I felt like I was going to throw up as I walked home. How was I supposed to explain to them my dreams, my longings? I saw my mother in the kitchen, my sister by the TV. I hesitated at the doors, my hand on the handle. I considered just turning and running.
You can do this, I thought, sliding the door open and going in. I was blasted by noise. Kyle was shouting about something from one room while Ken was shouting something back from another room. The TV was blaring and Tempest didn’t seem to care. Mom was doing dishes, and I could hear Dad playing the guitar. I felt a headache coming on.
Temp saw me and jumped up, coming over. “Hey Lune,” she said. “Where have you been? MOM! LUNE IS HOME!”
“Thanks for shrieking in my ear,” I mumbled, trying to get past her but she just put an arm around me.
“Dad said he’s gonna take us all out for dinner tonight, in honor of my promotion. Can you believe I’m in the minor league already? I bet I get another one soon.” She smiled at me and I tried not to scowl. It felt like she was doing this on purpose. Her recent promotion. Her recent this, her recent that. I no longer felt sick with nerves, I felt sick with annoyance and couldn’t wait to get out of this house!
It wasn’t until the next day when I was able to explain to everyone I needed to talk to them. Rion couldn’t make it, but that was okay. Out of everyone I figured he’d be the most understanding.
We gathered around the table and I could feel the tension in the air. The last announcement here had been Kyle’s pregnancy. They all turned to look at me, waiting. I cleared my throat, my heart beating heavily.
“I got a job offer,” I said in a clear voice. “And I’ve taken it.” Like I expected, that got positive remarks. I waited for them to quiet down and began twisting my hands in my lap. “The thing is, it’s not in town.”
“Where is it?” Kyle asked. “In the country? There aren’t many places there.”
“No,” I said quickly. “It’s in a different town.”
“Which town?” Dad asked, and I could tell he was hoping it was one of the tiny towns nearby.
“Riverview,” I stated and there was silence for a moment and then everyone began talking at once. I wanted to cover my ears, but didn’t move.
“Please, everyone,” Mom cut in. Her voice was soft but, as always, all the children quieted. I sat back, breathing a sigh of relief. “Now.” She turned to look at me, reaching over to touch my hand. “Luna, please explain a little more clearly. What do you mean a job in Riverview?”
“Well… I looked up for job positions through the computer, so I could see more than just here in town,” I said, shifting and avoided looking at my sister. “There was a really good opportunity in Riverview. I applied, and I was accepted. I start in two weeks.”
“What about a place to live?” Kyle demanded. “Do you have that? When are you leaving?”
“How come you didn’t tell us sooner?” Tempest asked, sounding a bit huffy.
“I–I just found out the other day!” I exclaimed. “I got the letter a few days ago. And no, I don’t know where I’ll live but I have a little bit of money saved. I’ll be okay.”
“No, no,” Dad said. “We can give you some money for a place to live.”
“What kind of job is it?” Tempest asked and I winced, rather hoping that question wouldn’t be asked. “Something not very good, I assume, from the look on your face.”
Everyone was staring at me again and I sighed, looking down at my hands. “Soilandwaterresearchfacility,” I said so quickly that it sounded like one word. I gulped and looked up, seeing the look in my father’s face. “Soil and Water Research Facility,” I said.
“The science lab,” he spat out, looking a bit angry.
“How COULD you?” Tempest yelled, pushing her chair back and standing up.
“Oh Luna!” Kyle sighed.
I knew they’d react like this. I began to tune them out as my brother and sister began complaining loudly about my choice of career. Dad had his head in his hands. Mom just stared wide-eyed at me. Tempest leaned forward and was going to shout at me again but I just stood up quickly, the chair knocking over.
“I’m not like you, Temp!” I snapped at her. “And this is what I want!” Then, like a coward, I turned and fled from the room. I couldn’t very well lock myself in my room, since there was no lock, and I shared it with Tempest. I had always wanted to change the old boys’ room into my own room but now there was no point.
