A fan fiction story by Melpomene based on the characters and backstory of "Roswell" and composed without permission. No copyright infringement is intended and no monies have been earned.

Past Imperfect


The year is 2073.

She sat in the quiet of the early morning sunrise, a cup of tea at her left hand and a moldering scrapbook on her right. Birds congregated noisily at the feeder and bath that occupied a small corner of the cottage garden just beyond her kitchen window and she watched them flit and flutter in the cool morning air; she noticed too the cat, Monsieur, who lazily stretched across the kitchen table, pointedly ignoring his little feathered friends outside. The orange marmalade tabby lolled his head toward his mistress, slowly yawning and rolling his muscles in evident luxury.

She had brought the book out the evening before. The phone had rung unexpectedly in the late evening, jarring her from her early sleep. The voice on the other end of the line had been only slightly less surprising and the news she had been given had returned her thoughts to the past and the old album. They would soon all be gone, she would be the only one left who still knew the truths they had discovered so very long ago in the barren New Mexico desert. And so she had drug out the old book, knowing it was time to tell her story, time to move on.

Slowly, she reached out to open the cracked leather cover, gently turning the flyleaf of crumbling paper. It had been so long since she had last perused the contents of the book that she had forgotten completely about it. It hadn't been until she was searching for extra flowerpots in the garden shed several days before that she had come across it in an old box she had stored there years ago when she had first moved into the little cottage she now called home.

She grinned when she thought of what Clara would say to her when she discovered she'd been out rooting about in the old shed. The child was such a worrier and she loved her dearly for it. Of all the family, Clara was the one who came by regularly. She was the one who took her to the grocers, ran her up to the beauty parlor for her weekly appointments, and strong-armed the doctor into letting her live life as she saw fit. Clara was her champion.

Turning her thoughts from the girl, she peered at the first page of the scrapbook. She had spent months putting the book together when her children were still young and life had happily seemed to stretch out endlessly before her. She had even taken the time to divide the book up into parts and had each section labeled with silvery, delicately filigreed nameplates she had bought from a craft store at a time when she had been feeling nostalgic and finally had money to spare on pure frivolity.

The one time Clara had discovered it on a dusty shelf in her former home, she had questioned her as to why there were no pictures of their immediate family included in its pages. Maria remembered hugging the girl to her breast and explaining that the book was a testament to her past, not her present. The family's pictures were safely stored in their own albums.

It had been then that she had placed the scrapbook in a box with all the other keepsakes she had collected throughout her childhood and adolescence spent in Roswell. She had packed them away and taped up the box, as if she were putting the past behind her, secured in the dim recesses of her memory.

"Granny, I'm here! a voice called from the front of the tiny house.

Maria could hear the young woman as she wound her way through the twisting hallway that would lead her into the bright kitchen. She watched the doorway for the bright head of short unruly golden curls that she knew would soon appear.

"Granny? Are you here?" The woman stepped into the room, searching for Maria with worry evident in her slightly tremulous voice. Relief filled the cool green eyes as they can to rest on the elderly lady at the kitchen table. "You sure know how to scare a girl, Granny. Sheesh, I think I'll sit down now before I have a heart attack."

"Sorry to cause you concern, dear. How were your classes yesterday?" Maria reached for the empty teacup she had placed on the table earlier that morning in anticipation of Clara's arrival.

Clara reached out and snagged the teapot, lifting off the cozy and pouring herself a cup. "Ugh! Don't even ask. I'm just grateful the term's nearly complete and I'll have a few days off before the mini-session begins. Tell me again why I put off going to college until I was twenty-five..." Raising the cup to her lips to take a careful sip, she saw the scrapbook that lay open in front of her great-grandmother. "I haven't seen that thing in years. Why did you get it out now?"

Maria smiled sadly. "I have a favor to ask you and a story to tell as well."

"Okay... favor first, story after," the young woman decided, settling into her chair.

"I need to go back," Maria said.

"Go back where? To Roswell?"

"Yes, I need to return to say goodbye to an old friend. Would you care to go with me?"

