Editorâ€™s note: This is the eighth installment of the fiction story â€œInside the Hollow Sun,â€ which will run in Verve throughout the rest of the semester.
I wasnâ€™t sure how long Iâ€™d been crying for. It must have been awhile. Once I got my composure back, I looked up for Elizabeth. I saw her and Officer Burling a couple hundred yards away. They had walked along the path, and it looked like they had even started up a conversation. Itâ€™s hard for people to not like Elizabeth. Greg and I speculated that it might be one of the effects of her implant. I paused for a moment after that thought. Greg.
I pulled out my phone and called him.
â€œHarrison!â€ Greg exclaimed over the phone. I felt a sudden pang of guilt. It almost sounded like heâ€™d been waiting for this call.
â€œHey Greg, how are things?â€ I asked.
â€œPretty boring. I havenâ€™t really left the apartment or anything.â€
â€œOh, yeah. Well thereâ€™s nothing wrong with a quiet weekend every now and again, right?â€
â€œNah, thereâ€™s nothing wrong with it. Most of the time there isnâ€™t anything good about it either.â€ The enthusiasm had already drained out of Gregâ€™s voice. â€œHowâ€™s Ketchum?â€ he asked.
â€œItâ€™s fine.â€ I stopped. Greg waited as I searched for my next words. â€œIâ€™m here,â€ I finally managed to say.
â€œWhatâ€™s it like?â€ he asked.
â€œNice,â€ I said. â€œI think youâ€™d like it.â€
â€œTake a picture for me.â€ I could feel the longing in his voice tug at me. Tears started forming again.
â€œSure, Greg, Iâ€™ll bring back pictures. Actually, Iâ€™ve got to go. My chaperoneâ€™s making me hang up. Iâ€™ll talk to you soon.â€
â€œOh, alright. Iâ€™llâ€”â€ Gregâ€™s voice cut off as I ended the call. A few tears had started streaming down my cheek.
â€œWhy did you hang up on your friend there?â€
Startled, I turned around and saw a man had walked up behind me. He looked around 40 and his head was shaved clean. He wore a black button-up and khakis. I stood up quick and faced him.
â€œOh, I see,â€ he said. â€œHaving a moment, are we?â€ Embarrassed, I wiped my eyes and nose.
â€œI donâ€™t think thatâ€™s really any of your business,â€ I said.
â€œFair enough,â€ he replied. â€œSo what are you?â€ I didnâ€™t understand his question. He waited before nodding to Hemingwayâ€™s grave. â€œWhat are you? Just a fan?â€
â€œSomething like that,â€ I said. He watched me for a minute, and I sighed. I bent my head and pushed aside the hair that hid my implantâ€™s scar.
â€œGot ya,â€ the man said. â€œWell me, personally, Iâ€™m just a fan of the manâ€™s work. How about you send me a message some time? We can talk some classic fiction, huh?â€ The man pulled out a card and passed it to me. I looked at the name on it: Dr. Evan Wendell.
â€œWhat the hell is going on here?â€ Officer Burling and Elizabeth had made it back to me. I put my hand with the card in a pocket before either of them noticed it.
â€œNothing,â€ said Dr. Evan Wendell. â€œNothing at all. I was just leaving actually. You all have a wonderful day.â€ Without another word, I watched him turn around and walk toward the black metal arch at the entrance as I clutched his card in my pocket.
Fiction writer Justin Goodfellow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.