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   Chapter 14 No.14

A Girl Named Sandy By Paul Kater Characters: 12011

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04


We need to talk

The strange and wonderful, and yet no more mentioned event that had happened on Sandy's birthday lay a few weeks behind them already. Paul was grateful for the daily routine that they had established so far, it was easy and safe to just keep that going. Despite his silence, all kinds of doubts and fears kept gnawing at him. Sandy did not like the way he had pulled back, but she knew she had little choice but to play along. Anything said or done that was out of the ordinary might change the volatile situation that they had so spontaneously created into a combustion chamber. She had not talked about the night-time adventure to her parents. It had only been a one time affair. Nothing substantial, nothing that would help the situation. There also were moments when all she wanted to do was pack up her belongings and go back home.

Yet it was Paul who was going to change the situation. His work on the strange appearance in the Tarantula Nebula was keeping him and Don very busy. So busy that Sandy had to go home alone at times, and he would get home by the time she was asleep. Due to that, it had become a routine for Sandy to walk into the laboratory at the end of the day, to see if he was still busy, or getting ready to leave. It was like that, this day.

Don and Paul were both on the telephone when she walked in, a familiar sight these days. Paul saw Sandy come in and waved at her, pointing at the slightly ragged extra office chair they possessed. He was on a long distance call with someone who spoke a dazzling combination of a stray version of English and Spanish, and Spanish was taking the upper hand. "Un momento por favor, " Paul said, wiping the perspiration from his forehead. The flow of words from the telephone receiver stopped after a while. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and looked beggingly at Sandy. "Please tell me you know someone who speaks Spanish. This man is driving me bonkers."

"I speak some Spanish, " she said. "Not very good, but I can give it a try if you want." She rolled the chair with the failing wheel closer to his desk. "What is this about?"

"Someone" - Paul heard the flow of words pick up again and barked another 'un momento' into the phone - "from Puerto Rico. He is trying to tell me something and I can't figure it out because he speaks like a machine gun with rabies."

"A machine gun with rabies. Sure..." Sandy failed to picture the image, but held out her hand. "Gimme." A slight jolt went through her as she touched his warm hand to take over the telephone. "Ola?" she said. "Quién está hablando, por favor? Who is speaking, please?" The man on the other side introduced himself as Professor Miguel Juarez, working at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

"Thank the Lord that you speak Spanish, " the professor on the other side of the world said. "I have tried to tell Doctor Carmichael that we need his presence here. Him and his simulating device. We are making discoveries that take too long to send over to your university."

"Please, let me translate, " Sandy interrupted the Puerto Rican professor, and she told Paul what Professor Juarez had said.

"Go to Puerto Rico? When?" Paul wanted to know. Part of him jumped at the opportunity. He had been there before and would love to go there again, but he did have the obligation to look after Sandy. He could not leave her in Bristol for weeks, which probably was the idea.

Sandy talked to Professor Miguel again, her confidence in her Spanish growing as the man did not seem to have a problem understanding her. "Next month. For

il just now, when you hugged her. She lost control for a moment, like you did."

"That wasn't a hug, " Paul feebly tried.

"Hell it was, Paul. Don't pull my leg because that hurts. If you care for that girl in a particular way, then tell her. And care for her. People will gossip about anything, Paul, so if they do, at least make sure you get to enjoy your end of it." Don fell back in his chair, suddenly looking extinguished after his monologue. "Now go, don't make her wait. And remember that I am not going to say this again, because I wouldn't be able to for the life of me."

Flabbergasted, Paul nodded, got up and took his bag. "Yes. Okay. I, uhm, I guess I'll see you tomorrow." He walked to the door, then turned. "And Don? Thank you."

"For kicking your shins? Any time, Paul. Now go." Don waved his hand as if he was beating off an annoying bug.

"I'm going, " the researcher at the door laughed, feeling highly uncomfortable as he did so. "And don't forget to go home yourself." After that, Paul walked out and went to the bikes.

Sandy came walking up, already wearing her helmet. When she bent over to unlock the bicycle, she looked at him as she felt his hand on her shoulder. A bit of fear attacked her heart but her face remained calm. "Is something the matter?"

"I think we need to talk. Granted, this is the worst place of all to bring this up, " Paul said, waving his hand at the bicycle shed, "but it can't wait."

"You want to talk here? About what?" Sandy was keeping her guard up. She did not want to be hurt by letting her feelings show once again. Paul smiled, in the way that she found irresistible, yet she remained quiet.

"No. Not here. Let's go out for dinner. My treat, your choice."

"McDonalds?" she tried. He loathed McDonalds.

His face twitched. "If that is what you want, then that is what you'll have."

This was serious, she understood. If he would even stoop to McDonalds, then something was pressing down on him. "No, I was joking. Would you take me to the Riverstation, on the Grove?" They had been there once, and she loved the place.

"We'd need to change, " Paul said, "but that would be wonderful." He looked into her eyes and saw a small flicker of... hope?

"Then we'd better start moving and get changed." Sandy sat on her bike. "I'll race you."

"Not in this traffic, " he told her, but she proved him wrong.

***

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