Between the time Penny and I talked and I arranged to rent a house in Twinbrook, both Luna and Kyle went through important birthdays. A couple weeks after Kyle turned thirteen, I went to talk to him about why I was leaving.
“I want you to take care of your little brother and sisters,” I said after I had explained to him loosely that I needed to find someone from my past. “Your mom will need a lot of help, especially with Luna needing potty trained and–“
“Dad,” he said, punching my arm lightly. “I know, I’ll help. Rion will help too, you know how much he loves being a little mini-you.” He winked and then wrapped his arms around me, hugging tightly. “Don’t worry. I’ll be the man of the house.”
I hugged him back then started to leave it at that but he said something to stop me. “So who are you looking for? My birth mother?”
I looked back at him and ran my fingers through my hair, sighing. “No, someone else. Your grandmother. My–my mom.”
“She’s alive?” he asked, looking confused. “You’ve never mentioned her…”
“It’s a long story,” I said carefully. “She was never around for me.”
I shook my head. “Different,” I said. “Very different.” I put my hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eye. “It’s a very long story and involves Penny. And Peanut, and Lucky. And when I get home, I’ll explain it to you.”
He nodded. “All right, Dad.” He snapped his fingers and grinned at me before going to work on his homework.
The morning I left was emotional. Orion kept wanting hugs and continually interrupted my packing. He promised he understood why I was leaving but I knew he felt annoyed that he couldn’t come with me.
Saying goodbye to my two girls was really hard, since they were still so young. Tempest would soon be getting older and I was rather worried I’d miss it. Penny made me promise to continue searching for them but I decided if I couldn’t find them within a couple weeks, I’d give up.
I was trying not to cry by the time I said goodbye to Luna. She knew I was upset and kept patting my cheek, as if assuring me it would be okay. I was glad I had been here for her birthday–and though Penny insisted she wasn’t upset, I knew that I was a bit upset that once again the Danevbie hair took over the genes. Luna had also gotten my father’s eyes, just like Temp and Orion.
I gave Penny one last kiss before climbing into the awaiting taxi. It would take me to the bus station and from there I would be going to Twinbrook. It was a long ride and I spent most of it asleep. It felt so weird to be away from Penny and the kids. I didn’t like it. I wanted to just go back home but I had to see this through. I had to sever the link, once and for all.
The house I had rented looked pretty nice. As I walked up the front steps, I glanced around the neighborhood. Twinbrook had a very different feel to it than Sunset Valley. It was strange not being able to smell the ocean after thirty-seven years of being right by it. Well, thirty-five. I did spend two years in the country but as I had been drunk most that time, I didn’t remember much.
After fumbling with the key for a moment, I finally unlocked the door and stepped it. It didn’t look too shabby though there was something very depressing about it. As I set my suitcases down and looked around, I realized the lack of toys and noise was the problem. No Kyle blasting his music, no Orion thumping around the house playing tag with Lucky, no Tempest, no Luna–and no Penny.
Sighing I shut and locked the door behind me. It already felt as if I had been gone for a very long time. How was I going to get through this? The three weeks I had allotted for finding the twins seemed like an eternity. Maybe I’d only stay two weeks. Or one.
I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialed Penny’s number. It rang almost to the point of voicemail and then Orion answered. “Yellow!” he giggled.
“Hey Rion!” I greeted cheerfully, feeling about fifty times better just hearing his voice. “How ya doing?”
“DAD!” he screeched and then I heard thumping sounds and Kyle and Tempest yelling in the background. “Yeah–it’s Daddy. No! MY PHONE! GIMME!”
There was a slight scuffle then Kyle began speaking. “Hey Dad,” he said brightly. “How was the trip? How’s the house?”
I talked to them for several minutes, answering their questions and asking some of my own. Even Luna was put on the phone and she babbled at me for a while until finally they gave the phone over to Penny.
“They all miss you,” she said with a laugh. “So do I.”
“I miss you all too,” I sighed. “I’m ready to come home already.”
“Aw! Cal, I know it is difficult being apart but do not give up. NO! ORION! WE DO NOT PUT ICING ON LUNA! Sorry,” Penny breathed out as I rubbed my throbbing ear. “Rion is getting into things. How was the trip?”
It was wonderful hearing her voice and we talked for quite a while. I was too tired to go out looking so I didn’t feel in any rush. Penny and I chatted for quite a while then Kyle got on the phone again, followed by Rion and Temp. I said goodbye to all of them then another goodbye to Penny before finally hanging the phone up and sliding it back in my pocket.
I collapsed back on one of the chairs and mentally made a list of what needed to be done. First things first, the City Hall. I would go there in the morning and start my search there. I doubted they would be able to tell me anything but it was better than nothing.
That night, I hardly slept. I tossed and turned, hugging the extra pillow against my body. This was my first real night away from Penny, since the previous night was spent on a bus. I buried my face against the pillow, hoping she was getting a better night’s sleep than me.
First thing in the morning, I went to the City Hall. I found a receptionist and asked for anything about the Reddings. Naturally I was told that it was none of my business so I explained that I suspected that someone named Jay Redding was my mother.
“I’m sorry sir, I can’t help you,” the receptionist sighed. “I shouldn’t even tell you this but if who you are looking for is in Twinbrook, just ask around town. This place is full of gossips.”
“Thank you,” I said, smiling politely and leaving. I knew where to head to next, hoping that I would find my answer there.
The science lab in Twinbrook was even more tight-lipped than the one in Sunset Valley. I was greeted with apprehensive stares and outright glares. Nobody was very helpful until I talked to some assistant who informed me that nobody by the name of Redding had worked there, as far as they knew.
I thanked them halfheartedly and headed out, not a hundred percent sure where to go next. I wasn’t even a hundred percent sure what they looked like. Maybe they weren’t even around here anymore, they could live somewhere else and just came here to mail the dolls.
I should talk to the townspeople, I thought, spotting a tattooed man jogging as I was driven back to my rented house. At least they don’t know me here. Though there might be someone like me here, if the Reddings continued experimenting. Or maybe some like Penny… I sat back and closed my eyes, trying to think. I should try to find alien groups or something like that…
After some lunch, I headed into the bedroom to relax a bit and make another plan of action. First I wrote down places to go–such as the police station–and then wrote down a list of what I should ask around for, besides just the Reddings. Mixed-sex twins. In their seventies or eighties probably. Alien-obsessed.
Sighing, I set down the pencil and paper. I want to go home. I curled up, stretching my arms out and staring at the blank space next to me. Revenge just seemed so silly. A dish best served cold was true. It had taken me ten or so years but I felt as though my promise to Dad had been rash.
I sat back up, rubbing my eyes and remembering that bitter night by the grave. My father had died so young because of them. My father was hated by the town because of them. I was hated by the town because of them. They had ruined our lives. They had tricked Dad into it, and then just left him to die because of the health problems they gave him.
Slowly the anger and hate started creeping into my body again. It wasn’t as violent as it once was, but it was still there. I missed Penny and I missed my kids, but I was going to find them and somehow make them pay for what they did.