I can’t decide if it is a good thing that I feel calmer when I return to work on Monday. The lab is definitely the one area of my life where I feel completely confident. There is a much easier formula for success in the science world than in all the other areas of my life. All I have to do is work hard and be diligent. It is the rest of my life that is throwing me a curveball.
We work late into the night and most nights the other team joins us in our long hours. The lack of an invitation to the conference has obviously spurred them to work harder. Jacki and Jiang seemed happy enough but Marcus continuously complains about the long hours. It becomes clear to me that he blames my group. I push it out of my mind. Jacki and Ling intermittently ask my opinion about the direction of their research but Marcus becomes agitated if he even hears them discussing their work with me.
Every evening Josh accompanies me home. A part of me wants the week to drag out because I dread the eventuality of saying goodbye to my mother. However, the other half wants to be alone with Josh. Waking up next to him on Sunday made me feel loved. It is the first time in my life I feel like I belong somewhere other than my mother’s house. I’ve realized that falling in love is both terrifying and chaotic, which is the best reason to pursue it. It makes you feel alive.
Because I usually work late into the night, mom and I have started running in the morning. This new relationship with Josh prompts me to consider the sacrifices my mother had to make. I couldn’t imagine being separated from Josh for a day, let alone fifteen years. It is ironic how you can live with someone and know every intimate detail of their lives and yet not know them at all. It is especially true with one’s parents. A child often just sees their parents within their own narrow context, without considering the other dimensions of their parent’s lives.
Midweek, mom approaches me again about sitting out the escape at Rosewood. We go for a run before seven in the morning, but the humidity is high even then. Within minutes of starting, we are drenched with sweat. We start at the top of the loop and quickly sprint around the reservoir. The runs are starting to become exhilarating.
“Mom, I know you are trying to protect me, but I won’t leave you or dad. I would rather both of you get on the plane with us when we leave for Brazil.”
“We have to stick to the plan. I will be the first person they look for once we get your father out. It would be too dangerous to try to escape together. I have passports for your father, you and me with fake names. When the time is right, we will leave the country, but trying to do it on the night of the escape is asking for trouble. We have so many external factors to consider.”
“How did you get the passports?” It is another layer of complexity in my mother’s life that I had not been aware of. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn my mother has super powers.
“My friend, Ziva. I had given her money for her own fake passport and driver’s license several years ago. At the beginning of the summer, I had her obtain fake passports for all of us.”
“You got me a fake one?”
“Yes. I will give it to you with a sizeable amount of cash. When you went off to college, I started writing fiction novels under the pseudonym of Grace Wilder.”
“I know her novels! I read all of them.”
“Yes, well Grace is me.” Mom says with a smile. “I made a decent amount of money. It is enough for us to live on. Over the years, I have transferred most of it to a bank account in the Cayman Islands. Neither of us will be able touch our bank accounts here after the escape. Any withdrawals will lead Lucas right to us. The accounts will likely be frozen. The rest is in a safe deposit box right now. I will give you the code to the account in the Cayman Islands.”
“You are just full of surprises. Who is your friend Ziva?”
“We were best friends in medical school and we were room mates when we came to New York together. Ziva is the bravest and most loyal person I ever met, besides your father. You would like her. She was your godmother along with my sister.”
”Do you have a picture of her?
“I do. I will show you later. I keep her pictures hidden behind other photos.”
“I would really like to see them. How was your weekend with Jax?”
“It was good. We saw my friend Ziva. I should mention that the authorities are actively hunting Ziva now. Please don’t mention her name to anyone, even Josh. Jax and I also went boating, after meeting with Ziva. Jax offered to man the boat instead of Josh on the night of the escape. Only problem is that Jax is a little rusty at boating. It was safe enough going out with him and hugging the coast last Saturday. I am not crazy about him running the boat across the river at night. Plus we need him to run the media blitz after the escape and it would be helpful if he weren’t in the vicinity of Rosewood the night of the escape. Of course he will be initially under surveillance once this happens because of our ‘fantasy relationship’.”