"Of course I will. Classes are almost over; I can always get an extension on my finals. I'll book a flight as soon as the travel agency opens this morning." Clara had learned over the years that it cost her great-grandmother a great deal to ask for any favors at all, so that any time she did Clara had no trouble making immediate changes in her own schedule to accommodate her. "Who's the friend?"

"Ah, my dear, that's where the story comes in." Maria looked down at the photo that was taped to the center of the page in front of her. It was a group shot that had been taken just before they had all taken off for Las Vegas and eight youthful faces smiled out at her across the years of joy and heartache.

"You see, Clara, we were all friends who shared a secret that no one could ever know about. I sound like one of those old movies you like to watch, don't I? But it's true, and now I'm soon to be the only one left, and the secret that hounded us so long ago, along with all its fears and concerns, needs to be passed on before it's too late. You can chose for yourself how to act on it, it no longer matters who knows because no one will be left to be hurt by it any more."

She sighed and raised a wrinkled, gnarled finger to point at each young face in the photograph. "We were sometimes best friends and at other times reluctant acquaintances and even occasionally bitter enemies depending on what was happening at the time; the eight of us were bound together by a common knowledge: Liz, Max, Alex, Tess, Isabel, Kyle, me, and Michael. We were drawn together by knowledge of the impossible."

Clara leaned over the book and looked closely at the old photograph. It was difficult to picture her great-grandmother as a teenager, especially as the girl who had a sprinkling of glitter across her cheeks and a young man's arm draped over her shoulder. She had heard Liz's name before when her grandmother, Maria's youngest child, would talk about her childhood and the trips they would take to visit Roswell and the friend Maria had there. But the other names were a mystery.

"It all happened so very long ago..."

~~~~~~

Tess sat at the booth in the Crashdown, idly stirring another extra packet of sugar into her soda. She was waiting for Isabel and Max, having made arrangements the day before to meet them for lunch. Just your average lunch date with fellow members of the 'not of this world' club. When Michael had been told of the meeting, he had begged off, muttering something about Maria going ballistic if he stood her up for another of her desert picnics. Tess had laughed at his response, Maria's murdering him would at least solve his worries of being caught by alien-hunting FBI agents or remnant Skins.

They had all needed a break though and she didn't begrudge him the escape from their routine. The summer had dragged on listlessly since Alex's death. No one had known how to react; what to do to make the pain and anger go away.

"Hey, Tess, sorry we're late." Isabel slid onto the bench next to her. "Max got a phone call just as we were walking out the door." She cast a pointed glare at her bother as he disappeared through the door at the back of the restaurant. "Did you tell Michael about lunch today?"

Tess pushed the empty sugar packets aside and rested her arms on the table. "Yeah, but duty to Maria called. He said they might drop by after their picnic."

Isabel nodded and accepted the soda the waitress suddenly set in front of her. She was secretly envious of the relationship Michael had forged with Maria, even if it was the rockiest she'd ever witnessed. At least they hadn't wasted so much time like she had with Alex.

"So what'll it be?"

Tess glanced up at the waitress, she was the same girl Mr. Parker had ended up hiring to replace Courtney. Meg had a chip on her shoulder the size of Mt St. Helens and it seemed that her innate irritation was mainly directed to Liz's friends.

"Umm, how about a Sigourney Weaver and an Eclipse Burger?" Tess looked toward Isabel, receiving an approving nod. "Max'll be back in a minute I guess. You'll have to get his order later."

"Whatever." The girl shrugged and crammed their order into her alien eye apron pocket.

"I really don't like her," Isabel said as she watched the waitress in question walk up to another table. "And to think everyone thought I used to be obnoxious, I think Meg there could give lessons in it."

Their attention was drawn to the restaurant door flying open, followed by two of their friends, breathless and wild-eyed, searching the cafe for familiar faces.

"Michael? Maria? Are you two alright?" Tess asked as they neared the booth.

"Where's Max and Liz?" Michael's eyes continued to dart around the room, searching for their reluctant fearless leader and the girl he had first exposed their secret to.

"Probably in the back or upstairs. What's wrong?" Isabel rose from the bench and reached out to brush her fingertips across Maria's arm. The fear that radiated off the girl shocked her. "Maria? Tell me what's going on."

"Just get them, and Kyle too," she panted, turning her head to look directly at Tess. "We need to talk. Twenty minutes. Where no one will hear. You know the place."

They fled again as soon as Maria had finished speaking.

"Okay, you want to try and explain what that was all about?" Tess asked, gulping down the rest of her soda and snatching up her purse. "I don't think I've ever seen Maria that scared. And Michael..."

"Let's just get everyone else and get out there. They'll tell us then." Isabel hurried past the tables to retrieve her brother and Liz.

"I hope you know where they're gonna be, because I'm out of the loop on this one," Tess sighed, waiting for the flurry of movement that would signal the others' quick return. "Come on! We still need to pick up Kyle from practice."

They flew out the door, leaving a number of wide-eyed stares in their wake. Meg glared at their retreating backs.

'Figures.' She removed the crumpled order from her pocket and dropped it in the nearest trash can.

