The first place Sara goes, the next time she's in District Six, is to see her parents. It's been a long time since they were close, first because they both had good jobs working for the Peacekeepers and Sara insisted on hanging out with the punk kids from the shop. Then later, they were loyalists and Sara was anything but, and since the war she's talked to them just enough to make sure they're alive and more or less well.
Despite the facts showing exactly the opposite, Sara's mom always thought Rokia was the one getting them into trouble, so she's not sure how the news will go over. But every wedding in Six includes the family, standing by in silent approval as the vows are exchanged, and Sara clings to the hope that they might let bygones be bygones, for something like this. At least the fact that she's marrying in Two won't be a problem--it'll probably be a bonus.
Her mother answers the knock on the door with an apron still wrapped around her, looking a little frazzled. "Oh, good," she says, "it's just you." She stops trying to arrange herself so it doesn't look like she's spent the morning in the kitchen and steps aside.
"Hi Mom," Sara says, stepping in and closing the door behind her. "Need help?"
Mom raises an eyebrow. "Sure," she says, sounding surprised, "I have the day off, so I'm canning tomatoes."
Now it's Sara's turn to be surprised. "Really?" She asks.
Mom sighs. "Seems like it's the only way to have decent tomatoes in winter anymore," she says.
Sara pulls her hair back and gets to work. By the afternoon, they've got jars lined up all the way down the counter, and Sara's gotten more news from District Six's former upper class than she really needed. But it means Sara's still cleaning up when her Dad gets home.
He comes into the kitchen, shrugging out of his jacket and rolling up his sleeves. He stops when he sees Sara, looking startled, but pleased. "Well, Sara," he says, a little gruff, "it's good to see you."
"You too, Dad," Sara says, wiping her hands on a dishrag and walking over to say hello. He hugs her, a little awkward, goes to sit in the living room and soon Sara hears the news broadcast come on.
She sets the table, helps Mom bring the food out, and everything feels like she's back to being a kid, except Jake isn't here to hassle her about one thing or another. Dad comes to the table when Mom calls, not before, and it's always been that way but after all these years Sara finds it strange.
She manages to finish the meal, talks about the trains and a little about Two, about Rokia and her sisters and Alima's wedding, and they listen politely but her friends now are all strangers to them. Finally, as they finish, she gathers up her courage.
"Mom, Dad, I actually have some news." They both look up, startled, and she takes a deep breath. "Rokia and I are getting married."
They both blink back shock at first, and then Mom smiles. "Congratulations," she says, and she's smiling. She reaches over and takes Dad's hand. "That's great news."
Dad smiles too, squeezes Mom's hand. "So where are you having the wedding?" He asks.
"We're planning to do it in Two, later this summer," Sara says. "You'll come?"
Mom gives her a Look like she should be smarter than to ask dumb questions. "Of course we'll come." Sara relaxes. She didn't realize how much she'd been worried until suddenly she isn't anymore, and the world seems just a little more colorful. Dad gets up and goes to the kitchen, comes back with a bottle of wine. "This calls for a celebration," he says, "been saving this for a special occasion, looks like it's time to open it."
They struggled, after the war, Sara knows it, knows that her Dad worked long hours for low pay because it's not like there we're fewer logistics problems after the war, knows Mom couldn't find a job for a couple years because she was too close to the old regime. They're back on their feet but they're not buying fancy bottles of wine, and this one is old and dusty and she's pretty sure it's from before the War.
"Dad..." Sara tries to protest, but he cuts her off.
"No better time to get it out," he says, pulling the cork before she can say anything and pouring them each a glass. "You thought about rings?"
Sara explains the Möbius strip with her napkin, folded into a strip, and Dad nods approvingly. "Be tricky to hide the seam," he says, considering.
"I'm hoping Matt will help me out," Sara says, and Dad nods.
"Sorry I can't," he says. "Disadvantage to a desk job, my kids have to get someone else to help them make their rings."
Sara smiles. "Jake did okay, I'm sure I'll figure something out." Dad nods, content but a little sad. "Did your dad help you?" she asks, a little tentative.
Mom looks down at the ring on her finger, narrow silvery metal with two gold wires set into neatly cut grooves. "He did," Dad says, "I didn't know my way around a machine shop but he took me to work one day and helped me do the whole thing on one of their lathes."
He turns the ring on his finger and Mom shakes her head. "I had no idea," she says, "and my dad worked on the line so he couldn't get me any fancy tools so we had to make do." Dad twists the ring around and shakes his head. "It's beautiful, Becca," he says. Sara agrees, it's multicolored and smooth as glass.
"What's it made of?" she asks, and Mom smiles.
"They call it Six Gold," she says. "It's from where they paint the cars, the different colors drip down and build up. He brought me a chunk and we drilled out the middle, sanded it smooth."
Sara looks at her parents, stiff and a little formal with her still, old awkwardness not gone so much as put away in the cupboard for now, and they are smiling at each other like they traded those careful homemade rings just the other day. And she smiles and raises her glass, and they raise theirs, and they toast the future.
The next morning she heads over to Matt's shop.
"Hey there," Matt says with a huge grin when he sees her. "So when's the big day?"
He's not actually saying "I told you so," but Sara can just about hear it.
"Later in the summer," Sara says. "Haven't set it yet."
Matt envelops her in a sweaty hug, and she shoves him away with a "hey!" but she's grinning too. "I can't believe I'm saying this," she continues, "but I need your help with the ring."
Matt nods, trying to look serious and failing miserably. "What're you thinking?"
Sara pulls the strip of paper she's been carrying around out of her pocket, twists it the way Beetee showed her, and tapes it together. "It's called a Möbius strip," she says, and hands it to him.
Matt runs a finger over it and then laughs. "Perfect. It's bizarre and mathematically ridiculous, just like you guys."
Sara sticks an elbow in his ribs. "I just don't want a big lump of solder on the backside, so I need to figure out how to join it. And what to make it out of."
Matt hums and heads for the back, where bins of scrap are stacked against the wall. "I got some good copper plating, if you want to use that? If you want something fancy we can order it."
Sara shrugs. "She's not really a fancy-stuff kinda girl, Matt."
Matt laughs. "Yeah, she'd probably scowl at you for wasting the money." He hunts around on the shelves, comes up with a mallet, a torch, and a spool of copper solder.
"See, I knew there was a reason I liked you," Sara says, shaking her head.
She and Rokia had measured each others' fingers with the calipers from the shop, and Sara fishes the scrap of paper out of her pocket and starts cutting. She's used to soldering with an iron, not a torch, and even if Rokia always made her do the finnicky jobs, dealing with a tiny piece of metal is annoying. But after three or four tries she has something she's not embarrassed by, and Matt grins when he passes. "Looks good," he says, and Sara squints down at it, looking for flaws. He laughs, backhands her shoulder good-naturedly. "She's gonna love it, girl, quit while you're ahead." Sara sighs, sets down her tools, and goes upstairs to find Mai.