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A Different Life

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Laura develops a routine for the week that works well for her.  Her days start with an early morning run around campus, yogurt and granola for breakfast, a quick shower, work on her dissertation until lunch, then back to work on her research until Jean returns from campus.  Most days they chat for an hour since Jean works almost every night and doesn’t get home until after Laura goes to bed.  In the evenings Laura sees Bill for a few hours except for Wednesday when she spends time with her father.  She attends her session with Dr. Weigel on Tuesday morning and checks in with her advisor on Thursday afternoon, eager to show her the progress she has made.  On Friday she agrees to pick up Cheryl at daycare after lunch and take her home where she will stay with both her sisters while Aunt Sara goes to the hair salon.  Bill agrees to pick her up Friday evening at the Roslin home where they will have dinner with the family before returning to his loft for a weekend in each other’s arms.

Sandra has her own routine of getting up at 7 am, eating breakfast, then beginning her schoolwork by 8.  She works for 2-2.5 hours each morning which is all it takes to complete an entire days’ worth of assignments.  Once her schoolwork is finished, she runs on a treadmill that her father brought out of storage from the garage and then works on flexibility exercises followed by a shower.  The rest of the day is dedicated to creating the scrapbook of memories of their mother that she wants to give Cheryl for her 4th birthday.  She plans to create an electronic version with clips of home movies and music, plus a handheld one with original photos that she can take wherever she goes.  In the evenings she helps her father prepare dinner and spends time playing with Cheryl before her bedtime.  Wednesday afternoon she attends the counseling session in her father’s study, making sure she engages during the entire session, putting forth an honest effort to speak with Charlotte about what’s been going on in her life over the past year.

Dave spends the week getting caught up on all his grading, teaching his classes, attending his therapy session on Thursday, and weighing the pros and cons of accepting the position of Dean of Research.  The cons include more administrative type work, and longer hours, at least initially until he is comfortable in the role, which would take away from his family time.  The pros include being able to focus more on his own research and finally writing some books he set aside a long time ago, extra income which is more of a concern now that he is the sole wage earner, and, if he’s being honest, teaching fewer classes.  He finds that the older he becomes, the more frustrated he gets with the quality of student work.  On Friday morning he discusses with the Dean his main concern, the longer hours that would detract from his family time.  While the Dean is aware of the loss of Betty Roslin, he is not aware of the situation with Sandra, so Dave fills him in, indicating to him that his priority is his family.  They devise a plan to transfer two of the undergraduate classes Dave is teaching during the summer semester to a new faculty member, allowing him time to shadow the current Dean of Research before his retirement.  Once he takes over the position full-time, he should be comfortable with the transition and not have to spend any extra time on campus, although he may have to do some work from home or on the weekend occasionally.

Bill’s week at work is spent gathering reports, conducting interviews, and communicating with military leaders on his findings.  He’s busy but not overwhelmed, and he’s relieved that there hasn’t been any serious suspicious activity.  Laura teaches him to cook a few things on Monday and Tuesday evening, and he’s proud of himself for handling his evening meal alone on Wednesday while Laura spends time with her father.  However, he does miss her that evening, having grown fond of her bossiness in the kitchen and her giggles when he doesn’t understand how to do something basic.  His loft looks amazing with the furniture they purchased, and they look forward to buying some artwork to adorn his walls once he receives his first paycheck.

Bill arrives at the Roslin home at 5:30 pm on Friday where Cheryl lets him in after flying her viper past the front door.  “ZOOOOMMMMM!!!” she yells flying away from him, through the living room, and around the island in the kitchen where he finds a frazzled looking Laura trying to prepare a casserole. 

“Thank Gods, Bill,” she says glancing at him as she tries to find the proper utensil.

“How are you, beautiful?” he asks placing a kiss to her forehead.

Laura looks at him wide-eyed.  “She’s driving me nuts!” she says nodding at Cheryl, who is running through the living room again.  “She keeps taking cans of food from the pantry and placing them in the living room and I’m spending so much time trying to clean up after her that I’m behind on getting this casserole ready.  Can you distract her for me?”

“Sure,” he says, then makes his way to the living room where Cheryl comes running from the hallway.

 “ZOOOOMMM!!” she yells careening past him, just out of his grasp.  When she circles back and runs down the hallway, he gathers up several of the cans and quickly puts them on the kitchen counter.  Instead of coming back through the living room, this time she zooms into the kitchen, grabbing a can in each hand and placing them back into the living room.

“Cheryl, I just put those away,” Bill says annoyed with her.

“I know, Bill, she’s been doing that since I brought her home.  Running around like a maniac, putting cans all over the place and as soon as I try to put them away, she grabs them and puts them back.  I don’t know what she’s doing,” Laura whispers to him.

