Editorâ€™s note: This is the fifth installment of the fiction story â€œInside the Hollow Sun,â€ which will run in Verve throughout the rest of the semester.
Friday couldnâ€™t come quick enough. Iâ€™d put in the request for this trip months ago, and it had been a hassle. Dr. Clermont had met with some of his colleagues to review my file before they even considered my request. Iâ€™d asked for permission to go to Ketchum, Idaho this upcoming weekend.
Saturday would be July 2, and Iâ€™d gotten it in my head that I needed to be there. I wanted to see his grave. I couldnâ€™t be sure Iâ€™d have the chance to ever go again.
On the first review, I got a blunt â€œno.â€ It was two more applications before they took my request seriously. Iâ€™d had to answer pretty standard questions for themâ€”
Review Board: Why do you want to take this trip?
Me: I think that going to his home might help. I might be able to write again or stop the cutting. It could be a wake up call.
Review Board: Why do you think youâ€™re eligible to be awarded city leave for the weekend?
Me: I never miss therapy, and I havenâ€™t applied for additional funds to take the trip.
Review Board: Why are you requesting that one, Elizabeth Metzer, be allowed to go with you?
â€”Like I said, standard questions.
The review board ended up granting me permission. They set up the flight and gave us one of their guys to chaperone. The chaperone would hold our funds, IDs, hotel keys, etc. Not the best possible outcome, but I wouldnâ€™t have been surprised if theyâ€™d just turned me down all together.
Elizabeth stayed over at my place the night before we left. She was fine with taking the couch. Greg didnâ€™t even know she was coming with me. I felt bad about not asking him, but I wanted it to be her. My apartment buzzer started going off at nine on Friday morning. I opened the door to a large man in a gray suit. He was about 6â€™5â€™â€™ and thick.
â€œKnapp-Hem?â€ he read off his phone.
â€œYeah,â€ I said.
â€œOfficer Burling,â€ he said. He noticed Elizabeth sitting down with cereal and looked back to his phone. â€œAnd this must be,â€ he paused. â€œMetzer? Is that right?â€
â€œThatâ€™s me,â€ Elizabeth said between bites.
â€œJust Metzer then? Iâ€™d been told you both had implants,â€ he said, still staring at his phone.
â€œCorrect,â€ I said. He began to look confused.
â€œI donâ€™t carry my implant tag on my name,â€ Elizabeth said. Sheâ€™d found her way to the door. â€œThe only side effect Iâ€™m diagnosed with is blindness; so, thereâ€™s really no need for you to have that information.â€ Greg and I had tried to figure out what type of implant Elizabeth had gotten many times. We still didnâ€™t know.
Officer Burling glared at her. â€œFine,â€ he said. â€œMetzer. Letâ€™s get going. The vanâ€™s waiting.â€
I picked up my bag and handed Elizabeth hers. She took it and held it out in the direction of Officer Burling. He scowled and grabbed it from her as we all headed out the door.
_Fiction writer Justin Goodfellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _