This story introduces Evelyn, a minor but significant character in Dreaming of Xeres, the first volume of our trilogy, The Third War. This short story introduces her and her son, Kier, who becomes a major character in the second volume, Running to the Past.
by Orion T. Hunter and Kyros Amphiptere ©2017
Evelyn shifted nervously in her seat. The waiting room was chilly. It felt like any other anonymous doctor’s office. Not what she expected adopting a child from China. Around her, the other adoptive couples chatted nervously with each other.
But she was all alone, except for Maeve. When Keith and I started this three years ago, at least we had each other through all the paperwork, financial probes, and home visits. But after he died…. She didn’t want think about losing him. It had been a year since the Oakland police showed up on her doorstep to tell her that he’d died on a building site he’d been overseeing in L.A. They said he’d had a heart attack, then fallen several stories off the new LeRoux Worldwide Center.
She felt a warm hand on her arm, reminding her of Maeve’s presence. She turned to find her friend/receptionist/mother figure smiling at her.
“Brighten up, hon. Remember, you’re about to become a mother. You’re ready for this.”
Evelyn managed a watery smile. “I know, but it doesn’t feel right without Keith.” She sucked in her lower lip to stop it quivering. It wouldn’t do to break down in a roomful of strangers. She fumbled in her purse, feeling around inside for a tissue. Her fingers closed on a piece of leather with something lumpy inside.
After a moment, she pulled out the small dark leather pouch with a brass button closure. Embossed on it was a symbol she’d dreamed of as a child, a black and white box with one corner sliced off to form a triangle. Wherever it had come from, the symbol had always made her feel safe and protected.
Flipping it open, she spilled out the object inside: an obsidian arrowhead. A stray sunbeam from the one window made it sparkle for a moment, revealing the multitude of knapped facets. Carefully, she closed her hand around it, holding on until it’s coldness warmed in her palm.
The arrowhead had been Keith’s good luck charm and he’d carried with him wherever he went. It had sliced open his pocket seams so often that she’d had the pouch made for it. It made her feel like Keith was somewhere near her, present but just not speaking at the moment.
It didn’t keep him safe, though, did it? she thought bitterly, returning the arrowhead to the pouch. She slipped it safely into the pocket of her pantsuit.
Glancing around, she measured herself against the other women, anything to keep her mind off of Keith and how much she still missed him.
One woman in particular caught her eye. Tall, dark, and slender, she fairly glowed against the white walls, standing out from the other casually dressed would-be parents. Her red dress was classically styled and her red heels…. She makes me I feel positively dowdy. Me, a professional therapist and soon-to-be mother. She shook her head. No, that will not do. I’m going have a son now. I have to be Superwoman for him. She huffed a short laugh. Well, red does look good on me. And those heels would certainly give me some much-needed height. Now, maybe a cape….
“Honey, they’re coming,” Maeve said, grabbing her hand in excitement.
Evelyn looked toward the door in something akin to panic. Around her the other couples stood, silent for the moment. She noticed that most of them were holding each other.
A stream of women in yellow uniforms issued from the door beside Maeve and Evelyn. Each one carried a baby and a folder with the parent’s names on it. As she watched, couples reached out their arms, each gathering their new child in.
Everyone else in the room had acquired a child, but still Evelyn stood alone. On the verge of panic, she released Maeve’s hand, taking two steps toward the door and almost colliding with the last yellow clad woman. On her hip was a wide-eyed, solemn little boy of four or five.
In a soft voice, the woman said, “I think this one is for you.” She gave Evelyn a impish grin. “He has been objecting to clothes lately. We find them all around his crib.”
Evelyn felt Maeve’s hand on her shoulder as she reached for the child. He was staring up into her eyes as she made contact with him.
A jolt of electricity passed between Evelyn and the boy.
What was that? Static? He didn’t even cry. His eyes are so warm and brown and inviting. It’s like he already knows me.
And I feel like I know him, too. She shook her head to clear it, cuddling the little boy to her. Something to explore later.
The woman spoke to Maeve, “His papers are in this bag along with a few of his things. His name is Ke-ren. ”
“Kieren?” Evelyn gulped. “He reminds me so much of Keith,” she said softly. Looking down at the boy in her arms, her broken heart mended as this small child smiled up at her. “Hello, Kier. We’re going to be just fine together, aren’t we?”
She felt a warmth from her pocket. Reaching in, she pulled out the leather pouch. After a moment, she handed it to the little boy.
“I think this belongs to you now. It’ll keep you safe.”
About The Authors
Orion has published short stories, poetry, and non-fiction, plus a co-written previous novel, Thieves in Time, a fan fiction in the world of TV’s Blake’s Seven. That’s how she met Kyros: he walked out of that novel and demanded French fries. Orion’s flash fiction appears in Wild Words (available on Smash Words), a collection of prompt-driven short fiction by the Writers Kickstart Group of Snohomish, WA. Dreaming of Xeres, written online with Kyros Amphiptere, is the first book of The Third War series.
She has been a librarian, school teacher, jewelry maker, glass etcher, gypsy business and metaphysical bookstore owner, and a vendor at scifi conventions, farmers markets, and SCA events. She lives in Everett, WA with two cats, a piano, and walls lined with books and art.
Kyros grew up in a small town in Indiana. After a year of college and a brief stint in the US Navy, he left Indiana and headed west. He ended up in the Seattle area where he lived for the next eighteen years doing a variety of different jobs. He met his future co-author, Orion T. Hunter, at a science fiction convention shortly after moving to Seattle. They became fast friends and for a few years even owned a bookstore together. Eventually work and his heart led him to the San Francisco Bay area where currently he resides with his husbands, two dogs, and a very opinionated African Grey parrot named Abby.