By H. E. Remus
I know I am spoiled, but I can’t help thinking how much faster the line could be if people would move and make a decision about their stupid morning coffee. I remember how long the lines were on Earth… You’d need a full 45 minutes just to get up there and get a coffee, but it was so expensive to buy and make yourself it was more worth it to wait. I usually went without coffee on Earth, but the lines here are about 10 minutes long, and I don’t mind them much. The coffee is worth it for me. I need the extra boost when I go to work. There’s something physically exhausting about living in a pressurized container within a gravity-less vacuum of a universe. The caffeine helps numb it.
I get out of the coffee shop faster than I think I will, and have extra time to sit and read my book outside the store before I go to work. I can’t help but stop on the way and stare out the huge glass wall panels down to Earth. It is beautiful this time of day, when the sun is peeking over the edge of the planet’s North Pole and splashing onto the northernmost countries. It’s bright as I look past the planet for Mercury or Venus. I can’t see either out in the darkness beyond my planet.
A few minutes later I sit comfortably in a cushy soft chair on the edge of one of the glass walls, just across from the store I work in. I look at my watch. I have 15 minutes. Plenty of time to eat my breakfast bar and drink my coffee. I look through the glass walls of the store to the hubbub of retail. It always looks busy, but I know better. There are a lot of people in staff shirts just hanging around and chatting. I open my book and find my place. A sigh of happiness and restfulness escapes my lips. Sometimes I can’t help it when I am settling in.
“Hey Iris,” I whisper to my watch, “Set a timer for 12 minutes.” Iris starts my timer and I start reading. It is not long before I am deep in a land of another time.
“Blankets, huh?” Minutes later I look up and see my handsome coworker standing nearby.
“Oh, yeah.” I reply with a smile. “I love this book.”
“It’s a classic. And books are so rare up here. ” He smiles at me and sits down on the couch chair next to me. “How did you get that?”
“I brought it with me when I came from the planet.” I smile. “It’s one of my favorites. It was my father’s. I’ve been saving it for decades.”
“It’s one of my favorites, too!” He smiles back. God, his eyelashes are beautiful. His eyes are beautiful. Especially when they’re bright, and directed at me. I can’t help but squirm a little under his gaze. I hope inwardly that it is not obvious. “I have a few books here myself.” He continues. “They’re also graphic novels from the 21st century. I like those kinds of books.”
“Really?” I ask, trying not to exude as much silly admiration as I do. “Do you draw?”
He laughs. “Not really.” He looks down. “I am more of a musician.”
“I see. That’s so cool. I haven’t seen any instruments in person since I got up here.” I look at my watch. “Do you have…?” I ask him as I stand up, preparing to go to work.
“Yes, I have a beautiful red guitar in my apartment here.” He follows me and gets on his feet.
“Wow.” I am hoping there are not obvious stars in my eyes. “Do you know how to play it?”
He laughs as we walk towards our store. “Of course! Sorry to interrupt your reading.” He adds. “I was just headed in and I saw the book cover. That is one of my favorite quietly read books.”
“Not at all! That was great! I didn’t know anyone we worked with appreciated original instruments or old graphic novels. It’s refreshing to meet a person who loves classic hobbies.” I can’t help but notice that he is just over a head taller than I. I could easily rest my head between his shoulder and his chest, in that perfect spot where I could nestle under his chin. I shake off the feeling and try hard not to think about his perfect dark hair. “I’m almost done with the book for the hundredth time.” I laugh.
“You know you’re wearing a great band shirt, too?” He asks, as we walk in side by side through to the back of our store. I smile. He even knows one of my favorite bands, dead a century ago but still more remarkable than any of the fluff made in the last fifty years.
“I saw them play live in Nebraska, in the United States! That’s where my ancestors are from. I took a detour when I was visiting old family land.” I get excited, but we are close to our work room, where our day will begin and our conversation will end. I feel a little disappointed.
“Cool! I’m from the United States too.”
“Where about?” Just as I say this, we reach the back room. He lets me type my login into the time-clock computer first and clock in.
“The South, in the state of Georgia.” He pauses and locks eyes to smile at me as we switch spots in a narrow hallway. We are in close proximity for a split second. “Let’s finish this conversation some time.” I try not to think about how I didn’t look at my hair this morning, and how I don’t wear any makeup. I sigh to myself, but then I shake it off. He wants to finish the conversation. “Would you read some graphic novels if I brought them to you?” He is looking at me with those eyes, and he wants to talk to me!
“Yes!” I say, probably too enthusiastically. I grab my staff shirt out of my locker and head for the bathroom. “Let me know when your lunch is today! We can grab food or something.”
“All right.” He smiles at me, letting me go first again to change my shirt in the bathroom. Gods, he is cute. And such a gentleman. How old is he? I saw the interesting tattoo on his arm. He wants to bring me books. He said yes to having lunch with me. My head swims with so many thoughts about the last ten minutes that I don’t know what to expect. Maybe we will go to lunch later. Either way, he has original graphic novels… He has books. Just getting my hands on those will be worth it. I grin to myself as a put on my shirt and look in the mirror, thinking something naughty. Perhaps after that, I can get my hands on something else.