Kian watched through the port-hole the familiar shape of the Earth growing steadily. He was coming back for the third time…in 500 years. He sighed. He had mixed feelings about returning to the Earth but he had no other home left.
He hasn’t shown to anyone, not even to his two friends but he dreaded that his fragile inner equilibrium might be shattered by the sight of the once familiar places. 500 years were a lot, they probably wiped out most of the man made marks. But the heart has her own reference points and she’s adamant in keeping them, not leaving them. Kian shuddered and turned away from the mesmerizing blue ball. He decided to spend with his friends the time left till the landing.
From a shaded spot of the corridor somebody was watching him. She could sense the sadness hidden deep inside, the troubled heart and the melancholy of his composure. He was a handsome young man, tall and slender, well built but gracious. He had an expressive face with beautiful grey eyes with a tint of azure and nicely curved lips. Those eyes had captured her right from the beginning but watching them trough the display of the worldwide conference gave her a better insight of the man himself. He looked kind and very gentle yet passionate and daring. He was the embodiment of human dreams: a man with wings, an angel-the last survivor of that dream. She sighed then she shook her head.
They probably wouldn’t meet again…
As expected, the spaceport was teaming with people: officials, reporters, family members, tourists and sight-seeing people. Commander Soren introduced Kian to the authorities and the press, then stepped back to give them a chance to make better acquaintance. Kian smiled and graciously answered even the most unnerving questions. Dr. Gillian saved him after a while, concerned that the eager gathering might exhaust him.
They left the spaceport together to meet with the commander and Kian’s friends. The commander shook hands with the young men, reminding them that he expects to meet them again on the same spot two months later. He then took one of the official cars and departed along with the doctor. The three friends looked at each other for a moment and then Gavin said:
-Guys, I have to leave. My folks are waiting for me at home. We keep in touch! Feel home, man! – he shouted to Kian, a broad smile on his face.
-Let’s go home-said Shawn, a hand on Kian’s shoulder. I’ve told my parents that I come with a very good friend. They are happy to meet you. Relax…
The official car left them in a very nice place. Nested in the middle of lush greenery and colorful gardens family houses were scattered all over the hill, connected by small alleys. On the top of the hill there was a slim tower offering a panoramic view of the city.
The place has changed indeed; the city was bigger than he remembered but it was entwined with greenery. For a moment, he felt lost; his memories belonged to such a remote time that he couldn’t connect with the place around him. Only the endless blue of the sky and the salty breeze filling the air were the same. He shook his head and took a deep breath. He looked at Shawn and followed his footsteps.
The Bryants were living in an equally nice house. There was a large patch of flowers in front of it and they had a comfortable veranda. Mom and dad were sitting there, eyes glued to the road, waiting to catch a glimpse of their homecoming son. Seeing him made them spring almost simultaneously from their chairs. Shawn threw away his bag and run to embrace them. Kian stopped and stood there smiling, enjoying their happiness.
They stood there for a moment then Shawn turned back and led his friend to the house.
-Mom, dad this is my friend Kian from the planet of the Angels-said Shawn, introducing him to his parents. They were watching him in disbelief; they saw Kian on the conference and they knew he was a worldwide celebrity. They never expected that he was Shawn’s close friend, the one to be lodged in their house.
Kian knew what they were thinking; it was written all over their faces. He blushed.
-Please-he said tentatively-you don’t have to worry about me. I’m just an ordinary guy and I would be honored to be your guest.
Mr. Bryant chuckled and held out his hand.
-You’re welcome. I should’ve known that Shawn was cooking something…
Kian relaxed; he turned to Mrs. Bryant.
-I hope you’ll forgive both of us. I’ve asked Shawn to make no fuss about me. I don’t want to intrude and turn your life upside-down.
She smiled at him warmly and invited him inside.
-You have to excuse us for being so surprised but you’re the first alien we ever met. And I must admit you’re very impressive.
Shawn was overjoyed. The first encounter between his parents and his…friend was a success. Kian felt comfortable with the Bryants. He noticed that Mr. Bryant had the same blue-grey eyes and good looks as Shawn. Mrs. Bryant was a small brunette with a cheerful, young face. The three of them were a happy family; Shawn was their only child.
