They met for the first time in the airport's parking lot, waiting for the shuttle bus to make another round. Richard Church was fidgeting in a suit that was two sizes too big for him, sweat glistening on his forehead as they stood in full sun. They stood together, alone, the air quiet except for a strange, disconnected humming. Freddie Davis was playing with his LDS nametag.
"So… you're Richard?" Freddie was clearly feeling the silence between them.
"Yeah." Richard's stomach was curling, and he tried to untwist it. "And you're… Freddie?"
"Yeah. But I guess we'd be Elder Church and Elder Davis now."
They both laughed, a terribly awkward laugh, and looked down again. In the distance, a car alarm went off. Davis gave his companion a quick once-over, as if he couldn't help himself. Elder Church went back to messing with his shirt collar.
The sun was beating hot on their shoulders, leading Church to desperately hope that he wasn't getting pit stains. Elder Davis was playing with his hands.
"So. Uganda." Elder Davis was clearly desperate for conversation.
"It's- it's something, all right."
"Did you do any of your research?"
"No." Elder Church's tone was overly flippant, but inside he was ashamed. Why hadn't he done his research again?
"Well, I haven't either." Clearly, Davis was trying to make him feel better. "So that's good!"
"You're from Longmont?"
"Yeah! And you're from…"
"Oh, that's cool." Elder Davis sounded completely sincere. "I used to live there when I was a kid."
The bus was pulling up now, the afternoon heat reflecting off its blue metal shell. Elder Davis stepped aside, gesturing to the door. "After you, sir," he said in an absurdly royal tone.
Elder Church smiled tightly and bowed his head. "Thank you, sir."
As his suitcase's wheels clicked against the metal steps, Elder Church swallowed dryly, trying to keep himself from puking. Elder Davis sat next to him in the back of the bus, the two making a stark contrast from the passengers in shorts and flip-flops. As the shuttle rumbled and bumped forward, Elder Church glanced out the window at the cars passing to their side. He felt an indescribable excitement seize him, the world he knew falling more behind them with every second.
Elder Davis looked out, too. "Well," he said, "this is it."
Elder Church let out a long, shaky breath. "This is it," he replied.