~~~

They arrived at the quarry just moments after Michael and Maria screeched in, sending dust and gravel raining in a wide arc as the Jetta's tires fought for traction. The doors of both the Jeep and Jetta flew open as their passengers spilled out.

"So tell us what this is all about," Max insisted.

They had all walked closer to the quarry pit, anxiously standing in a rough circle. Michael stood opposite Maria but his eyes never left her face.

"We drove out on one of those county roads off of 380 west to find someplace for a picnic. We hadn't been stopped for very long when another car pulled up and asked for directions to Roswell. They were FBI. The driver said he was supposed to go to Roswell first and then head out to the reservation. I don't know, I guess he figured he didn't have to be so secretive with a couple of teenagers. Anyway, he asked me for the fastest way to both. He also asked about the cave where the granolith is." Michael paused, breathless. "He had pictures, Max. Pictures of the cave. I told him I'd never seen it, but what if they find it anyway? How well did we seal the chamber off?"

"I thought Nasedo had gotten them off our trail with that whole bogus press conference thing." Liz looked up at Max, the concern shining brightly in her eyes.

He reached out for her, enveloping her in his embrace.

Maria continued to watch Michael, her thoughts in a spiraling plummet. "This will never be over, will it?"

~~~

They watched from a safe distance, later that evening, as the FBI team descended on the cave. If they found the granolith they would take it away and it would be lost to them forever. There was also the concern that if they had been able to find out about the cave now, they would be able to find out about them as well, not to mention there was still the constant worry of the list Topolsky had spoken of, a list with all of their names on it.

The flurry of activity around the mouth of the cave concerned them, as did the sudden influx of dark, unobtrusive sedans driving along the streets of Roswell. The FBI wasn't playing games any longer, this time they meant business. They didn't know whether they should pretend they had nothing to hide or head for the hills.

"God, what are we going to do now?" Isabel asked, her eyes glued to the movement at the cave.

"I think it's time we left Roswell, we'll need to split up so that they'll have a harder time tracking us." Max had turned to gaze longingly at Liz, not wanting to do what they had always discussed, leaving behind home and family and love.

"They'll get suspicious if we all just pick up and leave at the same time," Maria insisted. "What if we do it gradually over the next few weeks or months? And not everyone needs to leave, that'd look even more suspicious."

"Maria's right." Liz looked around at her friends. "So who gets to stay and who has to leave?"

"I'll leave." Isabel's eyes were flat as she made her decision. "It's the most reasonable decision, Max. The authorities will write me off as a grief-stricken teenage runaway. Everyone knows I'm having a hard time dealing with loosing Alex, we'd be stupid if we didn't use it to our advantage." She hated the thought of leaving her parents, her brother, all of her friends, and most especially Alex. But even when she was home, she didn't really have Alex anymore, all she could do was visit his grave.

They drove back to the closed Crashdown and their discussion lasted long into the night as they tried to decide who would have to sever ties with Roswell and who would stay and pretend at normalcy. In the end, three were staying and Isabel, Tess, Michael, and Maria would leave. Isabel's disappearance would be attributed to Alex's death, Michael's to his loner personality, Tess' to the fact that, like Michael, she had nothing that truly tied her to Roswell, and Maria had an elderly relative in Connecticut who needed someone to move in and help out around the house.

By the end of the summer their group of friends would be permanently disbanded.

Maria sat and just stared at Michael. How would she get along without him there to annoy her every day? Who would she fight with? She couldn't begin to imagine a life without Michael in it.

Michael knew Maria's eyes were centered on his face in unwavering contemplation but he couldn't bring himself to see the pain he knew rested there. Instead, he reached beneath the table and took her hand in his, crushing her fingers in a tight grip that she didn't try to pull away from. It had been a difficult decision for all of them to make but it was necessary for their survival.

By the end of their summer vacation, there were only three of them left in Roswell. Max, Liz, and Kyle clung to one another in the sudden void they found themselves in. Maria's email messages came once a week or so, rambling on much in the same manner that she spoke. Tess called every so often to say hello and that she was fine. Her phone calls had initially been to reassure the group that she was still alive, but after she called Kyle one evening and ended up speaking to the sheriff, she called more frequently. She sorely missed the only thing that she had ever had that resembled family. No one heard from either Isabel or Michael.

