Shania stapled the receipt to the invoice, slid out the creaky drawer, and dropped it into the M division. The phone rang— not the business phone, but hers. She picked it up from the desk. Unknown number. “Hello, you’ve reached Diane’s Accounti—“ she laughed, catching herself. “I’m sorry, this is Shane speaking.”
The voice on the other end didn’t laugh. “Good afternoon, Shania. This call is to notify that you have been selected to join the World Space Immigration. You have one week to prepare. More details to follow.”
“Wait, what? I don’t want to go to the moon! Is this really even the WSI? Can I at least talk to a real person?” It was no use. The line was dead. She took the phone away from the ear and watched as her phone automatically added the number to her contacts. That was strange. She hated it when her phone did stuff on its own.
“What’s wrong, Shane?” Micheal leaned on the printer, watching her. “Are you sick?”
“No.” She shook her head, turning her phone off and lying it back down. She swept her hand across her desk, collecting the scattered pens, and dropped them into their cup. “No, I’m fine. That was just a scam call.”
He frowned, retrieving his papers. “Maybe you need a coffee.”
“Yup. That’s definitely it.” Shania pushed her chair away from the desk and grabbed her mug while rolling away. She stood up, poured herself a cup, then dragged her chair back to her desk and sat down again.
It was another hour to the end of the work day, and nothing else happened. She unlocked her car and threw her purse into the passenger seat. The car started up on the first try, which was good. It needed to get checked out soon. She’d ask her mechanic to do that next time she needed to get the oil changed. She plugged her phone into the charger and shifted the stick into drive. The phone dinged. She put the car back in park and checked the text.
WSI: Your departure is scheduled for 7:42pm, 7-Aug, 2020. An assistant will pick you up eight (8) hours prior. The maximum limit on luggage is three (3) 76x48” suitcases. Note: this is a permanent relocation.
“You have got to be kidding me.” Shania groaned, throwing her head back against her seat. “God, they’re kidding, right? This is just a fake? Please don’t let it be real.” No audible answer came, so she drove home.
Home was a little apartment, made cozy by the array of succulents scattered over bookshelves that threatened to burst. Shania looked around and sighed, plopped her purse onto the table, dug out her empty lunch container and stacked it in the dishwasher. She pressed play on her latest audiobook, Red— book two in a series by Ted Dekker. The allegory was just beginning to peep through, and it was fascinating.
Shania cracked an egg into the hot oil on the stove, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, then pressed the English muffin in the toaster. She flipped the egg. There was avocado to mash, cheddar to slice, and apple cider to pour. Supper was delicious.
Her phone dinged again. It was her old high school friend requesting FaceTime.
Leslie’s phone shook as she leaned it against her pillows. “Hey, what’s up?”
Shania smiled. “Not much. I forgot it was Tuesday.”
Leslie rolled her eyes and blew on her fingernails, which were painted a shade darker than blood red. “ Of course you did, which is why I did the calling.”
“Well thank you, dear, for being so smart as to put a reminder on your phone. You haven’t thought that I’d notice that you call at 7:01 every time?”
“Alas, you see right through me. What shall I do with my forgetful self now that I have been uncovered as a being dependent upon technology? My whole facade crumbles around me.”
Her friend laughed and carefully placed her phone on the counter. “I’ll try not to drop you into the sink.”
“You had better not. I’d hate to get my hair damp.” She stuck her tongue out as she carefully traced a silver design across her ring finger.
Shania wet a dishcloth and wiped down the spot at the island where she had eaten, then around the toaster and the stove.
“I wonder who the WSI going to pick. Do you have any idea? The news said that it will be someone from Canada.”
“I guess we’ll all find out when they interview the person tomorrow, won’t we?”
“Yeah, but it’s so exciting! I wonder how far in advance they let them know? Maybe it could be one of us.”
“How likely is that, Les? Get your feet on the ground, girl.”
Leslie: Come on, it would be an adventure! And it’s totally likely. We’re both healthy, and we don’t have parents or siblings or partners—“
“But we’ve got jobs! And lives!”
“Honey, you know our lives are portable. And there are, what, twenty-four people there already, counting the two babies, if you ever want to go socialize in person.”
“But I don’t want to go!” Shania realized she was shouting. She ran a hand through her hair and loosed her bun. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you like that.”
The phone had returned to the home screen.
“Come on, Les, I didn’t mean it…” She redialed, but there was no answer. Fine. Shania grabbed a blanket and curled up on the couch with a copy of The Scarlet Letter, but her eyes wouldn’t focus. She read the top line over and over again without comprehending.
Her custom doorbell rang, sounding for all the world like Quasimodo swinging from one rope to another. She wiped her eyes and stood up, then opened the door. There was Leslie, holding a half-dozen box of Timmie’s donuts with two frothy lattes balanced on top. She marched past Shania and set it down on the table, then turned, hands on her hips.
“Now tell me what’s going on.”
“Don’t even try, Shane. You’re a terrible liar. Just spit it out.”
“I got a call from the WSI.”
Leslie’s jaw dropped.
“But I don’t want to leave here. I don’t want an adventure. I just want to stay here and live the way I want.” Shania wasn’t sure how it happened, but she realized that she was hugging Leslie, burying her face into her bushy hair. She pulled back, sniffing. “I’m sorry, I got your hair damp.”
Leslie smiled, releasing her. “I’ll find it in my heart to forgive you.”
They sat crosslegged on the couch, the box of donuts between them. Shania licked the white powder off her fingers and watched Leslie, who was eating a sticky honey curler with one hand and flipping through her Bible with the other.
“You had better not be going to read that one verse to me,” Shania warned.
“That one that everybody quotes wrong— the “I know the plans I have for you” one. God wasn’t talking to us, He was talking to the Israelites.”
Leslie rolled her eyes. “And I sure haven’t heard that spiel before.”
“Nobody ever gets the hint.”
“Well, I’ve got it. Anyways, here’s the verse I was looking for. Where’s your Bible?”
“Oh, I left it on my nightstand. Hold on.” Shania grabbed a Boston creme for the trip and had reached filling by the time she returned.
“Turn to it. Romans 8:28.”
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
“And this promise is to us. You know that God has called all of us, and you love Him, right? It’ll all work together for good.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that I want to hide my phone in someone’s car and run the opposite direction and maybe live in the woods till they give up looking for me.”
“But what would your purpose be?”
“Survival, I guess.”
“Yeah, and how boring would that get? Yeah, living in the woods would be great this time of year. It’d be beautiful when you aren’t scatching off all three layers of skin because of these blasted mosquitos. And what about when winter comes? But that’s not my point. You would wither up and die without a purpose, Shane. And I know that for a fact.”
Shania didn’t say anything as she scanned the rest of the chapter, finished the last fluffy bite, and sucked the chocolate icing from beneath her fingernail.
“But think about it. People will be interviewing you. They’ll want to hear what you have to say, even after you leave. You’ll have such a platform that you could use for God. Plus you get a free vacation before you go! You could finally get to New Zealand, or Paris!”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But… I’ll miss you, Les.”
“I’ll miss you too, Shane. But the reception down there is good, so I’ll still call every Tuesday. And you can watch church over the live stream, and write books that everyone will want to read because you’re the girl on the moon.”
“If they let me, I’ll even send up some donuts every once in a while.”
“That sounds great.”