The tall glass and steel skyscraper shone in the early days light. Kya felt excited as she approached the building. She smoothed out her blouse tucking it neatly into her skirt, making sure everything looked perfect. The doors to the building were constantly opening and closing as a wave of office workers flooded through the entrance. With her completed checklist still repeating endlessly in her head, Kya joined the masses, and entered. The air inside the building was dry, and slightly warmer than the chill of the morning breeze.
Walking between the elevators, and around behind to the hallway, she saw the familiar solid wooden doors of Classic Communication. It was as though a fire was igniting within her, one she knew she couldn’t quell, and she would likely never want to.
She pushed open the door, and entered. Sunlight poured through the windows into the open space. It was not as intimidating as it had been when she had sat through her interview.
“Kya! I’m so happy you made it. No issues getting here I hope?” Joanne rushed towards Kya, her tone chipper, a smile on her face.
“No, this place is within walking distance of my apartment.” Kya replied, with an equal smile.
“That’s great.” Joanne looked Kya up and down. “I guess I should have mentioned that we are more of a casual place, eh?”
Joanne was wearing black slacks, and a flower print t-shirt. Her running shoes were clean, and much more comfortable looking than the black dress flats that Kya had chosen.
Kya blushed slightly. “I wanted to make a good impression.”
“If you hadn’t, do you think I would have hired you?” Joanne moved in close, standing shoulder to shoulder with Kya. Both women faced the interior of Classic Communication, standing by the door. Light beams from the windows illuminated the solid wood shelving where thousands of books were stored. “You will be our front-line person. When people come in here, they will interact with you first. I want them to have an experience. I want them to feel welcome and comfortable. I want them to remember you, and consequently this store.”
Heat filled Kya’s cheeks as she knew her light blushing had been replaced with an entirely red face.
Joanne, not missing a beat, began to walk towards the large central desk and placed her hand on it. It illuminated, and the wooden top was hidden by dozens of computer applications. Without much thought, Kya followed at nearly the same pace.
“This will be your desk. From here, people will purchase books, or look at making appointments to talk with me. There are many things you will have to learn, and it might feel overwhelming at first, but I have faith that you’ll figure it out in due course. Just let me know if I try to throw too much at you today.”
“You should know that I started this company, and I have four people working for me, including yourself. I just recently promoted Cassie, who used to have your job, to be one of the editors of the book submissions we get. Feel free to ask her any questions as well.”
Energy was bursting from Kya, in an almost uncontrollable way. She felt like her body was vibrating. “I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
“You don’t have to.” Joanne said with a kind chuckle. “Follow me, and we’ll look at the print-on-demand system we have here. It is probably the neatest machine we own.”
Kya followed her new boss down the rows of books to a small back room where several large printers sat. In the middle, on a pedestal, was a small, mostly metal object.
“What’s that?” Kya asked, pointing.
“That is a scale miniature of a Gutenberg printing press. It’s here as a symbol. It brought printing to the masses, sharing knowledge and passion in a way that hadn’t really been done before and that’s my goal in life.”
The rest of the day passed by in an instant. Joanne’s passion only served to increase Kya’s own. It was infectious. Over the course of the day, Kya helped print manuscripts with writers that were working with Classic Communication to publish their books. She was able to assist a customer in finding the book they were looking for in the thousands shelved within the store, and helped a first time writer organize an appointment to meet with Joanne.
There was a huge sense of accomplishment that she could hold her own and be so productive. Her mind was a hurricane, with facts, figures, information, and statistics. While she was exhausted by the end of the day, she also felt fulfilled.
“Good night, Kya. Great first day!” Joanne said as she turned off the overhead lights.
Kya exited the now quiet building, and walked out onto the sidewalk. She didn’t want to go back to the apartment yet, but wanted to share her day, and experiences with someone.
“Hey Mattie,” Kya said when her friend answered her call. “How are you doing?”
“I’m good, I’m good. How are you?” Mattea’s voice was melodic and she sounded genuinely happy to hear from her friend.
“I’m good.” Kya answered. “Listen, are you free? I’d like to see you in person if that’s at all possible, even just for a quick coffee or something.”
