Touching The Face

Though not nearly as technically challenging as the previous image, this one was very enjoyable to create in both the planning and the finish.

Part of the motivation for this image was a sentence I heard in a youtube video. I had to find out where it came from and found this poem:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

–John Gillespie Magee, Jr

The other factors behind this image are more personal.

The background image is obviously not something from SL but it was what I wanted to be the center of attention. I searched for the right cliff to be standing on and looking up for quite a while. Once I located it, I created the poses for Noel and I and then returned to get the foreground image dialed in using windlight.  It had snowed!

I hadn’t planned on snow and the clothes we were wearing was inappropriate so this meant it was time to get some winter clothes.  Once I had clothes for both of us I realized that the barren cliff I had chosen was now too barren when covered in snow so the search for a new place was in order.

Thanks to a very good friend who has her own amazing Flickr page and whom I knew would have snow scenes that weren’t barren, I found what I thought was the perfect spot.  I just had to de-render a hundred or so prims that were a house and it’s contents behind the tree 😀

A huge white screen was rezzed to aid in the creation of a mask that would help isolate all of the bare tree branches and I had my base image. Noel and I were added after photographing in the studio under similar lighting and the sky was added. Finally, a lot of time was spent adding ambient light from the lamps on the left edge of the image. I don’t know that it is noticeable but like to think this is one of those things that would be noticed more if I hadn’t taken that extra time.

‘Ghosting’ Noel was the intention from the beginning.  She is ‘here’ but she’s not.  It’s a reflection of a personal note that is part of the theme of this image. Watching several youtube videos of different methods of attaining the effect I had wanted failed me. I had hoped for a more ‘wispy’ effect, similar to a cloud though the low light probably made that unlikely from the beginning.

In the end, I was quite happy with this – though I let Christi post the image without Noel ghosted on her page because I felt others might not appreciate the intention behind including a mostly transparent person in the image.

Once complete, I used the image for a new video featuring the music of Rameses B named “Night Sky”

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Wrong Turn

Aedan in the rain on a colorful street
If you must be stuck in the rain, make it a beautiful rain

This was probably the most enjoyable image I’ve created so far. I wanted to add some color to my work. Watching Natsumi painting with light in her work left me in awe so I found some additional tutorials on youtube and decided to give it a shot myself.  This called for not only bright, colorful lights but a wet surfaces to reflect it and a mist to spread it out.  This wasn’t something I was likely to find in SL and besides, had I found it, the fun would have been missed.

 

Several hours of wandering around SL revealed the street I thought would meet my list of demands. It is a gated city and from what I read at the gate, non-english speaking. There were people scattered about but none in the street so I stood outside the gate and cammed my way around looking for other possibilities before moving back to the street that first got my attention.

At the time of the photo, the only windlight adjustments made that I recall was to make it night time though I also grabbed an image using CalWL to use as a reference and filler if needed.  It wasn’t.

Kowloons Gate as it appeard
Kowloons Gate as it appeard

Back in the lab with the images, I followed closely the instructions in one of the tutorials I found (How to Give Your Photos the Cyberpunk Look in Photoshop) and adjusted the colors using the Camera Raw filter in Photoshop. Following suggestions from the same tutorial, I illuminated one of the signs (right, top corner) to balance the scene. All lights then received a bit of fuzziness to bring them to life in the planned rain. Additionally, ambient light from different colored signs was added to the atmosphere.

For the street reflection, a mirror image was made and transposed in an attempt to make the angle of reflection more realistic though I was never quite satisfied with how that ended up.

Next, Aedan was added with reflections added to the umbrella along with shading to mimic the ambient light.  The rain coat also received a few wet spots.

Finally rain and mist were added before making final levels adjustments to brighten the scene a bit.  When all was said and done, I used this image in combination with a beautiful tune entitled “Follow the Light” by Wayr.

This was definitely fun and I hope to do more like this in the future.

 

(update 1 Janu 2020 – Happy New Year!) The video tutorial I linked to above is a great tutorial and expect I will refer to it again but today I came across one that created many of the same effects in a manner that seemed much easier to me. ( How to Create Lighting Effects in Photoshop ) It may just be that I’m feeling more comfortable in PS with each passing day. However, one thing I’ve certainly learned is that there is almost always another way to do what you’re trying to do and what might be ideal in one situation may not suit the next time.

