When I walked through the front door I was greeted by my father. He had come back from work early, and was standing in the hallway with crossed arms and a disappointed look on his face. My mother was standing behind him, frowning, but not at me or my father, just in general it seemed.
"Don't be too hard on her," my mother said.
My father either didn't hear her or pretended not to.
"So I heard you took a couple of important books with you when you went to see Estelle today."
"Yes...why? Is there a problem with that?"
"Those books are for you, Nova! Not anyone else! I can't believe you'd do something so irresponsible!"
"I was done with the astronomy one anyway! I've memorized it! And I brought the other two back!"
"Even so, it's not as if Estelle will have any use for the actual information!"
"She needed definitions to make her metaphors more realistic!"
"Are you telling me that she's writing a song with an in-depth metaphor about stars? And this is the song that is going to be performed in front of most of the community when the entertainment council has their official auditions?!"
"Yes...I thought a fresh idea for a song was what the entertainment council wanted. No one really cares about the scientific side of what's beyond here, but there's beauty and space and I just thought..."
"Nova, the only time we speak of anything beyond the boundaries of Caldera it is a news update, and we never bother to mention stars! They aren't important to the success of this community!"
"I told you, it's a metaphor!"
His face was turning a deep shade of red. I had never seen him this angry before and, for the first time, I became rather frightened of him.
"It's none of her business what we discuss in council and it is certainly not her business what is in those textbooks! You are going to go see her tomorrow morning, retrieve that astronomy book, and tell her she needs to change the subject matter of her song."
"Don't argue with me!"
Now I was getting angry and, come to think of it, very confused. My father never got this upset with me or over something without having a logical explanation for it. And, despite my current fear of him, I was determined to get to the bottom of what was making him so angry about this situation.
"I just want to know why you're making such a big deal about this!"
"She can't know that much about something like that and she sure as hell cannot tell the entire community about it!"
"But why? It's harmless."
"She doesn't understand science like us!"
"Then it will go over her head and most likely the rest of the community's! I still don't understand why it's such a big problem for them to know about the stars."
"Because then they will want to see them."
"But they can see them in pictures."
"THEY'LL WANT TO LEAVE, NOVA!"
I stopped short. Leave? No one could leave in the first place. The color drained from my father's face as he realized what he had just said.
"Has someone tried to leave before, Dad?"
He suddenly had this distant, thoughtful look on his face.
"Yes...years before you were born. I was about ten. Someone went up there...and they never came back. Of course, they couldn't recover the body..."
I nodded absentmindedly.
"Right. Okay, I'll go see Estelle tomorrow...I'm sorry I upset you."
He looked tired all of a sudden and he put his face in his hands.
"It's okay. Just go to your room and read or something."
I did what I was told, but my confusion had turned into further curiosity.
There was something he didn't want anyone outside of the council to know about things that would tempt them to leave...but how would that make sense if leaving meant certain death?
What if it's all been a lie? What if we could leave?
If so, then I would find a way to get what I'd always wanted; to go into open air, to see stars in person. But I'd never dream of leaving without taking Estelle with me.
That was going to be the hard part.