Mr. Bryant was a historian, a really passionate one while his wife was a biologist. The flowers in the garden were the fruit of her talented hands. The four of them spent the following days talking endlessly. Thanks to the commander’s discretion Kian literally “vanished” from the watchful eye of the media. He enjoyed the peaceful days, diving into the normality of a loving family. He also had the chance to meet Gavin’s family and he could clearly see where his cheerfulness comes from.
After a while Shawn decided to move to step two. He asked his father to help out Kian in finding some clues about his long lost friends. Evan Bryant happily complied. The Institute of History had an extensive data base of old maps, turned into 3D. There was a large room where the program unfolded. Mr. Bryant talked for hours with Kian to build up the necessary data to point out the sites he was looking for. It took more than a week to gather all the data but finally, they were ready to look into past.
They chose a quiet afternoon when the map room was empty. It was a large, round room, with watching places and interactive boards on one side. Kian and the Bryants took place in the middle section and Evan Bryant started the program. The room plunged in darkness. Bluish rays emerged from all over the place weaving the map of the city 500 years earlier. As the image narrowed to the neighborhood where Kian lived along with Bryan and his mom, the young man’s breath became heavier. He tried to stop the tremor of his hands. Shawn embraced him. The spotlight stopped upon the house and there were some photographic images available.
-Goddess, Shawn…that’s my window, the third on the second floor-muttered Kian.
-Let’s see if there’s something left after all that time-said Mr. Bryant turning up the program.
The blue rays ran wildly up and down, trying to spot the coordinates 500 years later. Unfortunately almost nothing left from the old neighborhood. Skyscrapers and suspended gardens were reigning now over the memory of the long departed. Kian felt somehow relieved. He wasn’t ready to revisit the old places. But they found the seashore that miraculously escaped from annihilation.
But the hardest part was yet to come. Evan Bryant was puzzled. The woman’s name sounded familiar: Maya Angeal. She lived long enough to raise her only son, Kyle and to see him settle his own family. Kyle Angeal married Sophia Knight and they had a son, Ethan. But Ethan Angeal was the only known ancestor of the Bryants. Why was Kian asking about Maya Angeal?
They found the burial place where Maya and her son’s family members were resting. The old cemetery was declared protected area and it was visited and studied mostly by researchers. Evan promised his family he would take them there. Kian thanked him but suddenly the look in his eyes became pained and lost.
Late in the evening Evan took Shawn aside and asked him directly:
-Who is Maya Angeal?
Shawn was hesitant; he didn’t dare to reveal Kian’s secret, at least not yet. But his hesitation puzzled even more his father.
-I’m your father, you can confide on me.
-And you should trust me, dad. Please, give me some time. I’ll tell you everything in due time. All you should know for now that she was very important for Kian and that I’m worried about his possible reactions.
-You’re a good friend and I’m proud of you. Me and your mom, we’ll be around if needed.
-Thank you, dad.
Kian slept badly and looked ruffled. Mrs. Bryant cooked a good breakfast and her coffee ended the misery of that morning. Put back on track the four of them left for the protected area.
The place was surrounded by high walls of old trees and everything looked silent and serene. The burial places were tagged and numbered so they found easily the ones they were looking for. They were situated side by side. There was the one of Bryan Knight, his wife Mary and Mrs. Knight, Brian’s mom. He became a famous astronomer and he dedicated his life to the research of roaming asteroids that could threaten the Earth. Then there was the other…the one of Maya Angeal, beloved mother of Kyle Angeal.
Kian stood there, vision blurred by the tears falling freely from his eyes. He was shaking and fell to his knees, face buried in his hands, right on the grass under the inscription.
-Oh, Goddess! Oh, Goddess! My love…I’m so sorry…I miss you so much…Kyle, my child…I’ve never known you…
Kian sobbed wildly, pain tearing his heart out. Shawn was devastated and his parents looked at each other in bewilderment. They were slowly guessing but they didn’t dare to express it. Mrs. Bryant leaned over Kian, gently putting her hands on his shoulders.
-Kian….Come on. It’s over…Let them rest in peace. They belong to the past. You’re here with us. You’re in the future.
Shawn came to and embraced his troubled friend. Evan Bryant was deeply touched. He joined the group and they stood there embraced, in deep silence. Kian sighed and raised his wings, enveloping his family.
