“He just said something very much the same to me. But are you from the valley, then?”
He stood to go. “Are you from the city? Or are you from your mother?”
“Some would say the city was my mother.”
He laughed, short and sharp. “So it is with us.”
He had barely left before I fell asleep.
The sun stabbed golden spikes through my window. I half-buried my face inside my sheets. I did not want to leave. But my eyes wandered to my linking sphere. I commanded it to release my personal agendas. Yes, I’d been here on Thaeron my nine full weeks of leave. For that long I’d swum in the ocean and breathed unfiltered air and remembered how to sleep. So I folded up my clothes and prepared to return to the business of the Profusion. I was ready in an hour.
Distracted, I picked up the sphere. I recalled my calendar and frowned.
The dates were incorrect. I’d entered them that way on my application. I’d taken my leave six months ahead of time, with three weeks I hadn’t earned the credit for. I called my office. There were no messages. I checked my account. No one had written.
Startled, I walked out the door. I walked away from my rented cottage and toward Sepira’s central terminal, its towers erect and spiking in the dawn. Behind me swept the ocean. Relaxed, I started walking toward the river that had given the port city its beginnings.
I never made it to the elevator that would have taken me into orbit.
I stopped half a kilometer away, just as the sun cleared a thicker bank of clouds. I stared at the long tether binding earth to space and me to the rest of the Profusion. My eyes fixed on the dim point where the cable disappeared in Thaeron’s stratosphere. The sun sped silently across the sky.