((Ravenna’s Dorm- Starfleet Academy, San Fransico, Earth- Dream))
Ravenna sat in a pile of books taller than her standing height. Each spine revealed another medical or science-based text and the smell that drifted from them wrapped her in a blanket of comfort. The fire crackled on the opposing wall and the whistle of the tea kettle pulled her from her dream world. Tea for dad and hot cocoa for herself.
Daniel had ducked into the library to ask Ravenna if she wanted marshmallows, only to find that she had disappeared in the two minutes he had been gone. It wasn’t uncommon, and though he would never tell her, he always knew right where she had ventured off to.
Daniel: Little Blackbird? Where did you wander off to?
Ravenna peaked her head out from behind the books in time to see her father walking in with a tray of drinks and nighttime cookies. She ducked back before she thought he could see her, but she hadn’t been quick enough.
Daniel sat them on the side table and took up residence in the chair he sat in ever night while he read to Ravenna, or any more, she read to him. I
Daniel: Blackbird, whatcha doing in the stacks again?
Ravenna: ::giggling:: Picking out a book to read.
She carefully climbed out from the tilted stacks and revealed her selection for their bedtime story.
Daniel was always perplexed by how Ravenna’s mind worked. It was a true gift and where he knew his wife hated it, he loved it. He could talk to her and have intelligent conversations with her, but since she was so young, she had an innocent and simple way of looking at problems. Some of the problems he had spent all day going over, she had asked one simple question that made everything click.
Many of his colleagues had laughed at him, but when he was ever asked about who his best friends was, he would genuinely respond that it was his daughter.
Daniel: Are you sure you want to read… ::checking the title page as the name had long worn off the spine:: Gray’s Anatomy?
Ravenna stared at her dad. She would have thought that it was obvious.
Ravenna: I’m going to be a doctor someday, just like you daddy.
Daniel felt the pride swell in his chest.
Daniel: You are going to be a fantastic doctor, Blackbird. Now, should I quiz you or are we reading?
Ravenna looked at the fireplace for a minute while she contemplated her options. She knew this book pretty well already, but perhaps, for the time being, it would be best if she just read it some more.
Ravenna: Reading ::she punctated the decision with a nod::
Daniel smiled at his daughter while she climbed up onto his lap. She was growing like a weed and sooner rather than later he would have to get her her own chair. Maybe a matching one so they could sit side by side in the library. He dreaded the day that she wouldn’t be his little cuddle bug anymore. It broke his heart to even think about it.
The rest of the night was spent reading up on bodily functions and looking at anatomical diagrams. Occasionally Ravenna would hop up and inspect the teaching skeleton that stood in the corner. Any other child would have found that eery glow from the fire reflected in the skeleton’s eye sockets creepy, but Ravenna didn’t seem to notice.
The fire alarm went off mid skeletal inspection and as Ravenna made her way back to her father, the fire alarm morphed into an alarm clock.
((Ravenna’s Dorm- Morning))
Ravenna woke with tears in her eyes. Sometimes she was thankful that she still remembered her father. Other times, she wished she remembered less because maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. She pinched herself. No, every memory with her father was a cherished memory.
Ravenna made her way to the bathroom to get ready for class. The eyes that looked back at her were her father’s. She teared up a little more. Surely, being a first-year, she would get harassed for crying. It wasn’t like she could hide the puffiness. She finished getting ready and walked out the door. This marked the start of a new adventure.
((Memory- Ravenna (five years old)))
Daniel was standing next to the front door with his bags all packed. Ravenna sat on the bottom step poking the bags as though they had personally offended her. Elizabeth stood in the doorway with her arms crossed. No one said a word, but the air between the adults was so thick you could feel it in your grasp.
Ravenna looked up at her dad and then to her mom. Daniel was hunched over and his usually relaxed demeanor had somehow soured. Elizabeth looked mad. Ravenna could tell something was wrong, but she couldn’t know the extent of it.
Ravenna: Why are these out here? ::she poked the bags again for good measure::
Daniel: ::glaring at Elizabeth while Ravenna wasn’t looking:: Well, Blackbird, I have to go away for a little while. You see there are some sick people who need my help. :: he attempted to sound nonchalant about the situation, hoping that if he didn’t sound agitated then maybe Ravenna would be okay.::
Ravenna looked up at Daniel with tears in her eyes. Ravenna loved her mother dearly, but her dad was the one who took care of her. ::her desperate pleas ripped at his heart in a way that no one could ever imagine::
Ravenna: Daddy, no! You can’t go! :: she sprung up and grabbed his legs:: I need you to teach me, please!
Daniel moved Ravenna’s little arms so he could kneel down to her level. He whiped away her tears as the fell.
Daniel: ::trying to control his voice:: Oh, Birdie, don’t cry. Please! I’ll be back before you know it.
Ravenna: Take me with you! ::She was sobbing now:: I can help the people too!
He rested his hands on her shoulders as she pled with him.
Daniel: I wish I could, but I need you to stay here and keep your mama company
He pulled her close just as he felt the tears well up in his own eyes. He looked up at Elizabeth his jaw clamped shut. His tears hit Ravenna’s hair. There was no way he was going to willingly leave his daughter behind, now, he knew Elizabeth would have to pry her away when his taxi arrived.
Daniel: Please, Little Blackbird, please don’t cry. :: he was rocking the two of them back and forth.::
He had sat on the ground with Ravenna in his lap and he was still rocking back and forth when the taxi arrived. The elderly driver got out of the car and was putting Daniel’s bags in the car. Sadly, it didn’t take him long enough and it was time to go.
Elizabeth: Come on, Ravenna. It’s time for him to go.
Ravenna yelled and clung to Daniel tighter as he stood up, still holding Ravenna. He was almost afraid to put her down. Now the thought of his little girl being all grown up before he sees her again came to mind and he wasn’t afraid of showing everyone that he was crying too.
Reluctantly, he stood her up and looked his little blackbird in the eyes.
Daniel: Now, I want you to behave for your mother while I’m gone. :: he leans over and gives her a kiss on the forehead:
Daniel hopes that just like ripping a bandaid off, this will make leaving easier. He knows he’s not fooling anyone.
Elizabeth comes down the steps only to snatch Ravenna away and hold her back so that Daniel could leave. Before he turns he says one thing to Elizabeth that haunts Ravenna.
Daniel: I hope you’re happy.
Elizabeth’s grasp on Ravenna tightens and she yelps. Her shoulder hurts from a mixture of how she is being restrained and struggling to get loose. Daniel turns and opens the car door. He looks back to Ravenna one more time before pulling away.
Elizabeth lets go of Ravenna, who bolts into the non-busy street and watches as the car carrying her father fades into the distance. She screams after him and it’s enough to alert the neighbors that there is something going on. Many take to their porches to watch as Elizabeth yanks Ravenna back toward their own house.
Ravenna ran inside and locked herself in the library. A mug of hot cocoa and a plate of cookies were set out on the side table with a letter:
I am so sorry I had to leave you. Just know that I will see you very soon and that I love you more than anything in the universe. I hope that someday you can forgive me for making you stay with your mom. Someday, I hope you can understand why I left.
I’ll be back soon. I promise.
With All my Love My Dearest Blackbird,
Ravenna tucked the letter into her pocket and climbed up into the seat. It was so much bigger without her dad sitting there with her. She ate half of the cookies and drank her hot cocoa, which was still warm.
Ravenna stayed locked in there for three days. There was a replicator that she used for food and water and a bathroom was attached. She didn’t want to see her mom. She needed time.