Gabriel’s birthday came and we were all anxious to see what he would look like as a child because we knew he would not look like the average human child since he wasn’t human. Even though we all loved him wholeheartedly, his appearance did take some getting used to when he was born. He had a unique look with his purple skin, pointed ears, and irises that were so huge with flecks of blue that seemed to sparkle in the right lighting it seemed as though the entire universe resided in his eyes. He was beautiful to me as a baby but I wondered if those features would change as he aged. For the most part, they didn’t. He looked the same, still adorable with all of his admirable and unique features, the only difference now was that he was bigger and he could walk and talk. Boy did he love to talk!
Dad’s scientist friend, Dr Livingston passed away before Gabriel’s birthday leaving us in a lurch because we no longer had someone to provide insight and advice when it came to taking care of our brother. With the exception of Addie, he was the only one outside of our household who knew about Gabriel’s origins and he was kind of an expert in extra-terrestrials, particularly Sixamians. Now with his wealth of knowledge gone we were on our own.
Since we knew very little about Sixamian culture we decided that we would treat him like the average human boy. We bought him clothes and toys and let him eat cereal and watch cartoons. By all means, he was like the average human boy. Except he couldn’t go to school or leave the house in his natural state because then he’d be discovered so we helped him create a disguise.
It was amazing to see the transformation take place when he puts it on and takes it off. It seems as if he’s changing clothes. All of our friends knew we had an adopted brother and for the first time people got to meet him. His disguise was so realistic that no one suspected anything and I figured being raised by a bunch of humans since birth made it easier for him to fit in because he understood our social cues and customs better than most of his kind.
Dad even felt comfortable signing him up for piano lessons after he begged for Dad to let him play the piano we had in our living room. It used to be Aunt Leni’s but she left it behind when she moved out. None of us were interested in playing but as soon as Gabriel saw it he decided he wanted to learn. Gabriel loved music so playing the piano came naturally for him.
What also came naturally for him, which was expected, was how comfortable he was in his true skin. Sometimes he forgot that he needed to change into his disguise before leaving the house. Even if it was just to go outside to play. One afternoon, Dad caught him on the monkey bars and flipped out.
“Gabriel! What have I told you about coming outside like that?!”
“Oh, I forgot.”
“You forgot?! How can you forget something like that?!”
“You change into your disguise right now! Right now before someone sees you!”
“Dad I’m alone in the yard. There’s no one around…”
He promptly changed into his disguise and afterwards Dad calmed down and took him over to the nearby bench.
“I’m sorry I yelled at you like that son.”
“I don’t know why you don’t like my skin Dad.”
“No, no, no Gabe, that’s not it at all. I love your natural appearance. I would love you regardless of how you look, it doesn’t matter. You’re my son and I accept you just the way you are. I’m just afraid of what can happen when you come outside without your disguise on.”
“But there are no strangers around. I made sure to check to see if Jo or Izzy or Ivy had any guests.”
“You’re outside Gabe, which means anyone passing by on the street can look over the hedges or peek through the gates and see you playing. And what if one of your sisters’ friends come over unannounced and they see you? Even though you’re still in our yard, it’s still not safe. You can be discovered and then they might take you away from me and I can’t let that happen.”
He sighed. “Okay Dad. I won’t forget again. I’ll always wear my disguise when I’m outside.”
Of course with Dad being the great father he is, knew he had to allow more opportunities for Gabriel to be the real Gabriel even outdoors so he came up with a plan. Gabriel could only go outside in his true form at night time with a member of the family. Gabriel gladly accepted the compromise and so every night after dinner Dad and Gabriel would play together and stargaze outside until his bedtime.
Izzy and I celebrated our birthday not too long afterwards. We even graduated from high school the very same day. I was a little disappointed that because of my poor performance in that last final exam I didn’t graduate at the top of my class. I left school with a B average which was disappointing because I was concerned I would not get accepted into the science program. Luckily I did. One of the perks of being a Sloane, especially the great-granddaughter of Bree Sloane, is that your name carries a lot of weight in the science/astronomy world. Isabel also landed a recurring stand-up comedy gig at the theatre downtown. Neither one of us could wait to leave our teenage years behind and begin our lives as adults.
“I’m so happy I got to live to see you girls become adults!” Dad smiled as he hugged me.
“Dad, don’t be so morbid. You’re not even that old.”
He just shook his head but the thought of Dad dying from old age soon was not something I wanted to think about. He still had plenty of time!
We sliced up the cake and everyone took a piece. As we all chatted and laughed around the table my mind fell on Mum and how much she would have enjoyed celebrating our birthday with us. Izzy and I never had the opportunity to celebrate a birthday with her. She was in prison during our last birthday celebration and it hurts that she didn’t live to see this one but I know she’s around somewhere watching us right now giving us her blessings now that we’ve started our journey into adulthood.