1.18. To the Moon and Back


Polaris studies her oldest granddaughter. Lydia looks unbearably like Quentin, but her voice reminds her so much of Luna when she was a child: surprisingly deep for a girl, with an intelligent sounding timber.

“I don’t know if mom told you, but I’m on student council,” Lydia brags, “I beat out Anatol Svard for president., and his parents paid for actual printed campaign posters.”

“Wow,” Polaris replies, “that’s impressive.”

“And I have the highest grades in class.”

“Is that so?”

Lydia deflates a little. “Well, I’m tied with Luke. But my extracurriculars should count for more! He’s just in the stupid chess club, but I’m president of student council.”

“I see. Are you always this competitive?”

Lydia blinks, “Life is a competition, and I’m going to win.”

Polaris smirks, “that’s the spirit.”


Luke Junior, meanwhile, is speaking Crux. His mother had mentioned that Crux is a chess master, and Luke feels the need to inform him about all of his chess knowledge. It isn’t braggadocious--really, Luke would like to learn more from Crux. After all, a true master is aware of what he doesn’t know.


Lark pairs off with the only remaining grandparent, her biological grandfather.

“Hi,” she greets him, “you have very pretty eyes.”

“Thanks,” Luke Senior beams.

“I like all your eyelashes. They’re like a girl’s eyelashes.”

“I guess that’s nice?”

“Why is Grandma Polly married to Grandpa Crux and not you?”


“Um, you’d have to ask her.”

“She’s talking to Lydia right now, and Lydia never shuts up,” Lark frowns, “do you still love Grandma?”

“I’m married.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

Luke shifts uncomfortably.


Quentin, sensing his father-in-law’s dismay, invites him to jam. Lydia joins in on the piano. Quentin had initially taught her violin, and Luke piano. However, Lydia asked to switch to piano once she felt Luke had become “too good” at it.

The trio is very talented. Well, Quentin and Luke are very talented. Lydia is okay, for a child. Her contributions to the song are sometimes discordant, but the melody is still pleasant nonetheless.


Crux and Luke Junior, meanwhile, play chess, with the promise that Crux will teach him new strategies. Lydia may be the competitive one, but Luke still wants a defensive strategy in case his sister ever challenges his standing in the chess club. She has shown no interest in it, but she’s mercilessly opportunistic. She’s already considering what other clubs can increase her clout with the teachers and administration at the Nature and Nurture Learning Academy.

The pair doesn’t talk as they play, beyond Crux giving gentle criticisms and suggestions. Luke has a lot of potential--he takes his time before decided on each move, considering all of the paths he sees before moving. Unfortunately, he can only think forward two or three moves.


Polaris watches, impressed. Luke Junior is providing a very slight challenge for Crux, which is more than most people are able to do, and Lydia can keep up with her father and grandfather. However, Lark hangs back, away from the center of attention. She bobs her head along with the music, but she doesn’t partake in the activities.. Polaris frowns. She seems left out.

“What are you good at, Lark?” The question is meant to be a simple inquiry into her granddaughter's hobbies, but it comes out unnecessarily cruel. Lark’s shoulders slump.

“I dunno. Mom says I’m good at breaking stuff,” she mumbles.

“Hmm, that seems useful,” Polaris smiles awkwardly.


“Useful at getting me in trouble,” Lark pouts. Sheba whines and licks her hand, trying to comfort her.

Polaris grimaces and looks away,  returning to the music. After the song finishes, she turns to speak before noticing that Lark has vanished.

“Hey--where did Lark go?”

Luna glances at her mother. “Upstairs, probably. She hangs out in her room a lot. Especially when she’s upset. What did you say to upset her, mom?”

“I don’t know,” Polaris rolls her eyes as she jogs up the stairs.


She can hear soft humming from the hallway, high-pitched and cheerful. Polaris pushes open the door. Lark is sitting on the floor, playing with a sea monster toy.

“Oh--hi, grandma. I’m like super busy right now.”

“Playing with your toy?”

“Her name is Nessie,” Lark frowns, “and I’m trying to recreate her environment to figure out how she lives.”

“And how are you going to recreate her habitat?”

“Well,” Lark sighs, “mom and dad won’t pony up for the materials, so I’m using my imagination.”


Polaris sits down across from Lark. “So you’re interested in science?”

“No,” Lark admits, “I just didn’t want you to think I was dumb for playing with toys.”

“Why would I think you’re dumb,” Polaris laughs, “you’re a kid. That’s what kids do.”

“Lydia and Luke don’t play with toys,” Lark grumbles.

“They’re older than you, honey. They’re almost teenagers..”

“Nuh-uh, they never played with toys. Mom said so. She says that’s why I need to learn a skill,” Lark deepens her voice as she imitates her mom, “‘Lydia and Luke have extracurriculars and hobbies, Lark. When are you going to pick up a hobby?’”

