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Chapter Notes:

Chapter 23 continued


She advanced the slide show, “Next is Malcolm. This is actually a photograph taken by his old girlfriend, Pamela Hudson, when they were dating. It's from sometime in early July of 2158.”

She smiled, “He was a looker, too, but in a different way.”

 Malcolm when he was dating Pamela

She advanced the slides again, “Next is Melissa. This is from when she was pregnant with her – our – eldest son, Tommy.”
 Pregnant Mellie

“Ah, my beauty,” Norri said, “Now here are some from when the arrangement first started, which was in August of 2159. You may be wondering why we're not all posing together. This is because, except for Lili and Doug, and, for a little while, Malcolm and Melissa on the Enterprise, and then Mellie and me together on Ceres, no one actually lived together. Gotta love the Calafans – they made most of it possible. So, first up is, I hope you'll indulge me, as it's my ugly mug again.”

 Norri at the start of the arrangement

She thought for a moment, “I was, um, twenty-three then. Next on the hit parade is Malcolm. He's forty-six here. This is an official Starfleet photo, so my thanks to them for allowing me to use it.”

 Malcolm official photo

”He's got that look like, I can think of sixty different ways to kill you but I just don't feel like doing it right now, eh?” The audience laughed, “The next picture is of Lili, and this is actually Doug's favorite photograph of her.”

Lili favorite

“She never thought she was pretty, but she was. Fifty years old there, too! Doug used to call her the white-hot flame and I think you'll agree with that assessment, eh? That's just after Marie Patrice was born. Next is my lovely Mellie again.”

 Mellie at the start of the arrangement

“Of course she was just barely pregnant with Tommy then, and only twenty-five. And last is Doug, who was fifty-eight years old, can you believe it? This is my favorite of him.”

Doug favorite

“He was so serious. I wonder, I bet he was thinking – what the hell have I gotten myself into?” The audience chuckled again.

She sipped some more water, “A few more, if you will be so kind. A few family favorites, if you will,” she clicked a bit, “Here's probably my favorite one of Lili,” she breathed, “You can't see the calloo there, but you can see, she's got the key charm on. She was very confident, finally. I think she was around fifty-two or so here.”

 Lili confident

“Here's Lili's favorite picture of Malcolm, taken when he was on family leave to care for Declan.”

Malcolm favorite

“I do wish Starfleet had been more lenient when it came to facial hair. Man, oh man!” Norri pretended to fan herself.

“I think this one is my favorite one of Mellie. You can see she's wearing Doug's bracelet. She became more pensive after Kevin's short life. It changed her.”

Mellie pensive

“Here she is with Doug on the hunting trip when she conceived Neil. It's a happier time, but the photo shows Doug distracted. I get the feeling he was thinking, take the picture already, so we can get outta here and make a baby!”

 Mellie and Doug hunting

”Just a couple more, please,” Norri said, clicking, “This one is Melissa's favorite one of Doug. It's from, um, I think around 2164 or so.”

Doug 2164

“Last one. This is Malcolm's favorite photograph of Lili and it's Melissa's favorite as well. You can kind of see her calloo here. She's about fifty-four or fifty-five here.”

Lili calloo

“So that's, um, that's us. There are more pictures in the book. See, this is another shameless ploy of mine, to get you to buy my book,” Norri said.

=/=



“You were very strong. A fierce lioness. You protected him.” – Malcolm Reed

I don't know what you'd call Norri to us. A good friend, a sister, even, I guess.” – Lili Beckett

=/=



They were back in the hospital room.

“Oh, that was sweet,” Lili said.

“Even though some of the information was incorrect?”

“Well, it's not perfect. It's her perspective, not mine. I mean, I remember the time with the Witannen differently. Norri wasn't there.”

“But the record is not right,” Q insisted.

“I imagine a lot of other historical records are pretty bad,” Lili said, “It's okay.”

“But –”

“But nothing,” Lili said, “She got the names and the places right. And most of the dates are correct as well. It's not perfect. But it's still delightful and sweet and it evokes us, possibly better than we really were. I don't need absolute accuracy. So she didn't perfectly succeed. Again, I say, so what?! Lafa II will continue spinning, even if a detail or two here and there is imperfect. The gist of it is there, the essence survives.”

“Scholars will read this book, and they will not have a clear picture.”

“I know that we have no real idea how the ancient Egyptians really lived,” Lili said, “We've got tombs and we've got some artifacts, but we don't really know how they told jokes or scolded their children or flirted or anything of the sort. I suppose only someone like Rick Daniels would ever really get the complete picture. And maybe he sees the transitions as well, as we slide from time to time, and era to era. I think we can see them now, too. But the details fall away. You said you don't look at details, and you don't get into our heads. Same difference here, eh?”

“Transitions – those are the decisions that pull the timeline along the universe's true course,” Q said.

=/=



“But – my father's family was from Massachusetts. It's an Indian word. It means, 'Place where they don't pronounce their Rs'.” – Lili Beckett

“She – uh, Lili – she always said that all names are meaningful. Not just their meanings and translations but also what they mean to the parents who provide those names to their children.” – Malcolm Reed



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