I was daydreaming at the traffic light, waiting for the light to turn. What a rough day! I couldn’t please anyone. Just to get half my work done, I needed the patience of Job, the arms of an octopus, and the sensitive soul of a psychotherapist. When is that light going to change? That’s all I need now; a stuck traffic light in heavy traffic on a sweltering day when the air conditioning in my car isn’t working right!
Naturally, I didn’t quite pull it off today. It was just one hassle after the other. I worked hard, did my best, and somehow I still came away feeling defeated.
The light still hadn’t changed, and it was getting hot. I switched off my ineffective air conditioner and rolled down my window—just in time to be surprised by a motorcycle cop who rolled up and stopped next to me!
“Are you having mechanical problems, ma’am?” he asked in a gruff attempt to be polite.
“No sir,” I replied somewhat intimidated, “Not except for this stupid old air conditioner!” I really had no idea why I had been singled out for a casual chat by one of our brave men in blue. “I have been sitting here for ages, waiting for that stupid light to turn blue,” I explained, “Is there something wrong with it?”
“No,” he replied curtly, “but apparently there is something wrong with you! If you hold your breath, you’ll turn blue, but I doubt that the light will. You’ve sat through three cycles of green lights!” he explained. He made a broad gesture to the long line of impatient drivers behind me, and added sarcastically, “all these nice people would like to go home today, and they are willing to settle for green. Now, why don’t you just move on and give them all a break?”
Of course! The light was green, I realized in a panic, so I set the car in gear and dashed through the intersection!
How embarrassing. After a hard day like this, my subconscious thoughts had returned to Thorgelfayne, where traffic lights are red-yellow-blue.
As I drove home, these thoughts came to the surface and turned into memories; and then the memories became vivid and real. Oh, I miss that place! I thought of my first night in Hapdorn when I looked out the bedroom window to see the snowplow go up the street. I remembered the dinner at John’s apartment (back before he and Panu bought that house). The mountains were so beautiful, and I especially liked the way the clouds would wander through the mountainside trees at sunrise. Of course, I will never forget being on Minsel Trothe’s television show, or the woman who disrupted the show and offered to adopt me! I remember the three little moons, the gorgeous mountains, and the auto trip with John to Lakeshore City to meet the Duke, where to my delight, Harshan was waiting for me. What a glorious surprise! After that, we traveled to his native country of Halakan, where I got to meet his parents and he proposed marriage to me in a unique and bashful way. Harshan’s mother managed to teach me how to cook Harshan’s favorite Halakanian dishes, even though we didn’t have a language in common! We had a lot of fun in that kitchen… Of course, the biggest event was the wedding; and I will never forget to my dying day that incident with the airplane, when I thought that my husband had died in the explosion.
I miss Lanni so much. She stayed by my hospital bed and helped me through it all. I owe her so much, but now she’s twelve light-years away! All those pleasant things are now so far away, so unreachable, and so painful for me to remember.
By the time I got to home to mother’s house, I was an emotional basket case! Mother’s car was in the driveway, so I had to park along the curb. I can’t block her in, because she’s got to be the first one out in the morning.
“Hello, Melissa!” came mother’s cheery voice from the kitchen, as I slammed the door behind me, “did you survive the slaughter?”
“You mean at the office, or in rush hour?” I asked, collapsing onto a dining room chair.
“I meant the traffic,” she explained, pouring me a glass of orange juice. She handed it to me with a napkin, “but it appears that you had a bad day.” Her voice was sympathetic, and she sat down next to me with her coffee mug.
“It wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle,” I said, “though there were more snakes in the jungle than usual.” She nodded wordlessly and sipped her coffee. “But on the way home, I… oh shucks!” I bent over to retrieve my napkin from the floor. “Can you believe it,” I said, a little upset with myself, “I sat through three cycles of the traffic light waiting for it to turn blue!”
Mother unsuccessfully tried to smother a giggle with a napkin.
“A motorcycle cop had to come up and tell me to go!” I took a sip of my orange juice, “I really felt like a total dip.”
Mother managed to contain her mirth and reached out to hold my hand across the table. “You really miss Thorgelfayne, don’t you?” she said quietly.
“Yes,” I admitted, and those stupid tears started welling up all over again, but I just pushed them back down. “I really think… “ I began tentatively, “No, I am certain that I would really be much happier living there!”
“Then you should tell your husband,” Mother suggested consolingly between sips. “By the way,” she said, “where is Harshan?”
“He’s supposed to work a little late tonight,” I reminded her, glancing at my watch. I wanted to surprise him with one of his favorite Halakanian dishes for dinner, and it was almost time to start chopping the vegetables. “But I don’t think telling Harshan that I want to go to Thorgelfayne will solve anything,” I said with a sigh, resuming the discussion. “I know your heart is in the right place, Mom, but it’s just not a possibility. We’ve already discussed this all the way through. He has always wanted to live on a wild, alien planet like Earth, and I can’t be the one to rob him of his childhood dream!”
“Maybe not,” Mother admitted, “but living on Earth is going to be much harder for him than for you, once the novelty wears off. And it is already hard on you!”
“Maybe you have a point,” I said in a small voice.
“When the time is right, tell him what you feel. Then he will have a way of returning to Homeland without thinking that he’s taking you away from the things you love.”
“It’s a very good idea,” I agreed gloomily, “But I don’t think it will ever happen. Harshan seems to be enjoying Earth too much for that.” I got up from the chair to go into the kitchen.
Mother smiled her secret smile, “We’ll see,” she said.