World of Color
I knew early on that my mother and father weren't like other
children's parents; that my family had a unique way of functioning
that wasn't considered 'normal' to those who didn't know us very
well. My Aunt Kathryn called it the 'Tom and B'Elanna bubble',
she would take me on her lap when I was little more than an infant
and explain to me that my parents lived in extremes: extremely
in love with each other, and with me; while extremely committed
to all tasks they set their minds too. The way she said it was
affectionate, yet slightly bewildered, as if she had yet to fully
understand it herself, despite the years she had known them.
And she would follow all of this with a smile, nodding her head
once as if to add that physical confirmation to her words and
tell me that one day, when I was grown, I'd understand what she
was trying to say. I have yet to tell her how right she really
When I was four I saw a picture of my father on the wall at my
grandparents house that captured him while he was climbing the
side of a mountain. The scenery in the picture was spartan, yet
enormous, and the cliff my father chose to conquer was the prettiest
color, a rock monument of red clay with dizzying contours and
formations. And my father, younger in the picture then he was
at the time I saw it, looked entirely on purpose, yet free, as
if the activity was as natural to him as breathing. I must have
stared at that picture entirely awestruck for ages, never wavering
from the spot until I heard my mother come up behind me with
my father in tow. I remember turning towards her then, basking
in the adoration that flashed in her eyes as she regarded me,
a silent moment of love and understanding passing between us
that was so indigenous to the bond that we share. To this day
I consider my mom one of my best friends. It was then that I
announced that I wanted to climb a mountain. She flashed a saucy
grin my way, both proud and amused while she glanced at my father
to relay my demand.
"Miral wants to climb a mountain," she stated to him as if she
were addressing a formal committee and he hadn't been within
hearing distance of my initial request.
My father never really could deny me anything. He spoiled my
sister, G’Abrielle and I shamelessly, and we both adored him
profusely, secure in the knowledge that there was no one else
in the universe like our dad.
My father turned to me, smiling widely before replying, "Okay,
Miral, let's go climbing."
The very next day I found myself face to face with a mountain,
harnessed safely in front of my father as he gifted me with his
climber's vast wisdom. "Keep focused and don't waiver in the
primary goal of reaching the top. Never glance back, always look
towards the sky, but be sure to enjoy yourself along the way."
>From that moment on that became my father's legacy to me; an
inside saying among my family and one that never failed to illicit
a grin from me or my younger sister. "Reach for the top, girls.
Reach for the sky."
My grandparents had a fit when they found out what my parents
had allowed me to do. I remember watching my Grandfather Paris
work into one of his spiting rages as I innocently conveyed the
tale of my recent adventure.
"Are you two nuts?! Allowing a four year old to participate in
such a dangerous activity. What on earth were you thinking?!"
he had roared at my mother in a tone of voice that truly frightened
me, but my mother was not one to be deterred. She looked back
at him calm and defiant, an odd light shinning in her eyes that
hinted at her strength of spirit, one that surpassed even my
"It is not our intent to prevent Miral from doing anything she
sets her mind to or holding her back from her goals. Tom was
with her the whole way, she was safe, but most importantly she
did it without letting anything like age, height or strength
stand in her way."
She had said it simply, and quietly; not a small task given her
half-klingon make-up, but she managed to make it look to the
world like my grandfather was the fool for questioning their
decision. My father, who had also been present during the entire
argument had turned to me then, a deep love for his wife shinning
brightly in his eyes as he whispered conspiratorially to me that
my mom was the smartest person in the universe. A sentiment our
android, Raja, a member of our family since I was a toddler,
couldn't agree with more.
I grew up with Raja, she was as much a sister to me as G’Abrielle,
and mom used to joke that our growth mirrored each other's: me
growing into adolescence, Raja growing into understanding the
way people worked. My mother had built Raja when news came that
one Lieutenant Commander Data of the Starship Enterprise had
died. B'Elanna Torres had been the only one on record able to
come close to duplicating Dr. Soong's, Data's creator, research.
