Shortly after Miracle turned two, I threw myself back into work. I was a very popular choice for a private eye and was turnin’ away cases a lot of times because of my busy schedule. Cheating spouses was still, apparently, my specialty even though I disliked it. I got calls from even past Bridgeport and one person from the other side of the country actually flew in, some rich old geezer who wanted to make sure his new wife–thirty years his junior–wasn’t just a gold-digger. She was, he gave me five thousand simoleons, and then left decidin’ he’d just work it out with her. Crazy, completely batty, but five thousand was a welcome chunk of cash. I put two thousand each into education funds, and the last thousand I added to a fund for the kids after Ducky passed on.
I decided we’d get a new equine at some point, but a pony instead of a full-sized horse. I could teach the kids to ride that way. Miracle loved the horses and was always wantin’ to go out to the barn with me. Sometimes I would put her up on Ducky’s back and hold her there carefully as Ducky plodded slowly around. I knew Ducky wouldn’t get scared or anything, and had the feeling she enjoyed the attention especially since Miracle was barely any weight on her back. Since I couldn’t really sense her feelings the way I could with people, I just had her whinnies to go off on but in her final weeks she seemed quite happy. It helped ease the ache I had when I went into the barn one morning and found her body.
We had to travel to another town to bury her, since there wasn’t a large animal cemetery in Sunset Valley but it was only twenty minutes away. My dads came with me, both of them givin’ her the same respect I had. After all, she helped rescue my maternal dad. I knew that they cared about her as more than just a horse.
I realized since the birth of Chance, I hadn’t spent as much time with my other babies so I somehow made some time to make sure I gave Night and Storm extra lovin’. Night was a lot more subdued since the loss of his mate, though Storm was just as feisty as ever.
When I went back to the lab, Professor Redding acted as if he had not seen me since I left the lab last, instead of the ten months it had really been. He inquired about the kids and was pleased when I showed him pictures. When I asked in a low voice if he was ready to tell me about the risks, he pressed his lips together and remained silent.
“So, do you have any other interesting projects going on?” I asked Doctor Redding on my third day. She stared at me, one eyebrow slightly lifted. “Just wondering.”
“Are you interested in scientific research?” she asked, her shoulders straightenin’ a bit. “I must say, it was something I was not expecting of a… psychic detective. However, if you wish to change careers I can offer you a place here as a researcher as well as test subject; your husband is permitted to be a test subject as well.”
“That–that isn’t what I meant,” I said quickly before she could go on. “I was just curious. I like my job and am not interesting in, er, switching. I just was curious, since I’m stuck here with not much to do…”
Doctor Redding glowered and then stood up. “Well, I suggest you return to your room for now as I am a busy woman and have other things to do.”
She’s mad–she’s sulking! I thought, tryin’ not to laugh. I quickly rose and obediently returned to my room where I burst into laughter. I clutched my sides and sank to the ground, laughin’ until I couldn’t breathe anymore. She had shown something there. Excitement, in a sense, at the thought I’d join her ridiculous team and then betrayal. I guess that proved she really was human.
Human or not, though, she owed me answers. The day after that incident I brought up the subject and Doctor Redding glowered. I was worried, very worried, she wouldn’t give me the answers but then she adjusted her glasses and told me to go ahead and ask her what I wanted to know. I hadn’t planned this out beforehand so it took a moment of thinkin’ before I responded with, “How did I get my powers?”
“You were born with them,” she said simply.
I rolled my eyes. “No, I mean how did–how did Doug get his powers then? Since I got them from him, right? So how did he get them?”
“I merely manipulated the DNA after fertilization and before injection into the woman who carried him. It is the same for all the other successes from that type of project.” She looked down her nose at me, her lips twitching into a smirk. “There is much potential within the human reach. However, most humans are merely too helpless to do anything. It takes someone smart enough to find the key.”
I resisted the urge to complain about her arrogance. “What exactly did you do to manipulate things? Did you add something?”
“I am not at liberty to divulge you all the secrets of the D-Project.”
“You promised me answers!” I snapped, my temper rising.
