“Grandmother, why does Grandfather hate me?” Meidra’s eyes were focused on the sea of stars revealed on the small ship’s viewscreen. The man had tried hitting her with his staff for not knowing some obscure historical fact in front of his business associates. She was seven years old, why should she care who won the Great Battle of Vogan?
T’Ria frowned as she turned to the child. “He does not hate you, my child. He hates himself.”
Meidra highly doubted that. If Samek loved anyone, logic insisted that it was himself. She continued watching the stars, wondering why she wasn’t good enough for him.
Grandmother had told Meidra’s mother that she was taking her on a trip for a few days to further the girl’s interest in biology, there was a little cabin not too far away on a planet just far enough away, and she intended on visiting it with her granddaughter. Lenore had known better than to argue, and had sent them off with a wave and a guilty expression. Meidra believed it signified relief, but would not speak the thought aloud.
Meidra landed the shuttle in the hour before dusk, taking care to not touch down near where she knew firebirds would have their nests. She’d been gone for far too long, the memories too raw to bear. But she had promised herself she’d put her past behind her now that she had a brighter future.
If the counselor were to listen to her grandfather, journeys to the past were illogical. What was done, was done, and dwelling on history prevented one from moving forward. Of course, if one was a ruthless shipping magnate with poor impulse control, that philosophy made sense.
They landed at sunset, the purple sky streaked with dark blue clouds. A storm was coming, and Meidra loved storms. She thought that if a big enough storm could just come to Vulcan, it might blow the bitterness from Grandfather’s heart. She frowned, it was just this type of fanciful nonsense that Samek despised from her most of all.
They made their way through the thick forest, and Meidra smiled when she saw her castle in the trees that Grandmother’s friend Arid had made for her two years ago. It was good to be back where she felt safe. She could be a pirate, or a princess or a real Vulcan. She said as much to her grandmother, not seeing the look of sadness in T’Ria’s eyes.
Days passed, and they made friends with the multi colored fish that lived in the nearby creek who seemed to sing each morning as they greeted the day. She was allowed to give them special treats that she had helped T’Ria make, with extra nutrients to help them keep their vibrant color and health. Meidra felt very important and special because her grandmother trusted her with taking care of all of the animals near the cottage.
One night, Meidra and T’Ria sat round a small fire, roasting the sweet confections of gelled sugar her grandmother had sampled on Terra decades ago. They were sticky and had no discernable nutritional value. Grandfather would have hated them. So Meidra loved them. Plus they tasted like happiness.
Slowly making her way through the small forest on Telstrus III, the counselor noted every sign of her past that still survived the years since she had last been here. The hand painted sign, Meidra’s Castle, pointed the way to a treehouse built from Goklim wood, only found on this small world. A discarded pirate’s flag from Rimla where the oceans still cradled wooden ships through fierce storms. She could almost hear her grandmother calling for her to come inside for end meal, and moments later she saw her summer refuge.
The cottage was small, crafted from dusty grey and white stone, with a bubbly creek nearby filled with multicolored fish that let you hand feed them once trust was established. She wondered if they would remember her.
Sighing, she remembered her last day here, on vacation with T’Ria, hiding from some perceived sin committed in her grandfather’s eyes. He’d flown into a rage, swearing he’d throw her out of his home until T’Ria had smuggled them both to this cottage to wait out the storm of his wrath.
They’d spent the day picking flowers, telling secrets, and promising to come back each year to have a week together. Now, the house was kept up by Grandmother’s friend Arid, who never seemed to age. He greeted her with warmth, then left her to her memories.
“Meidra, I do not bring you here to run away from your problems.” T’Ria seemed very serious, and so Meidra listened even more carefully, eyes wide. “You cannot run from them, none of us can. But what you can do is find a spot where you feel safe, and work through the pain to find your strength. There is no shame in taking a step back and letting others pass. The path will still be there when you are ready.”
“But what if the path takes me somewhere scary, Ko’mekh-il?”
T’Ria allowed herself the small smile she had for her favored grandchild. Pushing the dark red hair from Meidra’s eyes, she put her forehead against Meidra’s and whispered.
“Then you make a new path, my child.”
The winds were picking up, soon a storm would surround the small home. She closed her eyes, letting the breeze greet her. She smiled, feeling the arms of her grandmother as if she were there. So many lessons learned here, and so many more to share with someone, when the time was right. Grandmother would have welcomed the one Meidra would bring here, feeding them sugary treats and teaching them about the singing fish.
“Meidra, come inside, you will blow away if you don’t shelter from the winds.”
“Just a few more minutes, Ko’mekh-il, I’m pretending I’m a firebird and can just fly away.” She paused. “Grandfather would like that, I think.”
The old Vulcan woman came outside and scooped the child up into her strong, loving arms.
“You are a treasure, my lara, and you are worth more than all of his gold.”
Lara, Meidra thought. A pretty blue bird that soared amongst the heavens. She looked up at the sky. Someday, she would soar through the stars, she just knew it.
Sitting near a campfire, watching the flames, Meidra put a marshmallow on a stick, just as T’Ria had shown her so long ago. As the fire kissed the sweetness, she realized it was yet another metaphor to be savored, The flames come close, but if you stay vigilant, they can’t engulf you.
“I found someone, Grandmother. He’s kind and you would have loved him as I do.”
Meidra felt the peace of this place shelter her as it had throughout her childhood. Many times over the years, she'd come here to remake her path, and it had always led her to better things, and a stronger sense of who she was meant to be. It had been a long road, getting from there to here. She slowly ate her treat, then sat back, and listened as the sounds of the forest welcomed her home.