seaQuest: The Dawning
By Cleo Walker-Brody
The sun shown into the room in small patterns. Someone had forgotten to twist the blinds the right way, hitting a small crystal that hung just near the window, which created rainbows. Cleo had a rainbow in her eye when she woke up. She held a hand over her face a moment, letting out a light groan. Morning already, she thought. How can that be. I thought I just fell asleep. She glanced at the clock. It was 8:30am. She had managed about 4 hours of sleep, leading her to believe that the human body was, in fact, annoying in the way that it'll wake itself up just from a tiny bit of light being detected on her face. Cleo stretched her arm out, almost hitting the back of her husband's head. She smirked. I should wake him up that way, she mused. That way he won't get more sleep than I.
It was day 6 of their shore leave. Both Cleo and Jim had requested a few weeks off for a 'honeymoon' of sorts. And almost every morning, Cleo found herself waking up no later than 8:30. Jim, on the other hand, was one of those men that could easily snooze in bed until noon. Not going to happen, Cleo said to herself, and proceeded to smack him over the head with her pillow before climbing out of bed. She heard a murmur, something that wasn't quite English, from the man under the pillow.
"What time is it?" The sleepy-voice grumbled as Cleo picked up her bathrobe and pulled it on. The room was always too cold for her unless she was wrapped in her bathrobe or blankets.
"Almost nine. You think I'm letting you sleep till 12 again? Dream on." She replied, stepping into the other room. Cleo always imagined that when she got married, she'd live in a large house in a beautiful neighborhood, perfect for raising children. But then again, I also fantasized about a huge wedding ceremony that would break the bank, she thought bitterly. Not a private ceremony with four people. She shook her head. The ceremony didn't matter, just the fact that she was happy. She glanced around the minute kitchen, frowning at all the boxes that still littered the floor. She knelt down by one and started to open it slowly, picking through some of the books and such.
"What are you doing?" Cleo almost jumped out of her skin when she heard someone behind her. Sure, it had been only a few moments since she had started unpacking the box, but just reading the titles seemed to throw her into another world. They weren't her items, and each time she touched one, it felt strange, as if someone else's memory was already imprinted on it. She glanced up from her crouched position. Jim stood above her with a slightly amused, yet sleepy expression on his face.
"I'm unpacking our things. I hope that's okay." She let the trace of sarcasm fall out of her mouth, although it wasn't malicious.
"Oh. Right." Jim wrinkled his nose, obviously not too keen on helping her. "I'm going to make some breakfast. Want anything?"
"I don't feel much like Cajun cuisine today, Jimmy. Just coffee is fine." Cleo smirked, then shrieked in surprise when strong hands pulled her up into a standing position, facing him. He ran his hands along her sides, making her squirm and hold back hysterical laughter. "Hey! Hey! It's true! You can't even boil water without burning it!" She put her hands on his and then kissed him full on the lips, bringing the torture to a sudden halt. Jim pulled away quickly, a small smirk on his face.
"Is that how you try to make it up to me?" He asked, getting a nod in response. "Always works. Remember that. It'll always work." Cleo laughed and nuzzled Jim gently, taking a few minutes to enjoy the embrace.
"Tell you what, you go and get us some food, and I'll unpack for you. You won't have to worry about fussing with anything, just groceries." Cleo bargained. She knew for a fact that the only things in the fridge were two cans of Diet coke, a flat bottle of champagne, and a foil-covered bowl that contained some sort of substance their neighbor had given them. Cleo was afraid that the substance would soon start guzzling the champagne.
"Alright. It's a deal." Jim replied, breaking the embrace hesitantly. He walked back into the bedroom and proceeded to change while Cleo glared at the pile of boxes. Dummy, she thought to herself. You could have had him doing all the heavy lifting, instead you send him out for groceries. Too late now.
A few minutes later, Jim emerged, fixing his shirt then patting his pockets for his wallet, which Cleo quickly handed him along with his keys. "Thanks." He said, kissing her on the forehead. "I'll be back in a couple of hours."
"Drive carefully." She replied, as if they had said this to each other a million times. It hadn't really been that many, but it felt like longer. She waved at him as he left, then crouched back down near the boxes. She flipped through the books, glancing at a few boring titles, then stood up to find shelf space for them.
