I woke up, rolled over and patted empty bed beside me. It was cold. I sat up and I sniffed the air. I could smell the fresh coffee. I smiled and reached out to the kitchen.
“Good morning, beautiful,” I thought.
A warm thought hit me soothingly. “Good morning, sleepyhead” Amelie thought. “You getting up now?”
“I’ll be there in a minute, I have a few calls to make.”
I reached out a bit farther and found a virtual door. I knocked on it and it immediately flung wide open. It still amazed me how a hug could feel like a hug even if the giver was 30 miles away.
“Good morning Uncle Trevor!” Milly thought.
“Good morning, Milly! Are you ready for the big day?”
“Of course! You going to call my mom?” she asked.
“I’ll just say ‘hi’ to her,” I thought.
“OK, I’ll see you soon!”
I touched Winfried. “Hey Trevor, thanks for the call,” she thought.
“Ready for the day? “ I asked.
“Yeah, see you soon. And I’ll talk to Mom and Stan.”
Before I moved on someone entered my head, “Hey lover.”
“Not funny, Sarah,” I thought back. “You ready?”
“You better believe it,” she answered. “Mom and grandma are here, no need to talk to them.”
I picked up the phone for the next call.
“Hi Uncle Trevor.” It was Bill’s 15 year old son, Miles.
“Hey Miles,” I said. “Is you mom there?”
“One second,” he said. “Hey Mom! Uncle Trevor,”
“Hi Trevor,” Cynthia said.
“Good morning,” I said. “I hope you’re doing well. Uhm, are you still planning on going today?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” she said.
I made a few more calls on the phone and with my mind before going to the kitchen. I kissed Amelie on the cheek and accepted the cup of coffee she gave me. It was perfect.
“Happy Heritage Day,” she said. It was August 14, the Saturday closest to Mile’s birthday, August 15, and the entire family was going to celebrate. Or at least as many as we could gather.
Two hours later we pulled to the side of the access road in the cemetery. Although we were pretty early, quite a few people beat us. We stopped and admired the new mausoleum.
What was left of the ugly Victorian structure had been torn down and a reproduction of the 1803 Greek temple was in its place. This time, however, we did it in marble. There was a large sum of money in the trust, but Stan had been saving to rebuild. It had been a dream of his. The inside was also restored. The Hawthorn and Hawkins crypts were slightly enlarged while a new Halley crypt was built. After the implosion there was not a stone or brick of the original left, just a huge crater.
The new mausoleum was almost complete, some equipment and scaffolding was still around the work site, but the construction company made sure the interior was safe and ready for us.
A lot of people were milling about, some talking, some looking at different stones and monuments. We did a tally of those who said they would come and we figured this would be the largest Heritage day in over 70 years. I recognized a lot of faces, but there were some I didn’t, even some I knew were from the Hawthorn Branch. We had rented a large pavilion at a nearby park and planned on moving everyone there once the ceremony here was done.
Amelie and I separated and walked around talking to people. There were cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, 4th cousins twice removed and more. If I hadn’t studied a chart I would have been totally confused by the kaleidoscope of names, faces and relationships.
I finally worked my way into the mausoleum itself. The Octagon looked the same as ever, though looking closely I could tell the stone on the wall of the Halley crypt was all new. I walked down into the crypt itself and felt the walls. There was not a whiff of the old Halley Branch, yet I could feel the influence of Miles seeping through the wall. I could feel the Hawthorns and Hawkins. It felt at peace. After last August we realized that the Hawthorn watchers where all back in their places on the shelves, no longer keeping watch.
I came out and stood at the top of the stairs leading down into the crypt. The Octagon was beginning to fill up. People would go in and visit their family crypt and then come out, making two rows, the Hawkins to my right, the Hawthorns to my left. As more people came in the rows began to merge and it was impossible to tell where one Branch ended and the other began.
It was almost time. My Aunt Gertrude, Stan and Bill’s son Miles made their way to the front of the Hawthorn Branch. Lois and Betty made their way to the front of the Hawkins, with Winnie, Milly, Sarah, Lisa and Amelie around them.
All eyes were on me.
“Welcome to the Hawkins Mausoleum on this fine Heritage Day,” I said. There was a little applause, a few people shouted back, “welcome,” and there was general happy, excited sound.
“We’re here today to celebrate the life of our patriarch, Miles Hawkins, who was laid to rest beneath this room,” I said. “He wanted the family to meet here and share their energy and their stories. He wanted our lives to be intertwined both as we lived and beyond, after we had passed from this world.”
