I see him standing next to the fountain with one hand aimlessly roughing up his dark hair, the other fisted and propped on his hip. He’s distracted. Lost in thought, totally oblivious that he is being watched. The pull inside me to enter his thoughts is so strong that tears well up in my eyes.
No matter the desire, I won’t sneak into his mind. I promised myself that if anyone deserved privacy here at the Station, it was Sloan. So, I allow a single wet drop to escape and plummet down my cheek, and turn away from him before I change my mind.
I walk straight into a young girl who stands an entire foot shorter than me, with a shocking head of bright red hair. “Hi,” she chirps.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I mumble, wiping at the wet trail on my face.
She smiles up at me and adjusts something in her hand. I recognize the black glass and gesture at it.
“Are you going on Assignment?” The girl can’t be over fourteen. A tiny little sprite with eager eyes that betray the delicate frame of her body.
She nods. “Yep. Uh, are you okay?” she asks. Concern etches out a tiny wrinkle on her forehead, and I glance between it and her ember-colored eyes.
Me? Am I okay? I want to laugh. Here was a girl not even old enough to drive asking me – a Mentor, a Seer – if I was okay. With a heavy sigh, I smile and take her arm, turning her toward the Depot.
“Yes…yes, I’m fine. Can I show you the way?” I ask.
“Oh, that’s okay. I’ve done this a million times. I know where to go. It’s just…you looked so sad. I thought you might need help. Are you sure you’re okay?” She wiggles free from my grasp and stares up at me intently.
“A million times, huh?” I blink down at her, wondering how I’d not seen her before. My assumption that she was a new volunteer was obviously wrong.
“Well, I guess I lost track after a while. Things have been busy, you know.” She twiddles with the assignment card, eager to be on her way, I can tell.
Suddenly wanting to share her energy, I grab her in a hug and give her a tight squeeze before releasing her. It was brief, but the shocked look on her eyes when she steps back proves that she felt the exchange of our auras.
“You must be great at what you do, so I’ll let you go.”
With a shy smile, she nods and pivots away from me on her small stockinged feet. The card held tightly to her chest as she weaves her way through people into the building closest to us. In my mind I watch her walk down the hall, turn and go into the Depot room, and pick out a free slot for her card. Once it’s firmly secured, she fidgets for a minute, waiting for one of the doors to open. I see her step inside and hug herself, preparing for the drift between the Station and her subject. And then the girl is gone.
But now I know her name: little Miss Alannah Curry. A busy-bee with a sharp mind. She’s as perceptive as the oldest volunteer I’ve met. We are lucky to have her; she’s done more good as a volunteer than words could ever explain. With a smile, I merge with the crowd and follow the stream of busy people who constantly circle the outer-skirts of the fountain until the Ones building comes into view. Two departures are scheduled, and I must be present for both. I have work to do, after all.
The Station never sleeps.
– book 4 of The Station series, Coming Soon