I'm spoiling you all today. I splurge wrote chapters, and you'll get four of them!
Where there is sadness, there too is joy and wonder.
Note: Trigger warning for the threat of conversion therapy
- The arguments from Sarah’s side of this conversation come from someone who had a catholic childhood, someone dear to me who is now deceased.
- I don't intend to offend anyone with this storyline. This is a fictional America, not our current nation, so accept it as pure fiction.
- This chapter does touch upon a practice that still happens in places in the world. We’re just not at a point where we accept each other unconditionally, yet.
- Sarah’s family’s viewpoint is hardline conservative and it's not intended to represent the views of any specific person or group.
- One of my best friends is religious and I respect them deeply.
2.15 - Burned at the steak
Aurora walked into the steakhouse and saw Sarah standing, waiting in her t-shirt and shorts.
“The man at the host’s podium looked over at Aurora and then to Sarah. “So this is your sister, then?” he asked. “You don’t look much alike.”
“She brought me for an early dinner. Can we please have a table?” Sarah stepped up and asked.
“Well, that should be fine. This way, you two,” he replied, grabbing a pair of menus while leading them further in. The place wasn’t busy at all, Aurora was glad to see. She was worried that there may be a few pedestrians in, but that wasn’t the case. “Your waiter will be with you soon.”
Aurora looked across the table once they seated themselves. “You’re very adaptable. Good girl.” Aurora winked at her. “Now we can start talking. I’ll tell you a little bit about myself.”
She told her about her first superhero experiences and the progress she made so far in San Isidro and Seaside City both. “And that’s pretty much it. There is more. I will tell you that, but I can’t tell you it yet. I don’t think it’s the best place or time. To answer one of your biggest questions I’m sure you have, I’m here because Leona wants me to be. She wants me to talk with you.” She tilted her head getting to the point. “Sarah, are you happy? I know camps can be pretty fun, but this is a very different kind of camp your parents sent you to.”
“Of course, I’m happy,” she responded quickly, but her smile faded at the edges when she delivered that response. “I mean, I miss home. I miss Leona.” She sighed wistfully. “Camp isn’t just for fun. It’s to help us remember to properly worship God and remember his teachings,” she said a little stiffly. “So, um,” she quickly snapped out of it. “A-are you a friend of hers now, really? Truly?”
“We’re very close, Sarah, and because we are, I’m close to you too. She’s shared all her feelings about you with me…” She placed a hand on Sarah’s across the table and squeezed it gently. She kept and eye out for anyone who might be listening in or was coming for the orders.
“I know this is just a personal opinion, Sarah, but our relationship with God or gods we have should be a deeply personal thing, and it can’t be forced. When someone tries to tell us we’re doing it wrong, it’s harmful. And they say we need to do it another way. Not accepting others viewpoints or allowing them to worship or not if they choose is a form of intolerance. Honestly, your parents are your legal guardians, so they get to choose everything for you now. They make the choices for you, feeling it is best for you. Beliefs and such things are inherited by teachers and parents. Sometimes we make selfish choices for the people we love.” Aurora looked down and sighed, thinking about her father, who chose to lock her away into a chest and tried to forget she existed to ‘protect’ her.
“Leona knows well how parents can make the wrong choices. They choose themselves over their loved ones, without ever knowing it. Her father, she never told you… didn’t make good life choices at all. Leona was hurt because of that. If it wasn’t for her Aunt and cousin, she would never have found happiness in life. She’d have died alone in… in…” Aurora bit her lip and continued, “I shudder to think of that.” Darkness. A stifling stench which had long since numbed her nose. Her stomach ate at itself. Every day feeling stretched thinner and thinner. Losing faith, memory, hope. Aurora took a deep gulp. “Leona had courage and faith again when she saw the sun shining again. She believed that things would get better in one way or another, but somehow they did. What I’m trying to say to you is this… you may be unhappy right now, but that will pass. You’re strong and your parents do care about you. They don’t know you hurt. If you can hold out and be true to yourself, both Leona and I will be there waiting for you to return. Even Quinn thinks constantly about you.”
Sarah looked at Aurora and sniffled. She was listening intently. At the end she nodded. “Even Quinn, huh?” She sighed.