Cleo's arms were loaded with books when she saw the small wooden box at the bottom of the cardboard one. She hastily put the items away and grabbed for the box, opening it slowly. Inside were letters, folded, yellowed with age. She grabbed one and skimmed through it, ignoring the fact that it was addressed to Jim and not her. A photo caught her eye. A small girl, maybe 10 or 11, all dressed up. Reading the rest of the letter, it revealed something Cleo hadn't known. About a girl named Joceanna, who claimed to be Jim's sister.
Cleo remained silent most of the day, thinking over what she had found. That poor girl, she thought to herself. Writing to her brother like that and never really knowing who he was? She then had a thought: maybe she didn't know who Jim really was either. He had hidden this fact, so what else did he not want her to know? Time was passing quickly, too quickly, and she spent the most of 2 hours sitting beside that wooden box and re-reading those letters. She didn't get up to help when she heard the doorknob being turned with great difficulty, nor did she move to grab groceries from Jim's hands as he piled them atop the small kitchen table. He said her name, asking her if she was alright, but all she heard was a muffled noise, as if Jim was behind a wall. She shook her head, glancing down at the letters. Don't overreact, she told herself. Be calm.
"Are you okay?" This time she heard him, her thoughts seeming to part and allow the normal sounds of the day to be heard. Cleo stood up and took the box with her, setting that on an empty space on the counter.
"I was unpacking, and I found these." Cleo tapped the box. "Why didn't you tell me you have a sister?" It seemed to have shocked Jim, as he stood there, very still, as if she had just told him that he had three seconds to live.
"Why did you read those?" Was Jim's answer when he finally came back to life.
"At first, I wasn't sure what they were.. Why didn't you tell me?" Cleo repeated. She glanced at him, trying not to yell at him for keeping this all a secret.
"You didn't have any right to read those letters, Cleo."
"I told you, I didn't know what they were! But why didn't you tell me?" Her voice raised, more to stop him from trying to reprimand her. "You told me about your mother, and all the things that happened there. Why is this so much different?"
"I haven't seen her since I was ten. I didn't mean to hide this from you."
"But you did. One of them is recent too. It's not a big deal that you have a sister, I'd just like to know more about you. Right now I feel like we barely know each other." Cleo frowned, not liking how this conversation was going, even though she was the one leading it.
"Look, I know that we haven't been together all that long--"
"Yeah... Eight months." Jim shifted a bit uncomfortably, still a kitchen table and a week's worth of groceries away from Cleo. "I was going to tell you. It just didn't seem that important."
"Family is important, Jim. I told you about my brothers and sister, and if I knew where they were right now, I sure as hell wouldn't keep them in a box hidden beneath some old books. I'd be near them." Somehow she had actually gone into the other room and changed into a tank top and jeans. "I thought you of all people would know that."
"Joey's not here though." He said, watching her with a bit of confusion.
"Did you ever try looking at the address labels? She's pretty close, Jim. Maybe half an hour from here." Cleo picked up her purse.
"Where are you going? I thought you were going to finish unpacking?" Jim asked.
"I'm going to take a drive. I would finish unpacking but there may be some more things in there you wouldn't want me to see."
The beach was always peaceful in the afternoon. It was the deserted side that the tourists never seemed to find, and that made Cleo happy. She wished she could stay there forever, just staring at the ocean and thinking. A splash a few feet down the beach surprised her. She looked over and saw some throwing rocks towards the water.
"Hey, blondie! You're killing the quiet!" She called, grinning. Her deep thoughts dissapated for a while, looking over at her long-time friend, who turned and waved her over. Cleo walked over to Lucas slowly, running a hand through her hair absently. "What brings you out here?"
"I could ask you the same thing." He answered. "I was just thinking."
"Fight with Josie?" Cleo assumed. Lucas nodded. "Jeez. I guess today is the day of arguments."
"You have a fight with Jim already? You haven't even been married a week. I told you it was a bad idea." He nudged her playfully. Cleo smiled lightly.
"It's nothing too serious. He just decided not to tell me that he has a sister." Cleo looked out at the water, then up at Lucas, whose expression turned to one of mild surprise.
"I didn't know he had a sister. I just thought that his mother... you know.."
