The Ballad of Troy & Roe, Part 4
When the main course arrived, Roe finally had to admit to herself that this date was not going well. It wasn’t the food—she’d enjoyed her salad-with-beets more than she’d expected, and what she had now was a pasta dish with seafood and a white sauce, which was the kind of thing she often enjoyed. But they kept lapsing into awkward silences, and when they actually talked, it was almost as awkward.
Maybe it was just because they knew they were being watched. She couldn’t stop thinking about Link, out there somewhere chaperoning them. But then she thought back to their interactions on campus. She couldn’t think of a single time that they’d been alone—except when she’d confessed that she liked him and he’d asked her on this date. And then they’d only been alone for a few minutes. All the rest of the time, they’d been with their other friends.
She sighed in the middle of enjoying her tasty dinner and put down her fork, then decided that she didn’t have to pronounce judgment on the date just yet. After all, it wasn’t like she’d gone on all that many dates in her life. She’d always been something of an outcast at school, due to the unpredictable ways and times that her visions would come upon her. She’d learned early on not to share the contents of her visions with anyone else, but the unexplainable seizures had kept her from connecting easily with others—though she’d been able to make friends with other outcasts, there hadn’t been a lot of dating going on in their circle.
So she really didn’t have a context for this. She would just have to make the best of it. And she realized there was a topic that would allow both of them to dredge up some enthusiasm. She took a sip of water to moisten her throat, then said, “So have you been swimming lately?”
He looked up from his food and brightened. “Yeah, just yesterday, actually! Link’s been taking me down to that park most weekends. There have been people there a few times, but not that often. It’s so beautiful, I would think people would go there all the time.”
She shrugged. “I guess they’re busy. Plus, it’s getting pretty chilly out.”
“The weather seems great to me.”
“But you’re from Michigan.” She grinned. “Must get really cold in your lake.”
“It depends on where you are. It gets colder near the surface. Actually, the temperature is lower at the bottom, but with the pressure there, we don’t feel it as much. I don’t think it’s the same for humans—not too many divers come down in the depths.”
She nodded. “Yeah, high-pressure water isn’t good for human divers.”
“Have you ever done that?”
“Oh, no.” She twisted her fork in her pasta. “I’ve only been swimming in pools. You don’t like them because of the chlorine, right?”
“Yeah, that stuff really isn’t pleasant to breathe.” He sighed. “Neither are some of the chemicals that get dumped in the lake, for that matter.”
She winced. “I guess not. You should join some anti-pollution groups or something while you’re up here.”
“Does that help?”
“Well, the groups have helped, I think.” She frowned and shook her head. “I should ask Professor Lal if there’s any water magic that would make water more pure.”
“That would be useful,” he agreed, going back to his dinner.