Another day at work. Mate sighed as she looked up at the Department Of Water sign above the old brick building she entered every day – the cleverly disguised headquarters for Girls In White. It wasn’t what most people would call a typical office – and yet, it was eerily similar. Every day started and ended with a mountain of paperwork.
She enjoyed working for Girls In White, it was just the paperwork…Mate shook her head to dismiss her negative thoughts. The more she thought about that stack of paper, the more it would bother her.
As Mate waved at the guard and headed toward the sliding glass door, it opened, sending an icy wave of air across the entryway. Mate frowned – Seish had turned up the air conditioning again. He liked it cold for some reason. She asked him many times why he doesn’t only turn down the temperature in his own office, and leave everyone else alone. He just laughed.
Mate glanced up at the clock as she stepped through the door. She was exactly two minutes late. That meant Mara would be standing next to her desk to lecture her on punctuality…again. Mate half-smiled as she peeked around the corner to confirm her suspicions. Mara was there, all right – looking at her watch, tapping her foot. Her impatience was typical.
“Late again, Mate?”
“Sorry, I ran into some heavy traffic.” Mate threw her purse onto her desk, nearly knocking over the seven inch high pile of papers.
Mara purposely stepped in Mate’s way to prevent her from sitting at her desk. “You know, we have other girls lined up to take a job like this. You’d better shape up, or–”
“Yeah, yeah.” Mate lifted up the entire stack of paper and, without even looking at it, dropped it into her trash can. “You say that every single day, Mara. It’s getting boring.”
“Boring?” Mara gasped as she looked at the stack of paperwork sitting in the trash can. “And this paperwork is important! That does it, I’m talking to Seish about this!”
“Good luck”, Mate mumbled as she sat down at her desk to use her computer to check her e-mail. Mara complained about her attitude at least twice a week, and Seish’s reaction would always be the same – he’d just laugh.
“It’s about time you got here! It’s like…almost ten o’clock, you know?”
Mate recognized that ‘valley girl’ accent anywhere. It was Laura, her mission supervisor. Because of her young appearance, Laura was often assigned to high schools, undercover – though the accent was evidence that she often got buried in the part. Mate often wondered why Laura was working at GiW instead of going for an acting career in Hollywood.
“So what are we…like…doing today?” Mate smiled and leaned back as she turned toward Laura. She knew her bit of sarcasm wasn’t wasted.
“So…What took you so long to get here, anyway?” Laura sat down on Mate’s desk. Mate hated that, but Laura thought it was ‘cute’. She secretly wondered if Laura and Britney Spears were somehow related.
“I overslept.” Mate stood up and gently pushed Laura’s legs out of her way. “Can we go now?”
Laura jumped to her feet and nearly ran over Mate on the way to the door. “Sure, let’s bolt.”
Mate rolled her eyes as she headed out of the door behind Laura. She smiled in a self-satisfying way after she realized one thing Laura didn’t – she had the car keys.
“…And then she threw a whole day’s records in her trash can!”
Seish sat at his desk in a soft leather chair, his feet up on his desk,
rubbing his chin gently. “Uh-huh.”
“Are you listening to me?”
“I heard every word.” Seish sat up and grabbed an envelope off his desk, tearing it open with a letter opener from his desk. “If you think the paperwork is so important, why didn’t you take it out of her trash can?”
Mara paused for a second as anger began to fill her. She sighed, to try and keep herself in check. “That, Seish, is not my job.”
“I have confidence in you, Mara.” Seish leaned back again as he snatched a newspaper from his desk. He looked at Mara from above the rims of his reading glasses. “You’ll make everything work out.”
As Seish retreated behind his newspaper, Mara had to use every ounce of self-control she had to avoid slamming his office door. She felt she should, but she didn’t really want to give him a bad impression. After all, when he wasn’t her boss…he was a close, trusted friend.
Mara walked back over to her desk, slowly, and looked at the mountain of paper piled in a corner of her desk. She thought, for just a second, about how much work she could get done if she didn’t have to deal with the paper. She thought about it again, as she glanced back up at Seish’s office. A big smile creeped onto her face as she lifted up her own pile of papers, and tossed them into her trash can.
“There you go, Seish”, Mara whispered to herself as she headed out for a mission, “All worked out.”
From his office high above the work floor, Seish stared down and watched Mara leave the building. He looked at her trash can, and then Mate’s – and promptly laughed to himself. “Looks like I have a revolution on my hands.”
“It’s time for a revolution.”
A mysterious man leaned back in his soft leather chair as he watched the Earth spinning through his window. He sat in an office, high up in a large space station – painted black to avoid detection by Earth telescopes.
He picked up a remote control and began flipping through thousands of channels quickly. They weren’t average satellite or cable channels – instead they were signals from GiW monitoring systems all over the world. Yet another bonus of being located in an orbiting station – the ability to intercept any signal broadcast from Earth.
But he wasn’t interested in watching the usual GiW observations – he wanted to find only one person. One GiW agent, in particular.
