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Different Kinds of Love

Posted on 20 Apr 2017 @ 4:59am by Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: The Cottage on the White Cliffs

Jayla flopped onto the sofa, exhausted. Jessa and her father were preparing a surprise for her and she had agreed to watch Neville while they worked. She still had no idea what they were doing, but she and Neville had spent time playing every manner of sport they could think of, then had even done some cliff diving from a spot farther down the cliff. They had just finished the climb back up and both were thoroughly exhausted.

“That was great,” declared Neville, collapsing onto the floor. “But now how about we nap?”

Jayla laughed. “That sounds like a great idea,” she agreed.

They didn't have much time, of course. Dinner would be ready in a few minutes, but a power nap would probably do them both some good or else they'd fall asleep in their soup.

She had been home for nearly a month now and was starting to feel a bit better. The constant presence of her parents and frequent visits from Jessa and Neville were doing her a lot of good. Just today, for example- in fact, just moments ago- she had laughed. She had actually laughed and it had been genuine. She'd had a blast with her new nephew and was beginning to become curious as to what the surprise was that Jessa and her father were cooking up.

“Doctor Kij?”

“Neville, how many times do I need to tell you to call me Aunt Jayla?”

Neville laughed. “All right,” he said. “Aunt Jayla, then.”

“Yes, Neville?”

“I really like it here,” he said. “I mean, I still miss my dad... but it's really nice here. Do... do you think he'd be mad that I'm... that I'm happy?”

She sat up and looked down at him. “Your dad would want you to be happy no matter what,” she told him. “I think he would be glad that you're happy.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” she answered. “Dads want their kids to be happy and healthy above all. In fact, I think he'd be disturbed if you weren't happy.”

He grinned wistfully. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” he sighed. “I just wouldn't want him to think I don't love him anymore. Cuz, ya know... even though he's... gone... I still love him.”

“Of course you do,” she replied. “Just because someone is gone doesn't mean we don't love them anymore.”

“I guess so,” he replied. “I mean, I never knew my mom. You know, my real mom, not Miss Meri. I mean, Jessa,” he corrected, using her first name as she had requested. “It's still weird to call her that. But, I mean, I never knew her so I guess it's different. It feels... different somehow.”

Jayla nodded. “I know what you mean,” she said, sitting back on the sofa again. “I never knew my grandmother. She died when I was a baby. But, when my grandfather passed, it was difficult because I was thirteen years old. I knew him really well. He lived in walking distance from here. Jessa and I used to go there almost every day. I love my grandmother, but it's different from how I feel about my grandfather. In fact, everyone you love feels different.”

“Really?”

“Mhm,” she replied. “I feel differently about my mother and father. I love them both, but it's different. You'll see. Once you start loving more people, you'll understand.”

Neville was quiet for a long time and Jayla thought maybe he'd fallen asleep, but then he sighed. “Boy, whatever your mom is cooking sure smells good,” he said around a yawn. “I hope I don't fall asleep in the middle of it.”

“With my mother's cooking, not a chance,” Jayla assured him as the door opened and her sister and father came back. Jessa came straight through, but their father stopped in the kitchen.

“Miss Mer- I mean, Jessa!” exclaimed Neville as he jumped up and ran to hug her, heedless of the dirt and sweat covering her.

“Hey, buddy, did you have a good day?” Jessa asked, returning his hug.

“Yeah!” answered Neville. “We went cliff diving!”

“You took him cliff diving?” Jessa demanded of her sister, shock on her face.

“From the lower cliff,” Jayla amended. “And I'm a doctor, if anything happened, I'd be able to take care of it.”

“It was fun!” Neville insisted. “There were a lot of fish, though. They kept tickling my feet.”

“They like to eat the dead skin,” Jayla explained.

“Ew!” laughed Neville.

Jessa sighed, give her sister and exasperated look.

“Hey, I'm his aunt,” defended Jayla with a grin. “I'm supposed to do stuff like that.”

“There's just enough time before dinner to show her the surprise,” their father said as he joined them in the room, as dirty and sweaty as Jessa.. “But, only if we go now. Your mother's nearly got dinner ready.”

“Then let's go!” Neville decided; he was just as curious as Jayla was.

So they all trooped out of the house and towards an old trail that Jayla hadn't been down in years. It used to lead to an old tree house that she and Jessa had built themselves when they were kids. It was terribly unsafe and their father had added some supports and a roof. Still, the girls had been proud of that tree house and even spent a few nights in it as long as the weather forecast was good.

Really, though, it was horrible. It wasn't far off the ground and the tree it was in wasn't very big. The tree grew of course, and by the time Jayla was 12, the tree had started growing into the tree house. But, they had loved it.

As the tree in question came into view, Jayla saw that there was, in fact, a tree house in it. But, it was a proper tree house, not the ramshackle piece of garbage they had called a tree house. It had a proper ladder, screens in the windows and even flower boxes complete with flowers.

“Jessa!” exclaimed Jayla, astonished. “What did you do?”

“Collis Jel was getting rid of his kids' old tree house,” Jessa explained with a wide grin on her face. “It was actually pretty easy to assemble. He had everything all labeled and in order.”

“This is amazing!” said Jayla, tears in her eyes. “Oh, my goodness! Thank you!” And she threw her arms around her sister and hugged her.

After a few moments, Neville said, “come on, Aunt Jayla! Let's go check it out!”

“Okay, okay,” laughed Jayla as she pulled away from her sister and allowed Neville to lead her to the tree house. “Let's go!”

 

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