“What about using Kevin?
“It sounds like we could really use Kevin, although I would prefer not doing that. I like Kevin. I have been taking martial arts classes again and I have run into Kevin at the studio. We’re looking into other members who could do the boat running and computer hacking.”
“I have to admit using Kevin is problematic. He is so vulnerable: I feel an incredible urge to protect him. If only I had his skills. But he is enthusiastic about joining our group. My concern is that he is volunteering because he is lonely. I don’t want to take advantage of his vulnerability.”
“And I have an incredible urge to protect all of you. It is the mother in me. You all have your lives ahead of you. I want to keep you and your friends safe.” We run in silence for a few minutes as we make the turn towards home. “Hey, you are getting faster. Has running grown on you?”
“Like a tree. I don’t love it but I feel compelled to do it by now.” I’m gasping out my words now, but we are close to the finish. We just pass the Guggenheim on the right. “Mom, I am really scared I will never see you again.”
“I know. I have the same fears about you. I wish I could promise you everything will turn out okay. For what it’s worth, I trust Josh to take care of you.”
“He’s a good guy. I trust him too and I am crazy about Bent and Francesca. They feel like family.”
“I wish I could have given you a bigger family growing up. But the family you choose is just as important as the family you are born into. As strange as it is, I think you chose well.”
“Thanks mom. Just so you know, I’m not ready to give up my original family. I’ll be there to help you and dad.” We reach the exit on 110th Street. I can tell I’m getting into better physical shape. My heart rate is dropping rapidly back to normal within minutes as we cool down. I’m actually trying out a beginner martial arts class with Kevin tonight. Unfortunately, Josh is coming to watch.
“I was afraid you would say that. Come on, let’s hurry home and take a shower. Katharine Lucas has eyes everywhere. We don’t want to be late.”
That night, Josh and I grab a bite to eat on the way home after the martial arts class. I wasn’t completely terrible, which is all I was hoping for. The sun is going down earlier, now that we are in the middle of August, but fortunately the temperature remains warm. I no longer feel compelled to conceal my physical affection for Josh once we leave the Institute. It feels as easy as falling asleep slipping my hand into his on the way to the subway, although I still am not interested in excessive public displays of affection. We head for a sushi restaurant midway between our apartments. When we depart the subway, Josh slips an arm around my shoulders.
Josh speaks reflectively. “These streets will change in a few weeks. It always seems people become more serious once summer is over. I doubt you ever had to experience that on the West coast. I would rather stay in summer mode for as long as possible.”
“Well, it looks like you’ll get your wish this year once we meet up with Bent and Frankie in Brazil.”
“True. We are going to have to take a road trip to Rio depending on how everything transpires.”
We stop in front of the restaurant and get lost in the sea of humanity swarming around us. I ask Josh. “Have you been to Rio?”
“Yes, several times. Rio makes New York look very tame. I am glad that the American alliance didn’t change the natural exuberance of Rio. We took a seriously wrong turn years ago when we allowed conservative, big business types to dictate government policy. While efficiency is good, we allowed big business to completely change the culture of New York. We allowed political interest groups to become too powerful, even after they screwed up the planet with climate change. It’s the sins of the fathers, or in this case the mothers, visited upon the children.”
“You don’t blame your mother for all of this, do you?”
“No, she already has enough to answer for. Come on. Let’s eat and enjoy tonight.” The sushi restaurant is low lit and quiet and we don’t have to wait for a table.
After the waiter seats us and takes our order, I ask Josh: “Are you getting nervous yet about our role in this?”
“My role? No. Yours. Yes. I want you to sit this out.”
“Get in line. My mother talked to me about the exact same thing this morning. My answer is no. All those people were detained at Rosewood on the premise of my research. Plus my father is there. I have a huge stake in this too.”