Doctor Redding shrugged one shoulder. “I will answer what I can. There is a level of security on this project, on all my projects. If you are not an employee in that section then there will be information you are not privy to.” She crossed her legs and stared levelly at me, as if waiting for me to raise a storm.
I ground my teeth and tried to stay calm. No point in screaming at her. She had a point, unfortunately. “Why are you doing this whole project, then? What’s the purpose?”
Doctor Redding continued staring at me. “Excuse me? You want to know the… purpose?” I nodded and she sighed. “What is the purpose of any research?!” Her voice darkened and rose in rage with each word she spoke. “How can you be so stupid as to ask what is the purpose of a RESEARCH project? Knowledge, you idiotic girl! Despite the fact you took such a stupid job I at least expected a slightly higher level of intelligence that I now see isn’t there.”
“LOOK HERE!” I yelled, gettin’ up out of my seat. But she ignored me and kept on spitting out words.
“Perhaps you’d prefer living your life in the dark but not I! Knowledge and development is a key aspect to the advancement of any civilization. Humans may be scrabbling around in the dirt and patting themselves on the back for putting a man on the moon, but you humans are just a speck in the vast reaches of space. Humans are mere blades of grass to the mammoths of intelli–” She then stopped and went dark. “Go. Go away, Mrs. Danevbie, go back to your husband and snot-nosed children and don’t expect to be welcome here at the lab for some time.”
“You–you–you promised!” I stuttered as she swept towards the door. This was one time that Professor Redding wasn’t with us and I had hoped that would mean she’d be more forthright about her answers, but I was wrong. I wished he was here to stop her.
“I will fulfill the promise at another time, Mrs. Danevbie,” Doctor Redding hissed. “I am in no mood to deal with someone like you! I will have my brother contact you the next time you may come back. And if I am in a more charitable mood, I will answer your questions then. But don’t expect much. After all, you don’t seem to be able to grasp even the most simplest forms of logic.”
With that, she left the room. I stood in shock and anger. That…. “Bitch!” I yelled and then kicked the wall as hard as I could. Then I grabbed one of the sofas and turned it over. I wanted to attack Doctor Redding and since she wasn’t there, this was the best I could do. I continued yelling until the door opened again. I was poised to throw somethin’ but then saw it was him, not her.
“Serenity?” He stared in horror at the mess I made.
“I take it she told you, then.”
He nodded and then indicated for me to leave the room. “I’m s-s-s-sorry. She can be very t-touchy. I… I will t-talk to her, if you w-want me to do so but I th-think this should prove to you it’s b-better if you don’t come back.”
“I’ll be coming back when I can, Professor,” I answered in a firm tone. He bowed his head and guided me to my room. I was silent as well, suspectin’ that Doctor Redding’s outburst was more of a way to stop answering my questions than anything. Research projects usually had a purpose for more than just knowledge. She wouldn’t have made psychics just for that, she had another reason. And I needed to know. I deserved to know. I just hoped Professor Redding would talk to her, and that I would be able come back in four months.
“Mama! Mommy, I hep. I hep wif Bubby.” Miracle was standing in front of me, her hands against the stroller as I took Chance out for a walk near our house. Since Miracle decided to be a good girl today, it was gonna make the walk a lot easier. “No, swower,” she complained after a second when she stumbled. “Swow, pwease.”
“All right, sweetie,” I said, giving her just as she wanted since she asked nicely. She was learnin’ that having good manners got her further than throwin’ a temper. Not that she stopped throwing tantrums but she was finally starting to get better.
“Cho-cho?” she asked, peering up at me. “Me haff cho-cho?”
“When we get home you can have some chocolate,” I promised emphasizing the syllables she never picked up. “Do you want some chocholate ice cream or a chocolate bar?”
She stopped and I had to quickly stop so I wouldn’t run over her. “Uuuuu… ice cweam. Cho-cho icee! Dada haff wif me?”
“He might want some. Auntie Kaylee is coming for dinner.”
“Aunnie Keelee!” she squealed happily. “Yaah! No Bubby.”
“Yes, your brother will be there.”
“No, don’t want.”
“Aunt Kaylee will be sad if Chance isn’t there.”
