Henry remained quiet.
"Your...your mother passed away last year, June 28th. It was a car crash."
Henry remained quiet.
Henry remained quiet.
"Henry, I'm sorry we didn't say anything sooner. We didn't realize until a few weeks ago."
Henry remained quiet.
"Its okay Henry, you don't have to say anything but we're here for you and we will support you however you need." Sachra's hand squeezed Henry's.
Henry didn't know what to say. His mother certainly was never kind to him, but she was still his mother. He never wanted to see her dead even if he didn't want to stay under her roof. It was what it was. He guessed that at least she wouldn't get mad at him now. She wouldn't berate him or tell him hes making some huge mistake. But she also wouldn't be there to cook him breakfast anymore. Henry remained quiet.
Sachra could tell he was in turmoil, but she was so afraid to push him away that she wasn't sure what to say. She was squeezing his hand as tight as she knew it could allow. She wouldn't leave him alone. It must have been nearly 30 minutes later as the car drove further into the mountains before Henry spoke. "Is my dad okay?"
"He was...domesticated some time ago for trying to build a bomb. No one was injured. I have talked with his owner, he's doing much better now."
"So he's a pet now?"
"I see...so is our house still there?"
"It is, but your father moved out after being domesticated."
"Do I get to see him again?"
"If you want to, and if his owner agrees to it"
"I see..." Henry felt like he should make a joke. To take the edge off. He had to say something. To push it deeper down and move on, his entire life was well and truly gone. There was nothing left of it. He had old friends, but probably no one who cared about him. He pieced something together. "Well I guess father like son." Henry chuckled slightly, it was forced. But it was all he could do. The feelings were gone now.
Henry had a faint smile. "So......where are we going for dinner, Hellia? I imagine there aren't many restaurants up here."
Hellia replied, "Henry, you can't just ignore this"
"What do you want me to say?...you want me to cry or lament? You want me to fight back and say you can't do that to him? He was arrogant and a patriot, I can't say I'm surprised he would try to fight you. My mother despised me, she knew I would amount to nothing. I guess she was right. Just another poor boy coming home with nothing to show for it. I didn't get any medals, no great stories. Just a bunch of kids killed in front of me. I couldn't even help them. All for what huh... I guess I'm lucky right? That aliens showed up to save me and mean I don't have to amount to anything? That I can just stay some empty kid with no future? I guess I'll make a great pet right? I don't have any ambitions much less any resistance, hell, if someone pushed me hard enough I'd go with them anyways because I don't have anything myself. No aliens required. Fuck. Hah, I guess I really got lucky huh? Aliens showing up to whisk me away to some fucking mansion? No more concern to even make rent? I'm just a goddamn pet, I always have been. I get to sit around all day and waste away. I got drafted into the last fucking dredge of a war and I got to see some Vietnamese kids die because we don't wanna actually finish what we started. All just for some fuckings aliens to show up and give us happiness on a platter. Haha.. I guess my mom would still be alive if you guys came a day early? I can't tell if that's a good thing or not. My dad a pet huh? God damn....I don't even know what to say now. I'm sorry Hellia. I guess this isn't what you wanted me to say... probably want to say how sad I am or something and oh how it hurts. Whatever I guess.... it's over now. You guys win..."
Hellia and Sachra both looked at each other, there was far too much that needed to be said.
Sachra started. "Henry I'm sorry. I'm sorry your life has been so hard, that this entire world has ground you down. That you can't even feel like you have a choice in your own life. I can't change the past, no matter the greatest power we have, I can't change what happened to you. It was terrible, it was truly awful, but that will never take away your future. I don't care how long it takes but I won't let you wallow, I won't let you just sink into nothing. If what it truly takes is to let you go be your own person I will do it. Not because I don't care about you, but because I, Hellia, us, the entire Compact is here to make life better. I will never give up on you, I will always be by your side and give you what you need. It is so hard right now, you are filled with such a deep sadness and emptiness that it's eating you away. That does not make you lesser, it doesn't make you weak and it will never, ever mean you don't have a future filled with potential. I wish so badly that I could just whisk you away into bliss without words. But that would only hurt you. Henry I can't take you as a pet unless that is what you truly want and not you just giving up on your own life. Your life is precious and worth the love of a thousand stars. You deserve happiness and you deserve a life filled with whatever you could possibly desire. I will stand right by your side and make sure you get that. Henry I love you so much, more than you could possibly imagine, I will not let you fade away. "
"Why...? Why do you love me..what the hell is there to even love?"
"Henry I am so sorry you ever felt that love had to be earned, it is not pity, it is not obligation, it is something given freely and experienced without requirement. You never need a reason to love someone much less be loved. You are loved and that requires no explanation. I love you Henry because you are deserving of love, because you always have been and nothing will ever change that."
Henry was crying.
Hellia continued "Henry, I can't take away what has happened, but I will give you every happiness you could ever desire. You have a future that is so bright not because it is something that has to be fought for or earned, but because you are fundamentally deserving of it. You are loved by both me and Sachra because we saw you as you were. Someone perfect in their own way even if the world has only ever worn you down. There is always a light within you that we will never let go out. I could go on and on about the things that do make you special and unique, the things that fill my life with brightness. You are a person who is fundamentally good, you are not just some forgettable person. You in every action, in every step bring your own unique vision of the world that is irreplaceable. Your life has meaning because you are who you are. Even that sadness inside you can't take away that. It holds you and drags you down but you are always trying, you don't need ambition to make you have a meaningful life. All you have to do is live. All you have to do is be who you want Henry. You don't have to be anything else. You are bright and full of life even as that horrible darkness holds you down. We don't want to make you a pet so you lose everything. All we want to do is help you live. We want to fill your days with love and sunshine. We want to give you everything." Hellia laughed slightly, she felt like she was repeating herself but she couldn't stop herself from showering every ounce of her being onto Henry.
"You will be okay Henry, things will get better and you will make it through this." Hellia looked over at Sachra and the two nodded.
"We love you Henry, and you are deserving of love. We will never let you convince yourself otherwise. "
The two hugged Henry as tight as possible and he was sobbing into their arms.
Henry was deserving of love, his life was never over.
Henry could get better.
Henry would live.
Henry could be.