“Sure,” Mattea said, and it sounded like she was smiling. “Actually, Rory’s working late tonight and I was just wondering what to do for dinner. Would you mind swinging by here? I can cook up something nice for us.”
“That sounds awesome! Whatever you want to make is good by me.” Kya grinned, and walked, almost skipping, to the bus stop. She sent a text to Sam to let him know her day went well and that she would be going to Mattea’s for dinner.
>Awesome! Have fun. I’ll see you when you get home. He sent back.
Kya greeted the bus driver with a friendly smile as she boarded and paid her fare, then moved to the back, donning her earphones to listen to music on the long bus ride to Mattea’s house. As the bus wound it’s way through the city, Kya glimpsed graffiti murals of black hooded figures, that she now recognized as Shadow Striders, helping the poor and the weak out of the darkness. Kya smiled to herself. She looked around the bus at all of the people who didn’t even seem to notice the graffiti, and it struck her how little most of the population knew about the world they lived in. How little she had known of it a few short months ago.
She got off the bus at the grocery store, and walked the rest of the way to Mattea’s house. Her feet hurt in her dress flats, but she still didn’t mind the walk.
The porch light was on, at Mattea’s house and the front door was open a crack. As Kya climbed the steps, the aroma of meat and black pepper wafted in the air and caused her to salivate. She entered and started talking before she could even see her friend. “Hey Mattie, is that stew? It smells delicious!”
“Yeah, I just opened a few cans.” Mattea replied from the kitchen.
Kya kicked off her shoes in the front hall and rounded the corner into the kitchen. The dining room table had already been set for two.
“I got up to cook and realized I have, like, zero energy. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Not in the slightest.” Kya said, wrapping her friend in a hug.
“Wow! You look nice!” Mattea said, taking in Kya’s appearance.
“New clothes for work.” Kya said with a nod. “Is there anything I can do to help? Shouldn’t you go sit down?”
“I’m okay. I’m not that pregnant yet. It just needs to be served into bowls.”
Kya grabbed the bowls and served the food, directing Mattea to sit. She looked at her friend’s bulging belly. There was something about knowing that there was a precious life growing inside of her friend that made Kya tingle slightly with joy.
“Okay,” Mattea said with a heavy sigh as she sat at the table. “Tell me everything. How did it go at SLT?”
Kya brought over Mattea’s bowl and stared straight into her eyes.
“Don Georgetown was right.” Kya said, placing the bowl in front of her friend.
Mattea’s brow furrowed, and her mouth fell open.
“About my job.” Kya continued, grabbing her own bowl. “I deserved to be fired. I was a terrible employee.”
“Okay.” Mattea said slowly.
“Don’t get me wrong, Don Georgetown is a terrible person. He never should have had as much power as he did, and he got away with far too much for far too long. But he was right about me. I never gave my all. I never tried. My negative attitude held me back, and made me a liability. My attitude was contagious, and I got the same negativity handed to me that I was dishing out.”
Mattea raised her eyebrows. “Wow.”
“It’s time for me to grow up. To start pulling my weight.” Kya paused for a moment to eat and couldn’t help notice that the stew was pretty good. “Even today at Classic Communication, for the first time I felt like an adult. I still have a lot to learn about my job, but I feel like I fit. Do you know what I’m talking about?”
Mattea smiled and nodded, chewing on a mouthful of food.
“It’s like the world can be a terrible place, and it’s so not fair. But you kind of get what you give. The First Gens are forced to live in a prison, and can’t be seen or touched in the larger world, but New Eden is…” Kya fought to find the words. “Full of music. It’s a family. It’s so full of life!”
Mattea grinned. “I wish I could see it.”
“I’ve learned that you get what you give. I have been handed some amazing opportunities in my life recently, and I have to share my good fortune for the greater good.”
Kya and Mattea chatted and enjoyed each other’s presence for hours, and Kya cleaned up while Mattea rested.
“Hey, Kya, there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.” Mattea said as Kya was getting ready to leave. “Rory and I were wondering if you’d be willing to be our baby’s godmother.”
It took Kya a moment to find her voice. “I – I’d be honoured.” She said in slightly more than a whisper.