Cerulean, a Luxonian dressed in casual twentieth-century blue jeans, a loose t-shirt, and slip-on shoes (he hated laces), rolled a shopping cart along the grocery aisle, following a woman and her young daughter.
The woman, distracted and hesitant, returned repeatedly to the child. “What’s next, Anne?”
Holding a limp notepaper covered in careful script, Anne ran her finger along a middle line and bit her lip. She peered at her mom. “Mayonnaise and garlic salt.”
The older woman started forward, peered at three varieties of mayonnaise, and froze. The child stepped around her, considered the labels and plucked the middle choice off the shelf. “It’s what we always get.”
The woman nodded.
After dropping a box of granola bars and a can of olives into his cart, Cerulean followed, fascinated by the mother and daughter before him. Only when a middle-aged man stared pointedly at his nearly empty cart, did he grab a few more items and toss them in with the others.
The child’s preternatural competence struck Cerulean like a blow to the chest. His mother died when he was young, not an uncommon experience for Luxonians. But his memories included a woman of great sensitivity and quiet competence. Nothing like this fragile, hesitant woman pacing behind her strong-willed child.
When they left the store, Cerulean half expected the child to slip into the driver’s seat, but no, the older woman took the wheel, and ever-so-slowly drove away. Placing his paid-for groceries next to a homeless man he has noticed earlier, Cerulean stepped into a sheltered corner and disappeared.
Cerulean marched into Judge Sterling’s quarters, handed his tasty Earth offering to his superior, stepped back, and waited.
Sterling, in his usual grey leggings and a long tunic, grinned and daintily peeled the orange foil away from a sticky granola bar. He eyed it, sniffed it, and then delicately bit off a tiny corner. He chewed, his gaze rising to the bright skylight. “Hmmm. Not bad. Certainly not as disgusting as some of the things your father brought home.”
Folding his arms over his chest, Cerulean maintained a steady gaze. “He told me that you had a particular taste for OldEarth brews.
Waving a finger, Sterling cracked a grin. “Teal had a rare knack for highlighting my weak spots.” He laid the remainder of the chewy bar on his desk and circled around to an open window with a large garden box attached to the edge.
A luxurious purple vine spread thick along the border and up the walls. Delicate pink flowers dotted the vine clusters creating an enchanting, almost luminescent contrast.
“You know, your father gave me this plant many seasons ago. I nearly killed it—accidentally of course. But he saved it. Like he saved so many.”
Cerulean shrugged. “Yet you never liked him.”
Teal twirled around, the edges of his eyes glowing a fiery red. “I loved your father as few ever could. Even your mother, bless her departed spirit, never really understood him.”
Strolling to the plant, Cerulean gently ran his fingers along the main stem, his gaze focused, his heart aching. “What did you understand?”
“Teal was a savior-type. Couldn’t help himself. He had to save everyone. Even beings that didn’t deserve his…devotion.”
“And that was wrong?”
Sterling pursed his lips. “Not wrong exactly—just made my job rather difficult.” He stepped closer to Cerulean and clasped his arm. “Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a savior alive?”
Cerulean locked eyes with Sterling. “Since he’s dead now, I can only assume it was an impossible task.”
Sterling closed his eyes and swayed back to his desk, landing on a plush chair. With a groan, he propped his head on one hand and stared at Cerulean, who still stood by the plant. “Don’t blame me, Cerulean. You know perfectly well I tried to talk him out of going…but—” His sigh rose high and strangled. “You know your father.”
Cerulean dropped his gaze, his shoulders dropping, his spirit caving. “Yes. He was certainly determined.”
Sterling jumped to his feet, rubbing his hands like a man ready to change the topic if not the world. “So, tell me. Have you chosen a human to focus on?”
Pulling a datapad from a pocket, Cerulean strode to the desk, tapped the surface, and then laid it on the desk.
The picture of a young girl standing next to a slump-shouldered, grey-haired woman peered up.
Cerulean pointed. “Her name is Anne Smith. She’s only seven, but—” His gaze wandered across the room, over the vine, and out the window. “I don’t know. She seems to have an unusual strength of character. I’d like to see what life has in store for her and how she handles it.”
Sterling lifted the datapad and stared at the figures for a long moment. Then he glanced at Cerulean and handed it back. “Don’t get emotionally attached.”
“Being that she’s a human child and I’m a Luxonian adult, I hardly think that’ll be an issue.”
Sterling nodded through a snort. His eyes grew wide as he lifted the melted chewy bar and strands of caramel and chocolate dribbled across his desk. He swallowed and shook his head. “When are you going?”
“Tomorrow. I thought I’d visit my parents’ tombstones before I go.”
Sterling tossed the remainder of the bar into a wall depository, snatched a cloth off a shelf, and wiped his hands. “Odd practice. They’ve departed to the other side, yet you insist on raising a memorial. Why?”
“Parents and children—it’s a tie that can’t be broken.”
Sterling strode over to the purple plant, tugged a young vine free, roots and all, and placed it into Cerulean’s open palm. “Plant it between them.” He glanced up, and though he smiled, his eyes glinted in grief. “Remember to water it.”
Cerulean nodded and started for the door. Then he stopped and glanced back. “Though my father crossed a line—he cared too much—he didn’t care alone. Did he?”
Sterling swallowed and dropped his gaze.
Cerulean stepped over the threshold, and the door swished shut.
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r
Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend
OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00