right, he will worry. I don’t think that’s a good idea, right now.” She drifted off, Helga’s face appeared.

“Would you like to stay in the guest room tonight and work out what is bothering you? You could always tell him that you’re staying to help me, because that would be true.”

Naomi debated for a few seconds. It felt like minutes with Ellen’s eyes watching her every move. Mick and the girls alone all night? Working out the message from mom? Very tempting!

“Let me check with Mick?” Naomi said.

Awhile later, the girls sat at opposite ends of the sofa. Feet curled under them, decked out in jamies, and a glass of wine in their hands. “Haven’t done anything like this since college,” Ellen said, before sipping her imported Pinot Noir.

“Hasn’t been time, Mick and I getting married right out of college, had Gillian just shy of a year, then had Darcy a year after that.”

“Even without a husband and kids; the job, dating, friends, and family equals one tired girl.” Ellen sympathized.

An hour later, Naomi paced in the guest room. It was weird being alone. No responsibilities. Alone with her thoughts.

Fighting with herself, she wanted this resolved, but fearing what she might find. Helga, which is how she thought of her mother, never acted warm or loving. Naomi laid down closing her eyes.

“Naomi, why?” Helga said. Disappointment etched into her facial expression. “Why, would you leave Whastle? You belong in the legislative branch!”

“Helga, you have Sabrine and Rowena, my older sisters. They have followed your ways. I want to go to Earth and serve our people there.”

“Military Intelligence?” Helga sneered, “You’re better than that!”

“It’s what I am doing, Mother. I will leave with the Whastlean Earth Alliance in the morning.”

“”If you do, I will cut you out of the inheritance.”

“Please do as I have no desire to play politics, when I can do something meaningful.”

The dream, no, the memory surfaced. She bolted upwards. Her memory implant dissolved on its own. Ward and Madeline’s implants must have dissolved as well.

Crap! Damn the memory implant. She had never been interested in kids or family. So, it had been assumed that she didn’t need the more dangerous implant to suppress the natural desire for family and kids.

What was she going to do with the girls? When would Mick’s implant dissolve? Maybe Mick’s family could take them? But there would be hell to pay if Helga ever found out. They might never be able to see them again. Couldn’t they just raise them here, could they? Maybe if they had a different assignment.

Their different physiology hadn’t raised red flags yet, just a matter of time. Thankfully, America was in “Everybody do your own thing” era. Were there Whastlean surgeons able to perform the complex surgery required to alter the girls after puberty? Did she want the girls altered? What about what the girls wanted?

Too many questions to decide here and now, she needed to see the WAE (Whastlean Earth Alliance) administration. They would have kept track of her and Mick. They would have insight and research that she would be able to access.

Naomi quickly, quietly dressed and slipped out into the night, leaving everything except her purse behind.

©2018 Leann Holland

one place for all of me

Article 94

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