HUMAN/SUPER First Contact 21

Angela smiled and stared down the neck of her bottle. She took a long drink. Genesis leaned forward and heaved herself off the couch.

“I need to hit the little girls’ room,” she said. “I’ll be right back.”

“Okay,” Angela said, and watched Genesis disappear into the crowd.

As she did, she noticed a small woman with curly blond hair down to her waist standing off by herself, looking as out of place in her yellow dress as Angela felt. The woman seemed to have noticed Angela, too, because suddenly she was heading her way.

“May I sit?” the woman asked, speaking with a thick German accent.

Angela finished off her beer and nodded. The woman perched on the edge of the couch.

“You seem uncomfortable,” she said.

Angela nodded again.

“I’m not good around people,” she said.

“I know how you feel,” the woman said. “As a child, I had no friends. My grandmother would not allow it. When she died, the whole world opened up to me, and I was terrified. But four years later, I know so many people.” She gestured to the crowd. “My life could not be farther from what I had expected. I even sing in a band.”

“Sounds nice,” Angela said. “I guess.”

“It has its moments,” the woman said, and extended her hand to Angela. “My name is Greta.”

Angela’s back started to itch again as she stared at the woman’s hand. She inhaled deeply, took Greta’s hand, and looked up into her brown eyes.

Twenty-two years of crushing loneliness washed over Angela, like crawling on hands and knees through a long, dark tunnel. Memories of sitting in a classroom, watching other children from afar, too afraid to reach out. But at the end of the tunnel, a light: Jackie, her first and dearest friend.

Angela looked away.