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Take a Ride

Take a Ride Image
Aww...come on, I just wanna sit on it!
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Even though I hadn’t updated the site here for a month, that doesn’t mean I stopped creating new images. It only means that November was very busy at RL work with lots of site moves going on and there was still some adjustment for me to make the change from illustrating a story and just wandering.

This was one of those wandering images. Sadly, I even failed to take note of where I was so looking back a month later now….I don’t remember!

As I pulled this from my folder of completed images – along with the originals and the photoshop document, one thing in particular struck me. This didn’t necessarily need to be a composite image. I was there, the lighting is from windlight using the firestorm browser. The only reason that I created it as a composite image – aside from my enjoyment of doing that – is for the blur or field of view effect.

I’ve not had much luck with FOV in the Firestorm viewer. No matter what I’ve tried, when I select FOV, though it may look good on screen, I notice a small amount of blurring to my subject also. So, in the interest of keeping sharp what I wanted sharp this is actually three images. Two are without Aedan in the photo ( I used a white screen behind him to pluck him out into a separate image) then took one photo of the scene without him and duplicated that.

One of those was then blurred as I felt needed. After that, they were recombined using a mask to permit the blurred image to come through for the background…including between the spokes of the wheel.  Finally, Aedan was placed back into the image along with his shadow.

Yes, it was actually several hours worth of work. Several hours of unmasking and fixing little bits.  Several hours of relaxing concentration.

This is why I am enjoying this so much.

 

Homeword Bound

Bring it on

Well, that was a long ‘spring break’!  I should also add that it was a very educational experience for me.  I learned a few things that work well or at least as expected and more instances that didn’t.  Though I am sure I will always stumble I’m determined to keep getting up and keep in mind that the goal here is the journey and not the destination.

Besides feeling more comfortable (though oh, so much to learn yet!) in Photoshop I have also come to the conclusion that publishing scenes or chapters of a story as soon as it and the image are ready is not something I am going to try to do going forward.  Working this way prompted me on several occasions to get something published because it had been a couple weeks since I had posted anything.  I feel this wasn’t guiding the story and reversing my priorities. Whether I wait until the story is done to publish images from it or not is yet to be determined.  In the interim, I’ll be working on images not directly related to the story.

Today’s image – actually from last week – is one of those – Aedan is headed home from his vacation but the prologue has been closed. This is incidental…as may be stops along the way while headed home.

Of course, other things learned over the summer is that I have so much to learn about writing.  Characters also need to be developed – which will certainly bring more pics.

Stay tuned!

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Sail Away

Aedan tries yet again to call Noel before the boat leaves
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The sun hadn’t been up long when Aedan first opened his eyes. He laid flat on his back and thought about the coming day. He hadn’t been sailing for a while so there was a bit of excitement along with good memories that found their way to the surface. The couple he met two evenings ago, the Carlsons seemed competent and friendly. Since he was always keeping his eye out for his next boat he was anxious to see theirs. He was familiar with the model but had never been aboard one.

Beyond all of that though, what he was most excited about was having Noel along. Assuming the weather cooperated, sailing with another couple would be a great time to relax and have fun with no pressure and for sheer pleasure it is difficult to beat a beautiful sunset at sea. The thought of the long day ahead reminded Aedan that he needed to gather a few things to take along to eat while they were out. He built a list in his head of what he would take along,

Curious of the time, Aedan reached for his phone in the charging cradle but it was empty. He rolled over and found the phone beside his pillow. He must have fallen to sleep while catching up on the news. He muttered to himself and pressed the button on the side but nothing happened. Again he pressed but the screen remained blank. With words reserved only for himself when he does foolish things, Aedan set the phone on the cradle and immediately it began charging…from 0%.

Fully awake now, he glanced across the room to the clock radio and saw that it was nearly 8am. He had woken 30 minutes later than intended but there was plenty of time for a shower. He would call Noel after the phone had recharged to make sure she was up and getting ready.

 

With anticipation of the day ahead and the shower behind him, Aedan went through his normal morning routines. Shaving, brushing teeth, crunches and push-ups were all routine though truth be told, he did extra today. Noel would be there.

