4 minutes

My father knocked me on my ass three more times before we called it. I had enough time to grab a shower and start preparing for my late lunch early dinner. That was also probably part of my problem – I was starving. And my biggest problem was deciding between impressing Alex with a five star chicken dish Marco taught me how to make or to go with tonight’s normal – steak.

I made sure to stop down in the cafeteria where Ms. Sheila gave me a lump of bread dough ready to cook. The bread made the apartment smell good, the steak would make it better, but I didn’t need to cook that till Alex arrived. I wasn’t even sure how that was going to work. I hadn’t given him the address. He knew where I lived, but I hadn’t told him what floor or which door was mine. It’s not like the Venatori floors had room numbers on them.

Fee was sitting on the counter while I chopped up carrots, summer squash and sweet potatoes to roast with some olive oil and salt and pepper. It would probably last me all week but with others eating it I might have to run to make a substitution.

I got a text as I put the vegetables in the oven under the bread.

A: Funny thing? I don’t know exactly where you live.

N: I’ll be down. It’s easier to show you than tell you.

My hair was still wet, I’d changed the color from the red tips to a dark blue. I tugged my shoes on over my bare feet. I wasn’t wearing ‘date’ clothes – just shorts and a sarcastic t-shirt that said ‘perfectly imperfect’, which ironically fit my mood. I hadn’t chosen it specifically. It was next in line in the drawer. Everything had a place and a pattern to follow including what I wore.

I took the elevator. I hated the elevator but it didn’t want to keep Alex waiting too long. He might decide it’s not worth it and walk away. It was never an easy ride I kept my eyes closed and my hands firmly gripped the brass bar that kept a person from leaning on the glass walls. It was a nice view looking down upon all the lobby but I couldn’t do it. I’d be a broken mess if I looked.

We hit the ground floor and I hurried out taking a deep breath to calm myself before I started looking for Alex. I expected him to be sitting at the same table he always had in the mornings. Instead I found him staring at Atlas.

I approached knowing the first question out of his mouth would be, did you really make this?
He looked up and smirked at me. I swear he had to be reading my thoughts. I pulled my shields up. He sort of flinched, like it had hurt. He covered it by slapping his arm like a bug had bitten him. He looked up at the globe full of ants. “Can they get out?”

I grinned and shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t really know how they got in there, so I guess they can get out. The globe at the top of Atlas was a transparent glass terrarium. The seeds to grow the grass inside were the only thing I hadn’t made with the elements.

“Why did you make this and why so big?” Alex asked.

It wasn’t disbelief that I had which was refreshing. I was tired of telling people Yeah I made it. “Dae’lin, my instructor, told me I had to do an art project instead of an artifact of war as I usually did every year for the art of war fair we have in the Academy. I didn’t want to to do it and up until the last day I stalled. It was a quick assembly and it wasn’t even original. I used an art history book and copied it throwing in the glass globe that could sustain life without any assistance. I only had seeds. It rains inside on really sunny days when the sun from outside warms the glass. It’s kinda cool to watch really.”

“So you used science and magic?”

I grinned at him. “Yeah. You ready to go up?”

He smirked at me, “You have no idea.” I grinned at him in response. Oh I had an idea.

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