by Mary Ruth Pursselley -
Celia tucked her left foot under her other leg, trying to get comfortable on the rigid bench in the lecture hall. The professor marched onto the platform in front, and the class grudgingly opened their books.
Celia smirked and reached discreetly into her book bag. Eclectian History was always torturously dull; that was why she came prepared. She slid an art book from the library out of her bag and opened it over top of her history book.
“You’re not worried about exams?” someone nearby whispered.
“Yeah, right.” Celia replied as the professor welcomed everyone to ‘today’s exciting lecture’. He sounded excited alright, droning on in a nasal, monotone voice about the guest he was pleased to welcome…
Wait a second—guest speaker? That was a change of pace, at least.
“He has dedicated his life to the study of Eclectia’s history, excavating remains of our early civilizations.”
Celia perked up.
“His findings are among the most significant contributions to history museums on Avenir, as well as the Christchurch museum and our own Zirconia Museum.”
Celia sat forward and scanned the lecture hall, looking for the guest. A cluster of students blocked her view to the right, and since she couldn’t see anyone unfamiliar elsewhere she assumed the guest was sitting past them. She wished the professor would hurry with his introduction.
Finally, he held out a hand and smiled—well, Celia could imagine it as a smile if she tried. “Class, please welcome Mr. Robin Corpsman,” the professor said, backing away from the podium.
Celia’s heart stuttered as the guest speaker took the platform. He was much younger than she had expected—probably only fourteen or fifteen Foundings old—and he was tanned, rugged, and rakish. Celia wasn’t the only one who noticed, either, judging by scattered whispers from her female classmates.
“Well, your professor said it: I’m Robin Corpsman—you all can call me Robin—and I’m an archeologist.” His voice was a pleasant baritone.
Celia propped her chin in her hand and listened intently for the entire hour as Robin talked about his work collecting artifacts across Eclectia’s surface. He and Celeste were in the same line of work, but he was obviously making way more money than she was, and living a far better life. He was practically a celebrity, travelling and giving presentations at different museums. He had even been invited to the Avenir to speak, while Celeste lived planetside in misery, fighting just to make ends meet.
Celia wondered... what would it take for Celeste to get into Robin’s position?
The end-of-class bell interrupted the question-and-answer session at the end of Robin’s talk. Celia knew she’d never fight her way through the bevy of girl classmates in time to talk to Robin before she had to be in art class, but she had to find a way to talk to him before he left Zirconia.
He’d brought her a spark of hope that maybe she and Celeste could be together again. No way was she going to let him leave and take that spark with him.