Another day and more backstory! Not sure what others think, but it is helping me a great deal. Thanks for reading!
Kiminoki was supposed to keep the door locked, but often she forgot. Perhaps she forgot on purpose. Locking others out meant locking herself in, and hearing the click of the bolt spiraled her mood. If her husband complained of her lax security measures, she’d furrow her brow. “But I might have to get out of the lab in a hurry,” she’d say. “I could die in the extra seconds it takes to unlock the door.”
If he doubted this, he kept it to himself. He was growing wiser with every passing day of married life.
When their daughter, six-year-old Tasanko, slipped into the laboratory, well after midnight, Kiminoki noticed, but she didn’t say anything. She was busy.
Tas moved quietly over to the table and peered over the edge. “What is it, mama?” she whispered.
Kiminoki finished with the laser and switched it off. She let out a breath. “It’s a petri dish. Don’t touch.”
“Why you dressed like that?”
Kiminoki still didn’t take her eyes away from the matter in the dish. “This is a sterile environment.” Then she looked at her daughter. “Well, it was.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You should go back to bed.”
Tas seemed to contemplate arguing, but she didn’t. She turned around, and something else captured her interest. “What’s that?”
Kiminoki’s gaze followed her child’s pointing finger. Oh. That. She couldn’t blame the girl for asking. It was fascinating. “That’s an egg.”
“But I can see in it.” This was true. It wasn’t a proper egg. It was clear glass, egg shaped. But inside something was curled up in a strange colored soup, and whatever it was in the thing was breathing. Tubes ran into the top of it and a heat light shone over it.
Kiminoki pushed her chair away from her lab table. “What do you think about it?” she asked.
Tas approached it like she approached her grandmother, with bright-eyed curiosity and caution. “It’s interesting, mama. Can I touch it?”
“Absolutely not.” She took her daughter’s hand and pulled her back. “But tell me what you see.”
The child strained. “It looks like a…rabbit. Those ears, mama. But it’s got wings. And rabbits don’t have wings.” She squinted. “Or long tails.”
“No. They don’t.” She lead Tasanko to the laboratory door. “Now you go to bed before your dad sees you’re up and wandering around.”
“Can I come in here again?” Tas asked. “And help? I want to help.” She looked back at the strange animal in the glass egg. “I want to know what that’s going to be.”
Kiminoki gave Tas a gentle shove into the hallway. “One day, Tasie. When you’re older. You’ll be right here with me, helping to save the universe. All right?”
Tas turned around and stared. The light from the lab silhouetted her mother. “Can I tell my friends?” she asked. “Can I tell grandmother? My mama is saving the universe.”
“What? No, no,” Kiminoki answered. “It has to be our secret.” There came a thud from the other side of the house. Tas’s father had to be up. “Please, hurry back to bed.” But she didn’t wait to watch the girl head to her room. She had to hurry and check the timer. She’d have to check for any contamination too. For all the stars from here to Hades, we were fools to have that child. Kiminoki took a minute to survey the many things in the room her daughter was sure to ask about eventually. Her gazed stopped at the creature in the glass egg. “But what can I do, Beatrice?” she asked it, for she’d named the thing after an old Earth story she’d read in school. “I love her too much.” She came closer to the glass egg and bent forward so that she could study it more closely. It’s lungs worked beautifully and it’s tiny heart almost glowed. Eventually the heart would be at least five times larger than it was right then. She looked forward to the day she could share this with her daughter. They’d share ideas and theories. They really could save the universe together.
As was often the case with Kiminoki Rhyse, astrobiologist, former smuggler, author, and wife, she was half wrong and half right. She and her daughter would save the universe, but not in the way either could yet imagine, and not together. They would soon, in fact, be galaxies apart.