Flying Home, Part XVI

Part XVI

“We were hoping you’d be one of the charter human members, dear,” Mary Jean said. “Along with Julian, of course, and Leigh, if you want to stay with us, too.” 

Emily’s older sister nodded. “Yes. Absolutely,” she agreed. 

“Why did Wesley and Natasha see you as a threat?” 

“Because they’ve filled their minds with all the hollow mythology that surrounded the crash of 1947,” Mary Jean explained. “Once they saw what we had done with the lights and knew that Julian’s plane had disappeared in the middle of them, they let fear guide their reasoning. They’re not like you, open minded and inquisitive about things you don’t understand.” 

“All we’re doing is using a corner of Arizona to create a place we can enjoy and hope others will enjoy, too. Mary Jean and I have been here for a long time. It’s finally feasible to build what we came back to build and live our lives. The plans had to get approval before we could proceed.” 

“Thankfully the exploration committee on our home planet had reorganized after some of the members betrayed us, so we are a united front,” Mary Jean said. 

It struck Emily as funny that even extraterrestrial planets had a paper trail. “It sounds like life here. It took five years for the new library to be approved.” 

“But before we can create what we came to do, we must deal with Wesley and Natasha,” Harry sighed. 

Emily’s eyes grew wide. “What if they try to hurt Julian?” 

“We won’t let that happen,” Mary Jean assured Emily. “We need to find a way to keep them out of our territory. As despicable as their actions have been, we do not want to resort to harm. It’s not our way. That’s what perpetuates the fear among humans, and we don’t want to do a disservice to our race.” 

“Banning them from the territory seems best,” Harry mentioned. “Even use a light ball to alter their memories since they would only use the memory of this place for wrong reasons. He paused. We don’t like to use our abilities to control anyone, but in this case, many lives will be spared. They can be happy together in some other place in the country, focusing their greed on matters of ordinary life instead.” 

Emily felt the tension she hadn’t realized her body held ease and loosen at Harry’s words. No more running or fear, and certainly no more attempts on her life that she couldn’t even remember. 

“Can I move in and out of your creation? Once it’s done, do I have the ability to come and go? Do Leigh or Julian? I don’t really want to leave, but I thought I’d travel as a reporter…” 

“Of course! You’ll have to do that in order to become the journalist you are meant to be,” Mary Jean answered. “You have a fantastic hometown that you can return to at the end of the day. We give freedom, not captivity.” 

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Flying Home, Part XIV

Part XIV

Emily looked around the room and was suddenly struck by the similarity in the color of the decor to the lights. “Have you seen the gift? You sound as if you’re familiar with it.” 

Harry and Mary Jean exchanged a look.

“We’ve seen it,” Mary Jean said. 

“How long have you known about it?” Emily wondered. “I see some of the same colors here. That’s not a coincidence, is it?” 

Harry shook his head. “We’ve known of the gift for a long time.” 

“Longer than Julian has been missing?” 

“Much longer,” Mary Jean confirmed. 

“How?” 

“I made the gift,” she added.

It took a moment for Emily to process the idea. “Then you’re working with the visitors?” She still couldn’t bring herself to say the word alien. 

“No,” Harry said. “There’s a simpler explanation if you’ll only see it. Pretend it’s a story for the paper, Emily. What makes the most sense?” 

“If you’re not working for the visitors…” she trailed off. Emily gasped. “Oh, my. You are the visitors? No. I can’t believe it.” Her eyes grew wide and she turned to look at the door. Should she leave after all? She was practically being held captive by two people who were obviously insane! Or perhaps she was the one who was crazy. Either way, panic surged through her body and she thought her only option was to get out. Her eyes met Leigh’s, and her sister looked equally scared. 

“I know you’re afraid, but please don’t be,” Mary Jean said. “We will explain everything.” 

“How?” Emily stopped as soon as the light appeared in the middle of the room. 

It was about the size of an orange, but was made of pure white light. It started to spin as it developed streamers of blue, red, orange and green. The streamers danced in an invisible wind that felt cool on Emily’s face. She looked at Mary Jean, who appeared to be totally enrapt in her creation. Any expression of delight that Emily had ever seen was understated compared to this level of joy. Harry seemed proud as he watched his wife create the spectacular light show. 

Emily saw that Leigh was no longer fearful but in a happy wonderment. 

“This is incredible,” Leigh said. “You’re so lucky, Emily, to have seen this.” 

“I know,” Emily found herself saying as the ball of light grew to the size of a beach ball and emitted the most beautiful smells. The first few were of the ocean and roses. Then they combined to create a luscious feeling of a garden in springtime, familiar yet otherworldly. It must be a representation of the other planet. Music started to flow from the streamers as well. They were experiencing everything of a foreign place through their senses. 

“Julian liked it, too,” Mary Jean said. “This is where he went when his plane disappeared. He never crashed. He met us, in our true forms. And we shared our gift and our plans with him.” 