She didn’t like to refer to the time she had built an android
during her exploits in the Delta Quadrant because she had had
to destroy it, the strain of which had left its mark. Yet Starfleet
Command had contacted her after the news of Data reached us;
requesting that she attempt to build another android, though
female, as to not offend those who grieved for the fallen Data,
a legend in his own time. And what my Grandfather Paris wanted
my Grandfather Paris got.
He and my mother, despite their similar stubborn and unyielding
personalities, had a special kind of bond, and my mother had
a hard time refusing him when he made engineering requests from
her. Especially when he would compliment her talent profusely,
announcing to anyone within hearing shot that B’Elanna could
single handedly change the Federation for the better… if she
would only give up the freelance work and rejoin Starfleet like
he felt she should.
And she had done it, completing her task as if it were easy and
androids were made everyday and after finishing Raja she found
that she couldn't give her up just yet. What followed was what
my Aunt Kathryn refers to as a battle of wills: Starfleet arguing
that they had a better means to deal with the development of
an android and my mother arguing that Raja was not Data, and
if she wanted to eventually join Starfleet, fine, until that
point she would develop just fine with our little family. Aunt
Kathryn laughed whenever she recounted this story, affectionately
claiming that not even Starfleet was a match for B'Elanna Torres'
stubborn streak. And my grandfather, not wanting to piss my parent’s
off to the point where they might be motivated to grab us, take
a ship and point it to the nearest worm hole with a destination
for the Delta Quadrant, relented with as much grace as he could
muster given the circumstances. So Raja stayed, and my grandfather
continued to tease my mother that her natural ability towards
building things would be better served under discipline and command,
and then turn and start in on my father and his use of his piloting
skills as well.
My father once said that it was sort of comforting to know that
some things never changed, and as odd as it might have sounded,
he was glad his dad never gave up trying to convince mom and
him to follow my grandfather’s example. That it was one of the
ways he showed that he cared.
I kept that in mind when Grandpa Paris had tried to push Starfleet
on me, starting in on me when I was no more than five; going
on and on about what a great Admiral I would make. I had asked
my father once if Starfleet was what my parents wanted me to
do when I was grown and dad had looked at me, blinked once, and
asked if Starfleet was what I wanted. At the time the answer
was no… I, of course, was going to join the circus and ride the
elephants. My father smiled at that, his eyes twinkling as he
announced that he and my mom wanted me to do whatever made me
happy, and that they'd support me regardless, circus be damned.
I guess it could be considered kind of ironic that I did end
up joining Starfleet, but it was by my own decision, and not
by any form of coaxing on my parents’ part. They stayed true
to their word and imparted me with only one hope for my future:
pick the one thing you love doing more than anything and do it
My parents marched to the beat of their own drum, never wavering
in their support of each other and in their need to stretch their
wings. Together they were the dynamic duo - the hotshot pilot
and the queen of engineering… using their combined ingenuity
to come up with wonderful things. Like the new class of Starship
they designed: fast, sleek, compact - complete with freshly designed
engines that could withstand just about any task thrown at them.
My parents were among those that revolutionized a new era for
Starfleet, though they really didn’t care about the fuss their
ship had generated. They just knew they had fun designing it
based upon their experiences with Voyager in the Delta Quadrant.
The most important thing to them was that they lived by their
own code, refusing to be held back or limited, adamantly denying
any request that would separate them from each other for more
than a day. They used to say that they had spent enough time
apart during away missions on Voyager, and that this was their
time to enjoy each other.
My Uncle Harry used to say that my mom and dad loved each other
to the exclusion of the rest of the universe, except for my sister
and I, and I believe it. To this day I have yet to see a love
as deep or as profound as the bond my parents share.
