Growing Up

Thunderous booms shook the walls of the thick transparent tube that formed an optional walkway between a few buildings. The sky was dark, sounding with thunder every few moments and sending down disturbingly heavy torrents of rain. Most people would unintentionally flinch at the deafening explosions in sky, not those on New Tokyo. They dealt with it far too much; a sort of developed white noise drowned it out from their eardrums.

I readjusted my backpack to a more comfortable position as I strode out of the large building that housed the classroom of the flight school. I watched as people busily carried on their days; merchants wearing fine pressed suits and carrying slick dark briefcases scurrying off to their latest legal and quasi-legal deals with smugglers and freelancers, shipping company workers pushing dollies loaded high with crates packed full of Synth paste, students like myself hurrying of to their next classes or casually strolling back to their homes. It was an archetypical day on New Tokyo.

As I lazily gazed upon the scenery around me I felt and heard a faint hum against the roaring backdrop of noise. Snapped out of my haze, I dug into my pocket and pulled out my mobile comm device. My eyes moved to its face, expecting the familiar 'Mom' to appear; instead, four letters appeared that made my heart jump in excitement. It was Tara.

It was Monday and I hadn't talked to her since her visit when she had gotten planet-side. I had considered giving her a ring a few times over the week, but had decided against it. Her family missed her; I didn't feel like interfering with that.

"Hey there." I greeted with an unseen smile. "Bout' time you rang."

Tara's voice came after a moment, "Sorry… Things have been crazy." even over the comm I sensed something uneasy in her normally bubbly persona.

"Uh, no problem." My smile fell. "Something wrong Tara?"

"No… it's nothing."

She wasn't convincing me. "Tara. I've known you long enough t-"

"Where are you right now?" She interrupted suddenly. "Can you get away?"

"I'm just getting out of school, sure."

"Meet me at that caf? us kids used to hang out at." She paused. "In ten minutes?"

"Yeah, I'll see you there." I heard a quick blip of static immediately after I finished. She was gone.

My heart dropped. I wasn't used to hearing Tara upset. I wasn't used to hearing Tara at all, but you know what I mean. I shoved the comm back in my pants pocket and jogged off towards the caf?.

---

It only took me five or so minutes to make it to the caf?. I looked up to the awning that held a wrought iron sign spelling the words 'Rain Haven' in a stylish way. The name's meaning was pretty obvious as I scuttled out of the transparent walkway; raising my backpack over my head to block the buckets that fell from above; and over to the small covered courtyard. I shook the water off my bag, hoping none of the papers inside got too wet, when I glimpsed a familiar redhead sitting alone and staring in daze off at the downpour.

"This seat taken, miss?" I asked in a fake deep voice.

The girl's eyed shot from the rain to my waiting face, "Hey," she gave me a weak smile. "You're early."

"Hope that's alright," I sat down in the chair adjacent from her. "So what's new?"

Tara lowered her head in thought, "I'm not one for holding anything in so…" She looked up at me with a serious face. "I'm leaving New Tokyo."

My brow creased in confusion, "What?" I had only been there for twenty seconds and I did already not like where this was going.

Her face softened, "My assignment is in. Ageira is constructing a research station in the Shikoku system and I've been asked to lead the scientific research division there." There was a mix of exhilaration and melancholy in those beautiful silver eyes. "I'll have a whole team of scientists working under me… It's a dream-come-true…"

I feigned a proud smile. "That's great! This is what you've always wanted!"

She turned her face away from me for a few long moments, "Then why do I feel like I'm losing everything?" when she turned back I could see the tears in the corners of her eyes.

My own emotions were bouncing around in my gut, looking for a way to show themselves. Instead, I put my hand on her shoulder and looked her straight on, "It's hard leaving home, but it's the only way to get on." I took a second to collect the words that I was only putting part of my conviction into. "You'll be sad for awhile if you go… But if you don't take this opportunity and grab it by the horns like I know you want to, you'll regret it even more. Trust me."

A sad smile formed on her lips as she held back tears, "I know… I just…" the fleshly floodgates couldn't ebb the tide, she threw her arms around me from across the table and sobbed into my shoulder, "I just start getting back to normal…" she sniveled out after she got her composure back a little. "And everything is changing again. It's not fair that I have to leave everything I love to pursue my dream."

"Hey, I'm not ecstatic about my best friend leaving again either, but in the end, I know you'll be happy." I nodded with a smile. "That's what really matters to me."

Tara grinned with tears dripping down her cheeks, "I don't deserve a friend like you." She finished with a hint of her quintessential smirk.

"Now that's the Tara I know."

She giggled and leaned back in her chair, wiping the watery remnants away. "Two weeks."

"That gives us some time." I reasoned as I motioned for a waitress to come over.

"I'll still visit as much as I can." The girl assured more to herself than anyone.

"Being the head scientist lady has got to have some perks." I chuckled as the waitress made it to our table.

The waitress was young and spunky with short, curly brown hair held together by a company hair band. "Hey guys! What can I getcha'? Our special today is the Cambridge ble-"

"A Double-shot Venti Caramel Espresso Mocha Cappuccino. Extra whip cream." Tara stated without a second thought.

"Whoa-! I better get to that on the double!" The waitress exclaimed in mock importance, "Anything for you sir?" She chuckled.

"Heh, could I get the normal human version of that?" I laughed.

"Comin' right up." She scurried off to the kitchen.

I gave Tara a look of total disbelief. Jokingly, of course. We both burst out laughing after a second. It felt good to disarm the moment of all gravity.

"So you've got your final exam tomorrow, aye…?"