He stared at the unnatural light floating in her palm as if he had almost anticipated something like this, yet still felt surprised. They then heard the sounds of heavy footsteps above them as the rest of the station awoke to begin their day. The light disappeared suddenly as Celine distractedly looked up and stood as Max did the same; still staring at her palm.
She then looked at him with confident, cerulean eyes. “Listen Max - I’m here for the same reasons as Remus, but I don’t agree with his tactics. I’m not here to tear you away from everything you love; I’m here to help you figure this all out.”
The hushed sounds of people’s voices slowly became louder.
Celine reached into her jacket and took out a crisp, folded slip of paper.
“The only thing I ask is to just hear us out”, she said placing the slip into his hand. “This is my number as well as Charlotte’s. You can talk to one of us or both of us - it’s all up to you.”
Max turned over the slip hesitatingly in his hands, “I...”
Celine placed a reassuring grip on his wrist. “Just take your time and call us whenever you’re ready. There’s no rush”, she smiled.
Max looked at her and saw something familiar in her eyes, but couldn’t quite pin what it was exactly.
“Hey Max! Woke up early before the rest of us, didn’t you?”
Max turned around, “Yeah...”
He looked back at Celine but she wasn’t there anymore. He gazed out towards the exit holding tightly onto the slip of paper in his hand as if it was his only anchor to stay standing.
“That should do it!”, Alicia exclaimed cheerfully as she set down her bucket and rag. Meanwhile Kyra let her rag drop unceremoniously onto the floor.
“That was just gross.”, Kyra frowned.
“Well think of it this way - we won’t have to do it for another month!”
Kyra grimaced and removed her apron, “Is making each employee clean the restrooms once a month some form of punishment for working here?”
Alicia laughed, “Marge just likes to make sure everyone’s doing their fair share!” She took off her apron and sat down at a nearby table.
Kyra sat across from her. “So spill it - what’s the deal with you and Max?”
Alicia let out a nervous laugh, “What?”
“You know what I mean! It’s obvious he likes you. And I don’t mean just as a friend”, she explained with a mischievous grin on her face.
“Well, I don’t know about that. Max and I are just old friends. There isn’t a time I remember where I didn’t know him.”
Kyra raised her brow expectedly then shrugged her shoulders. “Suite yourselves then.”
Alicia paused, circling her fingers lightly over the cool, shiny surface of the table. “I mean... we did date at one point. During our senior year of high school, but I broke it off.”
Kyra looked surprised, “Really? Why?”
Alicia shrugged, “It’s hard to explain... I just kept having a difficult time picturing a future together with him. And I don’t think I ever did at any point... it just felt right to end it then.” She paused again then spoke almost breathlessly, “I wouldn’t be lying though if I said that I still have my moments of doubt.”
Kyra sighed, “Well, all I can say is that if Max isn’t the guy you’re supposed to end up, you’ll know for sure one day.”
Alicia smiled, “Thanks Kyra... It’s nice having someone like you around now to talk to. It’s very refreshing actually!”
Kyra looked uncertain, “What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re honest! Not to mention that I really don’t have too many friends that are girls to talk to... I mean my best friend has always been - Max!”
They shared a laugh over this fact and settled into a comfortable silence. Alicia then looked down at her palms, carefully articulating her thoughts.
“Can I ask you an honest question now?”, she asked softly.
“I don’t like that boy, Trevor Mills.”
Alicia laughed, “No! I wasn’t going to ask you that!” She gazed down again then warmly looked back at the girl sitting across from her. “Did you really get kicked out of three schools before you came here?”
Kyra took a deep breath and let it out. “Yes. I did”, she answered plainly. She looked up towards Alicia, who was just sitting there patiently, willing to listen.
Kyra continued, “My mom died when I was young and I was left with my aunt and uncle - they were the only family I had left. I liked living with them, they treated me like I was one of their own children.” She absentmindedly started twirling the ends of her hair through her fingers. “Then right before I was supposed to start third grade, I found out that I wouldn’t be staying with them anymore - they sent me away to a boarding school instead. I never understood why; they told me it was because it was what my mother wanted but as they said it they always had this look on their face like it was the last thing they wanted to do! ... So to make a long story short, I simply just took matters into my own hands.”
Alicia smiled reassuringly at her, “They must be happy to have you back then!”
Kyra shrugged, “They’re making the best of it... but I’ve kind of become the problem child over the years. I actually don’t have too close of a relationship with them these days.”
