by Kaye Jeffreys -
With graduation from tertiary school in a week it was hard for Jereth to take this last Seacology field trip seriously. It was hard to take anything serious that wacky Professor Bonswarzick taught either in the classroom or here on the observation decks of Zirconia. Others hung on his every word. His eyewitness stories concerning angels had half the class mesmerized including Lessie who scanned the sea held back by glass as though an angel would appear any minute. Of course, Lessie also had an eyewitness account concerning an angel.
All Jereth ever saw was oppressive amounts of water that filtered and colored the sunlight, causing dull and splotchy patterns on everyone. Oh, and the occasional floaty thing that meandered in the sea without enthusiasm.
Jereth whispered in Lessie's ear, "Kind of romantic, huh?" At least he hoped she thought so. All he felt was boredom and was looking for a diversion.
Lessie leaned into Jereth's whisper, a smile pulled at her lips.
"Let's go find a quiet corner somewhere and you can tell me about your angel sighting again." He pulled her away from the center of the room and she came willingly, even as she kept searching the sea.
In the corner Jereth put his arms around her and pressed his cheek against hers. It was all right that she searched over his shoulder for angels. She snuggled more when she thought of them.
"So tell me again what that angel said to you," he whispered in her ear.
Lessie whispered back. "She told me go landside and help the less fortunate."
"She said all that?"
"Not in those words. Not in any words. It just felt like she said something like that. She thought it to me."
"Fascinating." He pulled her tighter.
"There she is." Lessie broke free and rushed back to the middle of the observation area amidst the other spectators who gasped and spoke in hushed tones to each other.
Jereth stood alone in the corner glaring at the thing that hung suspended in the water out beyond the glass. He missed Lessie's warmth already. Why did it show up now?
It looked like it smiled at him. Then he felt it enter inside his thoughts. Your mother's people.
Jereth could not breathe. A weight on his chest kept him from getting air. He had to get away from it. So he turned and left.
In the rest area, Jereth supported his weight with one hand on the sink and rubbed water on his face with the other. He could not shut out the alien voice in his head.
Your mother's people.
What about them? he thought back at it.
Release Lessie and go find them.
Why would I look for filthy grit breathers on a God-forsaken vol...?
Then Jereth understood. It was never his place to decide who or what God had forsaken. But he asked-thought again. Why should I look for them?
If you don't you will turn into your father.
Jereth covered his eyes and nose with one hand while he continued to support his weight with the other on the sink. His mouth turned dry as it silently formed the words, "I don't want to be weak."
If you find your mother's people, you will also find strength.
Jereth's resistance drained away with the cold water down the sink.
The feeling of the angel's presence backed away. The weight on Jereth's chest lifted. He took in a deep breath. And then another.
A custodian walked in, "There's a young lady out here worried about you."
Jereth stood up straight. "Yeah." He wiped his hands on his clothes and checked to see if all the pain of his life had leaked out down his front. It hadn't. At least the angel had left him a little dignity. "I'll take my girlfriend to a nice place to eat, then take her home."
"Good, treat your lady right."
Jereth managed a meager smile. "I will."