“I recognized the profile picture you submitted,” she said, marching over to the front door. “And you were the only person who didn’t show up. So, there’s that.”
Ugh. What a fucking start.
I cleared my throat. “So what’s your name?”
“Gabby,” she said as we exited the building back into the sweltering sunshine. She locked the door and motioned for me to follow her over to a two-door vehicle.
“Gabby, the person I’ve been in contact with for the last three months?” I asked as I tossed my bag on the backseat. Gabby the person I kept bugging in email after email about mundane stupid shit?
“That’s me,” she said, though from her default surprised expression she looked like she was unsure of that herself. Just gestured for me to get in the passenger side while she trotted around to hers and hopped in.
Inside the car it was sauna hot and I immediately started questioning if I had put on enough deodorant. While Gabby peeled the vehicle out onto a busy road, nearly taking out a few sightseers, she threw a stack of papers on my lap. “You better fill those out now.”
Before I had a chance to ask for a pen, she thrust one in my hands. I’d been annoying Gabby remotely for so long, it was strange to finally annoy her in person.
I looked over the papers. Most of them were photocopies of stuff I had already filled out online months ago but some were accident waivers and the like. I was grateful for something to do, to both keep our talk to a minimum and prevent me from watching the scene of impending doom as our car rushed through the traffic, nearly sideswiping, well, everything in our direction.
“So, Vera Miles?” Gabby questioned, between blaring the horn. “Are you named after the actress? I’m a big Hitchcock fan.”
I got this question all the time, usually from film buffs or old people. “No, my great-grandmother’s name was Vera. My mother said she never cared for the actress anyway, so she thought she could do better, I guess. Of course, she was totally wrong.” Even though I hadn’t been named after the fifties screen star, having her name definitely got me into a love of classic films. I even had an appreciation for the often overlooked actress, maybe because it pissed my mom off. Lord knows she probably thought I’d turn out to be a well-behaved beauty queen instead of a, well, me. Me and other Vera, we were underdogs.
With that thought in mind, I paused at the last question I had to fill out on the form: who was my emergency contact if something should happen to me. That was a bit of a tough one. I’d put my dad over my mother, just because we got along better, but my parents divorced when I was thirteen and he was a pilot, which meant he was more in the air than he was on the ground. Both my mother and Mercy seemed too busy with their own lives to give me much thought, which left Joshua. My dear brother was the only one who truly had my back. Unfortunately, he was high all the time, which was also kind of my fault.
I sighed and wrote down my mother’s information.
“There’s the bus,” Gabby said.
I looked up to see the bus pulled over to the side of the road, the engine running. We were on the outskirts of the city center where the tall business buildings started to peter out into wide boulevards framed by flowering trees.
“Thank you so much,” I said to her as she pulled up right behind it. “I am so sorry I was late.”
She finally smiled. It was quick but it was there. “It happens every program, don’t worry about it.”
I opened the door and got out. As I reached into the back to retrieve my pack I asked, “Any last minute advice?”