Bill stands observing Cheryl as she runs through the kitchen grabbing two more cans, carefully placing them at various points in the living room.  He notices some small pieces of hard candy around one can and some colored strips of paper in between two other cans at the opposite end of the room.  After she places the last can and zooms off down the hallway again, Bill looks the unusual arrangement over.  “Laura,” he says.  “I recognize this.”

“You recognize what?”

“I think I know what she’s doing,” he says looking around the room and noticing a textbook on the coffee table titled “College Astronomy of the Colonies:  Historical Perspectives”.  When Cheryl flies past him again, he says “Lieutenant Cheryl, report to Virgon.”

Cheryl zooms to a can on the right side of the room, circling it, waiting for Bill’s next order.  “Report to the Rainbow Nebula.”  She flies to the colored strips of paper and awaits her next order.

“Unbelievable,” Bill says loud enough for Laura to hear.  “She’s mapped out the colonies and the solar system.”

Bill points out each colony to Laura and includes the asteroid belt of hard candy and the nebula.  “I know nuggets that can’t even do this properly,” he says.  “Did you teach her this?”

“Not me.  Maybe Sandra?  That’s her book on the table.”

When Cheryl runs down the hallway again, Bill waits for her to fly back through the living room.  “Lieutenant Cheryl, return to Galactica,” he says, but she ignores him and flies away.  “Lieutenant Cheryl!” he says when she comes through the kitchen the next time.  “A superior office gave you a direct order!  Return to Galactica!” he says loudly, but not so loud to scare her.  She stops and stands still staring at him, unsure of what to do.  “Here, stand up straight like this,” he says demonstrating proper military posture.  “And salute like this,” he says holding his hand in a perfect salute.  She doesn’t quite get it right so he repositions her until she has a satisfactory posture and salute.  “And then you say ‘Yes, sir!’”

“Yes, sir!” she says loudly.

“Very good, Lieutenant.  Have a seat,” he says patting on the sofa.  “Did Sandra teach you about the colonies?”

Cheryl shakes her head at him.

“Did you learn this at daycare?”

“No, daycare is dumb.  I don’t learn anything there except how to play cards.”

“Where did you learn this?”

Cheryl looks at him like he’s quite possibly the dumbest person on Caprica.  “I read it in that book,” she says pointing at the textbook on the coffee table.

Bill turns and looks at Laura, who is shaking her head from side to side in disbelief.  “Are you telling the truth, Cheryl?  Did you actually read that book?” she asks.

“Yes.  It’s in Chapter 2.  I’m on Chapter 5 now.”

Bill reaches for the book and opens it to Chapter 5.  “Show me where you’re at.  Can you read some of it to me?”

“I suppose.”  Cheryl cuddles up next to Bill and flips through a few pages until she finds her place, then she begins to read to him.  Laura walks up behind Bill so she can peer over his shoulder and follow along, and when she realizes Cheryl is truly reading this college level textbook, she places her hand over her mouth in astonishment.

“How long have you been reading, sweetheart?” Laura asks.

“Ever since Mommy taught me how to read.  I miss reading with her,” she says, hugging Bill’s arm and pushing the book away.  “I would climb into her bed in your room and she taught me the letters and the sounds, then I started to read.  The first time it was hard but then it got really easy.  I read all my books and then I read some of the books in Mommy’s room.  Then I got bored and started reading some of Sandra’s books and Daddy’s books in his office.  But don’t tell him that because I’m not supposed to be in there alone.  I don’t want to get into trouble.”

“I don’t think he’ll be mad, sweetie.  But we do need to tell him you can read.”

“Do we have to?”

“Why don’t you want him to know?”

“It was something special I did with Mommy.  When I read I think of her, and sometimes it makes me cry.”

“Oh, honey,” Laura says hugging her littlest sister.  “Mommy is so proud of you and so am I.  I didn’t read books like this until I was a lot older than you and neither did Sandra.  I bet Bill probably didn’t either.”

“I couldn’t read at all until I was almost 6 years old,” he says.

For some reason, that makes Cheryl giggle. 

“I’m the dumb one in this room,” he says with a smile.

“Viper pilots aren’t dumb, they’re sexy,” Cheryl replies.

“Cheryl!  Where did you hear that?” Laura asks.

“My daycare teacher says viper pilots are sexy.”

“Let’s not repeat that.  Little kids shouldn’t say things like that,” Laura tries to explain to her as Bill grins and shakes his head.

“I think we should tell Daddy tonight that you can read.  It will make him really happy.  Is that okay with you?”

“I suppose.  Can I get more books to read?  And not dumb ones.”

“I have a feeling you will be getting a lot of books really soon.  If you want to read with me, I’d love to do that.  That way if you feel sad, you can hug me.”

“I’d like that.”

“Oh, Daddy’s calling me, and I don’t have the casserole prepped yet.  Maybe he’s going to be late,” she says before answering the call.