“Well, that all sounds like… I mean… I appreciate what you’re saying, but… the way you’ve talked to me… you can only be one of two things,” Sarah said. “Since you said you’re not an angel. You’re either… Leona’s given up on me because you’re in her life now, or you’re her sister come back to her, not that she ever mentioned one. And I guess I appreciate all this but…” Sarah shrugged. “No matter what my body tells me, my soul has to be in control of temptation. And if you’re really Quinn in disguise somehow, I don't think you’re bad for liking girls, assuming you do, but it’s just not what’s supposed to be for me. And I like Leona. At least until she’s done, but after that I don’t think there’s any future there. We can still be close friends, and I want to be… but… without a family there wouldn’t be a future. And maybe you’re okay with that, but I want to be in harmony with the way the world… well… I should be, anyway.” Sarah sighed again, and finished sadly. “I understand if you don’t want to feed me still, since I had to say all that for Leona.”
Aurora rolled her eyes slightly and nodded. “You’ve gotten the wrong idea, kinda. No, I’m not Quinn. I could get her on the phone for you if you’d like.” Aurora laughed. “Anyway, just because I’m not Quinn, what makes you think I have THAT kind of a relationship with Leona? I don’t think I implied that.” Her laughing became a bit nervous. “I said we’re very close, but that doesn’t mean that we’re lovers or anything intimate like that.”
Aurora turned with a forced smile to signal the waiter to come over for the order. This situation required a bit of a distraction. Just so they could take a deep breath. “Steak sound good to you, Sarah?” she asked.
Sarah nodded quietly. “A couple of sirloins with baked potatoes and sodas.” Aurora ordered. When he took the order back to the kitchen, she looked into Sarah’s eyes quietly. There wasn’t anything further she could say, because she’d said all the important things for a moment.
“Y’know, I don’t think this was the best place for the conversation we’ve had, but I’ll say this for Leona’s ears.” Sarah blushed faintly. “I love Leona and Quinn as much I can. Even if my body feels one way about certain people doesn’t mean I’m a bad person or that they’re bad if that’s how they feel too. For Leona, it’s totally normal for her… her to like girls.”
Sarah crossed her arms and frowned a little. “Unfortunately, the rules are the rules, though, and if you break the laws of God, there is only one punishment. It’s pretty terrible, because that’s how the camp is run, too, though. Even though you kind of took me,” Sarah went on, “I know I’ll be punished for this. I knew the moment I agreed that I would be. I hope you’ll understand I don’t want to talk much more about this sort of thing right now,” she said.
“I hope Leona is okay, I got a feeling she was in trouble recently… there was a rumor that someone was trying to sneak in to tip the cows the other day, and for some reason I thought of her that moment. Is she alright?”
Aurora smiled, crossing her arms below her breasts. “I’m glad you knew what you were doing. I’d hate to think you didn’t and I’d consigned you to punishment just for this. I’m glad you heard about that rumor. It was definitely Leona and Quinn. They wanted to see you, though what they did was misguided and they were punished equally. Thanks to the camp and their actions, Quinn’s car was impounded and a large fine was issued. The two had to spend a good portion of the night in the local jail.” She chuckled.
Sarah frowned and shook her head. “That, she shouldn’t known better. I hope they didn’t say anything about me, otherwise they’d have to tell my parents and that’ll just make it harder to see her in the future when I get out. It’s hard enough explaining our relationship without giving away her secret, which is why I’ve been sent to the realignment camp.”
“There are a lot of other kids who have a similar problem to mine… you’re lucky you caught me outside today… six days a week we’re inside almost all day, studying, getting lectured and performing hard labor. My labor today is mostly outdoors, but I’ll probably miss out on any kind of sports or free time for my punishment,” she sighed and shrugged. “I’m not angry with you or Leona… I just wish it wasn’t going to happen even though…”
“I’m sorry you have to go through all that… it’s not how a kid should spend her time during summer. I wonder if your parents knew how tough it would be. Well, you may miss out on sports today, but you got to experience things no one else there will. You got to see the world from above.” Aurora winked. “How many got to have a steak dinner, either for the trouble?” She laughed softly. “Whatever they do, you can get through it. If you do your best to enjoy your meal and tell me that you’ll be strong for yourself and Leona, I’ll tell you something good when we’re back outside.”
