The next installment of the current narrative is in Xena’s POV. As you may have guessed, I had already picked out this week’s X name ahead of schedule. It was still at random, but I had to pick it out in advance to enable the narrative to move smoothly.
To check out the previous installments of this story, click the following links:
Xena: (Xene or Xenia) A feminine first name meaning hospitality. Greek.
Tate smiles at me, but I know something is different just by the look in his eyes. I’m torn between the joy of having him back in my life, and the heartbreak of knowing that we’re not what we once were. I can kid myself and hope that he’ll just wake up and be the old Tate, but five years passed with him believing he’d never see me or Quentin again. I grieved for him, and he moved on with his life… with his relationships, I guess.
Sabine reckons he’ll come around, that he needs time to adjust. I don’t want him to ‘come around’. If he loved me like I love him, then there is no need for thought, discussion or otherwise. Tate loves me, but he is not in love with me. Whether I’m okay with that, is yet to be seen.
He talks animatedly with his friends, even Val has managed to make amends with him, and Quentin eats his casserole hanging off of every word out of his Dad’s mouth. It’s selfish of me, but I found it easier when they were estranged; I wasn’t the only one out of the Tate Edmond’s loop. Now, Quentin is an indoctrinated member of the ‘alien squad’ as he has started calling them. Even Sabine is submerged in the conversations about retrieving the comm box thingy. I’m all for it, if it keeps my family safe, but I’m not sure what it means for me.
From what I’ve heard, the box is not within the detention centre. The ship and the box are at some T.D.E.D top secret, administration headquarters. Whilst the new comers are happy to plan an extraction mission, Tate is worried about the current focus on him, Quentin, and Val. If they can draw Ulric’s attention elsewhere, then Ulric will dispatch the full force of his operatives to the wrong location, minimising the security of HQ for he will no doubt ensure the security of the detention centre over that of ‘offices’. That, in turn, opens up the possibility of a less protected HQ.
“How about plane tickets?” asks Sabine.
Tate shakes his head. “No. With CCTV and passenger lists, they’ll know we didn’t board.”
“It’s a nice idea, but we might just have to take a chance and hope that Ulric is already looking in a different direction. Any guise will be thwarted. They have eyes and ears everywhere,” adds Val. “Big brother is a very real concept.”
The mention of big brother brings a memory into clarity. My Dad used to go out on his fishing boat from morning until night, sometimes taking me with him, and he’d always say the same thing, ‘I like the quiet of the ocean. The big brother world is too loud for my liking.’
A boat. That’s what needs to be done. Someone has to leave a trail of breadcrumbs all the way to the sea, and then be absorbed by the quiet of the ocean. That person has to be me. I won’t allow it to be any member of my family, and the alien squad are vital to the retrieval of the comm box. Once they have that, then Tate can ensure the safety of Quentin and Sabine. I can do this for my boy.
Dressing in silence, I take the envelope of cash I withdrew from all my accounts, pull on some trainers and my coat, and take Val’s keys from the table. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do for the past few hours. I have to be seen, but it has to be subtle; the T.D.E.D cannot suspect that I’m getting seen on purpose. I’m going to head home to my home town of Portsmouth and buy a boat. I can handle a decent size yacht, and I have sailed from Portsmouth to Barcelona before with Dad and Sabine. If I’m not stopped on route, I should make it to Barcelona in about a day. The rest I’ll think up when I get there. I could hire a car and head to Italy…For now, I’ll roll with what I can manage. Thinking too much on the possibilities makes me sweat.
I kiss Quentin goodbye and watch my son sleep for what is probably the last time. You can do this, Xena. Tate is asleep in the armchair downstairs. I know he has opted to fall asleep here rather than have to face me in the bedroom for that difficult conversation, but I can’t hate him. I love the man, and I love my son, and this is for them.
Placing the letter I scribbled on the coffee table, I sneak out into the dark, misty courtyard. Thankfully, the driveway to the farm is on a slight slant, so it doesn’t take much for me to steer and push the car a relative distance away from the farmhouse. Once, I’m on the road, I start the engine and head off with a new found sense of confidence.
Content belongs to KJ.Chapman