The message was simple, but Therrin Melonach knew exactly what it meant.
Therrin’s eyes misted, and the control panel smeared in her vision. She swiped at her eyes with her finger, willing the tears to go away, but fearing they never would. There was no room for her emotions now. She needed her strength to carry her through.
At least, that was what she told herself as she hurried home to watch her father die.
* * *
Ethesreld was lush and green after the rainy season ended. A rich emerald carpet blanketed the planet, except for the jutting mountains and mirror-like lakes scattered here and there. Therrin hadn’t been home often in the past five years, but it felt like she never left.
The door to Vatino flew open and Carrin, her younger sister, rushed out to greet her.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” she said wrapping Therrin in a tight hug. The affection felt uncomfortable to Therrin, as though Carrin’s greeting was forced. Therrin was sure it was at the behest of her mother.
“How is he?” Therrin asked without preamble. Carrin’s eyes welled with tears and she shook her head. Therrin was sure the younger woman was trying to will away the tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. A lump grew in her throat at the sight of her sister’s anguish over their father. It was bad.
“C’mon,” Therrin said taking her sister’s hand and heading toward their childhood home.
The air inside was still and stuffy, threatening to choke Therrin. The musty smell of the home filled her nostrils. The home was well-kept, as always, but the smell of sickness was thick. This was no longer her home and hadn’t been in many years. It lived only as a memory to her now. A place where the treasures of her younger self still resided.
She knew the way to her parents’ room, her feet carrying her without much thought. The door loomed in front of her, and she tapped lightly, awaiting permission to enter.
The door opened, and her mother stood there, tired and red-eyed from crying. She looked older, Therrin thought, than the last time they saw each other. It was the day she brought her father home from a peacekeeping mission. A day that changed their lives and relationships forever.
A mission that was now claiming his life and her heart.