I watched as the day melted into night and eventually everybody retired to bed. I embraced everyone except for Greg, who had slipped away.
"Give him time," my father pats my shoulder and begins quietly discussing something with Banner. I nod and climb the stairs with Mallory. At the top we stop in front of my door and smile at each other.
"I planned on staying up all night and telling you everything, but I can tell you're exhausted. I'm going to let you off the hook- but only for tonight." She ponders for a moment, then hugs me again. "It's good to be with you again. I missed having a sister."
I'm about to say the same when I realize that while I didn't have Mallory, I still had a sister. Blood or no blood, Kay and I have a very close sisterly relationship. I feel as if instead of reuniting with my only sister, I'm only adding her to my family.
"I missed you too," I say, knowing that's the truth. Then Mallory retreats further down the hallway and closes the door of her room behind her.
I go into mine, and barely get my night clothes on before I collapse from all types of exhaustion. The sheets smell fresh and clean, seeing as my mother most likely washed them for my arrival. As I breathe in deeply, I can smell the soft hay aroma that probably clung to Hugo's clothes each night.
My need for sleep trumps my desire to stay up and review the day and sort through my feelings, so I finally roll over and shut my eyes.
Morning comes much too quickly. I rush downstairs after I hear my mother's voice calling for me. On the way down I see her hold out a petite white envelope. I snatch it our of her hands and my heart begins to race when I see it's from Bluevale.
"Our Dearest Naomi,
I hope that you're enjoying your return home thoroughly. As a crew, we only want what's best for you. As a product of this deep-rooted desire, we must respectfully inform you that your service is no longer required at Bluevale. We have received a replacement from the Corps, and have found that she has been more than adequate. Bluevale has appreciated your eight years of willing service, and we hope you will receive this letter of release with dignity.
Susumu Takoaka & Crew 47."