Once he was ready to hit the road and dressed, he grabbed the now partially charged phone, went to his call history and called the last number – Noel’s. After three rings, it went to voicemail. He would try again later.

The homeowner, Ms. Fernandez was busy in the kitchen when Aedan came down the stairs. Always pleasant, she offered Aedan coffee and breakfast. He took her up on the coffee and a couple pieces of fruit. They talked about his plans and other things to do in the same area of Havana. Aedan was anticipating spending some time with Noel after they returned to port.

An hour had passed with no response from Noel so he called again and again ended up in her voicemail.

“Noel, it’s Aedan. I just wanted to be sure you’re up and will meet us at the marina at 11. I’ll grab some things to eat while we’re out. Just bring yourself and plenty of suntan lotion. It looks like a beautiful day. Oh..and call me when you get a chance.”

Ms. Fernandez was smiling when Aedan put the phone down. “Please take some of this fruit with you! It will go bad tomorrow and I need to get more.”

Aedan suddenly felt a little embarrassed.

“Thank you but I can’t do that!” He responded.

“Nonsense“ was her reply. “It will go bad soon.”

Sensing this was a losing argument, Aedan agreed to take a few pieces and she nearly emptied the fruit bowl into a bag as he watched.

For thirty minutes more, the two of them sipped coffee and talked until Aedan decided he needed to get moving. He was concerned that he had not yet heard back from Noel but knew she was excited about going out. Perhaps she too had forgotten to charge her phone.

As they neared the bottom of the coffee cup, Ms. Fernandez called for a taxi for Aedan. He noted that she truly did bend over backwards to make him feel comfortable. Ten minutes later, a horn sounded from outside. Aedan grabbed his own bag in addition to the one that Ms. Fernandez had prepared for him, wished her a good day and headed out the door to the waiting taxi.

Along the way, Aedan asked the taxi driver to stop at a grocery store where he grabbed a few more things to take along. The Carlsons had already volunteered that they had plenty to drink so he grabbed more water before returning to the taxi and completing the trip to the marina.

He was an hour early but that was by design. Walking the docks to look at the assortment of boats has been something he has done frequently in the last few years. It is said that the best days of a boat owner’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it. He had experienced both and though he often tells himself it is foolish, he still looks for ‘the boat’ that will draw him back.

While walking the piers, Aedan tried again to call Noel but once again got her voicemail. He was now starting to worry a bit. He hadn’t known her long enough to know if being late was a habit. Of course, she wasn’t late yet but why hadn’t she acknowledged his calls?

As he neared dock “D”, Aedan saw the Carlsons toward the end unloading their cart that sat at the end of the finger pier. Mr. Carlson noticed him and waved.

“Oh, great! You’re early so you can help me load the boat!” His laugh was unmistakable. Aedan assured him he was eager to help.

Together, the two of them pulled grocery bags, beach bags, a coolers and a plastic gas can from the trunk of the car. The walk from the car to the boat was over a quarter of a mile which gave them plenty of time to talk about the day’s plans. The weather forecast was near perfect. It would be a bit warm but there would be enough breeze to keep them moving well and cooling the cockpit. They would anchor for a bit to eat and swim and be back to the mouth of the port to see the sun set before returning to the slip before it got too late. It had been several years since Aedan had been out and he was eager to experience the power of the wind that could simultaneously bring a calmness encapsulated by silence yet create moments of excitement if one let their guard down too far.

Once everything had been loaded onto the boat and put into it’s place Aedan offered to help with rigging the mainsail but to no surprise, Mr. Carlson thanked him and suggested he relax while he and Mrs. Carlson completed their preparations. This was not unlike Aedan himself – there is a connection between a boat and it’s captain. Some things the captain wants to know are done a certain way while others just fall into part of a routine and upsetting the routine during preparations inflicts a bit of uncertainty. To be fair, Mr. Carlson did offer a few small errands for him to take care of while he watched.

With little else to do and it now less than thirty minutes from the time that they intended to get underway, Aedan called Noel’s number once more but again his call went directly to voicemail. He was growing more concerned by the moment.

“Have you heard from your friend, Noel yet, Aedan?” Mrs. Carlson may have seen Aedan looking at his phone or perhaps she was simply noting the time also.