I remember being awoke in the middle of the night once when I
was seven and G’Abrielle was four by my mother. Tears were shinning
brightly in her eyes as she gathered me and my sister up with
shaking hands and a raspy voice and told us that we were going
on an adventure for the night. It had been a truly frightening
experience - I had rarely seen my mother cry and rarer still
had I seen her in a state of clear pain and weakness. But at
the tender age of seven there was no way to understand that my
parents had fought, and that my mom was escaping the house with
my sister, Raja, and I in tow. We ended up on my Uncle Chakotay's
doorstep, cold and weary, my mother attempting to reassure us
in a voice that was trying desperately to be brave, that everything
would be all right.
It took just one glance at my mother's face for my uncle to open
the door wide and invite us in, his eyes betraying his quiet
understanding. He didn't ask questions and he didn't seek answers,
instead he made us hot chocolate, then sent my sister and I off
to bed in a spare bedroom, giving Raja some remedial task to
perform while he offered my mom all the space she needed to sort
things out on her own.
I couldn't sleep that night, too troubled by the shock of seeing
my mother in such a state and wondering where my father was.
When I was convinced that G’Abrielle was asleep I crept down
the stairs to find my mother, needing to hear her reassurances
once more; I never made it to her. Instead I watched as the door
chimed once more and my father walked in, tears shinning brightly
in his eyes, his face red and swollen, and his body shaking as
if he were cold. He looked at my mother with an expression I
would later articulate as desperate and filled with longing,
his eyes on my mother as if she were the very center of his universe.
I overheard him whisper fervent words of apology, followed by
a chorus of "I love you so much" that rang like a mantra from
his lips, over and over. My mother sobbed loudly, whispered the
words back to him and rushed into his arms, both of them clutching
at each other as if they couldn't quite squeeze one another tight
An odd sort of peace filled me at that moment as I turned to
tip toe back to the waiting bed, not wanting them to know that
I had witnessed their reconciliation yet secure in the knowledge
that my mom had been right and everything truly was going to
be all right. My parents have this remarkable ability to heal
and move on in their lives all the stronger for their experiences.
It is a trait I pray they passed on to me.
When I was little I told everyone who would listen that one day
I was going to find an equal, like my mom and dad were to each
other. My Grandfather Torres used to smile at that, peering at
me through the ancient, wizened eyes of hardship while he mentioned
that he wished that for me as well, and that he never saw a pair
better suited for each other than my parents.
I knew even back then that my parent’s childhoods were very different
from mine. I’d hear whispers about it every now and then, or
occasional references brought up during the course of conversation.
I never did put all the pieces together because they never dwelled
on it too long; never really allowed it to intrude on their home
or in the way they brought my sister and I up. Instead they simply
vowed to make sure to it that G’Abrielle and I knew we were loved
unconditionally and left it at that. We were all unpredictable
in temperament and more driven in focus than any four people
in one household should be allowed, but we were also quick to
love and even quicker to forgive. My dad used to say that he
wouldn’t want things any other way, and wouldn’t know what to
do with himself if things were different. And I never doubted
that my father held his own with we partially Klingon woman.
My beloved godfather, the holodoc, frequent visitor to our household,
would always click his tongue at my parents’ antics, laughing
with them as they teased their way through an argument over who
was more Klingon: my mother by half of her DNA or my father by
spirit, and godfather would ask me with mock seriousness how
I managed to survive being genetically related to those two.
I’d shrug my shoulders and announce simply that this was just
the way we were. So things weren’t always clear, and anger intruded
our serenity like any other household, but we were all together,
and that’s what mattered the most.
It was the little moments that I remember with the most fondness.
Like the year my mom surprised my dad with a little 20th century
sailboat, and the two of them spent hours upon hours fixing it
up. They made a big deal about letting my sister, Raja and I
‘help’, laughing as we got into paint wars, and walked around
talking in old-fashioned pirate slang. “Ahoy, ya land lubbers.”
My parents coined the ship “The Tolanna,” part Tom, part B’Elanna,
and entirely them.