“Okay, either your mom is lying, or your siblings are freaks of nature. All kids play with toys, dummy.”

“They’re freaks then,” Lark agrees, “and I think they’re robots.”

“Definitely. Far too perfect to share genetics with me, that’s for sure.”

“Good,” Lark takes a quick breath before continuing, her words running together, “momsaysyou’reanalien--is that true?”

“Yup, 100% extraterrestrial.”

“Wow,” Lark’s eyes widen, “do you have any powers?”


“Um, no. That’s ridiculous. I’m not much different from any human. Except I’m smarter, of course, but that might be due to Simnation’s poor education system more than anything else.”

“Oh. How come Grandpa Luke is our grandfather and Crux isn’t?”


“Um, I boffed him and I got preggo? I dunno. Sorry, but that’s a dumb question.”

“It’s okay. Lydia says all my questions are dumb so I’m used to it. Hey, what does ‘boff’ mean?”

“It means I liked him a lot. Physically, even.”

Lark considers what her grandmother means for a moment before continuing. “What made you like Grandpa Luke?”

“Hmm,” Polaris looks thoughtful, “Are you familiar with the term ‘hung like a horse’?”

“People hang horses?!”

“No, honey. That would be hanged like a horse. It means--you know what, nevermind. Let’s just say he had a certain set of skills that I found desirable.”

“So then why did you marry Grandpa Crux instead?”

“Because I’ve loved him since the moment we met,” Polaris smiles wistfully, “though don’t tell him that. I don’t want him to get too cocky.”

“When did you meet him?”

“It’s a boring story,” Polaris says with a cryptic smile. She would love to tell it, but she’s playing hard to get.

“Please tell me, Grandma?’

Polaris takes in a deep breath before she begins. She had told a similar story to Lark’s aunt and uncle years ago: as a young woman on an alien planet, she had competed for a position in the science, research, and military arm of the government. She never expected to fall in love on the way, and then nearly lose it all on her first mission. It’s a twisting story, full of cliches, but it seems to entertain her granddaughter.


That is until Lark falls asleep. Seems it was a boring story after all.

Polaris puts her hand on Lark’s back, feeling for the soft rise and fall as she breathes. As the mother of five children and the grandmother of nine, she’s held a sleeping child many times. But for some reason, it never fails to amaze and comfort her: Lark indirectly came from her. She created life, and that life created its own offspring, and soon that offspring will create a new generation. It might be small, insignificant, lost in the tides of time, but Polaris has a legacy.


Quentin carries Lark downstairs at bedtime. Luna insisted that her parents not waste any money on a hotel, so the children are given sleeping bags and ordered to sleep in the living room that night. The kids are exhausted, even Lark, so they sleep like rocks.


Even with all the activity happening directly above them in Lark’s bedroom.


***


Polaris is determined to keep her promise to visit Elysia and Crimson the following day. And it turns out she’ll have to leave Aurora Skies much earlier than expected--Nova, her youngest daughter, called the night before in tears, asking her parents to come home. Polaris is so unused to her strong-willed and stubborn daughter asking for help, she knows she has to return to Sunset Valley as soon as possible, so she will be leaving the following evening.. She would love to spend more time in Aurora Skies, but Elysia and Luna have their lives together. Nova doesn’t.

Polaris decides to spend some of her remaining time with Lark. She can tell Lark needs attention, perhaps in the form of sage wisdom from a grandmother, but she’s under a time crunch. So she decides to fit it all in during an energetic game of frisbee before the school bus arrives.

“People will give you shit if you fall for a bad boy, but I want you to know that it makes sense--girls are so constrained by sexist societal demands they aren’t able to express themselves, but bad boys give them some opportunity to do so.”

“Whatever. Boys are gross, grandma.”

“That’s what you say now, but puberty is going to hit you like a ton of bricks pretty soon.”


Lark wrinkles her nose as she catches the frisbee, “I don’t think so.”

“And take it from me--wrap it first, okay, honey? At least until you’re ready for kids.”

“I don’t know what that means, grandma.”



“I know, sweetie. You’re too pure. But commit those words to memory. You’ll know what it means when the time comes.”

Lark repeats “wrap it first” to herself a few times under her breath. If her grandmother wants her to remember it, it must be important.

“And don’t worry too much about ‘finding yourself,’” Polaris continues, “I know your parents want the best for you, but you don’t need to have a special hobby or get really good grades or anything like that. Just do what makes you happy.”



“I will, grandma.”

“Good,” she smiles and tosses the frisbee back to Lark. They’re silent for a moment, the sound of the ocean overtaking them.

“Anything else, grandma?”

“Yes, one more thing,” Polaris forces a smile, her eyes watering a little, “Know that no matter how far away I am, I love you.”

“I love you, too, grandma.”


