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A Wish in the Well

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Susan had a penchant for obsolete, obscure pop songs. She would dredge them up from the great database of collective adolescent subconscious in the computer records, select a century and a decade at random, and soak in the trite, candied melodies and hollow lyrics of ages long past. The stylistic trends and the slang changed, but the core of the music stayed wonderfully constant, a great, solid rock to ground her life with.

Either that, or it was just another form of masochism.

Susan invented an accompanying game that consisted of taking a shot every time she stumbled across a song describing a positive, inane or otherwise serendipitous relationship she’d never experienced.

After selecting the apparent gem of “Call Me Maybe,” she sat back in her chair and downed the glass before the opening notes had even begun.

 

Talia glanced at the woman seated at the bar and tried to find the right words. Her mind drew only white noise. The white noise of a whole world of telepathic signals around her, struggling to tune themselves into unwanted focus. Talia closed her eyes, tried to let it fade into the familiar background. Reminded herself that this was about the woman, a woman, not the collective whole that was the Psi Corps.

The woman drank as if she was practiced. It was visible in the steel of her eyes, in the deliberate poise of her hands clasped around the glass, fingers smudging pathways in the condensation. Talia watched and observed, merely part of the daily backdrop of life aboard the station.

She glanced at the woman seated at the bar and tried to find the right words.

Maybe she should start with the woman’s name.

Susan Ivanova. Naming a thing was said to help dissuade oneself from fearing it.

Talia did not think that name-dropping the Psi Corps would reduce anyone’s fear at any given moment, and it certainly wouldn’t for this particular woman.

In her mind, she flipped a providential coin into the vastness of the universe before remembering that without gravity, it had no reason to stop spinning. She decided to call the flip herself, then stood up to buy a drink.

As she neared the woman in proximity, her mind picked up a stray thought. Latched onto it. Latched onto this vestige of a memory, addled with the fuzz of alcohol, broadcasted with the alarming intensity of an unwanted but earnestly meant song having wormed its way into one’s head.

The woman startled, reaction time sluggish.

The words slipped from Talia’s mouth before she could rein them in: “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe?”

Susan Ivanova dropped her glass.