The food arrived at that moment. They quietened for a time, but after the waiter moved away she started on the steak with her mouth watering. After a short time she spoke, taking a long drink from the cup of soda. “No, I’m grateful that I got the chance to fly and… meet you,” Sarah blushed a little when she said that. “But I just…” She smiled more and leaned in close. “Do you know what Leona’s secret is? Leona’s” She asked with a small smile.
Aurora returned the smile doubly. “I know it. It’s not an easy secret to have. Why do you ask?”
“I’m here because I kept that secret, because everyone thinks I’m a lesbian because of that secret. If she thinks I’ll forget about her… as bad as this camp is, it’ll free me from my crazy hormones and just let me appreciate her, as God intended, without conflict until she’s done with her journey.” Sarah smiled more. “It’s hard not really knowing if you love someone for who they are or just how they look.”
“I know.” Aurora sighed softly, looking into Sarah’s eyes. “So you want to know if you’re really a lesbian, isn’t that right? Would knowing it settle your mind in the least? No matter how things turn out, you’ll have to make the choice in the end, and either way it will be a challenge. If you find you really do have those feelings, nothing they say will hide it forever.”
“No, you said you were an alien, so maybe it’s different from where you came from, but here on Earth, it’s supposed to be men and women together. I know that somehow something in my body is messed up because if I think about it in terms of spirituality, it’s clear there’s nothing there… but my body still gets weird feelings when it comes to beautiful girls… Who we are, our species can’t continue if we give into that kind of temptation. It’s wrong and clearly part of some kind of ploy by the adversary of my God, because of his jealousy and desire to hurt my God. I’d alway wondered, but that’s one of the things I’m learning about now… so no matter what temptations may worm their way in due to body chemistry, I know my spirit is true.”
Sarah stopped and put her hand on Aurora’s. “You know, you might learn a lot about our race and our culture if you stay long. And with your appearance, you’d be an inspiration… maybe if you explain that you’re unfamiliar with our culture, they’d let you participate for a week… it might help you.”
Leona smiled. That hurt a bit. Her friend was proselytizing to her. She nodded. “Perhaps. Tell me this. I know this much. God says be fruitful and multiply. That’s a wonderful blessing for a new world with few people in it, and procreation can be joyful, but those words are becoming more and more of a curse these days. Households that can’t care for children. Negligence, abandonment of children, tough times for mothers who have to support her child alone, even men in cases where the mother was the first to run. It’s only natural to give birth and want to have children, and yet not everyone has to want that for themselves. It’s our own choices. I’m sure God would agree with what prevents regrets, pain, suffering. In my opinion, God would want to keep the world from becoming overpopulated, and in a way, perhaps being Gay is something that saves the world in the long term.”
Sarah nodded slowly as Aurora spoke. When she finished she shook her head negatively. “At least here in the United States we have plenty of room. There isn’t a population problem at all. This false love stems from the same thing that causes people to ruin things and own too much land - greed.” She sighed angrily. “So many greedy people want to ignore everything but their own self-gratification. I mean, even someone like me, who tries to be nice and helpful… well I’m greedy deep down in my body. I want something that isn’t mine that shouldn’t be… most of Humanity is that way… we’re just… greedy, “ her tone became emotional.
“I don’t blame you if you don’t understand,” she continued, “it’s hard for any of us mortals to understand the complexity of his plan, but it doesn’t include selfish greed, that’s the work of something else that has wormed its way into our thoughts and culture that makes it okay....” she wiped her eyes, having talked herself into a teary state.
Aurora continued to eat quietly. There really wasn’t anything else to say. A relationship between them was probably doomed. She clearly felt regret, but it was her own choice, and her choice. Leona wondered if every time she took Sarah to a meal would end up purely uncomfortable. There were words she could say, so she did. “I’m sorry that we put you into this situation, Sarah. I don’t want you to feel any more unhappy than you already are. We’ll finish the meal and get you back soon. I hope you don’t hate Leona for this.”
Sarah nodded and shook her head. “It hasn’t been unpleasant. I know it’s confusing… it’s really confusing particularly for me… but please tell her I’m looking forward to seeing her and her family when my time is done here. It should be only another five weeks, I think.” Aurora smiled. Friendship at least was possible. She was frustrated, but it would be selfish to…
She saw behind Sarah the door to the restrooms. She was there. Black Angel stood there, wearing the same clothes as her, but her wings and hair were black. She wiggled her fingers and beckoned at Leona. Aurora gulped.