“Nooo Aunnie Keelee no lie Bubby.”
“Auntie Kaylee loves Chance as much as she loves you, and it would make her sad to hear you say that.”
Miracle plopped down on the ground, her lower lip quiverin’. She was preparing for a bad one. I parked the stroller and prepared myself to stay here for a while. Since we were no where near anyplace, I was just gonna let her scream until she was tired. I plucked Chance out of his stroller and took a few steps away from Miracle. “Chance, can you say tree?” I asked, pointin’ at the foliage.
Chance just smiled up at me. He was eleven months old and had barely ever cried. Even when Miracle hit him, he just whimpered. The only time he had actually cried–the only time in eleven months–was when I was gone at the lab the previous month. Henri had called me up to tell me, holdin’ the phone out so I could hear the very rare sound. It broke my heart.
“Mommy, I sowwy,” Miracle said as she walked over. She held up both arms and I scooped her up. She kissed my cheek and then gave Chance a kiss on the forehead. Chance giggled and beamed up as if he was expecting nothing less than love from his temperamental sister.
When it was time for Chance’s birthday we weren’t sure what to except but after I blew out the candles without him in my arms (he refused to stay solid enough for anyone to hold him) he was surrounded by a shower of sparkles and grew up. It was strange seeing my son growin’ up like this… but I smiled and clapped for him, pushing aside my fears. Chance was put in his high chair for cake, or at least we tried to put him in; he slid down to the floor and sat on the floor, giggling.
“Mommy, Chanth bad boy,” Miracle said, sitting primly in her high chair, waiting for her slice of cake. “He no stay. No cho-late for him.”
Henri picked Chance back up and put him in the high chair. Chance laughed when he settled on the floor, lookin’ up at us expectantly. “Sweetie, you won’t get any cake unless you can sit in your chair!” I said, picking him up or trying to. My hands went through him. He grabbed his feet and began rocking back and forth through the chair. “You don’t want cake?” I asked.
“No, he no wan cake. I do!” Miracle exclaimed, tapping her tray. “Pwease?” Henri gave her a slice which she happily began eating. She had icing smeared on her face and a fistful of cake in her mouth before she remembered the second half of what she was supposed to say. “An’oo!” she said through the food.
Finally I got Chance in his chair and began feedin’ him a few bites of cake. He was just as happy as his sister for the sweetness and reached for more when his was gone. “No, that’s all, baby boy,” I said, holding out my empty hands. “No more cake for you tonight.” He frowned and for a second I wondered if he’d start going the way his sister went. Henri was staring as well, waiting for the crying. Instead we got a giggle, and Chance was on the floor again, lickin’ the remnants of cake off his fingers.
If we thought Miracle’s tantrums were bad, it was nothin’ compared to Chance. He remained the quietest baby I ever heard of but he would not stay put! Half the time in the morning he’d be curled up on the floor instead of in his crib; we wound up putting a small mattress under his crib and even then sometimes he was inside it. Forget the high chair, usually Henri and I would have to sit on the floor to feed him. And walks in the stroller became less frequent. He didn’t float down out of arms as much but it was a terrifyin’ moment when he did, images of my baby falling to the floor in my head and my heart slowing down only after seeing him on the floor safely with a smile on his face.
Miracle ran hot and cold with him. Sometimes she was a lovin’ older sister, sometimes she’d be a brat. It just depended on her mood and how much attention Henri had been giving his son. One day she was particularly grouchy and tried hittin’ him, and her arm went through him. She fell forward onto the floor, half in him, her mouth a big ‘O’ in shock. She pushed herself back and stared at Chance who smiled sweetly back at her.
“NO!” she yelled and tried smacking him again. Her hand went through and hit the floor hard. She began screeching in pain and frustration, coming over to me. I picked her up and put her in the corner for attacking her brother. “Mommy he hurt meeeeee!” she cried, holdin’ up her hand.
“You were the one who tried hitting him, young lady. Two minutes in time out.”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” she squalled but she stayed put on the Time Out Rug. A place that she saw often, unfortunately. “Chanth BAD BOY!”
