continued from previous
“That’s it. No more funny dinners, I’m getting you out of here!” Olivia said to John in a serious and determined tone.
“I think even a rebel like you could use some time off the streets”.
She was joking of course. John was more of a “laptop rebel”, an “indoor revolutionary”, not exactly the garden variety street guerilla. He would probably struggle to survive the brutality, not to mention the mundanity, of the day-to-day hunt for food, shelter, and refuge from the looters in a real-world rebellion. Not because he wasn’t brave or smart, but because he just didn’t care so much about his everyday needs. A typical INFJ, he was too wrapped up in his own world of “ifs” and “whats”, too above his own ego to care about the small picture, to care about himself. But Olivia did.
“Besides, my building is virtually abandoned now”, she continued. “You can almost take a pick on which flat to choose. I hear there’s a vacant studio overlooking the destroyed botanical gardens on the square. Maybe a bit of inspiration for your next post-apocalyptic novel?”
She smirked, looking unashamedly proud of her little joke.
John looked away, then downwards towards the ground for a few seconds. His greasy grey hair was forming silver ocean waves across the back of his head. There was a storm inside of him, one that he didn’t want to face. Waking up from a brief daydream, he lifted his eyes to see a horizon of homeless people: some in their mattresses, others up and about. He turned to face Olivia without saying a word. He was dithering.
“You need somewhere decent to stay John” she insisted in a serious tone.
He turned his head towards the ceiling as if looking for a signal, before a big sigh came out in the form of a loud exhalation. It was a sigh that had been building up for many days. Looking defeated, he turned around and put on a happy face:
“As long as there’s a coffee machine and a plug, I don’t mind if the walls are missing!” he replied, as Olivia burst out laughing.
“Yup, we got walls for sure!” she replied. “And…to top off my offer, there is a vacancy for a technical assistant in my lab. Well, at least this is the official job title you’d be given, unless you prefer Crazy Phytoplankton Evolutionary Ecologist. No pressure, just a thought I had. But it would give me tremendous payback satisfaction to see my old professor working for me. But seriously, It would be an honor to have you involved in the current research, in an academic consultant capacity of sorts. What’d ya think?”
John’s eyebrows jumped up, as if they were getting ready to fly away from his eyes. “A flat AND a job?”
Olivia’s body language retreated into a defensive position. She suddenly realized that this could be seen as a bizarre charity gesture. Looking away, she tried to minimize the importance of her offer:
“You’ll be free to shape your role however you prefer and get involved as much or as little as you want with the actual project. Basically, this role is yours to shape, or you can quit in the first week too if you want to. I just think that we could potentially make some interesting observations together”
(from the upcoming novel A New Earth)
to read from the beginning, go here
George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books