~~~~~~

Clara settled her great-grandmother into the car for the trip to the airport. She had managed to get a flight out within a few hours of calling the travel agent and they would soon be heading straight into Roswell, New Mexico.

Sliding behind the wheel, she glanced at the elderly lady beside her. At the age of ninety-six, the family joked that Granny was just too stubborn to die, after all, she'd never been one to back down from an argument and Clara wouldn't put it past her to fight Death face to face if she had to.

Clara still didn't want to broach the subject of aliens from outer space, trying to write it off as the delusions of the aged, but she knew the woman better than that. Maria's memory was just as sharp as it had ever been. "Did you ever see them again? Your friends that left Roswell that summer. What happened to them, to Michael? He's the boy in the picture who was standing next to you, isn't he?"

Maria smiled. "Yes, he is. Michael was my first true love, my only love. He and I had something that couldn't be denied or explained although we tried to ignore it plenty of times." Maria flattened her hands on her lap, wondering what Michael would think of all the wrinkles and age spots that had seemed to spring up over night.

"I head from Michael periodically while I was in Connecticut even though it was strictly against the agreement we'd all made. Thinking back on it now, I don't think any of us kept to the agreement. Someone always knew about one or more of the others, it was the only way we could stay sane. But then he came by to visit me one day."

~~~~~~

"Michael?! Space-boy? Oh my God, what are you doing here?!" Maria threw herself into his arms, clinging to his shoulders as if her life depended on it. He looked much the same as he had the last time she'd laid eyes on him and she fleetingly wondered what exactly was up with his insane hair. She pushed all superfluous thoughts aside; she had been so lonely for such a long time. After her great-aunt had passed away, she had stayed on at the house to finish her last year of graduate school. Now, two months away from receiving her master's degree, she was contemplating selling the house and leaving.

"I had to see you," he murmured into her hair.

"Come inside, there's no one here. It's my house now; Aunt Sophie left it to me in her will. I can't believe you're here. What have you been doing? I hadn't heard from you in so long I was worried something had happened. Where have you been? Have you heard from anyone? It's been so long since I've seen you. Has it really been almost eight years? Oh my God, I can't believe you're finally here."

"Shh," he whispered, still holding her tight against his chest. "DeLuca, you never change, do you? And I can't come inside until you let go of me."

"That's not likely to happen anytime soon. What's wrong Michael? What's going on? Why did you come?" Maria tilted her head back to stare into his eyes, seeking some glimmer there that would give her the answers she wanted.

"Have you spoken to anyone else recently?" He watched her eyes, but saw no spark of understanding hidden in the depthless green irises. At the negative shake of her head, he continued, "I called Max a few days ago to check in and see what was going on. It had been more than a year since I'd last spoken to him." Michael stopped, making sure he had Maria's complete attention. "Kyle was on a plane that went down just off the coast of Alaska last month. Maria, the sheriff was on that plane too. So was Isabel."

"They're all..."

"There were no survivors. The only reason Max knew that Isabel was on board was that she called him during the flight. She recognized Kyle in the seat in front of her and he told her how worried Max had been about her. The plane crashed about an hour after she hung up."

