“He’s brilliant but he needs help. He’s insisting on adventuring alone. That’s why we need you.”
“What makes you think I can help him?” Her voice raises, and feeling suddenly exposed and vulnerable, Stella crosses her arms in front of her. “I don’t see why you would want me on this project.”
“Stella, we understand this may not be your ideal first project but we require more openness from you,” breathed the graceful one. “May I expect as a member of this Academy that you read our Agreement before you chose to join us?”
Her placid, quiet demeanor was somehow intimidating. Stella wanted to be annoyed by the question and rebel against her words but she knew there wasn’t a point. She had read the Agreement, she had chose to join the Academy despite it. She knew that They now had some choice over her work, what she did. She could not take the project but that seemed counterproductive. She knew the right choice was to take the project, despite her raging internal objections.
“I am clear on my purpose here at the Academy and I am prepared to take on the project. I am eager to meet this partner and I apologize for my reaction previous. I look forward to discovering why we are on this project together.” Stella stands to leave, placing her hands together and touching her forehead just above her brow. “Namaste.” She touches her mouth with her hands, “Namaste.” Touching her heart with her hands, “Namaste.” Turning she leaves the circle They’re standing in and she notices as it naturally fills in the space she leaves.
Her first blimp ride was not too shabby. Her seatmate was such a nice man — he made sure she was supported and comfortable the entire ride. Men can be such sweethearts.
Grabbing her bag tighter, she noticed she was sweaty palming it up and wondered if she was nervous about meeting him. She’d noticed him before the Academy put her on the project and she wasn’t sure things were going to work out.
The doors of the airport opened in front of her and a rush of Vancouver breeze and rain hit her face. Stella breathed in deeply her first breathe of non-American air. She felt charged with excitement despite the grey downpour in front of her. She didn’t have an umbrella, she hadn’t thought of needing one when packing and it occurred now how silly that was. Walking out into the onslaught of rain, she looked around for him but quickly realized with all the umbrellas, she had no way of finding him amongst the sea of people at Arrivals.
She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t though about this. How would she find him at Arrivals? Had she assumed he’d have a sign? Wondering why there wasn’t a bigger awning to stand under and not wanting to get any more soaked she turned and walked back into the airport. Throwing her bag on the floor, she began rummaging through it. Finding what she was looking for, she dropped her new found baseball cap into her head, and tore a page out of her journal and wrote on it, in FAT BLACK LETTERS, ‘SEAMUS, I’M STELLA.’ She paused over whether to write Stella or Leigh but ultimately wrote what she wanted him to call her, who she wanted to be for this adventure. She pinned the paper carefully to the wool fabric of her leather jacket using a safety pin from her purse, picked up her bag and walked out into the rain and the sea of umbrellas.
Stella turned to face a man that appeared to be wearing an airport uniform of some type. “Yes?” she sighed, looking at Vincent Air Valet’s lapel and the nametag on it.
“What flight, pick up name, and license plate are you looking for, Miss?”
“Sorry?” Stella felt a moment of panic, like she wouldn’t get this question right.
“What is the driver’s name who is picking you up? What flight number were you on? And what’s the driver’s license plate? I can tell you what waiting dock your driver is at, and direct you to them.”
Maybe it was the rain but she hadn’t noticed the non-uniformed guy standing next to Vincent. Before he spoke she caught a glimpse of his amused, almost smug, look. “Vincent, I think I can help this young woman. She’s who I am looking for. She’s Stella.” It only took her a millisecond to realize it was him. He was the smirker.
Turning to him, her hand went unconsciously to her face. Quickly dropping it, she reached out her hand, introducing herself, “I’m Stella and it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
The smirk remained and pointing to her jacket, he said, “I know.”
Thanking Sam, he walks away from Stella, and away from what she now realizes is a Valet stand. “Am I to follow?” Unmoving, Stella shouts after Seamus, and to no one in particular.
Sam continues to say nothing. Turning around, Seamus smiles and waves her toward him.
“I guess that’s a yes?” She says this to no one particular. Thanking Sam for his help, she steps toward him.
This was her first chance to really look at him. The rain had been awful and there’d been a lot of grunting over fitting her bags in the car trunk. She hadn’t wanted to look at him again after their introduction. She didn’t want to confirm what she suspected. She didn’t want that kind of situation again. She pushed the thought out of her mind.
The scenery out her window was gorgeous and she’d been watching it for a while now. How long could she keep looking out the window without acknowledging the other person in the car with her? He hadn’t spoken a word either.
Flipping down the sun visor, she reached up and took off her baseball cap, and combed through her wet and tangled hair. Untangling it with her fingers, she noted how she looked like a wet dog in the mirror’s reflection. Kinda. Not really. She was beautiful and she knew it. There was something about her eyes, and her smile… and apparently her butt too, so she’d heard.
“So, Seamus,” she turned to him quickly and surprised noted that he’d just been watching her from the very corner of his eye.
“Please, Noam. Not Seamus.” His eyes were fixed on the road. “If you don’t mind.” It almost sounded tender and apologetic.
“No, I don’t mind. Noam. I can do that.” She paused, “I am really excited to adventure with you.”
“You are, are you? I was getting the impression that you didn’t want to be here.”
“I am… intrigued to be here with you, Noam. I don’t really know why I am here, but I’m up for the adventure. We have a job to do. I’m here to do it. I’ll admit I’d heard of you before today. People talk. They’re bored and boring. I was intrigued by what they said about you though. Correct me if I am wrong but you’re convinced that humanity has evolved into a new species called Homo Luminous, and that a new World Age has begun… like the ice age, only less melty. Right?”
“A new World Age is beginning, we’re on the cusp!” Noam replied excitedly and with childish zeal. “I just know it. I know it.” He smiled at her, and it felt sincere. “Things are different. You can feel it, we all can, whether we think we can or not. Am I wrong?”
“I guess that depends,” she stated, unsure of where she wanted to go. She wasn’t exactly sure what Noam was talking about and she felt reluctant to voice an opinion. “What does a new World Age mean? To you? I don’t really know what we are talking about really. Yes, the water has risen, yes, it’s hotter today than it was last year but outside that, outside of the physical changes of climate change, what are specifically talking about?”
“Oh.” His voice held buckets of disappointment. She doubted he played poker very well. “I just figured you’d already Know. It seems like something the Academy would have provided me with that at the very least.” Realizing how that sounded, he spoke again a moment later. “I didn’t mean to imply your inferiority somehow. I’m okay with working on this with you. I’m just confused why the Academy wants us to be partners. What’s the point? What can you teach me?”
Something burned. Inside her. She knew the feeling well and it was quickly accompanied by a need to shrink and hide. Why was she here? She had no idea, she didn’t think she should be here either but did this guy need to be so… rude? “I might not know, Noam, but at least I’m open.” She replied bluntly and with more force than any of her words previous. “What do you know about me anyway? We’ve been sitting in silence since we met each other and now after approximately 20 words from my mouth you’ve decided you know me so well.” She softened her tone slightly, to let the effect of the sentence really hit home, “How open does that make you?” She felt a wave of satisfaction roll over her and she turned her head to look out the window once again.
Noam gripped the steering wheel beside her and wordlessly focused on driving into downtown Vancouver.