The day we first took it out to sea is forever stored in my mind:
the warm summer breeze, the crystal, sparkling sea, the laughter
and joy experienced by us all as the wind whipped through our
hair and we enjoyed the simple freedom of the ocean and the shared
pride of accomplishment. At one point my dad had spontaneously
grabbed my sister and I in either arm, jumping over the side
of the boat into the turquoise sea while my mother gritted out
a curse and threatened repeatedly to teach my father a lesson
while the three of us treaded water, giggling the whole time.
Eventually she gave up and jumped in with us, leaving a puzzled
Raja to inquire over the use of such an irrational decision on
all our parts. Poor Raja, our crazy, impulsive family must have
been more puzzling to her than not at any given time.
For me nothing my family did was unconventional because I was
used to things always being that way. I was used to my parent’s
odd sense of humor, to their wild sense of adventure, and to
their ability to tackle a task headfirst, without looking back
or testing the waters first. My friends at school would spin
tales about the awkward way their parents skirted around ‘the
talk’ with them and if my mom felt such trepidation when my time
came she didn’t show it. Instead she pulled me aside one day
out of the blue and offered to take me out to lunch.
What followed was probably more embarrassing for me than for
her. She proclaimed bluntly that there was two kinds of sex:
the kind where you loved a person with all of your body and soul
and the act was more of a spiritual awakening than anything else,
and then there was that ‘other kind.’ She made the choice sound
like someone had placed a chocolate éclair and a leola root in
front of her and asked her to choose which one she wanted, but
I got the general gist of what she was trying to say and by her
relieved sigh I could tell she knew that.
“Don’t ever sell yourself short, Miral, don’t settle for anything
less than perfect,” she had said, knowing that my growing interest
in boys was inevitable, but that she could at least leave me
“How do you know what’s perfect for you and what’s not?” I asked;
my brain still stunned by the fact that my mom and I were talking
“You’ll know. It will be almost instinctive on your part, like
a great magnate pull. Your heart will race, your temperature
will rise, and you’ll look at this person and realize for the
first time that maybe being by yourself is not all it’s cracked
up to be,” she said with a small, far off smile, the kind she
got whenever she referred to my father.
“Is that what it was like with you and dad?” I asked rhetorically,
knowing the answer yet needing to hear it out loud for some reason,
as if it validated all of my romantic notions for the future.
“Yes,” she said simply yet flocked with meaning, giving me a
look that further inspired me to find someone out there that
could cause my eyes to twinkle like my mother’s and to never
settle for less. She was lost in thought for awhile after she
said that, smiling to herself as if she were amused, finally
breaking the silence by looking up and meeting my eyes while
“But I made your father earn it. Did I ever tell you about our
courtship?” she asked, launching into a story that held me captivated
and sent my heart reeling. I wonder if my parents realize how
fascinating they truly are, they should really consider writing
a biographical holo novel. I should suggest that to them one
of these days.
Both my parents glowed with such pride on the day I left for
Starfleet Academy, Raja in tow, for she had decided to join along
with me and keep me out of trouble. I remember their faces beaming
in a way that made me want to continue to make them proud as
if my very life depended on it, even though they would never
put such restrictions on me themselves. I was devastated to
be leaving home and scared to be out on my own, yet overwhelmingly
excited and eager at the same time; my whole future ahead of
My dad said that was fitting, and that it was okay to feel excited
about looking towards the future because that was the way things
should be. My mother had smiled and reminded me that no matter
where I go and who I meet, I would always be her miracle baby
and that there would be a light burning for me whenever I needed
to come home for early morning banana pancakes; a passion my
mother and I both share.
I cried then, I couldn’t help it, and my younger sister, whom
I have always been extremely close to, cried with me. We clung
to each other as my parents looked on with sad yet happy faces,
both of them trying desperately to be strong for my sake. And
I pulled back, looking at G’Abrielle one last time as if committing
her to memory, knowing full well that I was leaving her in the
best of hands as I granted my parting advice…
“Reach for the top. Reach for the sky.”