In the east, a gold haze spread across the sky. The light gleamed along thin, bright wisps of cloud and shimmered on the dark silhouettes of the pines. Jerry sat and watched it for a long time—longer than he quite remembered.
At last, though, he shook himself and looked around.
Captain Nwin sat next to him, leaning against one of the platform posts of the old train station, watching the dawn. Silas slumped next to her, his head nodding forward.
Carefully, Jerry raised his camera and slid back until he could get a clear shot of Captain Nwin looking away from him, facing the sunrise. He held his breath as the camera clicked, and then sat back to look at the photo on the display panel.
The captain turned around. She raised an eyebrow when she saw him with the camera, but she only smiled. “Would you believe it?” she said. “I’ve never seen a meteor shower before. I’m glad Silas told us about this one.”
“No?” Jerry grinned sheepishly. Setting the camera down, he slid forward and sat beside her on the edge of the platform, his back resting against the wall. “I haven’t either, at least not since I was a kid.”
“Will you have a busy day today?”
Jerry considered. “Not really. Normal projects, that’s all. What about you?”
“It’ll be kind of busy,” Captain Nwin admitted. “I’ve been on assignment with the local force here, but that ended yesterday—a big raid on a smuggling ring. Or it was supposed to be, but things got a little mixed up.”
She shook her head. “Old furniture, actually. That's part of the mix-up. We’ll have lots of paperwork today to sort it out, and then I’ll have to fly out this afternoon. Minnesota—to follow some connections up there.”
“Oh.” Jerry didn't know what to say. “Isn’t it still snowing up there, or something?”
The captain laughed. “Not when I checked last. I grew up there, and we did get summer, you know.” She studied him. “So what do you do? Where you do you work?”
“I work long-distance for a tech company. Mostly writing patches for software, but sometimes I get to test security for their clients.” Jerry hesitated, before he added, “I’ve been trying to start my own photography business.”
“How’s it working?”
“Not very well,” Jerry admitted. “Though someone actually bought a couple prints yesterday, and asked about a photo shoot. First time, so—” he hesitated. “I wondered if you wouldn’t like to—if you would want to go out sometime. Celebrate, I guess?”
“I don’t know—” Captain Nwin seemed about to shake her head. Then she smiled. “Maybe when I get back?”
Jerry nodded. They were looking at each other, but Jerry glanced away quickly and stared out at the sunlight as it spreading across the dark trees. His fingers itched to hold his camera, to capture the pink flush of the clouds and the pale purple-blue above them. He leaned back, though, and left the camera where it was.
Beside them, Silas stirred and sat up with a grunt. “What time is it?” he asked.
Jerry pulled out his phone and checked. “Six-forty,” he said.
Captain Nwin scrambled to her feet. Jerry got up also and stretched, but the captain was already heading toward the road. “Phone call at seven,” she explained over her shoulder. “And at seven-thirty, and at eight. I’m going to need so much coffee this morning. Sorry! I’ll call you guys when I get home next week.”
Jerry helped pull Silas to his feet. As Silas shook himself, stretching stiffly, Jerry grabbed his camera bag and camera.
They were nearly to the road, about twenty feet behind the captain when Silas stopped abruptly and gave a curious, shrill whistle. Jerry looked around, surprised, but Silas was chuckling. “There she is—silly kitty,” he told Jerry. “I told you we would find her around here.”
Jerry looked and saw Silas’s gray cat sitting bolt upright, as cats would, in the grass by the ditch. Silas clucked to the cat, and she uncurled herself and came forward, picking her way over the damp grass.
Silas bent and picked her up, rubbing her chin. “Good kitty,” he crooned. “Let’s go find something to eat, shall we?”
Captain Nwin had heard Silas’s whistle and turned back briefly. When she saw the cat, she laughed and waved to them, before hurrying on.
About twenty minutes later, Jerry pulled up in front of his house just as his neighbor came down the front walk. They passed each other and nodded briefly. Jerry caught his neighbor’s curious glance, but neither of them spoke. Then the neighbor got in his own car and started the engine, while Jerry strolled up the walk and let himself into his side of the duplex.
As he closed the door behind himself and set his camera bag down on the counter, he realized suddenly that he wasn’t particularly tired—not yet, anyway.
He went into the kitchen and poked about for a minute before he washed off a plate and a coffee mug from the stack in the sink. He got the pancake mix down from its box on the top shelf above the stove, but he had to hunt about a few minutes longer before he found a skillet and set it on the stovetop to heat. Slowly, carefully, Jerry made himself breakfast, ate it, washed his dishes, and even wiped down the counters. Finally, he finished and pulled out his laptop to boot it.
As he sat down to work, though, he couldn’t shake the odd feeling that he was forgetting something.