I'd been sitting in my class for far too long, working on an assignment I didn't like and sitting among kids I couldn't stand. I had contemplated going and telling Mr. Dube that I wanted another group to work with, as my present company was too dim-witted to be able to discern between the pencils and pens they held in their hands various parts of their bodies. However, looking at the other members of the class and the rather limited gene pool they represented, I decided that any attempt to find an alternative group would be a futile one at best and a way to start a fight and further showers of insults at worst.
And so, I excused myself, ostensibly to go to the bathroom.
"Mr. Dube," I said. "I have to go to the washroom."
"Okay," he said, allowing me to leave.
Exiting the classroom I roamed the hallways looking for the closest exit from the school. I hated high school.
I saw a girl walking in my direction – someone new perhaps. At any rate, I had never seen her in this school. As she approached, she said, "Kevin," smiling and letting out a slight laugh perhaps in embarrassment at some task or other that she knew she needed to perform and which required her to speak with me. She sounded as though she and I had done something or been somewhere together, perhaps on a trip of some kind. In fact, her voice, crisp and somewhat low-pitched, sounded familiar.
But before I could respond she was gone.
And now I sit here typing at my computer, some fifteen years after the incident, comfortably employed though in the midst of the recession of 2009. I think of the girl every now and again. I think that I should have said something to her - at least asked her who she was. I wonder what role she thought she played in my life that necessitated her greeting me with such familiarity despite our being unacquainted. And the gears of my mind set into motion as I try to fill in the gaps.
What would her name have been? Laura? No, Laura doesn't sound like the name of a girl who speaks with a crisp and raspy voice. Candice? Again, too plain. Lindsay! Yes, that is a name which allows for the strangeness of voice and the echoes of acquaintance long forgotten. What would Lindsay have been doing roaming the halls of Fern Pond Secondary School? Well, I suspect that the obligation she felt toward me will soon betray her purpose....
Lindsay glanced at the kids in the hallway as she walked. She knew her way around, through, and over the intricate protocols of high school life. Yet she was completely alien to the whole thing. She was here looking for one person, for the young man who was troubled and in need of something to do with the rest of his life. He didn't know it yet, but he would face a lot of problems later on and she was here to steer him away from them. There was the bus that would hit him exactly ten years, four weeks, two days, twenty hours, ten minutes, and thirty seconds from now. But for the fact that the youth would at that time be ruminating about her appearance today he would most certainly be killed.
"Kevin," Lindsay said, letting out a tiny puff of laughter at the prospect of causing the boy, prone as he was to excessive thinking and daydreaming, to ponder her appearance ten years from now. The kid, looking a bit surprised, walked onward without glancing back much less thanking Lindsay for saving his life.
And then there was that big guy who was planning at that moment to accost the ungracious and wholly ignorant young man. Lindsay calmly approached him and struck up a conversation. Hot young girl with raspy voice and generous smile. Can't go wrong there. And so the brute made other plans.
That night, in her mobile hut, Lindsay celebrated her mission and its success. She thought of the poor and ignorant Kevin, who by no fault of his own, did not know her and yet was so much her friend. She and Kevin had been on many trips together to strange places. She remembered the time they had visited Ezannia and seen the flying monks of Osasto performing their sacred rites, or the time they had quested after Orin in the Belt System.
But these were other places, other times. The Kevin she'd seen today was a pale and dim shadow of the young man she knew. His life was a tragedy, a fall from a paradise he never knew existed and a relief from duties he couldn't begin to imagine.
“And so,” Lindsay said to herself, parodying the hilarious line from Monty Python's Flying Circuis, “Let's forget about him and follow instead one Kelvin Basir.”
She looked at the new orders that had just come up on her laptop screen. Kelvin was a promising young fellow. He had his share of difficulties but he wasn't beyond saving.
Her mobile hut began to whir, and fade from view, producing a psionic wave of mis-perception and amnesia. Nobody had been here, Lindsay was a figment of your imagination, her hut was a trick of the light in the forest near the Marshe's trailer. Both it and Lindsay never existed except in stories and books and even then they went by different names and different roles.
Life's short. Think hard!