Comments

  1. No! Polly can't leave yet! She still needs to give her grandchildren so much more inappropriate advice! Hilarious, btw.

    Lark <3 I adore her. I'm rooting for her to be the heir :)

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    1. Aww, I'm sorry she's leaving! I would have kept her around longer but there's a definite chance she would have taken over the entire legacy. XD

      You're in luck, maybe. Or maybe not. Lark could be the heir, or she couldn't. Who knows? (me. I know)

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  2. Aww, it's all very sweet.

    And that's what Lark needs to know, just because her siblings are "overachievers", doesn't mean that she has to try to be like them. I just wish Luna wouldn't give her a hard time for it...

    Also, knowing you, she'll end up being more special than either sibling, thus attracting danger and mayhem.

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    1. I hope it was sweet and not cheesy! I was worried people would roll their eyes at the last bit. @__@

      Yes, Lark definitely needs to know she should be herself. Luna probably thinks she's doing the right thing.

      I mean there's always a distinct possibility that she'll be a beacon for danger and mayhem. :D

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  3. "Lydia blinks, “Life is a competition, and I’m going to win.”" I like her attitude!
    Also, poor Lark. She's my fave though. I wanna give her a hug. At least she got some, ah, helpful grandmotherly advice. Seriously though I think I gasped "Polaris" three times during this chapter. She's so inappropriate and I love it!
    Oh, and your descriptions of Lydia and Luke when doing their hobbies was fantastic. I wish I remembered that many words when I try to write :P

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    1. Lydia is a winner! I really like her. And she's super pretty which sounds shallow but whatever. I don't know which of the kids is my favorite, but I definitely love Lark. And that advice was super helpful! Writing Polaris is so much fun because I think of whatever makes me giggle madly and then I write it down and manipulate the situation to fit it. XD That probably is a bad technique but it's fun.

      Oh, good! I was so worried about Luke in particular because I don't know anything about chess. I spend a good amount of time while I'm writing coming up with synonyms, and I think it helps that I did a few word-a-day emails for about a year before I took the GRE (I don't know if there's an equivalent to that in the UK but it's a test before graduate school, and I needed to get a certain verbal score to be accepted).

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  4. Aw... poor Lark. :'( I hope Gran Polly can at least keep in touch with the power of technology?

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    1. Most definitely! I was already planning on keeping Polaris in the legacy via email (unless I lose focus again). And I swear Lark is a pretty happy kid, otherwise. I remember Luna having a pretty emotional childhood and I don't want Lark to go through the exact same thing. :)

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  5. Yikes, I'd forgotten how pure dominant Polly actually is. It was nice that she took a little extra care of Lark. Even if that "hung like a horse" comment was a bit gross. Hope the poor kid won't remember that when she gets older

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    1. Polly is so effing dominant. It was nice to write someone so commanding after all of my mostly-nice characters (save Elysia, of course). She's a good grandma, other than her gross comments. Lark had no idea what she meant so I'm sure she already forgot what her weird grandmother said. :D

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  6. Imagine if Lark went to investigate the noise above her bedroom at night. Blech! It wouldn't be pleasant seeing your grandparents doing it.
    *shudders*

    Anyway, it's cute how Polly looks after Lark ^-^ I miss Polly and her assertive demeanour, but she's done her time and it's nice to see her occasionally, remembering why she's so special.
    Will we ever see Nova, Solaris and... Nova's twin (I can't remember his name, I'm so sorry, I know it's a spacey name, does it begin with a Z or K? ) again?
    It's gonna bug me until I find out what his name was again.

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    1. ZENITH! HIS NAME IS ZENITH!
      I knew it started with a Z

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    2. Ahaha she would have never recovered from that! Crux probably had enough sense to lock the door, though. XD

      Yeah, it was fun writing Polly for a couple of chapters but as you said she did her time. So back to SV she goes!

      No, probably not. I want to get to the second generation already, so I'll leave them alone for now. I thought about including Solaris in this chapter and the previous chapter but he's so level headed it would have been a boring cameo. I might include people who *know* Nova in the next generation, but it's nobody particularly special.

      Poor Zenith. XD He was so sweet and so forgettable.

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  7. Awwww, I love Lark. She's doing great, and I love that grandma took the time to give her some special attention. I want her to be pen pal BFFLs with Polaris now, lol. I like Lydia too, I loved the bit a few chapters ago where she was yelling at Luke to play "piano"

    Poor Nova must be lonely. I'm sad to see Polaris go but Nova needs to be cared for as well!

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    1. I love Lark, too, and it's probably obvious at this point that she's the heir. I wanna be BFF's with Polaris, too! I keep meaning to write little notes from Polly in each chapter, but I get sidetracked. Lydia would probably be my second choice for heir because she's so...strong, I guess?

      Nova definitely needs care. Which reminds me....

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