No seriously, Wow. You talk about the fact that yeah, I can still attract a twenty year old's gaze, tramautize some girls at school when they find out that their boyfriends have a picture of me in the old skintight union suit—and don't wonder what happened to my looks when they see me walking down the corridor… So what's the big deal about forty?


Well, my daughter and son who are right now thinking about their first drivers licenses, I remember holding in my arms right after they were born. I remember days that seemed to speed by, and some days, especially a horrible few weeks that can still get me misty eyed, where Ron and I spent every waking minute in a hospital room.

I can remember a long time ago when the idea of a house, kids (to say nothing of six) and especially Ron Stoppable as my husband would have been a bad joke.

Today I can't imagine being anywhere else, or wanting any other life.

That's what 15 years does to you. Forty…well it's something of a change. Maybe mom does look in the mirror a little more closely, and gets annoyed about the glasses a little more easily, but still, it's more the sense of a milestone rather than anything physical.

It's when you realize that—wow, this isn't just a little detour on the way from my normal life…this is my life.

And honestly, it's a nice life to have.

So…on the glorious day, we have a party—Ron throws one for me, rather. It's sweet…and not at Bueno Nacho… which says to me that Kim had some input. She did. (I love Ron, and he's made the place a household name for fast food…but honestly, there are other places to eat.).

It's fun—mom gets lots of presents, including some she asked for, a strange beeping gadget from both the Tweebs, which is looked at happily…and then goes back down until I can figure out exactly what it does. The kids give their gifts—David and Ann with their presents, Claire and Sharon with theirs and Shiela and Michael with a pair of presents that daddy helped select…and something they made for me themselves. That last is a keeper, because this is the first year they're really old enough to do that. It's a painting of our house and family.

Oh yeah, it's a keeper.

Even if Ron does look like a red and blue aomeba in it.

Hego and the others give their presents. Yes, they're a part of the family. I'm…happy that none of my children exhibit any comet powers beyond being healthy and able to stay up longer than others. It insures that Hego and I won't have terrible arguments over their future career…on the other hand he hasn't mentioned anything like that since Ann was hurt, so maybe he understands why I wouldn't want them to do the hero thing.

At least partially. I'm not going to try to explain the other to him. He wouldn't understand, and it would just cause problems. Of all of us, in some respects, Hego has changed—has grown—the least. He's still the main character in his own comic book, still the hero.

Well, if he enjoys it.

Kim's somehow mutated from my arch foe to one of my closest friends, no doubt at least partially because of Ron…but she and I do have a lot more in common then I'd have believed.

OK, so we're both Type A personalities that sometimes need someone to calm us down. At least I didn't traumatize a kid's soccer team.

I also don't have a movie coming out, like Kim—remember her mystery writing? Well Hollywood picked up one of her novels, and it's looking like a sure thing for best picture. She's still doing the "mysterious writer" thing, but hey, do you know how much she's getting in royalties? She could quite her reporters job and Bonnie could quit her hospital job… granted, they'd both go batshit insane in about three weeks, but they could. Just like Ron and I could, but we're all way to young to be doing the retired thing.

We have fun. I get the obligatory "happy birthday" song, and Ron gives me the lecherous look and whispers that he'll save the spanking for later… I promise to hold him to it. He did snap me in the ass with a towel this morning.

It's a good, full day, and I have to admit, one that I'll remember for a long time.

Then we get home and well, after the spanking (and other birthday events that you don't need to hear about), we go to bed—tomorrow is still a work day, and the state has decided we need to have "work ethic assemblies." Yep, I get to waste half the morning telling the students why it's bad to waste time.

Well, I guess useless assemblies are a bit of a high school tradition.

But when we go to sleep I have a…dream, one that's been reoccurring a bit, only this time it's much more dramatic and detailed.

Middleton is Shegoton…and Kim and all her friends have long since fallen…turned to my side, given up, or locked in deep cells. Nobody dares contradict me, and in fact not many people would even think of it. I rule everything from my citadel of Doom…and I have ten bedrooms, which I sleep in.


And never twice in a row—because I know that all my "loyal" subjects would like nothing more than to see me dead. I have no husband, no children, and more power than I know what to do with.

So why in the dream am I wondering those empty corridors, like a green and black ghost, desperately looking for something. Why do I have twin strips of white in my hair… why, when I'm finished mocking and laughing and after I've thrown the last flunky out of my chambers, do I look so haunted.

This Shego got everything she wanted…didn't she.

Didn't she?

And if it's just a dream, why am I up at 3:00 AM, in my gown, looking through the photo albums. I think about the dream, and do something I haven't done for many years. Used to, Dr. D and, I had a game We'd play—how fast can you get what you need and leave? It was pretty easy—a change of clothes, some cash, and I could be gone.

I try playing it again in my head and realize that things have changed. What could I leave? Hell, clothes—easy. Kids' pictures, no way… the little precious doll that Ann got when she was 4 and still keeps on a shelf in her room? Not even. I realize that if I had a full day, and both cars… I might be able to get started.

On the vital stuff. Buying stuff isn't a problem, but there are so many things in this house that resonate with memories, good and bad, that I just cannot imagine losing. As for walking away from the people…

No. That thought doesn't even get started.

So suddenly I feel a pair of hands on my shoulders and look back over at my husband. He grins and ask me if it was the dream again.

I try and snark and ask what dream.

He mentions that it must be important, because it's the first dream he can recall where I talked in my sleep.


I nod. He grins and sits down by me, pulling me close.

Maybe… Ron says, Shego is just looking for what I have.

I think about it, remembering those endless green and black halls, without a single picture, the citadel with no mess no sign of anything out of place, a refuge, not a home.

How could anyone live like that? I shiver when I realize how close I came to living like that. If Ron had chickened out of his dare, or chosen another bar, or I had left five minutes before…

But he's here with me. My children are asleep in this house… My house.

My home.

Then Ron pulls me to my feet and leads me through the quiet house, out back. There's a small table, with a candle, and a drink, and a player with a soft song playing.

He grins, and asks me if I know what a good dancer I am, and how much he enjoys dancing.

I softly laugh, and tell him that he's not to shabby himself…after I cured him of stepping on my toes. We both laugh and pause. He's thinking about the same thing I am, all the time we've spent together, all the time that we will spend together…but there's no garuntees to that, so don't waste a moment thinking you'll make it up tomorrow.

Then we swing into the music, and quietly, my head leaning into his shoulder, dance under the diamond stars overlooking our home and family.

Shego Stoppable, 2021.