This day started just like always. Julius gets up, makes the coffee, and brings me the first cup of the morning before I get out of bed. I sometimes tease him “That’s the only reason I stick around.“
Later on we were going to visit Junior, Linda, and the grandkids and take a ride up by the reservoir. Our daughter-in-law, Linda, is a real jewel. She’s a wonderful mother to Karyn, who’s a bundle of energy at 3, Liza who at 14 is very sweet-natured but a puzzle at times, and Emily, a beautiful budding young lady who seems wise beyond her years and will be 17 next week. Linda is an exceptionally proficient nurse who would have been a doctor but for the medical school quotas (others judged more worthy, not by test but by class). She and I have a special bond because I pulled all the strings and secured permission from the UNWG for JJ and Linda to have a third child. They wanted to name her Kara, but I insisted that she have her own identity. Karyn is especially dear to me because of that and I treasure her. She is separate from the memory of my beloved departed daughter Kara but always a reminder. My priest, Fr. Kelly, was particularly helpful as I emerged from that abyss. And as always, Jules, who knows best my heart unspoken.
I got ready to go make breakfast, but before leaving the bedroom stopped at the message machine to check my mail. I never get anything important from work anymore but old habits die hard. Nothing in the public account so I checked the private box and saw the email from Robert Hamilton. I suppose I should have felt shock, instead, an almost serene calmness enveloped me. I called out to Jules, “Could you come here for minute, Dear?”
When he entered the room I just pointed at the message screen. He walked over, read it, and then read it again, looked at me and said, “Why don’t you start packing while I call the kids and let them know we will be over a bit early?”
There are lots of reasons I’ve stuck around.
I knew Jules would handle it just right with JJ and Linda. On the phone he said, “Hi, Son. Mother and I have a surprise for the family. With the girls off school next week, we want to treat you to a mystery trip. Linda doesn’t work next week either. Could you shake free? And by the way, we should stop at Linda’s office on our way out, and get some things for your sis. She’s under the weather, running a fever, needs protein pills, etc.”
JJ would know something big was up because of his dad’s reference Kara. Sometimes Jules and Junior talked in hushed tones about the UNWG, the risks for me [and them?] because of religious beliefs, and desire for a freer existence. “Put Linda on to talk with Mother about what to pack.” Then he handed the phone to me.
Already in synch with the situation, Linda and I immediately pooled ideas, and carefully worded our selection. She would tell the girls to pack, and to bring two favorite items with them for our adventure. Aware of the urgency, she could be counted on to remain discreet and level-headed. As a nurse, she would be invaluable to our family, and to the community. I could hear her mentally compiling a supply list of items to remove from her dispensary. Some of Liza’s old clothes might come in handy for Karyn, who is growing like a weed. Who knows where or when we could shop again?
Jules and I had matter-of-factly packed, as if we’d rehearsed it before. We hadn’t, but after all those years we intuitively knew what the other would do. Into the suitcases: slacks and tops versatile for varying temps; warm outwear; trail boots; gloves, scarf, hat. Set aside larger items to wear on the trip and save suitcase space. Jules’ personal communicator unit. Binoculars, flashlight, matches and lighter, compass, whistles, pocket knife, magnifying glass, Halizon tablets, compact camping cup/cutlery/kit; boomerang, flint. I wanted to bring my atlatl but if we need one Jules can make it, he‘s pretty handy most ways. Paper, pencils, pens. Then my knitting supplies and sewing notions. I took a lot of yarn, but distributed over all the bags it seemed reasonable. Aspirin and Jules’ prescriptions, first aid kit w/solar blanket, extra reading glasses, toiletries [tweezers, shampoo, comb, etc,], mirror. 3 pillowcases (Do I need pillow cases? Probably not, but I never go any where without my own.) Clock, snacks, dried fruit, honey, tea. Several family photos. Then, our personal selections: Jules took his grandfather’s pocket watch. I chose a hymnal and Bible. I wistfully glanced at the crucifix on our bedroom wall and thought instantly of the faded spot it would leave if I brought it with me. Jules put his arm around my shoulder. From his bureau he removed another wooden crucifix. It had been his parents’! He’d kept it all these years, and now gave it to me. He said, “I’m ready. I’m with you all the way. All the way!”
When they search the house, as I know they will, they’ll never know for sure that we were planning to leave forever.
On the way to JJ and Linda’s in Canoga Park, we savored our last breath of California air, and the sights and sounds that we’d called home. Again, calm and peace and a special closeness came over Jules and me. We’re so together about this. About the opportunity. For us. For our family. Despite the risks, it’s now or never.
Before we could even get out of the car, Emily and Liza, with Karyn toddling behind, ran out from their modest old-fashioned ranch style home to greet us. “Oh, Granny,” Emily shouted, “What a wonderful surprise! We’re ready! We’ll follow you anywhere.” Emily only called me “Granny” when she was especially excited or very emotional.
I told her, “We’ll make your birthday celebration ‘out-of-this-world.’” Then I spoke softly to her, “I think that you have a lot on your mind lately. Turning 17 isn’t easy in any era. Peer pressure, school, boys, and friends. We’ll just relax, and you can tell me all about it.” Emily quietly replied, “Yes. I really need that.” Karyn was jumping up and down.
“Tell me where we’re going. Oh no, don’t spoil the surprise. Tell me! Don’t tell me! Okay, just give me a hint……” Liza stood there, taking it all in with an enormous grin from ear to ear on her face.
Jules and JJ were talking quietly in the front yard. Linda came out, smiling but quite focused on the mission at hand. We quickly stepped inside, and confirmed our plan. The four of us were of one mind: to leave; to build a better world elsewhere; freedom for our family, and our beliefs, and liberation from the UNWG.
JJ took one last stroll through his home. The cabinets he’d built in their bedroom. How he’d decorated the girls’ rooms. The warmth that emanated from each room that he and Linda had decorated with care. That he and Linda had provided for their family. He had a good enough job, a very good job as a Sales Rep, with the Chinese manufacturing company, but he still didn’t trust them or like the fact that he was working for foreigners. At least he had good perks, especially the flier that was providing our getaway.
A quick stop at the clinic dispensary by Linda, then secreting biotics and other necessaries into each suitcase, and she was ready to go. The older girls brought their day packs loaded for a local excursion. Now, into the flier, Linda and me in the back. The adventure begins!
As we approached the Hilton Satellite, I remembered hearing that except for the moon, it was the brightest object in the night sky. Why, even at home we could sometimes see it slowly passing overhead. Getting nearer I could just make out the large outer ring when I said to Linda, “I wonder what’s to keep anyone from just running into the thing?”
“Well, Mom”, she said, “We have been under either Earth-to-Orbit or Hilton Orbital control ever since JJ registered the flight plan. And little bugs like us aren’t even allowed close to the Resort itself. See those small dot like things just ahead of and behind the ring?”
“Yes”, Squinting I could just make barely them out.
“That’s where we’re headed. They’re the docking hangers where we will leave the flier and catch a shuttle to the Resort.”
“And so we did”
Not a Normal Day