22 October 2012

tilly with the others: part 34

Between "the morning she took the light bulb out of the fridge", as Tilly insisted on thinking of it, and the Saturday she was due to have lunch at Owen's, nothing much happened either with the hostiles or the Others. Then again, Tilly stayed in her apartment as much as possible, only making one trip to the ground floor to put her garbage directly into the dumpster out back. The two Pizza Tela shifts she'd had on Thursday and Friday had been mostly uneventful — she'd received three messages from the Others which seemed to be warning her about where the hostiles were in her building, but she'd already had to find that out for herself.

Friday her shift had ended late — ten at night — but she hadn't felt sleepy, so for the first time since his funeral she'd pulled out her photo albums and looked at snapshots of her and Marcus. She didn't look at any of the albums with photos of Owen in them, only the ones from university and from just after they'd arrived in Canada. Well, probably Owen was conceived back home, but before she was showing, anyhow.

Saturday morning she got up and made breakfast, spent a few minutes agonising over clothes (comfortable, but dressy enough to keep Beth off her back), then headed down the stairs. She got as far as the seventh floor before deciding to head back up and get her copy of We Came from Outer Space: A Study of the Human Extraterrestrial to read on the bus.

She made a quick detour to the local Metro to pick up a packet of speculaas to sneak to Emily and Mercedes, then took the subway down to Union Station. It was only when she disembarked that she stopped worrying about the hostiles posing as TTC workers.

Union Station was an odd jumble of old and new. The old, grand railway station was upstairs from the subway stop. Tilly loved the marble floors and the carved stone walls. Downstairs was a hash of 1950s practicality mixed with budget-conscious 1970s renos. But downstairs was where the regional bus tickets were sold. She found a wicket, paid for a round trip, and learned that the bus stops had all moved since the last time she had taken one.

She had to wait about fifteen minutes before the bus she wanted arrived, so she stood at the stop and read her book.

"Hey," she heard someone say, and glanced up. It was a middle-aged man, maybe a bit older than Owen. Once he saw he had her attention, he nodded at her book.

"Gibbs has been refuted, you know," he said. "I saw a Nova episode once, they went through all of his theories and explained how he was wrong."

"It's still a good read," said Tilly. "And I like to read books for historical reasons."

The man blinked, apparently surprised that Tilly hadn't immediately put away the book and asked him the title of the Nova episode. "But don't you want to find out the truth about the history of civilisation?" he said. "Something that doesn't involve little green men?"

"I'm ninety per cent of the way through, and Gibbs has never called the extraterrestrials 'little green men'," said Tilly. She held up the book sideways to show the man where her bookmark was. "And I am interested in the history of civilisation. I even have a degree in it. Do you?"

The man scowled and shuffled away. A few more people gathered around the stop. Tilly hoped the bus wasn't so crowded that she'd wind up sitting near the man for lack of choice in seats.

She threw the book in her reusable shopping bag, which already held the speculaas. A bus that had been parked in a different part of the terminal pulled up at long last. Tilly got her ticket ready and started gently pushing forward with the crowd, wishing Canadians would learn how to queue.

A woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties put her hand on Tilly's arm. "Don't mind that man," she said. "He's in the same boat you are, trying to figure us out." She gave Tilly a wink and got on the bus ahead of her.

Tilly made her way up the steep steps to the bus aisle, presenting her ticket as she went. GO buses were more like coaches, although there wasn't as much storage space. Tilly found a window seat, grateful when the bus pulled out of the station with no-one sitting beside her. She put her shopping bag on the empty seat beside her, but kept her purse on her lap.

She started to get her book out to finish it — she only had one more chapter and the afterword to go — but decided it could wait until she got to the Tim Horton's. She didn't want the book to attract any more attention, and Owen was bound to be late. He always was.

The words of the woman who had got on the bus before her sank in. Who was "us" — humans or Others? Tilly glanced around the bus to find her, but couldn't figure out which seat the woman was in. Maybe she'd have a chance to ask her when they all got to Brampton.

Confirmed. Subject has left the vicinity and is under protection.

Time to move.

5 comments:

  1. Yes, I suppose a book like that would attract attention! Loved the little contact there. The transmission there at the end is perfect, gets us wondering what's about to happen.

    And what are "speculaas"? Dictionary lookup didn't have anything. I'd have thought glasses, but the context suggests some kind of treat for the grandkids.

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  2. Speculaas are named from the Latin speculum, meaning mirror. They are wonderful, crunchy spice cookies shaped into little images of traditional (now perhaps a bit quaint) Dutch life: windmills, little kids in traditional costume holding hands, tulips. I've tried a couple of the North American baked versions, and they're always a bit wrong -- has to be an imported brand.

    According to Wikipedia, they are also spelled speculoos, but I've never seen that spelling anywhere else.

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  3. Oh interesting! Is the woman one of them or one of them? ^__^ Hurry up and write next week"s episode already! ^__^

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  4. Sorry for delayed response. Still not online at home. I like the way the guy makes a character judgement based on the book Tilly's holding. I also like her reply!

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