Aria: A New Normal

Aria cried, Rylan was right, her mind was elsewhere, the impact her absence was having on her family. Wrapped in grief Aria focused on her career and friendships, everything except the children, their needs all but brushed aside. Her son was rude, arrogant and hurting, how could she get through to Rylan, he missed his father and held her responsible for being at work when it happened. Ziva picked up the household chores her father did, finding solace in her studies rather than in her friends and family. Braydon offered her a tissue and a glass of water, he kissed her forehead, he took her hand, sat with her, it was little comfort, but it was something. The front door opened, Rylan shuffled to the lounge door, his eyes dropping to the floor at the sight if Braydon, he turned and made his way upstairs.

Breakfast was uneasy, Aria rustled up bacon and eggs, Ziva checked over her homework, both silent. Rylan shuffled in, issuing his first apology, while he maintained a dislike for Braydon, he accepted he made Aria happy. It was hard, accepting that he needed help, Ziva had been staring at her work, wondering why the change, she glanced up, Rylan’s sorrowful eyes pleading with her. Aria warned that failing school meant working in the diner, his job prospects would be bleak and his stay in the house with her indefinite. Ziva closed her book, smiling, could he go a week without tormenting her, he grinned back, that would be tough.

Rylan enjoyed playing pranks, whoopie cushions, fake snakes in the grass, or spiders in the shower, teasing Ziva, her interests in computers and space, secretly admiring her fascination. He had saved some money and with the sale of their telescope, he surprised Ziva with an alternative to stopping his mischievous behaviour. Wary, Ziva opened the boxes, metal sheets, second-hand engine parts, her eyes widened, at the bottom of the box was a rocket design, Rylan shrugged, she would have to do the research, the hard work, but she was a step closer to her space exploration dreams. Rylan steadied himself as Ziva flung her arms, embracing him, wondering what she would need to sacrifice for this kind gesture.

Aria reduced her client list, allowing them more time at home together with breakfast the highpoint of their day since Rylan’s job took him away in the evenings. Ziva opened up, her mother intrigued by her volunteering time a few weekends a month to help with the Brindleton Bay beach clean-up and helping in a local soup kitchen. Inspired by her father’s stories, her favourite was the adventures she and Rylan had meeting people with amazing stories. Her last visit, she had calmed an argument between two older men having a heated discussion on which TV series was better, she drew their attention away from their argument with enquires about the lighthouse and the Lady whose ship broke up on the rocks near the harbour. Rylan scoffed, interrupting her flow, they began elbowing each other whilst trying to enjoy Gummy Bear Pancakes, a childhood favourite, Aria stared amused, the twins erupting into laughter.

Braydon assisted Ziva with her new project, giving Rylan and Aria time to chat, but he had other ideas; handing Aria a controller, he loaded a console game. To bond with her son, Aria needed to get to grips with racing cartoon characters, the competitive spirit was a family trait they shared, it took a few attempts, but Aria was soon zipping through the obstacles and leaving Rylan’s character eating dust. Her lead rarely lasted long but she was happy to spend some time with him doing what he loved. Seeing the concentration on his face the jeering when his character didn’t listen to yelled commands and occasionally nudging Aria when she started to do well, giving himself the edge.

Rylan argued, believing his improved grades should allow for some leeway and stating this continued lockdown was unfair, pleading with Aria to let him go bowling or have friends over. Aria’s presence at home meant regular visits from Braydon, Rylan growled to Ziva how he had his feet under their table. It was weird their mother had new love at such an age, Ziva bit her lip, desperate to laugh, she thought it was sweet. It was nice to see Aria happy and to spend time with her, conversations of the future they hoped for. Braydon was intelligent, helping Ziva with her spaceship and the complicated maths and hopefully, it’s first flight. She kept her thoughts to herself, Rylan had another month of behavioural reflection, in the meantime, Ziva listened to her brother’s moaning, the injustice he endured.

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