Coming of Age When the Back Is Turned

Characters: Peter Carlacci, Candace Carlacci Devine

“Hey there, ratonita, you look sleepy,” Carlacci said.

The dark brown eyes of the girl he could see on the screen, which had indeed been heavy-lidded, opened wide. “Pop! Hi!!” she cried.

“How are you?” he asked his daughter.

“Sleepy,” she admitted. “I stayed up too late last night cramming.”

“I thought you knew enough to study ahead, so you wouldn’t have to cram?”

“I do,” she protested. “But it was a test in Minbari rituals. I had to practice to make sure I remembered everything. It’s worse than dance class.”

Carlacci couldn’t help but grin. He remembered that training all too well himself. It had been like catechism plus dance class. And then some. “What sort of ritual were you getting tested on?”

“The coming of age ritual.”

A sudden pang struck Carlacci like a pike to the chest, but somehow he managed to keep the smile on his face. “Your teachers want to send you through that?” he asked.
“I think so, but not yet,” she said, trying to smooth down her hair. “I think they’re still trying to figure out just how old I’d have to be. And of course they have to talk to you about it.”

“Right,” he said, seizing on the opportunity to change the subject. “This reminds me of why I called in the first place — it looks like I’m on my way home.”

“Wow! That’s great!” Candace grinned so widely it threatened for a moment to engulf the rest of her face. “You’ll be here for my birthday!”

“I sure hope so.” Can’t get away from it even if I try, can I? he thought.

Candace sobered a little. “I’m really glad you’re coming back. I’ve really missed you, Pop.”

“I’ve missed you too, ratonita. I have to go now, but I should see you — in person — within a week.”

They finished their goodbyes, and after the screen went dark, Carlacci sat down slowly, letting out a long sigh. How is it that she can grow so much faster than she did when I was always there to watch? This was yet another of the things about being a father no one had ever warned him about.

After a moment biting his lip, he stepped out of his quarters, not sure where his feet were going to take him. All he knew was he needed someone to talk to.