“You don’t blame yourself for Rosewood, do you?
“To a certain extent. Genetics is a weird science. There are and always will be strong ethical implications to any work you conduct in genetics. It is sometimes hard to predict how someone else can use your work. It happens in other fields of science as well. Look at Einstein and what happened with his theory of relativity and the atom bomb. He wrote that his greatest mistake was his letter to Roosevelt urging him to make the atom bomb first.”
“Analia you are not responsible. You did your research to help people. My mother used your research for her own nefarious purposes.” He laughs for a second. “You and Einstein just got a raw deal.”
My eyes twinkle in response. “Thanks for putting me on the same level as Einstein. I appreciate the comparison. So has Kevin been able to successfully break into the security cameras at the Institute.”
“Actually there has been an interesting development. He was able to hack in and get not only into the security footage but he also got the architectural blueprints. There is a secret tunnel that leads to my mother’s office from a few stories below. It exits onto Riverside Drive. We’re not sure if it is operational. Kevin wants to be sure he can configure the security footage without being detected. Then we’re going to see if we can get in through the tunnel. I want to do it next Monday. There is a big political fundraiser in Brooklyn that my mother is attending that night. Most of the people on her office floor floor with her will also be attending. It would be the perfect time to execute the plan.”
“Well count me in. I am coming with you.”
“I don’t like it.” He is interrupted when the waitress delivers a platter of sushi and two glasses of sake .
“Maybe not. But I will be with you.” I grab his hand. “I am not afraid when I am with you. We function best as a team. Besides, Kevin will be on the computer. I will be your lookout.” I take a sip of the sake. I’ve never tasted it before and it burns.
Josh shakes his head. “I hope I won’t regret this. So, are we going to the beach this weekend?”
“Yes, I would like to go. Would you mind if I check with my mother? I don’t want her sitting alone all weekend? She’ll probably be doing something with Jax and it won’t be a problem. I am just coming to grips with leaving her in less than two months. She’s the only family I have known for most of my life.”
Jax grabs my hand and kisses the back of it. “I wish you didn’t have to worry about losing your mother. I think she’s incredible. I can’t believe she doesn’t hold it against me what my mother did to your family.”
“My mother is pretty fair-minded. She would never hold that against you.”
Josh signals the waitress to come over and pays the check. We get up to leave and are almost to the door when we hear our names called. The two of us turn around in confusion and see Marcus sitting behind a potted palm. He appears to be on a date with a pretty blond girl.
I speak first. “Hi Marcus, what are you doing here? We didn’t see you when we came in.”
“I just came here for a bite to eat. So, I guess you two really are a couple. Is that why you’re going to Italy? Mommy helping with the romance?” Apparently, Marcus is just as unpleasant outside the lab as he is inside the lab.
“We’re going to the conference because our work deserves to be presented. Our relationship is none of your business.” Josh adds sotto voce.
“See you at work tomorrow Marcus.” I tug at Josh and we walk out the door. Josh is visibly seething. Several people pass us and give Josh a strange look. I steer him up the street towards the entrance to the subway.
I link my arm through Josh’s arm. “Calm down. He was just being obnoxious. It looked like he was drinking.”
“It is more than what he said, which was very obnoxious. The girl, sitting with him, is a staffer on the vice president’s detail. I think he was following us. Do you think he could have overheard us?”
“No, I don’t see how unless he had an enhanced parabolic microphone. We didn’t mention anything that could directly incriminate us, except at the beginning. I didn’t see him when we first sat down.” I lean in and whisper. “You’re scaring the people passing us on the street. You look pretty angry.” We walk upstairs to the platform and wait for the train.
“Sorry. The feeling of being spied on gets under my skin. We’re going to have to be extra careful around the lab. I hope we can make it to the beach this weekend. It would be nice to relax in the privacy of my own house.” The train arrives and Josh takes me back to my apartment.