“It’s time to tell him, Chen,” Yin said. “I’m calling them up.”
“Calling who?” Evan asked.
Chen returned his hand to the armrest of his chair. “Lily and Dylan,” he said.
Evan wasn’t sure he heard Chen correctly. “Who?”
“Lily and Dylan…your daughter and son-in-law,” Chen replied.
“Okay, Chen, I’ve had absolutely enough. What the hell are you talking about?”
“Alright but they have to move quickly,” Adee replied to Yin. “My re-entry burn is in three minutes.”
Nearly a minute went by without a word from anyone until Evan finally broke the silence.
“You people are out of your minds. What are you trying to do to me?”
An unfamiliar voice sounded from behind Evan. “He’s talking about us, Dad.”
Evan spun his chair around to see a young man and a woman standing at the top of the stairs, both breathing heavily as though they had just run a 100-meter dash.
“Who are you people?” he demanded. “And where did you come from?”
“I am your daughter, Lily Alice Feldman,” the woman replied. “And this is my husband, Dylan Ryan Harris.”
“It’s great to see you again, Evan,” the man said. “It’s been a very long time.”
“I don’t know what kind of trick you all are pulling but I’ve had enough. What is the point of all of this? What is the point of any of this? This can’t be real!”
Lily took a few steps forward. “Come sit with us, Dad. I will explain everything while we finish our descent to Galilei Station.”
“Go ahead, Evan,” Chen encouraged. “It’s time you know the full truth.”
Evan gazed at the two people standing in front of him, neither bore any resemblance to the Lily and Dylan he remembered.
“These people look nothing like Lily and Dylan. How can it be them?” he asked Chen.
“The same way you can look nothing like the old you. I promise Evan, it’s really them.”
“Ninety seconds to burn,” Adee called out. “Make up your mind, Evan. If you are going to change seats—now is the time.”
Evan released the restraints holding him in his chair and rose unsteadily to his feet. His magnetic boots held firmly to the deck, but there was nothing for him to hold on to. The two strangers stepped forward, and each took an arm to support him. The three crossed the short distance to the first row of seats and Evan took the aisle seat, with Lily in the middle and Dylan on the opposite end.
“Thirty seconds,” Adee called.
Evan activated his restraints and the strangers quickly followed suit.
“Are you really my daughter?” Evan asked.
“Yes, Dad, I really am,” Lily answered. “How can I prove it to you?”
“What was the last thing I said to you?”
Lily pondered that for a moment.
“Ten seconds,” Adee announced.
“You don’t know, do you?”
“Yes, I do. It’s just weird the way you asked the question.”
“Oh and why is that?”
“Because you didn’t say anything. You couldn’t talk. You blinked one time for yes when I asked if you would tell Mom I love her,” she said.
The shuttle’s engines roared to life, sucking everyone deep into their seats as the craft made its final descent. Evan’s eyes welled up and a single tear rolled down his cheek. He reached for Lily’s hand and she took his in return.
Evan’s voice shook and was barely audible over the shuttle’s roaring engines. “I…I thought you were dead.”
Lily leaned over and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“I know, Dad…I’m sorry for that.”—Lily’s eyes filled with tears—“I thought I had lost you forever.”
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