Flying Home, Part XIII

“I don’t know how any of what’s going on could make sense,” Emily said as she got comfortable on the sofa. “But I thank you for taking me in. Am I even safe to go to work?” 

Harry was quiet as he stared off into space, deep in thought. “I’m sorry, my dear, but I don’t think that’s a good idea.” 

Emily sank against the linear cushions. “I guess I didn’t really expect that it would be by now.” 

“I’m sorry, Emily.” Leigh reached over and touched her sister’s arm with sympathy. “I’ll stay here with you.” 

Harry sighed. “It would be best for you to continue your normal routine, Leigh. Both of you disappearing would tip them off. You’re not in any danger yourself.” 

Tears formed in Leigh’s eyes. “Why? What made them pick on Emily? I wish I could trade places.” 

Emily regarded her older sister with gratefulness. She had always been protective of Emily, from the time they were small children. She knew she could count on Leigh for anything. “That’s very sweet of you,” she said. “But I’ll be OK.” Emily straightened her back in with it, her resolve. “If this is all happening for a reason, I have to do what Harry and Mary Jean want me to do.” 

“I appreciate your confidence in us,” the bandleader said.   

“What do the lights mean? Why are they so important?” Emily asked. “Was it something bad? It seems very peaceful when I saw them in the dream, I mean, in my memory.” 

Mary Jean nodded. “Very peaceful,” she said. “Think of it as a cooperation between two entities that existed to promote goodwill. Like an ambassador bringing a gift to a foreign country on an official visit. A beautiful gift that would leave a mark on the countryside forever.” 

“Why can’t I see it when I’m awake? The house looked normal when Leigh and I went there today.” 

“It’s because the gift isn’t finished. When it is, you’ll see everything.” Mary Jean paused for a moment. “It’s when you’ll see Julian.” 

“So he’s not real yet?” Emily was crestfallen.

“Oh, no, honey. He’s real,” Mary Jean soothed the younger woman with a soft smile. “So many things are real that we can’t see. But the important thing is that you will. Wesley and Natasha knew that,,and that’s why they drugged you on the night that you visited the house out in the country and saw the colors. You saw Julian, too, and they didn’t want you to remember. But they had intruded on the beautiful gift. Julian found out about the gift and that’s why he was there.” 

“Who was giving the gift? A visitor, like you said. You don’t mean someone – something from outer space, did you?” Emily couldn’t wrap her head around the idea. 

“Precisely,” Mary Jean said. “You can say it. UFOs. Aliens. Extraterrestrial visitors. But I can assure you they’re nothing to fear. Please trust me.” 

Too Many Choices

That autumn of 1996 brought simply too many men from whom to choose. There was the distinguished record collector, the man with the boat in his yard and the other who swung his own kind of machismo, leaving a girl totally bewildered. I was a homemaker and an auction runner, surreptitious in the way I left  pies cooling on the windowsill. The courthouse was too crowded every time I checked on my passport, so I consoled myself with another recipe, jazz record or pattern for an A line dress. The gentleman would perhaps need to wait for me, but not his next first edition. My skills ensured him the next great read of his life; I was way too sharp to let that go. If we’d started a band, would he have died happier? 

On a Saturday morning when the whole town was still asleep, I staked out Mr. Boat in my car, camera in hand to take pictures of the autumn leaves. It made me vibrate with urgent jealousy that all of the other women knew where he lived, yet I did not. But soon my mission was accomplished and I was sashaying past the address every weekday morning in my can can skirts. I rustled like the leaves, wearing teal blue like the paint on his boat. It made me smile and twist my film noir hair around my fingers. 

But only the bewilderment making man appreciated the heeled espadrilles I wore as I longed for a glimpse of the man behind the boat. He approved of my long legs, tan from the summer sun, peeking out from beneath the tulle. His smile was like sweet tea on a humid afternoon when you’re sitting on the porch swing, praying for the ennui to end. I think I was happy there. I know I could have been if I’d stayed longer. 

As I think back on that autumn, I imagine how much easier my autumn leaf photography might have been with a digital camera. I probably should have thought to cut out the middleman. But we used touch tone phones and three day photo shops, none the wiser. 

Dream #125

The music blared over the speakers as I reached for my stylus, certain of its position because I always kept it in the same place. He has always been so kind, helping me with learning where to put things and setting me at ease over my overly dilated pupils. 

“We match,” he joked as he removed his glasses and allowed me a closer look. 

I’d never felt so close to him except for when we danced. I loved to dance with him because all that mattered was the music and the feeling of our bodies together, two becoming one. 

He encouraged me to read and keep up with my writing as much as ever and massaged my weary legs and feet at the end of each day. Often words were not necessary. 

I could talk freely about how I thought about the others and wondered why they hadn’t clung onto the will to survive. They hadn’t wanted to be here, but I did. I liked being here. 