Aedan signed and shook his head. “No, I haven’t. The hotel is just around the corner – well, maybe two corners but in any event it’s only about ten minutes away. I’m going to go check on her. They all agreed that at this point he should. Perhaps she had just gotten lost and was walking the docks.

Aedan looked in every direction as he made his way out of the marina hoping to see her on the wrong pier. There was quite a bit of activity this morning as people were taking advantage of the beautiful forecast and getting out on the water or simply spending time on their boats doing maintenance and socializing. In all the activity though, Noel was nowhere to be seen.

Arriving at the hotel, Aedan scanned the lobby both for platinum blonde hair and the check-in desk. It was a small hotel that was decorated comfortably but not lavishly. The desk he found easily but still no trace of Noel. At the desk, he made his best effort in Spanish to ask for Noel’s room number. The look of frustration and confusion on his face prompted her to repeat her answer in English.

“I’m sorry sir but I can not give you that information.”

Aedan explained that she was supposed to meet him, that she was late and that he hasn’t been able to reach her by phone.

The clerk shook her head and was about to say more when Aedan pulled his wallet out.

Please sir, I can not tell you her room number but“. she hesitated and looked to either side of her. Only she and Aedan were in the room. “Ms. Jensen checked out very early this morning.”

Only confusion remained on Aedan’s face.

“Checked out? Are you sure?”

“Yes sir.” She looked back at the book behind the counter “At 4:30 this morning she turned her key in.”

“Did she say why? Was everything OK?” Aedan was grasping for an explanation.

“It was before my shift, sir but I think Maria is still here, she would have been working the desk then. I’ll be right back.”

A couple minutes passed that seemed much longer to Aedan. The clerk returned alone.

“She had to catch a flight and seemed a little rushed but that’s all I know.”

Aedan still couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Did she say where she was going? Was she alone?” He asked.

“No, I don’t believe she did and there was nobody with her.” she replied

The front door opened and both looked to see a couple loaded with suitcases coming in.

“I wish you luck sir. Please excuse me.” Her attention shifted to the newly arrived guests “Bienvenido!”

Aedan thanked the clerk and stepped away from the counter. He pulled his phone out and tried to Noel again. This time he received a voicemail box full message.

Still confused and wondering what he should do next, he called the Carlsons and told them that he wasn’t going to make it out with them today. Perhaps they could go out another day but he was going to to see what else he could find out and didn’t want to keep them waiting. Mr. Carlson expressed his understanding and that the offer still stood when he was ready. Since the boat was ready, they were still going out.

Outside the hotel, Aedan flagged down the first taxi and headed for the airport.

Awakened

Looking into the mirror
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“You don’t want to miss your plane, Mr. Charron.”  The clerk repeated as Aedan stared at her, not sure if she were ‘real’ or if he was dreaming.

“It leaves in one hour, there’s no time to waste!” she went on as Aedan slowly accepted that he should take her advice.  

The emotions of Aedan’s recent experience – be it a dream or some kind of vision – were still overwhelming him. At once he wanted to tell her about his experience because he didn’t feel it was a dream and yet he wasn’t sure what it was and even after a week in the hotel, she didn’t know him from Adam. He knew only her name, Louise, which he got from her name tag, that she was probably in her early twenties and had a pretty smile. No, this initial urge to share what he experienced needed to be digested.

Aedan pulled himself to his feet and brushed the grass from himself. Already on the move, she looked over her shoulder, smiling even bigger than she had in the past.  That it seemed the entire town was constantly smiling and especially friendly to him had initially bothered Aedan. It made him question their motives and sincerity. A week later and he had come to accept the smiles as genuine. There was something different about her smile now, though.

“Come on!” She grabbed his hand and tugged then laughed as she let go and started walking rapidly back to the hotel.

Aedan’s head was still full of all that he had just experienced so he followed after her somewhat blindly while trying to sort it all out. The older man at the table was not his father but it was him in the future. The boy was him as a child and then, there was no question about the other one at the table. They discussed many events in their lives but each remembered them differently. Some things Aedan wanted to talk about but the others glanced at the boy then shook their heads without saying a word. They discussed even bigger things – the meaning of life, of God, of being. Some of the ideas discussed with Aedan were foreign to him and yet, they seemed to make so much sense.  Others he appreciated technically and thought he understood their meaning but now he had actually experienced them and realized the difference was vast. And now? Suddenly he was following Louise back to the hotel as if he couldn’t find the way on his own.

