Friday, December 13, 2013

Methuselah: Morning

For other posts in the series, visit the Methuselah page on this blog. 

Glen leaned in close, his hands on either side of Agnes’ face, and kissed her, softly. Agnes responded hungrily and before she knew it, they were stretched out alongside each other over a blanket in a soft meadow.

Naked now, the sun shone warmly on her skin as Glen’s hand slid down her breast, her side, her hip. She felt the familiar pulsing as he

“Agnes, it’s time to wake up,” the cheerful voice intruded.

Agnes flung her arm wildly to turn off the alarm. Then she struggled to find that dizzy place again. Glen. Kiss. Hands. Sun.

Her blinds were open now (they automatically opened with the alarm) and the sun streamed in her bedroom window, triggering the serotonin release that regulated her circadian rhythm.

But she yearned for Glen and drifted back to sleep, trying and failing to recapture the moment.

“Agnes, this is your second alarm. You have a 10:00 appointment with MateMatch. Shall I start your coffee?” This e-sistant was persistent, you had to give her that.

“Yes, fine. No, not coffee. Green tea, please.”

“It’s been three weeks since you saw your mother, and you’re leaving on your retreat tomorrow. Would you like to invite her to dinner this evening?”

“Oh. Yes, good idea.” Much as Agnes was annoyed at the e-sistant, she had to admit, it did a good job.

* * *

Glen awoke with a start. The truck had stopped moving, and he heard muffled voices. A woman asking questions, a man answering in short phrases.

Glen’s legs were cramped, and he desperately needed to pee, but this was definitely not the right moment to start moving around. He kept himself still and breathed through his mouth so he would be even more silent. Not that they would be able to hear his breathing through the low rumble of the diesel engine, but it was good practice anyway.

The voices moved further away from him, and then he heard the cargo doors open, and a weak light reached the back, where he was hidden behind stacks of boxes on pallets.

The boxes bore the glam “Bliss” logo – luxury goods for the wealthy residents of Vicente Lopez. Handbags, jewelry, shoes. When you have a lifespan of centuries, not decades, you can acquire considerable wealth – and all that money had to go somewhere. The market for ridiculously overpriced goods was huge.

At least the elite could sleep easily knowing that the laborers who produced these goods were decently compensated and received comprehensive medical care. Maternal death rates in laboring countries had never been lower, and AIDS was now a mere footnote in Africa.

The woman who had asked all the questions opened one box and saw a collection of designer watches. They’d go for 50,000 pesos each in a boutique. Glen heard her fussing with something in a box.

“Mmm. This is pretty,” the woman spoke.

“I think that one’s defective,” the man replied. “The box is dinged. We won’t even be able to sell it.”

“Yah, I can see that,” the agent replied. "You should be more careful." There was more shuffling of boxes, it sounded like a smaller box was being opened. Then the cargo doors closed again.

Minutes later, the engine grew louder, and the truck moved again through the inspection area. The driver pounded three times on the wall that separated them.

Glen re-bundled his jacket and rucksack to make his improvised pillow a little more comfortable and fell back asleep to the steady rhythm of the road passing under the truck’s wheels.

* * *

Mara had been up for hours. She’d already done her yoga and had booked an appointment to have her hair cut. She’d made arrangements for her move to Arizona. She should probably tell Agnes.

She picked up her reader and picked up where she’d left off. Luisa Rey had just driven her car off a bridge.

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