It’ definitely got more interesting in the N.I.Z. On a personal level, I mean.
The woman who winked at me caught me at the end of the meeting. Rita’s her name. She asked if we might meet up. There were some things she wanted to talk to me about. I agreed to meet her that evening. She invited me to eat in her home.
Well, it was a real cosy evening. They still have some way to go in the N.I.Z, but they’re getting there and it’s all the better for being a little lower tech. She cooked some really delicious food, without the help of any Autochefs or kitchen robots and told me that she thought there was still much work to be done on the Terrestran attitude. The fear of disease and contact with other people was all tied up with why the Z Zone became the Z Zone.
“This problem will not really go away until the Terrestrans are really willing to communicate,” she said to me looking very seriously.
Well, we had a good chat. I told her all about Kaleem and his work.
“That young man sure has his work cut out,” she said. “I can quite understand as well why he wanted you away form all the danger. “
She gave me a big hug. I was fighting back the tears and there was a terrible lump in my throat. Every time I think I’ve got over him something comes up and I realise just how much I miss him.
“But, yes, I know, it must hurt a lot,” she said.
She really seemed to understand.
Well, I agreed to meet up with her again today. We went for a long walk thought the NIZ.I showed her where Kaleem and I used to live. The place was all locked up. But amazing changes are happening. Everywhere is being modernised. Though there are still lots of echoes of the old Z Zone, it is really getting more comfortable.
Then we had an early dinner again. Rita and I seemed to get on really well. We could have been sisters. Or perhaps not. We get on too well for that.
“Look,” she said suddenly, looking very serious. “Can I come back with you to where you’re staying? There is something I really need to discuss with you in private.”
So, she came back to my place.
And then what a shock! She pulled her wig off and a membrane across her face.
“I’m sorry about this,” said a much deeper voice, “I really do have to speak to you.”
It still took me a minute to realise. But it was Julien standing there.
Well, I have to give it to him. He really does disguise himself well.
“Yes, they’ve sent me to the Zone,” he said. “I have to carry on from where Kaleem left off here. I have to do it as a woman. But there is something I have to let you know.” He took a deep breath. Then he took me in his arms.
“You do know, don’t you,” he continued. “That I’m madly in love with you. I want to look after you and comfort you. And I can’t bear it that you’re still so upset about Kaleem.”
I just let myself relax into him. It was so good to be held again and cherished.
Yes, I do think about Kaleem still, and I do feel sad that we’re not together. But I’m getting on with my life now.
“It’s not quite like that,” I managed to whisper.
“Oh you wonderful girl," he whispered, his voice all husky. He pulled me closer and I felt so at home.
It was me that started to kiss him. I did want this. It had been some time .Of course it was not going to be the same as with Kaleem, but I did want him. And he didn’t hesitate in kissing me back.
“I’d better go and get rid of Rita,” he said, making his way to my bathroom.
He didn’t take long and then he came back and we made love, three times.
At three o’clock in the morning he sighed and got up off the bed.
“I’ll have to go,” he said. “Can I see you again?”
“Of course,” I said. And I meant it.
Then he hugged me really tightly. “Oh, you just don’t know how long I’ve dreamt of this.”
He was very serious for once. I like him like that. I like him the other way too.
It took him a good twenty minutes to get Rita back into action and then we had to sneak her out of the building.
But oh my goodness isn’t my life changing now? And what secrets we all have to keep now. I’m relying on you guys.