Flying Home, Part XII

“No. Julian’s dead.” Emily was beyond stunned. “He has to be. His plane went down. He’s gone. ” A flash of anger ripped through her body. “How can you just sit there and tell me something like that when everyone knows it isn’t true? I’m the one who’s had to live without him. I don’t know how you people can be so cruel… She stood up and started to walk toward the door.” 

“Did you see any wreckage? A body?” Harry’s voice was gentle as he asked the probing questions. “What do you have, Emily, beyond what other people have told you? You’re a reporter. How much of this lack of evidence could be used for a news story? Please just consider that. When you write about deaths, be it an accident or whatever, how much proof do you require? Leroy wouldn’t sign off on a story made of nothing but gossip.” 

Something of this logic resonated within Emily. She stopped and turned to face Harry and Mary Jean. “No, he wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t present him such a piece, either.” 

“I know. Why don’t you apply the same ideals to this case?” 

“Wesley did warn Natasha against chasing after Julian in the event of my murder,” Emily recalled. “But everything there seemed so unreal. I don’t even know why they live there.” 

“It’s far worse than a love affair,” Mary Jean said. “They’re only fooling themselves, though. They imagine their employers to be some sort of monsters who will be displeased if they don’t shed as much blood as possible.” 

“Julian’s blood.” Emily meant to state it as a question but it sounded like a statement. 

“No, my dear,” Harry sighed. “Yours.” 

“Why? Who am I to them?” 

“A witness,” Mary Jean answered. “And they’re too blinded by fear to realize that what you saw had nothing to do with them but rather these employers of whom they’re so afraid.” 

Emily shook her head in confusion. “The lights? How could they have made that happen? And what’s wrong with my witnessing it, if that’s even true?” 

“In reality, nothing. They only think so.” 

“How could Julian be alive?” Emily returned to the original source of shock. 

“I’m afraid we can’t keep you safe right now if I answered that question,” Harry intoned with a glance at his wife. “But you can know that he is truly alive.” 

“Then where is he? I want proof!” 

“He isn’t here, but it won’t be long,” Mary Jean answered. “I suppose you’ll either trust us, even though we can’t reveal much yet, or take your chances with Wesley and Natasha.” 

I can’t do that, Emily thought. They want to kill me and I have no idea why. But how much dare I trust Harry and Mary Jean? Something inside told her that the couple were by far more trustworthy than the perennially owly Wesley and the simpering Natasha. So she sat back down. 

“I’ll stay. Just promise me this will make sense.”

Flying Home, Part XI

“You? You’re the one who left the note?” Emily couldn’t imagine Mary Jean being so cryptic. True, she didn’t know the woman very well, but she was an extroverted person who seemed much more likely to speak openly about something important. 

“I’m sure I’m the last person you thought would write to you under the cover of anonymity, but I have my reasons. You’ll be safe with Harry and I,” Mary Jean continued. “I’m not trying to make you paranoid, but at this point I wouldn’t advise either of you ladies to trust much of anyone around here.” 

“Leroy isn’t involved in all of this, is he?” Leigh rubbed her eyes with fatigue and weariness of the secrecy. “We can trust our boss, can’t we?” 

Mary Jean smiled. “Yes, Leroy is one of the good guys. Although I would warn you that the people besides him and Harry and I might not be.” 

In a few minutes, Emily and Leigh were inside Harry and Mary Jean’s palatial mid century house. It sat on the outskirts of town on the opposite end of where Natasha and Wesley were apparently living, built with a view of most of Aurora. Leigh, the natural designer with her artistic eye, seemed to approve of the house. 

“This is beautiful,” she said. 

“Thank you,” Harry, the tall, lanky man with prematurely graying hair, said. “Mary Jean and I had it built after we married. We met on the band circuit. I was leading my group and one night I fell in love a singer in the other one. It happened that we were traveling through Vegas, so we got married and lived on the road about a year before we stopped for a show here and never left. I guess the place has a way of pulling you in.” 

“I guess,” Emily agreed. “So what’s going on? Why am I in danger?” 

“Natasha and Wesley fear that you know too much.” Mary Jean sighed. “They imagine that they’re working for people who have shady motives, but in truth, there’s no reason to fear those to whom they report. Have you noticed any strange lights or colors in the sky, Emily?” 

“Only in a dream,” Emily replied. “I had a vivid one the other night. I was drawn to the house and there were dancing lights in the sky that even played flowers in the sand that grew. But most of all, I went inside and saw my dead husband sitting in a chair as if nothing had changed in our lives.” 

Mary Jean gave her husband a knowing look before turning to look at Emily with tears in her big blue eyes. 

Harry leaned in toward her, his face growing somber. “What if I told you it wasn’t a dream?” 

“None of it? Even Julian…” 

“No,” Harry shook his head. “Emily, you need to know that Julian is alive!”