Kyria rolled her eyes at her daughter. Athena knew so little of the things that Kyria took for granted everyone knew. That was partially because they lived in the middle of nowhere, but also because things had changed so much. Education had gone from opening up the world to children to giving them just what they needed to survive.
As a former teacher, Kyria remembered when the "back to basics" movement really took off. It began with focusing on the content and skills that students needed to pass the state tests. Soon content dwindled away. Students didn't need to know much about history, sociology, economics ... really, just reading and math should be enough. Maybe a little science. The quest to improve test scores dumbed down education. Now her daughter and Athena's peers probably knew less than children educated in the one-room school houses of yore; at least children in those times learned about something.
Kyria decided to start again. "Forget neon. Do you get that we're in danger?"
Athena looked at the water that was still running in the tub, so that they could have their conversation in private. Her mother wasn't normally that weird. "Yes, I get that."
"Good. Now the man who you thought was your father, he was a great friend of the family. He worked for your father, back when your father worked in Washington. Actually, they'd grown up together, and were fairly close. Like brothers."
"Why did he come here with us? What about his job? What about his family?" Athena also thought to herself "What about the guys outside who know darn well that no one runs bath water that long?"
"Joe lost his family."
"Lost? He put them behind the coats in the closet and they were gone the next time he looked?" Athena could be a bit annoying when she was cranky.
Kyria glared at her. "They were killed, Athena."
"Because Rose was black. African-American. Someone who was against multi-racial families killed her and their son. No one bothered to investigate. Times were changing fast. Reverting back to the 1950s and 1940s." She saw the blank look on her daughter's face at that last comment. "There was a time ..."
"No, we learned about the 1950s in school. It was a great time. Music like Pat Boone, sock hops -- those were dances, everything was simple then." Athena almost sounded like she was reciting a catechism.
"No, honey. It was a wonderful time if you were a white male, like now. Women had a lot of restrictions on them, and anyone who wasn't white had it so much worse."
"No. I don't have the stomach right now to hear the crap they taught you in school."
"OK, but why did he pretend to be my father? Why be here at all? Why not be your brother or something?"
"The people who killed his wife and son did that when he wasn't with them. They were looking for him, to finish the job. Another group was looking for him because he worked for your father. Here, we were just another family. No one would expect him to be hiding out as someone else's husband."
"But why did he leave, then?"
Kyria was just about to answer when two things happened: The front door of the house burst open, and an opening appeared in the bathroom ceiling.