Icy wind whipped at Veera’s hair. The weather outside was harsh, but she’d insisted on waiting at the tarmac anyway. Rachel had been overseas for months, by far the longest the two sisters had ever been apart. Veera’s birthday had been a lonely affair this year, but she supposed that was something that came with becoming an adult.
“I know she’ll be happy to see you,” Tess said. Veera nodded as she watched the plane door open.
Dr. Leekie stepped out first, then Rachel. She marched down the steps, her face cast downward solemnly as her hair blew in the wind. Veera stepped forward to meet her.
“Rachel,” she said, fighting to keep her arms at her sides.
Rachel looked up for just a moment, not breaking her stride.
“Hello,” she said flatly before brushing past.
Veera stood rooted to the spot, stunned.
“Forgive her,” Dr. Leekie said. “It’s been a long trip.”
Upon Tess’s insistence, Veera and Rachel were allowed to ride home in a separate car, away from their monitors. A chance to catch up, she said. It was a prospect Rachel could not have seemed less interested in, having spent the last several minutes silently staring through her window.
“How was your trip?” Veera asked when she could no longer bear the quiet.
“I learned a lot,” Rachel said, still watching the world outside. “About DYAD. About what DYAD does.”
Veera could swear she could hear a hint of anger in her voice.
“That’s good, isn’t it?” she asked. After all, that had been the entire point. Rachel had always been eager to take her rightful place within the company, and finally, it was her time.
Rachel’s head turned slightly, her eyes falling to her lap.
“I suppose,” she said. “It’s just… It’s not what I expected.”
“What do you mean?”
Rachel hands curled over each other. She picked at the skin on her fingers.
“I don’t know if I can be what they want,” she whispered.
Veera looked to the floor, considering.
“Then don’t be what they want,” she said.
Finally, Rachel turned to face her.
“You’re stronger than that,” Veera continued. “If you don’t like something, you’ll fix it. You’ve always been that way.”
Rachel ran her eyes over Veera’s face, swallowing hard. Finally, she nodded.
“Thank you,” she said, then turned away.
She lowered her hand onto the seat, her fingertips brushing against Veera’s wrist.
“Happy birthday, Veera.”