My mother’s aging face was smeared with paint. “Oh, Maria!”
“Marina.” I corrected halfheartedly.
“Yes, yes, of course. Ah, I wasn’t expecting you to be here.” Petunia, her fluffy white dog, bounced at Halon’s feet.
“That’s the company I mentioned.” I looked pointedly at Petunia.
She glanced between me and the door awkwardly. “Well, um, I guess we’ll have to find somewhere for you to sleep.”
“I’ll sleep in my room.” I answered robotically.
She dropped her eyes to the floor. “See, ah, I didn’t think you were ever coming back. So I converted it into a storage closet for my art.”
I opened my mouth to speak, but no words would come out. There was nothing left for me to say, or left for me in even my own home. Absolutely nothing. She’d thought I was never coming home again, and when I did, she didn’t even seem to care. She was probably even happy that I had left.
I pushed past her. “I’m out of here.”
I whirled to face her. “It’s Marina!” I screamed. “Marina! You’re the one who picked it!”
“Actually it was your dad’s idea. I wanted to call you Petunia. She was only a year old when you were born and I thought it would be cute if you shared a name.”
“You would have named me after a dog?” I screeched.
Halon tapped my shoulder softly. “Marina, wait outside for me, okay?”
Not having the energy to put up any sort of protest, I stumbled outside and leaned against the stone walls. Through the crack in the door, I could hear them talking.
“I’m sorry about that. Marina’s been through a lot lately.” Halon sounded so ridiculously composed. “More than I’ve seen in my twenty seven years.”
“Who are you exactly?”
“I probably should have introduced myself. I’m Halon—Marina is the mechanic for my ship.”
“And you’re old enough to be a captain?” My mother asked doubtfully.
Halon chuckled. “It’s a long story. Anyway, about Marina—”
My mom let out a sound of pure exasperation. “What’s she done now?”
“Done?” I could imagine the puzzled look on Halon’s face. “A lot, actually. Saved half of the crew.”
“I bet it was her fault in the first place.” She grumbled. “Marina! You get in here right now and say sorry for whatever you did! I better not have to pay any money for whatever stupid trick you pulled!”
“She didn’t do anything wrong,” Halon started to defend me, but paused. “Never mind, I can see why she didn’t want to come here.” The door banged open a second later. “Marina, let’s grab Cotto and move out.”
I stared at him. “What?” I had finally been honest with myself. “By now she’s most likely dead, Halon.”
“No.” Halon’s eyes were hard, as if unwilling to accept any other fate. “I’ll figure something out. This isn’t the place we should be right now, though.”
“We’ve got nowhere to go.”
Halon shook his head. “I made a killing at that poker table. We can find somewhere to stay.”
“Marina,” The door squeaked open again to reveal my mother. “Marina, darling, you don’t have to get so worked up. It’s only a room. You can sleep on the couch with Petunia.”
“Let’s go,” I agreed, leaving her and the dog behind.
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