Saturday, March 14, 2009

A normal life

She awoke feeling at ease, for the first time in a long while, things felt like they were regaining a semblance of normalcy.

She walked Lita to class, they joked about the guard who always blushed when she waved. In her morning meetings with the architect and foreman of the construction site she was gratified when her opinion on the main floor layout was not only heard, but genuinely appreciated. After weeks of cramming dozens of data-books and journal articles on security, engineering and design she was finally involved in the meetings rather than just attending them.

At midday she and Lita spoke excitedly about their mornings, Lita had made a friend and her tutor sent a note complementing her on her adjustment, expressed how Lita was exceeding his expectations. Julie napped peacefully; the apartment in the TNTR tower had become familiar. In the last month, she had crossed the gamut of feelings from trepidation and apprehension to excitement and exhilaration. She knew she would survive the change, she always survived, but successes and fulfilment were things she had not dreamt of since before the war.

To say she had forgotten about Tom would be incorrect. She knew he would show up, it was inevitable. But as time passed and the chores of resettling in Kayr Ad-Din and integrating her and her daughter into a new life gave way to routine and comfort, the expectation of his arrival waned until it no longer weighed on her.

So when she found him waiting in the lobby of her office, his office actually, she was nonplussed, even indifferent. She had determined this was a professional arrangement, he had entrusted her with this project but her zeal, her passion was focused on succeeding for her not to please nor gratify him. He had hurt her, when he left New Baja and she had hurt him, when he came back.

She took him into the office and sat behind the desk, he made no territorial challenge to this. As she provided a progress update on the construction project he said nothing, when his silence became uncomfortable she stopped. He was always melodramatic, she reflected, that’s why her never announced himself and liked showing up out of the blue.

Then Tom apologised, in the silence, he said three words. Julie didn’t feign innocence; she wasn’t one for playing games. She just let the words hang in the air and sought the rest in his eyes. He let out three more words and still she didn’t react. He wasn’t here to see how the project was going, to survey his investment, he was here for her. And, she realised, she was here for him. Though she knew she was up to the task of running the Casino she also knew she was here because he wanted her close. His intentions, his feelings were clear, hers were less so. He made no demands, asked nothing in return. He was just passing through; he was off to Lance Point in the next hour. He smiled softly and left and still Julie said nothing.

She cursed him that night as she lay in bed, Lita had sensed her mother’s mood and hid away in her room after dinner. Julie surveyed her ceiling, her rational mind and her emotions churning inside her, making her sick to the stomach. She was proud of herself, she was enthralled by this project and she felt for the first time since the war that she could explore what it meant to be Julie Pajhola on her own terms. She and Lita could survive on their own, no, not survive, thrive. And yet there was that pang, those eyes and that smile. He was a romantic and an idiot and she loved and resented him.

Her vision blurred and she sobbed, wrought and confused. She cried herself to sleep; her last ironic thought was that that morning things had started to feel normal.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.