One evening when the rest of the family had gone to sleep, I spotted some strange lights glittering outside Aidan’s window, hovering in the air.
I was about to go outside and investigate them myself when I noticed Aidan, ever the brave entrepreneur, hurrying out of the house to look at the strange phenomenon.
As he stood there, the lights dissolved and a spaceship appeared in their place, humming and beeping as it spun in the air.
I was shocked, and began to open the window to call a warning to my son. Before I knew what was happening, a powerful-looking beam of blue light had descended from the ship onto Aidan, and pulled him up inside it!
I screamed, helpless as I watched my eldest son carried away by an alien spaceship. My scream woke Ian, who rushed to my side as I managed to gasp out what had happened. As soon as he understood, Ian ran out of the room, and I could see him dash out into the garden from where I was still rooted to the spot by the window. I knew it was useless – we would never see Aidan again.
Early the next morning, I was lying in bed after a sleepless night, when I heard the same sound from the night before. I shook my head, trying to make it go away. The worry and lack of sleep must have been making me imagine things. I could still hear the buzzing, though, and louder if anything. It seemed to be coming from outside again. Grudgingly, I got out of bed and peered out the window to see what was going on.
On the road outside our house was parked the strangest car I had ever seen. More than anything else, it resembled the spaceship that had taken Aidan in the night.
As I watched, two men emerged from the vehicle. The older one had dark grey skin, a bald head, and huge black eyes. His appearance shocked me for only a second before my eyes landed on the second man standing behind him – my son.
I turned from the window and ran downstairs, tears of relief streaming down my cheeks. By the time I burst through the front door and ran into my son’s arms, there was no trace of the mysterious vehicle that had dropped him here. Not that I cared very much; all that mattered in the moment was that he was safe.
Once the initial shock of the moment had passed, it gave way to anger. Of course I knew that what happened was not Aidan’s fault – he was probably as surprised as I was – but he shouldn’t have gone out in the first place! He refused to tell me what had happened, insisting that he couldn’t remember anything, but it was obvious he was lying. He alone knew what had happened that night, since he never talked about it. Whatever it was, it changed him. After that, he started going out more and later, and when he was home I would often find him on the balcony stargazing with his dad’s telescope. But on the surface he was still the same person, and of course we all loved him as much as ever.
Meanwhile, life for the rest of the family went on as it always had. Now that the twins had grown out of their cribs, we had moved Cody into their old bedroom while the girls shared a room with Aidan.
None of them, excepting Cody, were particularly pleased with this arrangement.
“Dad, why do we have to share a room with Aidan?” I heard Bianca whine as I came downstairs one evening, and stopped in the kitchen to listen.
“Bianca, sweetie, Aidan is your brother. We don’t have enough space for all of you to have your own rooms, so for now this is the best we can do.”
“But dad, he’s so messy! He leaves his stuff everywhere and he’s always up really late so me and Bridie can’t go to sleep!”
Ian sighed. “I’m sorry, honey. We just don’t have any other options, unless you want to share with your baby brother who cries all night.”
He smiled, and kissed her forehead. “Honey, your mum and I really appreciate how patient you’re all being with this arrangement. I promise when Cody is older, he and Aidan can share, and you girls can have your old room back.”
“Yay! Thanks, daddy!”
While I was standing in the kitchen listening to Ian and Bianca, Bridie approached me with the same question her sister had just asked.
“Mum, please can Bianca and me have a different room? We don’t like sharing with Aidan!”
“Bridie, your father and I have decided that you and Bianca can go back to your old room once Cody is a bit older, and he and Aidan will share.”
Bridie did not take the news quite as well as her sister had.
“But that’s ages away, Mum! It’s not fair!” She turned to Aidan, who was watching the exchange from his seat at the breakfast bar. “This is your fault!” she cried, and ran out of the room. I sighed. There was really nothing I could do for the moment, and dealing with two young girls and a toddler every day on top of work was really starting to wear me out.
With everything going on at home, progress in my career was slow. I was on a regular schedule of delivering sing-a-grams around town, regardless of the client or the weather.
Breaks were very scarce, and every evening I would arrive home exhausted. Of course, I didn’t have to accept every contract I was given, but we needed the money I was earning.
I still had my weekly gig at the park, where I would perform for anyone who happened to stop by. Few people sought me out, since I was still little-known in the wider community, but the bulk of my weekly pay came from these performances, and they helped to get my name out there.
Saturday morning, my day off, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognise. I answered the call with curiosity. “Hello?”
“Hi, is that Nicole?” I recognised that voice. “This is-”
“Julie!” I squeaked.
“Yeah, it’s me! Wow, Nicole, it’s been a while!”
“You’re telling me!” I said. “I haven’t heard from you in years, what have you been up to?”
“I’m sorry I didn’t call, I’ve been away for a long time on a business trip, I only just got back,” she replied. “Hey listen, I’m at the airport at Bridgeport now, I was wondering if we could meet up?”
Thank god it was my day off. “That sounds great!” I said enthusiastically. “Why don’t you come over to our place? It’s not far.” I gave her the address before we said our goodbyes and ended the call.
Ten minutes later, dressed and waiting, I heard a car pull up on the road outside. I ran out the front door and squealed like a teenager when I saw my old best friend emerging from the taxi. “Julie!” I yelled, as I threw myself into her arms.
“Nicole, it’s so good to see you!” she cried, squeezing me back.
I invited her inside, where she greeted Ian and met all the kids. She and Ian had been close before, but they hadn’t seen each other in a long time, so I was glad that they had a chance to reunite for an afternoon.
When all the greetings were finished, Julie and I sat down on the sofa for a long-awaited catching-up.
“So, what’s been happening?” I asked.
At my insistence, she told me all about her work over the last ten years in the medical career, the hospitals she had visited and business trips overseas. Even though she had never settled down, she seemed to be really enjoying her work and I was happy for her.
In return, I filled her in on the details of my own life, my family and my career. Julie listened to all my outpourings and gave me best friend advice, just like she used to.
When the time came for her to leave, Julie hugged me and Ian goodbye, and promised to come and visit more often. I realised that I had missed my best friend more than I had thought, and looked forward to the next time we would be able to see her.
After Julie returned to Twinbrook, the family slipped back into our everyday life. I went back to work, while Ian stayed at home caring for our young son. He spent hours with Cody, teaching him to talk and use the potty.
By the time our youngest child grew up, he was quiet and well-adjusted, the second of my children to have inherited my hazel eyes. Now that all four children were going to school, Ian and I were free to focus more fully on each other and our careers.