"Oh my God. How are they all taking it? Those that know, that is." Maria placed her cheek against Michael's chest again, taking strength from the steady beating of his heart.

"They're getting by, I guess. Max was still stunned when I called; he said Liz is a complete wreck. There's apparently still some question as to why the plane crashed in the first place." Michael caught Maria up in his arms and carried her into the house, nudging the front door closed with his shoulder. "When I heard, I had to come and see you. No one knows where Tess is. She hasn't gotten in contact with you recently has she?"

Maria sighed deeply, trying to recall the last time she'd spoken with the tiny blonde. "I haven't seen her in a couple of years. She came by one time while I was still in high school and then once again a few years later. She calls once in a blue moon but it's been more than a year since the last phone call. I was hoping she'd call again before I sell the house, otherwise I'll have no way of finding her."

They settled into the couch, still refusing to release their desperate hold on one another. Eight years was a long time to have been kept apart, even if it was for the best.

Maria finally broke the silence. "Do they think it was planned? The crash, I mean. Do they think they're still after us?" It had been so long that she had hoped the FBI would have finally given up.

"We don't know what to think. Everyone is hoping that it was just an accident." He gently drug his fingers through her hair, smoothing it away from her face. He had known that if he came, he wouldn't be able to walk away from her again. "Maria, I changed my name a few years ago. I haven't noticed anyone following me since that first year after I left Roswell..."

"You changed your name?" she grinned up at him from her position in his lap. "So, if I'm not talking to Michael now, who am I talking to?" she teased.

"John Adams."

She laughed, "Oh, that's so un-original!"

"Well, that was the point, Maria. I figured that even though the FBI could look up the name change petition, the likelihood was that they wouldn't. Michael Guerin has ceased to exist."

"He'll never cease to exist as long as I'm around, Space-boy," she told him in a husky whisper, pulling him down into a deep kiss full of longing and promise for the future.

~~~~~~

Clara loved flying places with her great-grandmother; they always got to board the plane first and didn't have to fight the hassles of squeezing through crowded aisles. She had been glad of the distraction of the airport. If what her grandmother had told her was true, then her great-grandfather had been some kind of alien-human hybrid, and that would make her alien to some small extent as well. She shook her head to clear it of the thought; maybe Granny was becoming senile after all.

Maria watched Clara try to deal with what she'd been told. She knew the child would have difficulty with the concept of aliens initially.

She herself wondered what had become of the war that was supposed to have descended on the earth some seventy years before. When they had initially split up, the concern was that they would be opening themselves up to their enemies by not being together. Wasn't that what the future-Max had told Liz so long ago; that when Tess left, they weren't as strong? Maybe they'd solved that by breaking their promise to not seek each other out. The bond had still been there even if they were in different physical locations.

"Okay, Granny," Clara began, obviously not fully convinced of her ancestry, "so let's just say that you're right and Grumpy or Michael or John or whoever he actually was, was this hybrid person thing... What does that have to do with this trip?"