The walk back to the hotel was less than 5 minutes at the pace they traveled. Aedan had everything packed except the clothes he had intended to change into. They were laid out on the bed along with his ticket, wallet and passport which were tucked into a pocket of his jacket. It wouldn’t take much time to change but the airport was another 10 minutes by car and then there was the hassle of getting through security. The realization of the short time he had brought his focus back to the present and away from his experience. There would be time to sort that out while on the plane.

Louise and Aedan barged into the hotel lobby nearly in a run. Not surprisingly, the lobby was empty except for the blonde haired woman behind the counter whom Aedan had guessed to be the manager. She was as friendly as the others but besides her senior years, was obviously the one called upon when there was a question about anything that the other clerks couldn’t address themselves.  

“Whoa! Slow down you two!” the lady behind the counter countered as Aedan was about to start up the stairs. “Mr. Charron, your flight has been delayed for a few hours. You’ve got plenty of time now”.

Aedan exhaled deeply, feeling the weight lift from his shoulders. “It is still coming today, right?  No offense but I’m really ready to begin this vacation!”. He laughed at himself.

“Yes, they had to do some unscheduled maintenance before leaving but I checked right after Louise left to find you about thirty minutes ago and the plane was taking off then.” She went on.

“Rats!  I was so looking forward to a bag of peanuts for lunch but… “ Aedan was cut off mid sentence.

“Nonsense, Mr. Charron “ exclaimed the voice from behind the counter. “Louise, fetch him a plate from the kitchen. “Today’s special is roast beef sandwiches and since you’ve been so pleasant in your extended stay here – and not too messy I might add – lunch is on the house.”

For the first time, Aedan saw Louise without a smile. In fact she looked horrified.

“Ms. Mann, I think Mr. Charron might prefer something else before his trip. There is a place around the corner with vegan options and am sure he can find something there”. Louise glanced briefly at Aedan briefly and then back to Ms. Mann.

Aedan studied Louise for an instant then smiled as he turned back to the Ms. Mann who was glaring at Louise. The instant of friction that Aedan had not witnessed since arriving didn’t last long.

Ms Mann nodded and a faint smile returned “Yes, of course, I forgot.’

“I appreciate your thoughtfulness, Ms. Mann .“, Aedan responded. “I do like her idea though, a quick lunch before I change and there won’t be any more dishes to pick up after me.” He winked at the manager and she smirked.

Her focus returned to Louise “Don’t be too long and Louise, for Goodness sake, don’t be spreading any gossip!”  

For an instant, the gaze between the two was as sharp as a knife.

“Oh please!” was all that came from Louise’s lips before she turned to Aedan “Ready when you are!” Her smile returned.

The restaurant that Louise took him to was actually one that had become a favorite of Aedan’s.  Being so close to the hotel, it hadn’t taken him long to find it. Now at lunch time, it was busier than Aedan had seen it before so they waited to be seated.

“Thank you for your interference.” He chuckled. “I am impressed that you noticed.”

“Oh, I know a lot about you, Mr. Charron”, she laughed.

His brows raised “Really?  Like what? “

Her eyes rolled.  It wasn’t the first time he had noticed the sarcastic thread in her but the first in this setting. “Seriously, it didn’t take long to figure that out and I know next to nothing else about you except…except you are dedicated to your work and..and you have a nice car that you haven’t touched in over a week.  A lot of good that does you.” Her smile was interrupted by the hostess prompting them to follow her to a table.

Once seated at a small table beside the window with menus in hand and iced tea ordered for both of them, Aedan continued. “And…what else do you know?”  He enjoyed the facial expressions she made to his questions. The rolling of her eyes, lifting of her eyebrows and exaggerated mouth movements…open emotions being shared, always got his attention.

“Nothing. Oh! I lied. I know your full name and address because it’s on your bill.  That’s it.” She laughed and Aedan figured she had told all she had to tell…or was willing to tell.

“And all I know about you is your first name.  It’s a beautiful name but a bit unusual for women of your age.  I had an aunt named Louise. Not too friendly from what I remember“ Aedan chuckled, anxious to see her animated response to his intended dig.

