Gabrielle sat rocking on the porch of the cabin, watching with amusement as the small figure wound its way up the long path toward her. It never stopped amazing her how family likenesses could just pop out at you when you least expected it, and in the most unnerving ways. When Eve had brought her son home, she remembered, and he had looked up at his two grandmothers with Callisto's eyes. That had been almost as much of a jolt as seeing some of Meg's facial expressions on Virgil's little girl. But the figure moving toward her now was almost an exact duplicate of her great grandmother, and had most of her mannerisms to boot. It was a temptation sometimes just to watch and marvel that a piece of the past could simply walk up and speak, as though the intervening sixty years had never happened at all.
"Grandmother," Rena sighed as she realized that her great grandmother appeared to be lost in her memories again, as she so often was these days. Of course, Gabrielle was actually close to ninety, but for some reason didn' t look any older than Grandmother Eve, who was now in her early sixties. In fact, Gabrielle often teased Eve that if you subtracted off those "ice cave years", Gabrielle was actually younger by a year or two. Rena didn't quite understand what that meant, but then a lot of the conversation among her grandmothers was puzzling, if not downright incomprehensible at times. She just hoped that Grandmother Gabrielle was a bit more understandable today, because she had an assignment, and she was determined to complete it.
"Grandmother!" She was closer now, and could see the smile crinkling up her grandmother's nose as it always did when Gabrielle looked at her. Maybe Grandmother wasn't so lost in thought as she had supposed.
"Rena!" Gabrielle imitated her granddaughter's impatient tone, and motioned for her to sit on the small stool next to her. "What brings you all the way up the mountain?"
Rena took the proffered seat and smiled at her grandmother. "I have an assignment, Grandmother."
"And you want my help? I'm flattered. Is it numbers? Poetry? Geography?"
"No, nothing like that. My teacher says I'm supposed to interview someone and write it all down in a scroll." Rena blinked up at Gabrielle. "And I knew you were the one."
"Well, you've come to the right place. I used to write a pretty mean scroll myself."
"Grandmother, I already know how to write in the scroll. I want you to be the person I interview."
"Ah," Gabrielle nodded as she sat back in her rocker. "All right, then. Fire away."
Pleased to find her elderly relative so accommodating, Rena pulled out her scroll and her quill and began.
"My first question is: What is the most unusual thing that ever happened to you?"
Gabrielle felt a wild desire to laugh but smothered it at the sight of those earnest eyes peering up at her. "Well, let's see." She mentally considered and discarded several dozen possibilities as unfit for the ten year old ears pricked confidently in her direction. "I suppose nearly all of the unusual things that have happened in my life somehow involve your Grandmother Xena. In fact, I guess I'd have to say meeting her in the first place was pretty unusual."
"Okay," Rena was scratching furiously with her quill. "My next question is: If you could change anything in your life, what would it be?"
Oh, there were so many answers to that question. To right wrongs that had been done, to save lives that had been lost, to make different decisions, choose different paths. Gabrielle pondered and came up with what was, for her, the only possible choice. "I don't really think there's anything in my life I would change."
Rena looked as if she might object, as though this answer broke the rules somehow. Gabrielle reached out and stroked her granddaughter's hair. "If I had changed anything along the way, I might not be sitting here today with you, sweetheart. And I wouldn't have missed out on that for anything in the world."
Rena smiled, mollified, and painstakingly wrote down the answer. "All right, one more question: What's your favorite pastime?"
Gabrielle smiled at that one, but before she could answer, Xena stepped out onto the porch, laughing. "Let me answer that one, Cyrene." Grandmother Xena was the only one who called Rena by her full name. Rena knew that she was named for her great great grandmother, but she preferred the shortened version, mainly because it rhymed with her grandmother's name. Rena thought being just like her famous grandmother some day would be wonderful.
"Your Grandmother Gabrielle," Xena continued, "loves to win, especially when she's competing against me."
Gabrielle just rolled her eyes. "Xena, really. Winning is not exactly a pastime. I think Rena is referring to hobbies and things like that."
Rena just sighed and laid her scroll aside. Now that they had started, she knew from experience that they would be bantering back and forth for hours, each trying to get the last word. She would probably be called on to give an opinion at certain points, but she also knew that they only did that to include her, and not out of any real desire for her mediating ability. She thought about what she was going to write down as her grandmother's answer to the last question. Talking - that's what Grandmother Gabrielle liked to do most. She nodded. Her assignment was as good as completed, so she sat back to enjoy listening to her two favorite people arguing happily over who really had won that last footrace. And every once in a while, they would turn to the small blond haired girl with the big green eyes and invite her to share in their conversation, swapping bits of their past for hopes of her future, when she would embody the best qualities of each of their once very different personalities.
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