“See those?” Adrian whispered as he pulled up the hood on his Shafferskin jacket, took a step back from the telescope and encouraged Caecilius to look through the lens.
“What are they, Gramps?” Caecilius shouted with delight.
Adrian quickly pressed his finger to his lips. Caecilius grinned sheepishly and pressed his eye against the eyepiece.
“You must be quiet Caecilius, my boy, the McClintock beetles are easily disturbed at this hour.”
“Sorry Gramps,” Caecilius now matching his Grandfather’s tone. “They’re beautiful! What are they?”
“They’re mountains,” Adrian informed. “Just like the mountains we have here.”
“Why aren’t they white?” Caecilius asked, his face still pressed against the telescope.
“The mountains there aren’t covered in snow like the ones here,” Adrian explained. “It’s very hot there and snow cannot form, even at the very peaks.”
Caecilius continued to look through the lens at the mountains. Adrian turned to sit on a nearby mound but found it was already occupied by a cat. With caution Adrian gently shooed the cat away and took a seat next to his Grandson. He picked up a nearby whistletwig and turned it over in his hands.
“Do you think we will ever visit?” Caecilius asked his Grandfather.
“I don’t think so, my boy.”
Adrian placed the whistletwig into his mouth and quickly blew through the end of it. A loud, beautiful ringing reverberated off the ravine.
“Grandpa! The McClintocks!” Caecilius looked at his Grandfather with a familiar outrage. Adrian chuckled.
“You look just like your Mother when you do that.” Adrian placed the whistletwig on the ground and it scuttled off into the darkness.
“How far away is it?” Caecilius didn’t like it when his Grandfather mentioned his Mother.
“34 million miles. Too far for a day trip, and certainly too hot for a holiday,” Adrian smiled and threw Caecilius his scarf. “Put this on.”
Caecilius obliged. Adrian smiled but Caecilius could sense a melancholic air.
“Do you miss it?”
The Hillfolk siren blared and they both looked back towards the town.
“I do,” Adrian replied. “Let’s go, my boy, it’s getting late and the Monraths will be falling soon.”
The cat had returned. Caecilius played with it while Adrian quickly packed away the equipment.
“Can we come back and look at Earth again soon Gramps?”
“Of course, my boy.”