Enjoy an exclusive guest post from Andrea L. Staum, author of “The Time Between,” featured in our upcoming anthology ON TIME.
Julian leaned against his backpack and adjusted his earphone. He had hours of audio plays loaded onto his phone and with the weather delay he was going to get through most of them. He tried closing his eyes to visualize the story as it was told, but his paranoia was getting the better of him. Even with his legs resting on his carry-on he worried someone would grab it or he’d forget it somehow.
“Is this seat taken?”
Julian removed his left earphone to better hear the elderly woman standing before him.
“Is this seat taken?” she repeated.
Looking to his right he saw the only empty chair near the gate was beside him and dumbly nodded.
“Thank you,” she said, collapsing into the seat, her handbag falling open over his lap. “Sorry.”
Julian smiled and helped her gather the magazines, crossword books, and pens. There were brief glimpses of a cashier ringing up the purchase and a child doodling something in a book. The playful image made him smile. He knew he was fortunate in his gift only showing him people connected to items in the present unlike the other members of his clairvoyant team. He reached down to grab her phone from between his feet. As he did the thin chain holding his ring slipped from beneath his shirt. It swung heavily in the air.
“That’s pretty,” the woman said as she took the items from him. “Your father’s?”
“No.” Julian’s smile waned as he tried hiding it beneath his collar again. His fingers wrapping around the cool metal causing a brief image of two men in a store. He let go of the ring and let it rest between his two shirts so it wouldn’t touch his skin.
“I see,” the woman said as she organized her bag.
“It’s just easier to not wear it during work,” Julian explained.
She didn’t reply and paged through one of her puzzle books.
He realized his error as sitting in the airport hardly constituted work anymore. The mission was over and he was heading home. Unhooking the chain, he slipped the meteorite ring back onto his finger. He tried to focus on his surroundings, but found it hard to concentrate. Instead he followed the currents of connection between the ring and his husband, Tay, and found himself in an antique store with their boss. He was still paranoid about his luggage so he didn’t slip into the scene fully, but it was reassuring. He hadn’t seen Tay smile since just before the ring was placed on his finger. Even their honeymoon had been strained as Tay was forcing himself to have fun. That was why Julian had asked for this mission to give him some space and figure out how their marriage was going to work.
“Feels better in its place, doesn’t it?” The woman asked as she twisted her own wedding band between her fingers.
Julian nodded. It did feel like a part of him was reconnected and even if the storm outside the airport raged there was going to be calm when he got home.
Andrea L. Staum is the author of the Dragonchild Lore series, The Attic's Secret novella, Scattered Dreams short story collection, and has contributed to several best-selling anthologies. She is a trained motorcycle technician, an amateur home renovator, and somehow manages to find time to write. She lives in south central Wisconsin with her husband and their overlords… err… cats.
ON TIME is coming in Summer 2020. Be sure to follow us on Amazon.