Jase was Singer’s father, not Aron. She had heard Maris talking with her father, Lev. Aron was Maris’s husband, father of her three daughters, though apparently not of her youngest, her son, Singer. When the troubles started getting serious back in the city, Aron had not felt his wife and children worth the sacrifices of standing by them. He was not an empath, had only married one. He had become resentful over the course of that marriage, feeling that Maris was better than he was in every way that counted. She was, but not because of some special talent. She was naturally practical and loving. He was naturally neither. He had been young and charming, confidentally ambitious but privately shy. Over time he had become uncomfortably aware that this wonderful prize of a wife he had won neither made him a better man nor failed to see his flaws. Be careful what you wish for. Keep your eye on all the clauses and subparagraphs. Relationships won’t heal us, only give us comfort and anchoring when we do the work to heal ourselves.

If Jase were Singer’s dad, not Aron, Singer was full empath, unlike his sisters. Jase was a sweet, good-humored drifter of a guy, strong and smart, always ready to help out, but mostly a loner. He and Maris had been close friends since childhood, back in the city. Neither were the kind to deny their feelings, or broadcast them. Maris and Lev had become good friends since the relocation. She was at the moment ranting a bit, reminiscing a bit, in the company of a friend she found easy to talk with. He was happy to listen. He certainly had his share of venting, ranting, sharing memories secondhand. His wife, Letta, Caela’s mom, had become unreachably ill, unable to participate in conversation, to show evidence of reciprocating his love which he now sometimes felt bordered on tragic.

Like children everywhere, Caela picked up bits and pieces of gossip and common knowledge listening to adult conversation as it drifted through her day. She had never met Aron, but did feel the distinct negative tinge given to memories of him by those who had known him. Everyone loved Jase. She supposed Singer had gotten the better of the bargain without consciously thinking about the matter at all. She loved Singer and Maris, similarly though differently from the way she loved Lev and Letta. They were all family, intertwined lives.

Though she was a few years older than Singer, they were left to play together while the grown-ups worked, often looked after by one or more of Singer’s sisters. There weren’t a lot of children in this new community. Everyone did what they could to make sure all were cared for, all the necessary work got done and done well. Everyone taught what they knew, shared tools and techniques, learned what they needed to. Separately and together they figured out how to make a life that worked. Singer and Caela took on what chores they could as time went on. Still, there was plenty of time for playing, just being, figuring out who you are and how that’s done. Friends are good mirrors, sounding boards, brain-storming aids, quiet companions.

True to Maris’s intuitive naming, Singer loved to sing and was incredibly talented at contriving a wide range of soundings from his voice and various musical instruments he was finding ways to fashion from what came to hand. He could keep those around him singing and dancing as well, lightening chores, enlivening leisure. Certainly he was quite a popular figure, central to celebrations. He took this popularity in his gently smiling way, always generous, always bubbling with fun. Music is magic. It excites, inspires, and heals.

Advertisements