Alli lay in the multipurpose pool, at the gym, in a T-shirt and shorts. A game of water polo raged nearby, but not close enough to tussle the water where she was floating.
The water was warm, and at just the right salinity. She closed her eyes and let the water fill her ears. Buoyant, Alli could use this pool of ions, a sea of electrons, as an extender, an antenna for her signal. Tethered to that terrestrial room, Alli could unspool her link to this side, and spelunk further and further out, into the in-between, to Atev.
She stood on a rocky outcrop, overlooking the beach. The crashing of waves greeted her ears. Alli was here in Atev, on an island that exceeded Keo’s description of Naxos, Greece, in beauty.
Aro waved from the top of the hillside. A small table, covered in a white tablecloth, whipping in the breeze, stood next to a castle. Aro was dressed for summer, in a white suit and blue ascot, held by a golden pin. She held a cigar in one hand, and a bottle of Les Hauts de Smith sat on the table, waiting for them.
Alli, now in a navy-blue cashmere sweater and khakis, hiked up the hill, toward Aro. As she took a seat, a waiter poured a glass of the red wine for each of them.
“So, I hear you are going to be the next Sky Avatar,” Aro said, letting out a plume of smoke.
“Where did you hear that?” Alli blanched, pulling herself closer to the table.
Aro sighed and re-crossed her legs, “I hear many things in the capital.”
Alli shook her head, “I’ve never known how to take any of it.”
“Come on now,” Aro chided, leaning forward, “You’re not going to reject this opportunity, are you?”
Alli looked around, nervous, “No of course not, but do you think I am ready for it? It’s like being told, tomorrow, you are going to be an ambassador.”
Clouds were floating by, further out to sea. The butt of Aro’s cigar burned bright, a whole tobacco leaf curling into ash, “I think you’re ready for it. It’s not natural to like beginnings or endings.”
The waiter brought them two plates of salmon and sorrel. The breakers of the other land pounded the shore and receded out to the horizon.