There was some murmuring.
“There were originally three branches, the Hawthorns, The Hawkins and the Halleys,” I said. “As you know, there were very few Halleys and the branch seemed to wither and die almost a hundred and fifty years ago. Last year the rest of the family banished those from the Halley Branch who had been interred here. But they did not banish the Halleys altogether. In fact, every person in this room has some Halley blood.”
Some of the people were shocked, but others nodded.
“I’ve done a lot of research over the last year. I’ve had a lot of help from many of you, most notably my cousin Stan and my second mother, Lois Williams of the Hawkins Branch and her sister Betty Halley. I’ve talked to lawyers and many experts. I even had many DNA tests performed. Why did I do all of this? I want to renew the Halley Branch, to bring it back from the dead.”
Although most in the Octagon already knew what was going to happen, there were many gasps.
“Yesterday I legally changed my last name to Halley,” I said. “And if I have the permission of the leaders of the other two branches, I will name myself as the founder of the new Halley Branch.”
Stan stepped forward.
“The Hawthorn Branch wholeheartedly endorses you taking up the mantle of the Halley Branch,” Stan said. “Miles Hawkins built the mausoleum with three branches in mind and had ideas about all three. This will return the balance.” He stepped back and smiled down at his nephew Miles.
Betty stepped forward with help from her sister Lois. Her health had begun to bounce back the moment Halley was sucked into the void confirming my suspicion that it was sickness of mind and spirit more than of the body.
“Yes, the Hawkins Branch endorses Trevor becoming the first of the new line of the Halley Branch,” Betty as the older of the two sisters said.
They retook there places.
“There are others who have as much claim as I have,” I said. “Lisa Stewart has a claim and was even born with the last name ‘Halley’. She has chosen to stay as part of the Hawkins Branch. Her daughter, Sarah, will be given the choice when she is of legal age. If she chooses to join, she will be interred in the Halley crypt and all of her progeny, but those from my line will be the lead branch unless we fail at some point, upon which hers will pick it up.”
Stan walked over and took Betty by the arm and walked over to me again. I took Betty’s hand and lead her to my right side while Bill stood to my left and faced the crowd. Pointing to me he said, “I’d like to introduce the founder of the new Halley Branch!” he said.
As the people started clapping I called for quiet. When it had settled down I said, “One more thing. At this point the line isn’t going to last long. Perhaps there needs to be another founding member.”
I saw smiles and winks.
“Amelie Williams should also be a founding member of the Branch ending the old feud between the Hawkins and the Halleys,” I said. I then got onto one knee. “I’d like her to join as my wife. Amelie, will you marry me?”
Amelie rushed over and lifted me up. Her warmth filled my mind. As we embraced she said, “Yes, if I don’t kill you first for embarrassing me in front of all of these people.”
I smiled in return and gave her a brief kiss. It felt right.
There was a whirlwind of activity as people congratulated us. It was a great day for a new beginning.
After a while everyone started to filter back upstairs to the light and life of day. After the last group left Stan and Lois helped Betty up the steps. After their shared experience and shared spark Stan and Lois had become inseparable. They often talked and acted as a single person, though neither gave up their individuality. Amelie and I watched the three of them disappear to outerworld.
At last we were alone. We walked hand in hand into the crypt, the Halley crypt, our crypt. There was a part of me that was a little creeped out to be looking at the place where my dead body would lie, but there was another part that seemed to be put at ease, as if I had been waiting for this my whole life. Amelie and I kissed in the crypt, this time a longer kiss. We then went to the steps. As we were going up I felt someone watching us. I felt him smile. I had always suspected he wasn’t really gone. Now I knew.
I wonder to this day if he knew how it was going to end. Did he know what was going to happen when he named me his heir? Did he know I would accept in my own way, under my own terms? Did he even purposefully sacrifice Bethy so I could have my full power back for the final confrontation? He almost said as much, saying I needed to be free from her influence. So, were we then all fooled in the end? No matter how much I cleansed my mind, how many times I tried to burn out all foreign thoughts, I knew he was still there. I knew he was happy. The three branches had collapsed to one in our new branch. A new balance was achieved. And he would live forever within this branch, if not as its master.
I called myself the first of the new Halley Branch, but knew I was really just the next in the 300 year history. For the Hallys are a phoenix and have risen from the fire and ashes of a dying star. We are back and better than ever. And we’ll be here for a long time to come.
We are the Halley Branch.
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