So instead of going to my room, I went into the living room and threw myself onto the couch, hugging a cushion. They were still going on in the other room. Tempest and Kyle were talking loudly and I heard Ken occasionally say something, to try to calm Kyle down. Nothing from either parent and I saw green out of the corner of my eye. I sat up, sniffling slightly as Mom sat down.
“Luna,” she said calmly. “Did you mean what you said?”
She always had a sort of clipped way of talking but it had always soothed me. “Yes,” I said, rubbing my eyes. “It’s a terrific job and lots of room for promotion since there aren’t very many people in Riverview. They’re offering plenty of training and–“
“Luna,” she said, smiling at me. “Do you want to do this? Do you want to move so far away?”
I bowed my head. “It’s not that far away. I can come home and visit plenty. I’ll come home for holidays, and birthdays–and I’ll call all the time!”
“Why the science lab?” she asked simply.
“I want to,” I replied. “I really want to–to be like Uncle Aiden.”
She nodded slowly. “You always did care a lot about him.” She reached up and tucked her hair behind her ear. “You like science?”
“Yes. I do. And I know Dad kinda doesn’t, because of what–what happened.” I bent closer to her, tugging gently at her sleeve. “But Mom, I love it. I truly do. I love discovering things, inventing things, making things.” I clasped my hands together, my eyes shining. “All through school, I ached to be part of science fairs! I wanted to do more in chemistry, and welding and–and I never did because I was afraid of Dad. But in college I did some, and I love it. I want to join the science lab, Mom. It’s what I’m meant to do.”
“Then I will talk to your father.”
Tuesday turned to Wednesday, and I began packing. Tempest was not talking to me and just glared. Kyle was very quiet, and when I called Orion to tell him even he sounded a bit disappointed. Dad hardly spoke until Thursday evening.
“Lune, you know how I feel about this,” he sighed. “You know what–” He stopped and shook his head. “Your mother said it’s what you want, and that you should live your life the way you want.” He gave me a rather hopeful look. “Unless you’d rather be doing something else? You like studying, you could go into forensics, like your bro–“
“No,” I said, putting my hands on my hips. “Dad, I love you. And I respect you. But I really want to do this, I think I would be great at it! And I should try it. At least try it.” I sucked in some air, nervously saying the next point I had. “Besides, you have to admit that science isn’t all that bad. It gave you mom. And Kyle’s pregnancy is because of it–and so are you. W-without science, none of us would exist. None of us. Not a single one of your children.”
He looked stunned by that and rather hurt. I wondered if I had gone too far.
“You are right,” he admitted very slowly. “I suppose I am just being… overprotective.”
“Dad…” I reached out towards him. “I appreciate it. But you have everyone else here. And soon you’ll be a grandpa! A baby in the house! Things are gonna be so busy. The house is going to be crowded and I need a job. This is something I really want. You did what you want, you paint! That’s great! But I love science. I want to invent things. I want to put together metal and electronics and have something there, just like you put paint on a canvas and it becomes a work of art. My work of art lies in metal, and chemicals, and fi–” I stopped quickly. Perhaps mentioning fire was not the best way to convince him I’d do fine on my own. “And finally I have a chance for this!” I finished.
“Sweetie, I understand!” he said, looking earnest. “I don’t like it, but I understand. It just makes me nervous.”
“Why?” I asked, trying not to stomp my foot.
“Sweetie,” he said again, slowly shaking his head. “Sweetie, you have Danevbie blood pumping in your veins but you also have Redding blood.”
“I’m not going to be like them!” I half-shrieked, rather horrified that this was what he was nervous about. “Never! Human experimentation is wrong! No! My passion lies in metal!” I blinked and thought about my dreams of robots. Hmm, maybe that was a bit close to human experimenting. But AI wasn’t the same thing. Was it?
“I understand!” Dad said quickly. “Lune, I understand. And I’m happy you have something to be passionate about.” He reached up, pushing his hair back and smiling. “It just scared me when you said it because of the Reddings. I think the worst part is you living so far away.”