"Yeah. I'm right there with you, Lucas." She sat down on the sand, and Lucas followed suit. "It just feels weird, you know? We're trying so hard to be honest with each other, to tell each other everything, and then I find this out on my own while unpacking."
"Maybe he didn't think he'd have to worry. That his sister would stay in the shadows until he could find the right way to tell you."
"But I'm not a mental case! I wouldn't overreact to something like that if he just told me! He and I are married now, and we can't keep secrets from each other." Cleo sighed and looked away, at the empty beach. "I'm sorry. I don't want to pile this all on you." Lucas smiled, leaning against Cleo gently.
"Hey, we're friends, right? That's what I'm here for." He said, making Cleo turn and smile back.
"Yeah. That's right. We're best friends." She hugged him, trying to hold back those nagging feelings that always came with seeing him. "Thanks. Thanks for listening." She pulled away hesitantly and took a folded piece of paper from her pocket.
"Anytime. What's that?" Lucas peered at the paper as Cleo started to unfold it.
"Her address. I think I may pay her a visit." She stood up and held a hand out to her friend, and he took it, pulling himself up.
"Are you sure that's wise? I mean, she might not even know that you exist." He fixed his hair, which had fallen into his eyes. Cleo glanced away, feeling a twinge of guilt as some not-so-pure thoughts crept into her mind.
"He wrote about me. I read her latest letter. She knows who I am." Cleo frowned. "This isn't fair. A complete stranger knows things about me, and I don't even know what!"
"Whoa. Maybe you should go home and talk this through with Jim before being rash." Lucas put his hand on her arm. "I know you're pissed, but taking it out on this poor girl won't help you any." Cleo shrugged away and sighed.
"You're right. But I'm going to just drive around a while. I'll go back home later, when I've cooled." She said.
"But you'll call me when everything's alright?"
"Of course. And you'll tell me what happens when you make up with Josie." Cleo hugged him again, and this one lasted a bit longer than either of them would have been comfortable with. "Well... bye..." She sprinted back to her car, getting in and waving before speeding off, glancing in the rearview mirror and frowning at how red her cheeks had become.
After almost an hour and a half of driving, Cleo found that she had been making a large circle around town, her cd playing loops of all her favorite songs. She couldn't think straight. She wanted to meet Jim's sister, wanted to find out all about this girl that up until now, was just miscellaneous things in a box hidden amongst things that needed to be put away. Her cell phone rang, and being the good driver that she was, Cleo pulled over before answering it.
"Hello?" Cleo asked, not bothering to check the caller ID before. At the moment, she would have talked to anyone.
"Still on the road?" It was Lucas. The sound of his voice made her smile.
"Yeah. And I've decided. I'm going to see her. Rationality be damned." Cleo replied, wondering if 'rationality' was an actual word. Well it is now, she thought to herself in amusement.
"I know you don't want me to tell you it's not a good idea, but it really isn't, Cleo. If it's what you want to do, then do it." Lucas said softly. He almost got her there. Cleo was five seconds away from just driving home after that statement.
"I'm on the line. I want to see this girl. I know she wants to see us, or else she wouldn't have had so many questions." She said. "I'll call you later."
"Always." Cleo grinned, a teasing tone in her voice. In the back of her mind she remembered something a friend told her. How the opposite sex could never be just friends. "Bye." She hung up hastily and pulled back onto the road, starting towards the other half of town, having the directions to the girl's house now memorized.
About half an hour later, she drove down a strip of road that seemed rarely traveled, near cute little beach cottages. One, two, three, Cleo said to herself and pulled into the driveway of a light blue house. She shut off the engine and took in a deep breath, almost screaming when her cell phone rang again. This time she looked down at the caller ID. It was Jim. She shut off the phone, not wanting distractions.
Pulling herself out of the car, Cleo smoothed her shirt out nervously. Was her hair ruffled? Did she have sand in her shoes? Were her cheeks still red? The answers to all these questions were yes, and she paused to fix her hair, dump out her shoes and rub her cheeks until they seemed a bit normal. Then she worked up the courage to go up to the door and ring the bell lightly. A girl.. no.. a woman with long, light brown hair appeared at the door, opening it slowly.
"Can I help you?" The girl said. Cleo smiled weakly and nodded.
"I'm Cleo. Cleo Brody. Your sister-in-law."