Patience in waiting was a cultivated skill — one worth nurturing, as otherwise the waiting game could be quite maddening. Callie enjoyed a series of fine meals, work-outs, and mindless media entertainment as she waited for a new development. She spent a portion of each waking cycle reviewing her plans for any desired adjustments, but kept it to a restricted duration so she wouldn’t get too obsessive.
She found the book she had started what seemed like ages ago now, on the end table next to her couch in the sitting room. She decided she was unlikely to get reading interruptions while she waited — and any interruptions at this point would be far more welcome than annoying — so it was an ideal time to finish the book.
She found the inclusion of the “novel within a novel” excerpts to be surprisingly less disruptive than she’d expected. Instead, it was just enough interesting and connected indirectly to the main story to keep the reader going, while not being so engaging that one was disappointed to only get incomplete story pieces. The tension thus created made it all the more satisfying when the novel arc resumed.
The finale was similarly fraught, an uncomfortable completion that didn’t leave the reader feeling like there were major loose ends, yet still left feelings of disquiet, especially in the dream sequence a few pages from the end. All in all a thoroughly satisfying read — as well as rather inspirational, given recent events and likely plans.
Callie placed it back on the bookshelf where it belonged, but didn’t choose another book to follow it. She might change her mind if the wait continued for long enough, but for now she’d go with the tidy optimism of hoping she wouldn’t have time to finish another before more exciting events came her way. She did think that the movie version of the book might be a nice next diversion, however.
She sliced and cored a crisp apple, cubed two ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, and poured herself half a glass of tangy white wine as a snack with her movie. She found the choice of screenwriter a quite interesting contrast to the book’s author. She thought the addition of more actor roles in the movie was done well; she’d suspected Hollywood wouldn’t go for a blockbuster movie with only two actors, but the cut-scenes with the others were at least believable. The lead female certainly deserved her best actress award though she didn’t think the male lead showed nearly the necessary emotional depth for his role. Really, the main disagreement she had artistically with it was the change in the ending — she really felt it diluted the impact of the rest of the story.
As she was rinsing her snack plate in the kitchen afterward, there was a knock at the door.
Callie carefully set the plate down, dried her hands, and moved to the door. She twitched the curtain aside just enough to get a glimpse of her caller. An unexpected event: the person standing on the other side was no one Callie had met or seen before.
A woman, obviously past her first flush of youth but in the indeterminate era before middle-age, stood with easy confidence facing the door. Her features had the exotic cast of mixed cultural heritage, and most standards of beauty would consider her quite lovely. She was well-groomed, wearing a stylish dress suit that looked to Callie’s trained eye to be an original creation, though not a designer’s work she recognized. She held in her hand something Callie did recognize: the letter to Z’Aria that Callie had sent out.
Callie retrieved the kitchen spoon she’d used previously and pushed open the mail slot to better hear.
“We seem to have a mutual acquaintance,” the woman answered.
“So I see. Is there a message?”
“After a fashion. Also, a delivery.”
“Continue.” Callie wedged the spoon into the slot so that it would stay open, while she stood up to look through a corner of the curtains again at the speaker.
“This young lady,” here the woman shook the held paper meaningfully toward the door, as if she assumed she was being watched, “came to us and asked our help. She’d apparently been wandering for some time looking for assistance, as she didn’t really know how to help you in your predicament.”
Here she paused as if waiting for a reply. Callie remained silent. After a few moments, the lady continued.
“After she explained the details and showed us this letter, we realized we could actually give assistance in this situation, strangely enough.”
This time it looked as if she was content to wait out the silence, so Callie spoke. “Not likely the strangest thing I’ve seen lately.”
The woman had a nice smile, very friendly and inviting and natural-feeling. “I preferred to make the errand myself. Z’Aria is a nice young lady but flighty at times, and this seemed rather important.”
She held up her other hand. It held a key. It looked very like the one that fit Callie’s internal deadbolt.
How very interesting.
“This is yours?”
“It may very well be. I would have to try it to be sure.”
The woman wrapped the letter around the key for ease of delivery and pushed it through the mail slot. Callie heard a tiny musical ring as it hit the tile of the entry. She bent down and retrieved the package immediately, unfolding the letter and grasping the key tightly in her fist. She looked out the window again, this time opening the curtain wide enough that the woman could see she was being observed.
“Thank you. May I have your name in case we meet again?”
The woman gave a deadpan look in return. “With some small fortune, I doubt we shall meet again. I wish you good luck in your endeavors, but I must return to focus on mine. We have large plans coming to fruition at last, and I wish to be ready.”
“Indeed. I know how you feel.” Callie retrieved the spoon holding open the mail slot, listening to the clank as it closed. She saw the woman raise her now-empty hand in a half-wave before turning and making her way gracefully down the walk and out of sight.
Callie slid the key into the lock. It fit.
She took it out again and went to prepare for another outdoor adventure.
It was time to go prowling.