Darik tapped his fingers on his thigh impatiently. He had probably only been waiting here 10 minutes but it felt like he had been sat in the uncomfortable, plastic chair for hours. The flickering LED lights overhead and the crying baby held by an exhausted-looking woman next to him were starting to bring on a migraine.
Who even uses LED lighting anymore? Darik though as he kneaded his temple, this whole office looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 21st century.
He groaned quietly as the receptionist called another name that wasn’t his. Obviously, it wasn’t as quiet as he thought because she gave his a disdainful glare before going back to swiping at her holoscreen. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment. It wasn’t her fault this was taking so long; it must be a thankless job, working at the interplanetary visa office, it’s not like anyone actually wants to be here.
Why was he here? He wondered, not for the first time, what in the galaxy he was doing packing up his life and moving to Trelis. He had never even left Solaris before, for heaven’s sake. Anxious energy bubbled inside him. His leg started to twitch. Was he making a mistake? What if I get there and Jace isn’t who I think he is. Darik remembered what Zander has said when he had announced he was going to try netlink dating.
“Na mate, you don’t wanna do that. Everyone uses that hologram manipulation software nowadays. There was this one time I thought I was talking to a cute Lunarian girl. Mate, she had the biggest satellites you’ve ever.” Zander gestured suggestively. Darik rolled his eyes; Zander could be so superficial.
“Anyway, I thought, this girl is beaut. So we meet up downtown. And turns out…she was a catfish.”
“A catfish?” Darik had asked, confused.
“Ya mate. I turn up for this date and there’s an Aquapuss sitting there waiting for me. Whiskers and gills and everything.”
Darik chuckled, “what did you do?”
“I couldn’t work out how to leave without upsetting her! I sat through the whole date. And then she insisted on walking me to the hovertube. And she kissed me goodbye!” Darik was laughing uncontrollably by this point.
“It was like kissing a wet mop.” Zander looked mortified as Darik laughed so hard he had to gasp to catch his breath.
Planets, he hoped Jace wasn’t an Aquapuss, Darik thought then immediately felt bad. It wasn’t that he had anything against the Aquaris natives, but they weren’t exactly his type. He thought of the way Jace’s rich chocolate hair fell across his face in his hologram and the way he bit his full, mocha lower lip when he was thinking. Please actually look like that.
What was taking so long? Why did they give an appointment time if they were just going to make you wait anyway?
His knee was jerking uncontrollably. Unable to take it anymore he jumped to his feet, ready to leave. Several bored faces flicked to him, probably wondering why he moved so violently. The baby also looked at him, she stopped crying as she studied his face curiously. He couldn’t help but smile at her and warmth swelled through him as she smiled back. The mother also smiled, rocking the baby gently as she gurgled softly. I want that. Someday, I want a family and it’s not going to happen here. Darik paused and rerouted to walk to the table where a scattering of battered news-screens lay. He grabbed one and took it back to his seat, the plastic creaking as he settled, trying to find a comfortable position. He started to flick through the day’s news trying to calm himself.
He couldn’t manage to fully settle his nerves though. He had upended his whole life to make this journey to Trelis. When Jace had first suggested that Darik come to meet him, he had balked at the idea. Trelis was practically the other side of the galaxy. This journey was costing most of his life savings and would take a week to get there on a hyper light speed ship. There was no coming back.
Darik had quite his dead-end job the previous week. He had said goodbye to the few friends he had. Really, it was just Zander. He hadn’t believed him at first.
“Good one,” Zander had said. “You. Move to Trelis. Next, you’ll be telling me pigs don’t fly.” To be fair to him, this was something that was very unlike Darik to do. Honestly, he was boring. Darik knew it but he had never cared. He was happy with his tedious job that was dependable and his dull apartment which was serviceable and his non-existent love life which was safe. That was until he reached his 50’s and realised he was almost middle-aged, a third of his life gone by, and he realised he hadn’t done anything in a long time that could even remotely be defined as fun.
“I mean it,” Darik had said. “I met someone, on ConnectMe.” At first, Zander had argued with him, telling his Aquapuss story again. But eventually, Darik had convinced him that he was serious about this and Zander had wished him well.
He hadn’t actually meant to meet someone on another planet, never mind one as far as Trelis. But after failed date after date he had set his search parameters increasingly wider until they encompassed almost the whole of known humanoid civilisation. And that’s when he had met Jace.
Roses are red, violets are blue. Are you a fenroot? because I dig you.
Darik had laughed when the old-fashioned line popped up on his holoscreen.
Roses are red, violets are blue. I’d say I’m more of a digoberry, how about you?
They had gone back and forth exchanging cute rhymes which evolved into deep conversations by message and then by holograph. Sometimes they talked deep into the night. Darik rushed home from work every evening these days to sit in front of his holoscreen. His chest fluttered whenever he saw Jace’s face flash up. He had never been in love before, but he was pretty sure this was what it felt like.
And then there was the last message Jace had sent, the one that he had opened on his holoscreen and grinned at a thousand times already.
Roses are red, violets are blue. Will you come to Trelis? Because I love you.
“Darik Batton.” The receptionist finally looked up from her screen to call his name. He took a few seconds to respond, startled to hear his own name finally. Then he raised himself out of his chair, stretching his relieved muscles and walked to the pod that had swung open, his steps bouncing with anticipation. Maybe this would be a disaster. But maybe it would be the best decision of his life.
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Hello! Good story. Mind sharing your views on my recent one? Thanks.