Any mother knows that babies don’t stay babies for long, and Aurora was no exception. She was determined to make the most of Coralie’s infancy, and cuddled and doted on her daughter at every turn.
But of course, the day inevitably came when Coralie outgrew her crib and jumped eagerly into childhood.
Coralie had grown into a crazy little goofball, always telling jokes, pulling (harmless) pranks (unlike Addie), and finding the fun in every situation. And while she loved nothing more than playing make-believe, Coralie had a sensitive side, as well. She had the trademark Hasslich eyes, but no obvious sign of her mother’s distinguished nose – and her eye color seemed to be some odd mix of Aurora’s blue and Lamont’s green hues.
Aurora was overwhelmed with pride for her daughter. This tiny, amazingly independent person with opinions and interests all her own – who only days ago hadn’t even been able to crawl! – suddenly needed her mother less and less each day.
Of course, Aurora knew that this was the way of things, and so she did her best to adapt to her new maternal role. She tried not to hover – to allow Coralie the space to grow into herself – but she was never too far away, or too busy, for her daughter. Fortunately, this approach worked wonders, and quickly led to the type of mother-daughter relationship Aurora had only dreamed of growing up with Andalie.
Aurora and Coralie had become the very best of friends – and though Aurora welcomed this new phase of their relationship, she couldn’t help but miss the feel of a baby’s tiny fingers in her hand. And while she’d always known she would want more children, she hadn’t anticipated having another baby quite so soon. But another baby, she realized, is exactly what she wanted.
She approached Coralie to discuss – she didn’t worry about being in just her underwear. Abe wasn’t home, so it was only the girls.
Aurora: There is something I’d like to talk to you about, Coralie. It’s a big decision for our little family, and I want you to know that you – and your opinion – are important. So tell me, sweetheart – how would you feel about having a baby brother or sister?
Coralie cocked her head, considering the question. She was a goofy girl, but she was always careful with her words.
Coralie: I would like that, very much! Can you imagine?! There would ALWAYS be someone to play with!!
Aurora grinned, and sighed with relief. It made sense that Coralie would embrace the idea of a playmate – after all, there were no other children in the house, and cousins didn’t seem to be forthcoming anytime soon (mean-spirited Addie only chased men off, and Sylvie was too busy with her work lately to even consider a pregnancy).
And so Aurora began her search for another baby daddy. Unfortunately, pickings were slim. For one, she was related to half the town. Not to mention, she was impatient – she wanted this new baby as soon as possible, and that meant she didn’t have time to wait for the perfect candidate to saunter into her life.
No, Marvin Powell would have to do.
To his credit, Marvin’s nose was smaller than hers and his eyes were a striking shade of blue. Of course, his lips were on the thin side and he also had a rather strange and scrawny physique, complete with narrow shoulders and a pronounced gut. Aurora secretly thought he would benefit from a gym membership, but she held her tongue.
Their little game of tonsil hockey quickly lead to other activities…
And much to her excitement, Aurora found that her time with Marvin had been successful in more ways than one.
Meanwhile, Sylvie had finally made the decision to move forward with her journey to Sixam. Abe had wanted to go with her of course – it could be dangerous, he reasoned. She could get lost, or worse!
But Sylvie persisted. This was something she had to do alone. She told Abe that her cardigan was alien-repellent (it wasn’t) and that of course her cell phone would work on the other side of the wormhole (it wouldn’t).
She kissed him goodbye and stepped cautiously through the portal.
She didn’t know what she had expected, but it certainly wasn’t this. She was sure her eyes were closed, yet she could see – blackness, mostly, dotted with swirls of gorgeous color, like the paint on an artist’s palette. Then a jolt, and she opened her eyes (or did she?).
“Beautiful,” she said out loud, “And strange.” Somehow, somewhere deep within her, the description resonated – it felt peaceful, familiar even. Like she belonged.
Sylvie wandered aimlessly, for how long she didn’t know. She knew she was here in a mission, but the scientist in her was intrigued. She gathered samples to study back in the lab – glittering rocks and glowing flowers she’d never seen. The lake was filled with an unfamiliar liquid. Carefully, she bent and dipped a pinkie into the substance. Her finger tingled deliciously. Whatever it was, it wasn’t water.
Suddenly, Sylvie felt the hair on the back of her neck stand straight up.
She was being watched – she could feel it. She pretended not to notice, buying herself time to work out a plan. Why hadn’t she listened to Abe? Now she was cornered, and alone. She’d gotten much farther from the wormhole than she realized. Escape was not an option.
She stood up straight and bellowed into the dark.
Sylvie: WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT? SHOW YOURSELF!
A glimpse of movement out of the corner of her eye, and she was suddenly confronted with what she could only assume was an alien. It approached her but stayed just out of reach.
Alien: I think the real question is, what do YOU want?
Sylvie’s jaw dropped. Aliens could speak Simlish?!
Sylvie: I come from Willow Creek. My name is Sylvie. I….I’d like to ask you a few questions, um, if, uh – if that’s okay of course?
Sylvie: Have you ever heard anything about someone called Elphie Hasslich?
Sylvie could have sworn she saw a dark shadow pass over the alien’s eyes. But it was gone so quickly, just a flash, really – that Sylvie thought she must have imagined it.
The alien relaxed noticeably, it’s demeanor suddenly friendly and open.
Alien: Hass-what? I am unfamiliar with the term. I have never heard such a word! Nope! Never, not once! Why do you ask this, Sylvie?
It articulated each word – especially her name – slowly and carefully.
Sylvie: Well – Hasslich is my surname. Elphie Hasslich was my ancestor. She disappeared a long time ago, and my aunt believed that we might find answers on Sixam.
Alien: Your aunt was incorrect.
Sylvie: Is there anyone else who might know something?
Alien: No, Sylvie. Our brains are configured differently than yours. Our kind are of one brain – what I know, we all know, and what I do not know, none of us know. And we know nothing of Elphie Hasslich.
Sylvie was taken aback – the alien seemed suddenly aggressive. But just as she began to question the exchange, she was overcome with an intense dizziness. When she looked up, the alien was nowhere to be seen. At once, her questions were gone, her doubt erased. Of course the alien didn’t know anything! Why had she ever thought it would?
Sylvie turned around and started for home.