She felt a kind of relief she was unaccustomed to as she slid off the back of the pterosaur and into her husband’s arms for the first time in more than a month. The time she’d spent with Kerri was relatively short, but she found herself missing her children all the more as they made their way through the complex of buildings and shelters towards their home. She’d been gone longer this time than ever before, and it weighed on her, as if this were only the first of many times she’d be forced to leave her family behind. She didn’t relish exploring just where those feelings were coming from, either. There would be time for that another day.

“Mom!” David, her oldest, and probably the most like her, came running out from their home with open arms, followed closely by his sisters, Diana and Antonia. “We’ve missed you!” he said, jumping into her arms.

“I missed you too kiddo!” She said with a laugh and a huge hug. In the grand scheme of things their time apart had been little more than an eye blink, but to her, a woman who had never really contemplated having children during her previous life, it seemed all the more real, all the more poignant, regardless of the actual time that had passed.

Life had rarely given her time to consider how she’d changed, both as a person and as a mother, in the years she’d spent on this godforsaken island. The term ‘mother’ alone had been one she’d never thought to self apply. She had always been driven in other directions and had never had time for settling down, doing the normal things expected of her. And yet fate had dropped her here and given her a whole new existence to deal with. New challenges, new horizons, and a wholly different future than the one she might otherwise have been granted, had her life gone according to plan.

“Did she make it, den?” Bev asked from over her shoulder as she dropped her three children to the ground and stood back looking over her home with a sense of calm and accomplishment that the aviator she’d once been would have found unfathomable.

“She did. She managed to master the power she gained, and defeated her enemy. She won, Bev. And now she’s gone back home, to her world. Her life.”

“And you?” Bev asked simply.

“What do you mean? I wasn’t the one glowing like the sun out there blasting away at the world!”

“No, and yet ya know what I be asking all da same. Ya come from da same world, ya know da same tings. Ya gonna be alright with da choices ya made here? Dis life?”

“Always.” Amelia said, without hesitation. “My life, my husband, and my children are here. Whatever that world held for me at one time is long gone now. I am not the same girl who crashed that plane here so long ago. You should know me better than that.”

“I know ya well enough ta know da past has a strong pull, my friend.  Dat’s all I be askin’.”

“Still, good to know all the same.” Fred chimed in at last, grinning like an idiot as always. “I think we’d miss you if you went off back to the real world.”

“You think?” Amelia smiled and she punched him in the shoulder.

“It does beg the question though. What happens now?”

“What do you mean?”

“No one’s ever left here, Amelia. People have come before, and we’ve dealt with them as we had to, but your friend…she’s gone home now. She has a story to tell. She could expose us, tell others. When that happens, they’ll come in droves. What happens to us then, to all we’ve worked for? What do we do when they start showing up?”

Amelia was quiet then, looking out over all they’d built over the decades, the house they’d made for their children, the community they were an integral part of, and she smiled.

“They won’t.” she said at last. “Kerri would never put us in danger. She may well return one day on her own, and I desperately hope she does, but no one else will come.”

“You’re sure? You never even told her you had a family! How can you know for sure?”

“I know her, Fred. I know her like I know myself. We’re something of kindred spirits, that girl and I. She’s got a mountain of things to work through in her head and she’s got a long journey ahead before she’s ever going to be right again, but one thing I know for sure, she’ll never betray us. The island’s safe. We’re safe.”

They stood there for a long time, watching the sun finally set as the kids played and the island settled back into what passed for normal in a world still populated by long extinct flora and fauna. Amelia couldn’t help but wonder what Kerri found when she arrived back home. She hoped, for her friend’s sake, that her son was safe and their reunion was joyful and full of happy tears.

In her experience that was rarely, if ever, the case, but it was always nice to hope for the best.