Alicia looked sympathetically back at her not really knowing what to say next. Kyra caught onto her gaze.
“Look Alicia I know what you’re thinking. I’m not a bad kid - I know I’m not. And that’s enough for me. Other people can think whatever they want, but it doesn’t matter to me because I know what’s true!”
Before Alicia could respond, they were startled by Marge’s booming voice across the room. “Are you girls still here? You know your shifts are over don’t you?”
“Sorry Marge! I guess we just lost track of the time!” Alicia looked over at the clock, “Wow it’s 10:30 already”.
Kyra looked behind at the clock, “I guess time flies when your bearing your soul to another”, she added jokingly.
Alicia chuckled. “Do you need a ride home?”
Kyra turned around and smiled, “I would love that.”
There was a light knocking at the door.
“Come in!”, Jackson responded without looking up from his desk.
Max walked in and quickly shut the door behind him. Jackson looked up, surprised to see him.
“Shouldn’t you be sleeping at this hour, Son?”
“I’m not tired.” He pulled over a chair and sat down. “Or.. it’s more like I couldn’t sleep.”
“Everything OK?”, Jackson asked, pulling his glasses off.
“Dad, I want to... talk to you about something”, Max sighed then spoke quickly. “The other day I met... another Tymorrean - two of them actually. They’re sisters. But anyways, one of them came to the station this morning and said some things-”
Jackson gently put a hand up, “Slow down Max - you’re not making any sense right now.”
Max stopped and took a deep breath, “Right - sorry.”
He then explained about the car break-down, helping Celine and Charlotte with their flat tire and directions into town, how Celine came to the station that morning, and not only the things she said but in the way that she said them.
“... It was almost like she was more on my side then she was on Remus’. She told me that she’s here to help me sort through things and all she wants in return is for me to hear her out.
Jackson leaned back in his chair, “What do you want to do?”, he asked.
“I’m not sure.”
Jackson thought for a moment. “...Well let’s say that - hypothetically - you had to make a decision tomorrow. What would you do?”
“I would call Celine to hear them out”, Max answered without hesitating. He continued, “I mean... I’m still trying to get used to all this but I need to find everything out sooner or later, right? And I don’t know... I have a gut feeling that I can trust her. It’s hard to explain...”
Jackson smiled, “If I was you, I would be making the same choice.”
Max breathed out a sigh of relief, “Well, that went easier than I thought.” He stood up, “Good night, Dad. And thanks for your help.”
When he got to the door, Jackson called out, “Max; I’m glad you came to me with this...”
Max turned to his father and grinned, “You’re my dad - there’s no one else that I trust more. Who better to ask?”
Celine plopped down on the edge of the bed, “I hope we’re doing this the right way...”
“How did he react?”, Charlotte asked.
“Like a deer that’s about to get shot...”, she answered unsurely.
“Oh...Well...If you think about it; he’s probably had a rough couple of months. I mean, I can’t imagine living as a human for twenty years and then finding out overnight that I’m actually Tymorrean!”
“That’s true…” Celine sighed, then looked up brightly toward her companion, trying to think positively. “So how’s Remus doing?”
Charlotte shrugged, “Eh you know, the usual... sulking around in his room, not talking to anyone, telling me we’re idiots. Nothing new.”
Celine stared down at the fuzzy, beige carpet beneath her feet. Her hands tightly gripped her knees as a hollow feeling settled deep into her stomach.
“Charlotte... What if we were wrong?”
Charlotte looked up bemused, “What do you mean?”
“What if we were all wrong to do things this way? I mean, you kind of said it yourself; how can we expect someone who’s lived as a human for twenty years to suddenly accept that he’s alien?”
Charlotte sat down next to her. “We can’t.”
“What if he completely rejects us?”
“What if he doesn’t?” Charlotte smiled reassuringly, “When the stakes are this high we just have to risk everything sometimes. Celeste knew this, and from what I’ve learned about her, I believe she knew exactly what she was doing.”
Celine offered a faint smile.
“For all we know he could be gearing up to call this very moment!”, Charlotte continued.
Then, as if on cue, the shrill sounds of Celine’s phone filled the room. Both women looked shell-shocked at the phone.
Celine picked it up, “...Hello?”
“Hi, is this Celine?”, a familiar deep voice asked.
“Yes! Yes it is.”
“This is Max...I was calling because I wanted to talk.”
She looked over to Charlotte and beamed excitedly. “Of course! What’s a good time for you?”