"When your Grumpy died, that left only one more of them alive and two of us. Tess, Liz, and I were the only ones remaining who knew the truth." Maria continued to watch Clara closely. "When your great-grandfather was dying, I made a promise to him to tell you the truth when it was safe. It will soon be very safe..."

~~~~~~

"Maria..."

"Hush, darling, I'm here." Maria gently sat on the edge of the bed, grasping her husband's hand firmly in one hand and raising a cup of water to his lips with her other. "Our little Clara came by to see you. Do you want me to let her in?" The question was needless; he always wanted to see the little girl, even when he was too tired or sick to visit with their own children.

Michael nodded his head, the movement barely perceptible. He had spent more than fifty years loving Maria, a feat he had never thought possible. In those years, she had given him a place in a family complete with children, grandchildren, and now even great-grandchildren. She had shown him that he was worth loving, he had known all along that he would never be able to repay the debt he owed her for that.

The door creaked open, and a small blonde head peered around the edge. Clara was the image of Maria with the exception of eyes that were such a pale green that they nearly looked silver, and she was unabashedly his favorite of all the young ones. She grinned broadly, seeing that he was awake, and bounded into the room. At four, she was already talking everyone's ears off and thus promising to share more than mere a mere physical resemblance with her great-grandmother.

"Grumpy!"

"Clara-girl, I'm glad you came to visit today." His voice was harsh and breathy, but audible.

Clara looked at him slyly. "I come to visit you everyday, Grumpy. You're silly."

"You're probably right."

Maria left the room, leaving Michael and Clara alone to their visit. She could never think of him as John but her own children didn't know that it wasn't his original name so he was only Michael in her thoughts and in her dreams. She never knew what he and Clara talked about every day, she only knew that Michael was always cheered by the child's appearance, so was she for that matter.

She walked into the kitchen to check on the batch of cookies she had put in the oven just moments before Clara's appearance and to read the letter that had arrived that morning. When she had seen the return address on the envelope she had set the letter aside to read when she could devote more time to it. With Clara's arrival, she knew she had time to read it in peaceful leisure.

Taking a paring knife from the block, she slit the envelope open, spilling its contents onto the kitchen table. She smoothed the pages open and read what Tess had written.

Clara darted into the kitchen a good hour later, smelling the telltale scent of burnt cookies in the oven. "Granny? The cookies are burning."

Maria looked up at the child with red-rimmed eyes; she had completely forgotten about her baking.

"Are you alright, Granny?"

"Yes. Yes, child, I'll be fine. It's a good thing I already made up a batch of cookies earlier this morning, isn't it?" she asked, throwing open the windows before pulling the cookie sheet of blackened cookies from the oven. She dropped them into the sink to cool before throwing them out, and handed the child a tray of cookies and a glass of milk. "Why don't you see if you can convince Grumpy to eat one of these for me?"

When Clara had left the kitchen, Maria returned to her seat at the table and closed her eyes. Tess' letter still lay in front of her. She was loosing two of them, Michael and Liz. Michael to what they could only assume was old age and Liz to cancer she refused to have treated. She couldn't blame Liz for her decision though. At seventy-five who wanted to go through with treatments that might not help anyway? She regretted that she couldn't go to be with Liz but was glad to know that Tess was there with her. Michael needed her too much for her to leave for any length of time.

Soon there would only be two of them left. When Max had passed away in his sleep from what they thought was a heart attack four years before, she and Michael had flown to Roswell. They'd attended his funeral and spent the week with Liz and Tess. Maria had never understood why Liz and Max had never had any children, but they hadn't. Ever since the funeral, she'd been waiting for the news that her oldest friend had followed Max to the grave.

~~~~~~

The plane touched down in Roswell in the mid-afternoon. The little town had grown quite a bit since she had left it so many years before to move in with her Aunt Sophie.

"Clara, would you mind chauffeuring an old lady around town a bit?"

"Not at all. After all, I've never been here before. You want to go find some of your old haunts?" Clara grinned and threw their luggage into the trunk of the rental they'd acquired.

Maria nodded. Tess wasn't expecting them until that evening and that gave her a few hours to see the home of her youth. She wasn't concerned, she knew Tess wouldn't leave without first seeing her.

Clara navigated the busy streets, she had located a couple of the places her great-grandmother had spoken of but others were impossible to find. The old soap factory had been converted into a strangely modern apartment building and the quarry was paved over and replaced with a grotesquely huge shopping complex. The trailer park where Michael had lived was long gone as was the house Maria and her mother had lived in. The Evans' house was still standing though as was the old police station.