“Chance is a good boy,” I said, pickin’ him up and making sure he was fine. He gave a whimpery sound, squirmed in my hands for a second, then slipped down to the ground. I sighed and plopped back on the couch, giving up and wondering how Henri did it while I was at work when I was havin’ enough trouble doing this while he was just in the other room, fixing dinner.
By the time Miracle was three, I still hadn’t gone back to the lab. Professor Redding called me to tell me he was still workin’ on talking to his sister and that I might be able to come back if I agreed to a full week with no questions. I told him yes, since it was better to put it off another four months than never.
Also, there were two more additions in the family. Simon and Lin had a baby–a girl named Da-Xia–and Duncan got remarried to the sister of a fellow police officer, a lovely young lady named Catherine. And we were all worriedly wonderin’ if we were going to lose someone. Grandma was not doing well. Both her older brothers had passed on, and her sister was in a nursing home. Grandma spent a lot of her time sleepin’, didn’t eat much at all, and was hardly ever out of her bed. She was very weak and didn’t even talk much to those who visited her. I brought her Miracle one day and Grandma smiled, carefully handing her a piece of candy.
“Gemma, Mama say Imm go skool sum’tie an’ iss called pee-skool,” Miracle said, and Grandma nodded though she was barely aware of what was being said. “Chanth won’ be go to pee-skool cuz he a baby! Imma big girl. Imma three now.” Miracle continued to babble away and then frowned when she realized her great-grandmother was asleep.
“Shh,” I said, puttin’ my finger to my lips.
“Gemma sweeping,” she said in her tryin’-to-be-quiet voice which wasn’t really quiet at all. I kissed her forehead and said, “Yep, let’s let her sleep, all right?”
I took Miracle out and put her in her Grandpa’s lap. Mom chatted with her, smiling and acting a lot happier than he felt. I sank down next to Dad who put his arm around me, not saying anything. We knew it wouldn’t be much longer.
I woke up, something wrong. I wasn’t sure at first what it was then realized it was an emptiness inside that had woke me. A void. Silence. I stared at Henri’s back then rolled over to look at the ceiling. It took me a few fuzzy seconds to figure out what it was, and then I began sobbing. My fingers reached for Henri and I snagged his shirt, clutchin’ it tightly. He woke up and pulled me into his arms, not sure what was wrong until I managed to get it out. Then he held me even tighter, tellin’ me how sorry he was.
After a while I got the phone. My dads were still asleep and there was no point letting them just finding her body in the morning. I slowly dialed the number and waited, feelin’ it when my maternal dad woke up. He was grouchy about someone phoning at one in the morning but also slightly worried. He was waitin’ as my paternal dad reached for the phone. A second later it stopped ringing and I heard Dad say, “It’s one-twelve in the damn morning this better–“
“S-Serenity?” He was worried at once, as was Mom when he heard my name. Feelin’ Mom made me want to start crying again because of that empty void where Grandma always was before. “Serenity, what’s wrong?”
I swallowed and tried to be strong. “Dad, it’s G-Grandma…”
It was late at night and I was in the graveyard, holdin’ Henri’s hand tightly. Chance was in my free arm and Miracle was in his. Kaylee was a few feet back. It was almost midnight and the place was so creepily quiet. But I didn’t go to the funeral that took place earlier in the day. With all my family there, it would have been far too much emotion for me to deal with. I would have fainted the moment I stepped within radius. And this way Henri could be with me. We weren’t sure whether he and Chance should come but since it was late, and in a graveyard, we decided to go ahead.
I handed Chance to Kaylee then put the flowers down on the fresh gave. I couldn’t believe she was gone, this ever-present force in my life suddenly gone. I tried to remember Grandpa’s death but couldn’t. That time had been so low for me, everything was a blur. I put flowers on his grave too. At least they were together now, finally.
“Goodbye Grandma,” I said, standin’ up straight. Miracle was whimpering and complaining that she was sleepy; Chance was snugglin’ against his aunt and sucking his thumb, eyes wide as he looked around. It was late and they needed to get to bed, so I turned away and put a hand on Henri’s hip. “Let’s go,” I said and then cried the entire way home, clingin’ to Henri.