 

“Laurie?  Have you made the casserole yet?” Dave asks.

“No, I’m behind schedule.  I don’t even have it in the oven yet, I’m sorry.”

“That’s alright.  Can you put it in the fridge instead of baking it?  I’d like to bring home some takeout to share with everyone.  I have an announcement to make,” he says.

“Really?  I think I know what it is, and that’s great news, Daddy!  I’ll leave it in the fridge so you can bake it tomorrow.  When will you be home?”

“Should be there in about 30 minutes.”

“Perfect, see you then.”

 

Aunt Sara and Dave pull up to the house at the same time and she helps him carry in several bags of take out from the family’s favorite seafood restaurant.  He has a sampler platter of various kinds of sushi, baked salmon, grilled shrimp, steamed vegetables, and fresh baked cookies for dessert. 

“Yummmm!!!” Sandra exclaims when she sees the spread on the kitchen island.  “This is way better than casserole!  What’s the occasion?” she asks.

“Everyone, you are looking at the next Dean of Research!  I accepted the position today! I‘ll shadow the current Dean this summer, then I’ll take over starting with the fall semester!”

“Dad!  That’s awesome!” Sandra exclaims.  “I didn’t even know you interviewed!”

“I didn’t – Dean Stockwell offered me the position last week and I accepted it today.  I’ll finally be able to write some of those books I’ve always wanted to publish, and I only have to teach one class per semester, which is a blessing after I thought it through.  And my salary will double.”

“Can I have a car?” Sandra asks immediately.

“No.  You don’t even have your license yet.”

“But when I do get my license, can I have a car?”

“We will have this discussion one year from today.”

“Please?”

“One year from today, Sandra.  Mark it on the calendar.”

“Congratulations!  My little brother, the Dean,” Sara says giving him a hug.

“I’m proud of you, Daddy,” Laura says hugging him next.

Bill shakes his hand.  “That’s good news, Dave.”

“Thank you.  Everyone, grab a plate and take what you want – this is a celebration!” Dave says.

Once they all get their food and are seated at the table, Laura glances at Cheryl who has her mouth full of sushi.  Cheryl nods her head at her.

“Bill and I have an announcement to make,” Laura says.

“REALLY?!” Sandra exclaims overly excited.

Aunt Sara and Dave stare at her with their eyes as wide as saucers, holding their breath in anticipation of what she’s about to say.

“Oh, no, that didn’t come out right.  Bill and I need to tell you something about Cheryl,” she explains while her cheeks turn red and she glances at Bill.

Bill can’t help but clear his throat and laugh at the situation, while Sandra says “Oh” disappointedly.

“Daddy, Cheryl can read.”

“Duh!” Sandra says.  “Of course she can read.  Did you just figure that out now?”

“Yes, we did just figure that out.  Did you know she’s reading your college level textbooks?  And she understands them.  See those cans in the living room?  That’s a map of the colonies and the solar system that she created from your astronomy book.”

“It’s an accurate depiction.  I was telling Laura most nuggets can’t even map it out that well,” Bill comments.

“What are nuggets?” Sandra asks.

“Young pilots, people who should know their way around the solar system,” he replies.

“Is that why there’s a can of corn in the hallway?” Sandra asks.

“I didn’t notice that.  Cheryl, what does the can of corn represent?” Bill asks.

“That’s Kobol.”

“Huh.  They don’t talk about Kobol much in my textbook,” Sandra says.

“Cheryl, where did you learn about Kobol?” Dave asks.

Cheryl looks worried, glancing from her father to Laura, not wanting to answer.

“Daddy, she’s been reading books in your office,” Laura replies.  “Please don’t be mad at her.  We don’t want to discourage her.”

“I’m not mad,” he replies looking at Cheryl for several seconds.  “I’m just trying to figure out when you’ve been in my office long enough to read any books.”

“I get up in the night and read,” Cheryl says, relieved her father isn’t upset.

“When do you sleep?” he asks.

“At daycare.  It’s boring so I just sleep and play cards.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you could read?” he asks.

“Because it’s something I did with Mommy and sometimes I cry when I read,” she replies.

Dave realizes that the previous weekend when Cheryl climbed into bed with him crying about missing her mom, she must have been reading in his office.  “Come here, sweetheart,” he says holding his arms to her.  When she looks at him suspiciously, he says, “I’m not mad.  I just want to hug you.  Bring your plate, you can sit on my lap.”

This brings a smile to her face, so she carries her plate to him, then gives him a big hug before crawling into his lap.  “I think somebody’s going to get a whole bunch of new books this week,” Dave says kissing the top of her head.  “You’ll have to tell all of us what you’d like to read, Cheryl.”

“I have a list,” she giggles.

“You can write, too?” Dave asks.

“Yes.”