We talked for a while longer, but I already knew he would accept this. He was not completely happy, and I doubted he ever would, but he accepted it. In fact, he accepted it to the point of giving me money for a house. I poured through listings, took virtual tours, called homeowners, and bought a house.
Orion kept harassing me about it, telling me I shouldn’t buy it until I actually saw it. But I wanted a house when I got there. I wanted someplace to put my suitcases down and kick my feet up–though I’d have to buy my own furniture. I hardly had any money left after buying the house but promised my parents I did. I didn’t want them to feel obligated to give me more.
About four days before it was time for my job to start, I left. I was gonna take a bus there and it would take a while. It was leaving late in evening so I had plenty of time to make sure I had everything packed and say my goodbyes.
Not that there was much in saying goodbye to Tempest. I thought she might be happy to have her own room again, but she just glowered at me and told me that I was betraying Dad.
“He’s happy for me!” I protested.
“You know he’s not, not completely,” she growled. “I knew I should have tried to help you more in school. I didn’t think you’d turn out this way.”
“What way?” I shouted. “Just because I’m not like you…”
“Lune, I love you, but this is a big mistake!” she shouted back. “Leaving the Valley, getting a job at a–a science facility! You really want to be one of them?”
“One of what?” I snapped. “A scientist? An inventor? This is a good job, and it’s something I love! Dad is–somewhat okay with it, and Mom is okay, too! I don’t want to stay in this house anymore, Temp! It’s driving me crazy! I love you all but I have to live my own life! I can’t be under–” I stopped quickly, flushing. I can’t be under your shadow, I thought miserably. I can’t be under any of your shadows. “I have to live my own life,” I whispered.
“So you’re joining something that once tore out family apart!” Tempest looked very mad now. “You’re going to tear us apart again!”
“What?!” I yelped. “How is this tearing us apart?” I couldn’t figure out why she was being like this. She always pretended to be close to me. Well, she wanted to be close to me. I had always sort of pushed her away. Maybe this was her retaliation.
“Dad needs us,” she said, letting her hands fall.
“He has us,” I retorted. “Just because I live somewhere else does not mean he’s lost me. Why are you being like this?!”
She turned away from me, wrapping her arms around herself. “Never mind,” she muttered. “I hope you have a safe trip.”
She stormed off to the bathroom and didn’t say another word to me that evening. I decided that she was just crazier than I previously assumed and went to say my other goodbyes.
Ken gave me a big bear hug. I made him promise to take great care of Kyle and he grinned back at me, promising he’d always do that.
“You stay safe, kiddo,” he said, lightly punching my arm. “I think it’s great what you’re doing. Always go for your dreams. I know I did!” He laughed at that and I just smiled, keeping quiet.
Kyle was getting off work and after we hugged, he promised to keep me up to date about everything that my parents didn’t tell me.
It was sad saying goodbye to Mom, but I didn’t cry. There was no sense in crying. I would be seeing her plenty, and talking to her plenty. It wasn’t really a goodbye, just… ‘until next time’.
It was the worst saying goodbye to Dad. Temp was right, he was not happy with this but he was gonna keep silent about it. As he hugged me, I swore to myself I would become a great person for him.
Orion’s house was on the way to the bus station. He reminded me of all the moves he had taught me to protect myself and told me if I ran into any problems to call him, and he’d be there in a minute to get me with his badge in one hand and a gun in the other.
“I’ll be fine,” I told him with a laugh. “I’ll see you soon, Rion.”
“You better,” he laughed, looking sadder than I felt.
Is it wrong of me not to feel sadder? I wondered as the bus took me away from the only home I had ever known. I’ll miss them, but there’s really no point in crying. This is what I want to do. I looked out the window as the dark countryside passed me by. They’ll be fine. And I’ll be fine. And when I become a great scientists, and rich from all my inventions–then they’ll see. I settled back, smiling to myself. This bus was taking me out of their shadows and into my own life, into the light. Luna Danevbie will be a household name. I’ll be rich, I’ll be famous, and I won’t be under anyone’s shadow.