As soon as they arrived home, Rebecca Bryant took the initiative. She sent Shawn to take Kian upstairs and ordered him to bed. She then turned to her husband and summoned him to the kitchen. She boiled some water and fumbled through her various tea mixes to find a proper one. Evan absentmindedly took out some teacups and placed them on a tray.
He leaned his back to the wall and asked in a restraint voice:
-If this is true, what should I call him now: great-great forefather? He’s half my age yet I’m here because of him. Tell me, Becca, how should I act?
She turned to him with a warm smile on her face and gave him a playful push.
-Oh, come on, Evan Bryant. You’re such a bright guy but sometimes you’re amazingly helpless. What would you want of him? I know, from historic vantage point he’s your 500 years old ancestor; but what you can see with your own eyes is a young boy, your son’s age lost in the meanders of Time and shattered by the loss of his loved ones. How would you feel to walk in his shoes?
Evan shuddered; he couldn’t imagine his life without his family. He kissed his wife-she was so wonderful and wise. The door opened and Shawn peered inside.
-Mom-he said- Kian asks about you…
-Every boy needs a mother from time to time-she laughed. Give me that tea, please and take care of your father. You owe him some explanations.
She then walked up to Kian’s room. He was sitting on the edge of his bed; shoulders sagged and huddled inside his wings. She put the tray on the table and handed him a cup of tea. She took the other one and sat beside him.
-You knew from the beginning…-he said half questioningly.
-I suspected something; there were too many blue-grey eyes at once.
-And your husband? How is he? I didn’t mean to disturb him…
-He’ll be fine. He’s with Shawn now. Our son owes him some explanations…
Kian-she said, turning to him- you have to let go.
-I know- he said in a whisper. But it’s hard…
-You’re alive and you deserve a life of your own-argued Rebecca. I saw you; you’re a decent person and you’re brave. Give yourself a break and let your heart mend.
-I’m not sure it could-sighed Kian.
-You’d be surprised-replied Rebecca. Now drink your tea and you can rest if you want.
-Thanks, but no. I don’t want to let Shawn alone in all this. I owe you all some explanations.
They went down in the living room together. They found Evan and Shawn quietly talking, Evan fingering the blue-stone of the necklace. He handed it to his life, pointing out the inside image. Shawn gave a tentative smile to Kian and was relieved when he returned it. They all set down. Mrs. Bryant lifted the necklace to her eyes and tilted her head:
-This is you, isn’t it?-she asked Kian.
-Yes-he answered. I left it to Maya to remember me easier and maybe later…show it to our child.
-But why didn’t you take them with you when you left for your planet? Weren’t they welcomed there?
-I couldn’t-said Kian in a restraint voice. I was leaving for a suicide mission.
He took a few steps to the window and stopped, peering through the curtains.
-I was summoned from home because there was an asteroid on collision course towards the Earth. Our government didn’t want to take action. I pleaded for but they just wouldn’t listen. So I’ve decided to take action on my own. I knew that my chances to survive were scarce but there was no way out.
It was hard but I left Maya into the care of my friends, Brian Knight and his wife, Mary. My attempt to deflect the asteroid was successful but it came with a price. Our people retrieved me and in a short time I ended up in the cryogenic chamber, in the Temple of Stars.
Kian turned to face them.
-I had no choice- he said. There were too many innocent lives to be sacrificed in the name of a stupid rule.
They watched him with love and pride in their eyes. Rebecca Bryant spoke first:
-You were brave; you had to make a difficult choice. As I’ve told you before, you deserve another chance.
Evan approached him and held out his hand:
-I’m proud that you’re my ancestor. It’s a good line to follow.
He embraced the young angel wholeheartedly. Shawn watched them from the top of the sofa smirking.
-I’m glad that we finally got to this. I was afraid it would take another 500 years to get you two properly acquainted…
-Hey, don’t be cheeky!-they exclaimed almost instantly and pushed Shawn, who fell back laughing on the sofa, legs in the air.
-Boys!-murmured with a hidden smile Rebecca and left to the kitchen to cook some lunch for her boisterous companions.
This was the last painful confession Kian made. From, that day on, everybody treated him as what he really was: Shawn’s best friend. The parents went on with their jobs and the youngsters with what was left of their holyday.