The hall is new. It is spectacular. It incorporates her grand idea.
Of course she didn’t get full credit for it. Yet they know. They know she came up with it. Partial credit was all she could manage. Frustration mingles with pride and glee.
She had stumbled upon a description in one of the books he had slipped into her bag on the way out. A book on historical architectural styles and the contemporary renaissance thereof. Inspiration took hold: she sketched a new idea deriving from the book’s more limited offerings well into the night. Archaically, with a pencil, on paper. She brought them in. To her astonishment her drawing was taken seriously and implemented. The architects were called upon again to take up extended contracts in order to add this “decorative aspect,” yet it lends the building its character.
Her Very Important Event. It was what he had alluded to, on that alluring trip to the capital.
They line up on the podium, she a little frantic because he is not there yet and she did not get to exchange sweet gazes. After, there will be time after. Now she gets to be on the podium. Someone introduces her and mentions her contributions, a little too modestly. She says a little too much and subtly corrects his moderate assessment of her input, drawing a few glares. Yet the free-flowing Amoral seems to have dulled the sarcastic edges of the city’s elite and they applaud good-naturedly at the closing of her speech.
She searches the crowd for his face.
She searches again after stepping down, after taking a seat, during the cocktail reception. Amoral abounds.
He isn’t there.
When the celebratory bottle was uncorked and the winter airship was launched, the sweep of the hands of a vast clock moved overhead in this reception hall. Her idea. Hers, despite the mechanical details being designed by the architects. The initial impulse came from her. The entire round ceiling, made into a clock. Looking through time to see the airships above the port. Through a portal. Time travel.
Where is he? I’ll be there, he had said. But he did not see the winter airship launch, nor did he observe the vast mechanism of the clock move for the first time.
He is late. This must mean his airship is late. Worry sinks the Amoral she has consumed deeper down into her stomach.
Time circles overhead. Does it carry admiration, or admonishment? She is not sure.
Story + image © 2016 Clio Em.
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