“Oh…yes, it is a bit unusual but it was my mother’s middle name and her mother’s first.  I loved that she shared that with me. My mother is a very caring woman and we’ll always have this connection no matter how far apart we are.”

The waiter returned and their lunch was ordered right away. As they waited the conversation remained light and playful. There was a familiarity in Louise that Aedan found comforting though he reminded himself several times that she was less than half his age and he would be leaving a couple hours.  The light conversation kept his mind off of the day’s earlier events too. Really, she happened along at the right time several times today.

Among other things, Aedan learned that she had recently finished college and had come to this city on a whim. Spontaneity was something she inherited from her mom. Undoubtedly, she learned much about him too as he found her quite easy to talk to.

With lunch done, Aedan glanced at his phone to get the time. “Are you expecting a call?” Louise asked?

“Oh no…just don’t want to miss the plane.” Aedan laughed as he saw the relief in her face. Nothing could hide behind that face.

“Of course! I’m sorry. I hate to see the time pass so quickly.”

For a moment their eyes locked and much was said with no words.  Aedan had to break the silence.

“So….I don’t know your middle name!  Marie? Ann? I don’t know what goes with Louise.”

Her eyes dropped to her glass as Louise took the last sip of her tea. “Sara” she said “without  the ‘h’”.

Aedan looked at her in silence, struggling to find words.

“My mother’s first name is Sarah and I guess she didn’t want to say she named me after her so she dropped the H from my middle name.’  Louise looked a bit upset for the first time since Aedan had met her.

Aedan regained his composure and tried to smile  “No…it’s a beautiful name. Your mother must love you very much. We should be moving before I miss that plane.”

He flagged down the waiter to request the bill but Louise interrupted “I got this.” and pulled a card from her purse to hand to the waiter.

Aedan’s protestation was met with a “Shhh… Ms. Mann said this was on the house and besides….you don’t have your wallet on you.”

Aedan’s mouth dropped as he felt his pocket and realized she was right. He had made all the preparations for his flight, including putting his wallet, ticket and passport in his suit pocket.

“OK, you win but don’t get used to that. I’m really glad we got this time together before I left. You have no idea of how much this has meant to me.”

The bright smile returned to her face “and I am so happy we did too, Mr Charron.”

“Aedan, please call me Aedan – or were you lying about knowing my name?”

Both laughed and Aedan held out his hand as he stood. Louise took his hand and as she stood then grabbed her purse.

“I’m going to drive you to the Airport once you get changed so let’s get going” she volunteered and they headed toward the door.

Before they made it out the door, the waiter caught up with them “Ma’am…your credit card..and your signature please.”

Again, Louise made the most amusing faces of surprise and embarrassment and Aedan admired every motion.

Back in his room at the hotel, Aedan found his suit just as he left it lying flat on the bed and waiting for him though the bed had already been made. His bag of toiletries was in the restroom beside the sink but as he entered the room he was shocked to see the mirror was missing.  It wasn’t necessary for anything he needed to do but still, one gets used to staring at oneself, counting wrinkles, noting the losing battle with the receding hairline. With those thoughts he began again thinking about the morning’s events but closed his eyes, took a deep breath and pushed it away for now.

Once done in the restroom, Aedan undressed and put his now dirty clothes in a separate bag before putting them into his suitcase. When he lifted his suit coat from the bed his passport fell out of the inner pocket.  With little thought but to make sure he put it back in there better this time, he verified that his wallet was in the same pocket where he had left it earlier as was the plane ticket.

Once dressed and back in the lobby with his suitcase, Aedan asked Ms. Mann about the mirror.  She apologized and explained how it fell while housekeeping was in his room and expressed concern that all the pieces hadn’t been picked up as she handed him his receipt. “It’s been a pleasure serving you, Mr. Charron and I hope you’ll return one day.  Now, be on your way and don’t miss that plane.”

Louise dangled the keys before her “Your chauffeur is here.”  The smile on her lips didn’t quite hide her real emotions. Aedan wasn’t the only one that noticed.

The short trip to the airport was much quieter than their earlier walks. Louise asked about his plans, how long he would stay. Small talk. Aedan felt some regret in leaving at this moment and yet this is what he had been planning for months and he truly needed some time to himself to sort the day’s events out.

