“Mom! Dad! I’m home!”
Leonora Digiorno gently dropped her two suitcases in the foyer. Her parents turned off the viewer and came over to hug her. Her older brother stopped his violin practice and came out of his room, violin and bow still in his hands. He set them down on the console table and hugged her. Then her younger brother came in – he was still a teenager. He, too, embraced her. “Hey, welcome back.”
“Thanks,” she said, “Uh, I just want you all to know – I met someone.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!” gushed Belinda Digiorno.
“Got any pics?” asked her older brother.
“Yeah, Phil.” Leonora fiddled around with her PADD.
“Who is this guy? What’s his name? What does he do?” demanded her father.
“Oh, Dino!” Belinda said, “Don’t start with the third degree!”
“Actually, Dad,” Leonora said, “it’s not a he. She’s a she. Uh, her name is Melissa Madden.”
Dino Digiorno walked back to the family room and turned the viewer back on, staring at it. His wife came over and he barked at her, “I am watching the game, Belinda.”
Belinda came back, shaking her head a little. The younger brother asked, “C’mon, let’s see the pics!”
Leonora found them. There was the first one, of her with a curvy brunette. The younger brother whistled. “Holy cow! You hit the jackpot! She got any sisters?”
“Five, Lex.” Leonora found another picture. This one was of Melissa with five other women, all fairly close in age and looks to her. She put her finger over them, moving from left to right. “Uh, this is Marilyn, Megan and Monica. No, wait, I’ve got them mixed up. Then here’s Melissa again. And the two youngest ones are here on the right, Miri and Misty. No, uh, Misty and Miri. Yeah, that’s right.”
“They’re a nice-looking family,” Belinda said, “But all M names. My God!”
“You pick out the one you like, Alex?” asked Phil.
“I dunno, maybe Misty.” He smiled at their older brother.
Leonora fiddled with the PADD to show another photograph. Alex read off the tee shirt Melissa was wearing in the picture, “Starfleet Academy Flight School, huh? So she’s a pilot?”
“She’s studying. She’ll be done in a few months or so,” said his sister, “And then she’ll try to get a job, maybe when they get the NX-02 built or the NX-01 if there are any openings. I dunno. The Xindi War’s over but everybody wants to be on the Enterprise, I figure. She’s taking combat classes, too.”
“Combat?” asked Belinda. “Are you sure you want that? It’s an awful lot of worrying, I bet.”
“It’s just so she can be versatile and get a better job.”
“You ever fly with her?” asked Alex.
“You a member of the Mile High Club?” he asked.
“Leh-ex!” Leonora replied, reddening.
Their father came back over. “I don’t get it. You graduate from Oklahoma State, we send you to Ceres on vacation and you come back gay!”
“Dad,” Leonora said, “I didn’t come back gay. I was already gay. I came out to you a good seven years ago, in ’50, remember?”
“It’s just a phase,” he insisted, “you’ll grow out of it.”
“Dad, I’m over twenty-one. I am not gonna grow out of this. You need to realize that all three of your kids are gonna bring home a girl to you someday.”
“No,” Dino said angrily, “that’s not gonna happen. You call that girl and you tell her you made a mistake. And you’re sorry but you were just experimenting and you’re all done with that now.”
Belinda looked at the kids. “Your father and I need to talk.”
“C’mon,” Phil said, “I gotta practice some more.” He picked up his violin and bow again. “You can come listen if you want.”
Alex and Leonora followed him to his room and shut the door behind them.
“Dino,” Belinda said, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Setting that girl straight.”
“She is not gonna change her mind. And I don’t think I have ever seen her happier. Don’t spoil it.”
“C’mon,” Belinda said, “Don’t you remember when you told your folks about us getting together?”
“That was different.”
“How so? I wasn’t Italian and I wasn’t Catholic. We both know that went over like a lead balloon, particularly with your mother.”
“Dino, remember when they came around?”
“When we had Phil. But it won’t be the same. Norri’s not gonna have any kids.”
“Who says that? This Melissa girl might have them. Or maybe they’ll adopt. You don’t know. And even if they don’t, Dino, well, why should we wait that long?”
“C’mon,” she said, “our daughter is happy. And we know nothing about this Melissa. So let’s have her over, and we’ll see what happens, all right? Maybe in June. May is pretty much over.”
“I still don’t like it.”
“Nobody says it has to be something you love at the very beginning, okay? But keep an open mind, all right? Just, just try, okay?”
He looked at her. “You’re giving me the look.”
“You’re darned right I am.”
He sighed. “All right.” He walked over to Phil’s room and knocked on the door. The sound of a mazurka stopped in mid-stroke. Alex opened the door. “Norri,” said Dino, “we’d like to invite your, your new friend to dinner some time. Your mother says June, okay?”
“Okay,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “You’ll see. She’s the best. And 2157 is my best year ever, already.”