Amazingly, the Crashdown was still in operation although it had altered the alien theme to something more southwestern, but it was still called the Crashdown. They'd stopped there for lunch and Maria was pleased to find a wall full of old pictures of the restaurant. There were a number of group shots of people in alien-themed uniforms and she delighted in pointing out familiar faces to Clara. The owner was thrilled to finally have names to go with the faces and even offered to comp their meal, seeing as how she was one of the alien-theme uniformed people in the photos.

When they at last left the cafe, Maria handed Clara the directions she had written down the night before. It was time to see the last of their group.

Clara pulled their rental car into the driveway in front of the small frame house. When the sheriff and Kyle had died in the plane crash, Tess had been surprised to discover they had willed both their estates to her. It had never fully dawned on her until then that she was the only other person they could possibly claim as family. She had moved back to Roswell twenty years later and hadn't left since.

Clara helped Maria navigate the steps toward the front door and knelt down to retrieve the key from its place beneath the mat. "Granny? Shouldn't we knock first?"

"No, child. Tess said to just unlock the door and go in. She can't get out of bed to answer it herself. She's dying, sweetheart."

"Doesn't she have any family to stay with her?" Clara asked, slipping the key into the lock.

"Yes, dear, she has me."

~~~

Clara drove out into the desert. She had spent the late afternoon and early evening with her great-grandmother and the tiny fragile woman she knew only as Tess but they had shooed her away when night began to fall. With nowhere else to go, she decided to drive out away from the city and stargaze. She pulled the car off the road and turned off the engine.

The wind that blew across the desert was cool against her bare skin but it didn't stop her from climbing the mesa and sitting down on the sandy ground. She still didn't know what to make of the story she'd been told. Maybe she didn't have to do anything but believe it was the truth.

Memories of classroom lectures assailed her thoughts. Contemplations of life on distant planets, government cover-ups, and the like all tugged at her mind. She wasn't so foolish as to think that she knew anything near the truth of it all.

Looking around at the darkening landscape, she suddenly recalled a part of the story she'd just heard from the woman she'd accompanied halfway across the country. Several yards away was something that looked deceptively like a cave in the rocky outcropping of the mesa.

Smiling at her own fanciful thoughts, she rose and walked up to the opening. It was dark in the cave so she pulled a cigarette lighter from her pocket and walked deeper into the cavern. Further in, in another grotto that joined the first one, was a dim light and she walked slowly toward it. The other cavern had, at one time, been sealed off but the rocks had crumbled away to reveal the entrance. Ducking into the second cavern, she dropped the lighter she'd been holding.

The thought suddenly occurred to her that her great-grandmother and her friends had all wasted so much time running that they hadn't ever stopped to be sure that the government had even found the granolith chamber. She wondered how much they had lost due to their own fears.

Standing alone in the chamber, she gazed up at the granolith as it hummed softly and pulsed with pale light. Tentatively, she reached out and touched it with one finger, saddened by what she now knew.

For all their superior technology, they hadn't anticipated that when they returned for the ones who were to save their people, they'd be too late. The royal four were gone, she knew when she had been ushered out of Tess' house it was so that the other woman could die in peace. She knew too that her great-grandmother had never intended to survive long enough to return to her little house outside of Amherst. She had come back to Roswell to accompany the last of her friends into the next plane of existence, wherever that might lead them.

~~~

The semester was over at last and she'd plodded through the mini-session, finally earning her degree and was thrilled to be headed to yet another several years of graduate school.

Clara watched as the last of her great-grandmother's things were loaded into the moving van. She'd decided to sell the house she'd been left in the elderly lady's will and move to Roswell to the house the woman named Tess had surprisingly willed to her.

If she truly wanted answers to all that she'd been told, the only place she knew to get them was in New Mexico. She tucked an irritated Monsieur into the front seat of the van and turned the key in the ignition. Bidding a final farewell to Amherst and all of its memories, she pulled away from the gardens that abounded with her Granny's beloved flowers, driving toward the desert and the granolith that called her home.

the end

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