Arriving at the airport, Louise pulled up to the curb and looked at Aedan “I guess this is it. The next leg of your journey begins. I really hope it goes as you wish.”

“Everybody needs a break once in a while, Louise.  Don’t forget that. “ Aedan said jokingly.

“Is that an invitation?” She asked.

They both laughed as Aedan got out and pulled his bag from the back seat.  To his surprise, Louise got out of the car and walked around to him. Aedan set the suitcase down and they hugged. The fragrance of her hair filled Aedan’s lungs before they both let go and looked into each other’s eyes again. “Aedan, please don’t forget me…come back again, ya hear?”

“No, there’s no way I’m forgetting you.  Thank you for today. Now get back to work before Ms. Mann comes looking for you!”

With his bags checked in at the curb and having checked in the night before, Aedan headed straight to security. Though he would be transferring in Miami, when asked for ID, he presented both is passport and driver’s license. The guard inspected both and wished him a safe trip.  All the rush and eagerness was suddenly lifted. He had finally made it with time to spare.

It seemed as though it had been a month since he first tried to leave from this airport. This town was starting to feel like home. Aedan made his way to the terminal and found a seat against the wall where he could stretch out and relax. And think.  He had so much to think about.

When the arrival of his flight was announced an hour later he set aside those thoughts as difficult as it was and took a seat closer to the window where he watched the plane taxi up to the terminal.  Fifteen minutes later passengers began unloading and streaming past him. He remembered how not so long ago that would be the point of reunion with friends and family but these days, it was just a rush to get out of the terminal to meet them and wait on luggage.

The terminal was now full of people waiting to board the plane.  All headed to Miami…a good bit of them pale skinned and surely headed for a painful sunburn but all excited to be going.  And he sat among them though feeling a bit disconnected.

The plane had been empty for a good thirty minutes but no boarding had started yet. There was some discussion behind the counter.  Aedan caught a tone of frustration as he tried to listen to the conversation that wasn’t intended to be heard. It was at that time that the flight information sign changed to indicate that his flight was now delayed.

Within the terminal that he sat was an all inclusive sigh of disappointment and frustration. An announcement was made that there was additional maintenance needed on the plane but no ETA could yet be announced. Further information would be given as soon as possible but it was another thirty minutes before any more substantial information was given. Despite the earlier delay, the issue of concern had returned and the best course of action was still being determined.

Aedan hardly noticed the ongoing delays by now.  He was deep in thought again. He was in awe over the morning’s events and sorting out what it meant for him.  He was confused about the afternoon with Louise and what he had learned from her. He wondered if these two events were somehow connected.

An hour after the flight had first been delayed for the second time today, it was announced that a solution had been proposed and was being implemented but would take two to three hours to complete. Refunds were being offered.  Aedan scoffed at the idea. He had waited nearly two weeks. What was two more hours? Additionally, he had said hs goodbys and thought it unwise to go back to the hotel at this time.

So, he sat and thought more. The voices in the terminal became a background noise that he barely heard. He tried to meditate but his mind wouldn’t slow down enough. Perhaps the only thing he didn’t think about was work.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, boarding will start in ten minutes” is what pulled Aedan back to the present. He opened his eyes and saw for the first time that the sun had set and it was well into dusk.  From where he sat, he could look down and see movement in the illuminated cockpit and luggage being loaded. Finally there would be another step forward.

He watched the lights zip by as planes took off and landed. It was dark enough that he could see the reflection of people walking by behind him in the huge glass pane before him. He could see the attractive blonde haired woman a few seats from him without obviously staring.

What he didn’t see was himself.  There was a figure in the seat that he occupied. The clothes were the same but it wasn’t his face.

Aedan was bewildered. He looked right and left and saw the people on either side of him reflected in the glass. He slowly raised his right arm and saw the figure before him raising the same arm. He repeated this movement with his left arm and sat in terror, afraid to move. That was not his face that he saw.  The reflection was dim but he was certain it wasn’t his.

“Boarding is now beginning, please have your passes out”. The words passed right over Aedan.

He stood and walked slowly up to the glass until he could more clearly see the reflection. The face was his but from at least twenty five years earlier.

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