“Ah, Mate. What have you been up to?”
He hit the ‘zoom’ button on his remote as he watched Mate climbing into her car. Keeping an eye on her would entertain him for a while.
“Laura, would you please just…shut up and let me drive! And stop playing with the radio!”
Mate eyed the center console for a second, remembering the small red button hidden inside there. If Laura gave her any more trouble, she would find herself ejected from the car quickly.
“Mate, you’ve done nothing but pick on me since we were assigned together.” Lara’s tone sounded serious as she put her feet up on top of the dashboard, earning herself yet another dirty look from Mate. “I get the feeling that you don’t like me.”
“I like you just fine, Laura.” Mate snatched a Curve CD out of Laura’s fingers. “As long as you don’t touch anything.”
“Stop the car, Mate! Quickly!”
Mate looked out of the windows of her car at the rather run down, crumbling neighborhood. Strange people walked the streets, staring at her car conspicuously as it passed by. “Are you sure you want to get out and walk here?”
“No…There!” Laura pointed toward a glass storefront, where a dark-haired woman stood in front of the locked door. Right in front of her stood a man who seemed to be hypnotizing her – only he looked strange somehow. “C’mon, it’s go time!”
“Go time?” Mate pulled over quickly, trying to attract as little attention as she could in a Ferrari. She wanted to get close before…whatever that was…would have a chance to run. Once the car stopped, Laura jumped out of the passenger side quickly and raced toward the building. “Laura…wait!”
Mate cursed to herself as she reached under the back seat and pulled out a portable energy weapon. If this was an alien, she wanted to have enough power to stop it without alerting the entire block that she and Laura weren’t ordinary citizens – as if the short skirts and expensive car weren’t clue enough.
By the time Mate turned around, she could see Laura chasing…something wearing the same clothing as the man they spotted earlier. It was one of the aliens – and thanks to Laura’s enthusiasm, it was running. “Oh, damn…”
Mate threw her energy weapon on the passenger seat and tore down the street after the alien. In a Ferarri, it only took her seconds to catch up to the running alien and nearly drive right past him. She turned quickly onto the sidewalk and slammed on the brakes – putting herself and the car in the alien’s path – and jumped out of the driver’s side with her energy weapon in hand.
“Freeze!” Mate’s hands began to shake a little bit as the grotesque alien, tentacles waving in the air, stared at her with large coal-black eyes. Even as it stood perfectly still, it’s tentacles kept moving – and some kind of slime dripped off of it to the sidewalk. She could feel…depth to those eyes somehow, like they were deep pits trying to swallow her soul. She felt herself falling in. A sense of urgency rushed through her mind – she had to stop the alien now.
Mate felt like it took all of her willpower to pull the trigger on that energy weapon – but she did. With a bright flash a loud noise which echoed off of nearby buildings and seemed to go on forever…the alien was reduced to a pile of grey ash and slime on the sidewalk. Mate let out a deep sigh of relief.
“…And you could have gotten us both killed! Are you listening to me, Mate?”
Mate turned slowly to see Laura standing next to her. Laura had just spent several minutes lecturing her about trying to chase an alien by herself – but for some reason, Mate didn’t hear a single word of it. She shook her head violently as she felt full consciousness slowly returning. “What…happened?”
“You were hypnotized by the alien, Mate. Didn’t you hear me when I said that?”
“No.” Mate shook her head slowly, trying to get rid of residual dizziness as she removed her car keys from her purse. “No, Laura, I didn’t hear a thing. Maybe…Maybe you should drive us back to HQ.”
Laura took the car keys with a big smile on her face. “God, you must be sick.”
Mate kept staring off into space even as she entered GiW headquarters. She felt like the alien somehow planted some kind of image in her mind, even though she had no idea what it was. Something was haunting her.
She shook off the stares as she sat down at her computer terminal and started to type in her report. She hated doing paperwork, even the electronic kind – so naturally, he attention wandered as she typed. She looked at Laura, to see her attentively typing out her report. She looked at Mara, pacing around the room like some kind of jailhouse guard. And Seish…as usual he was standing next to the window in his office above, smiling.
Mate looked upward at Seish as she typed. She returned his smile and waved. He waved back.
“Mate? What are you doing?”
Mate nearly fell out of her chair – she didn’t notice Mara walk up behind her. “Uh…nothing? I…I’m writing my report.”
“In Spanish? We use English to write our reports!”
Mate looked down at her computer screen and shuddered. She had no idea she was writing her report in Spanish! She glanced up at Seish’s office to see him laughing hard, leaning on the edge of his desk for leverage. She hoped at least he was having a good time. “Oh, nuts…I’m sorry, Mara. I’ll fix it.”
Mara looked up at Seish’s office and frowned, just before shaking her head slowly and heading away from Mate’s desk. “I swear…Sometimes I think the real aliens are working here.”
As Mate began hitting the backspace key on her computer terminal, she noticed something very strange on her desk – a crumpled up Post-It note sitting in the corner. She reached for it quickly and unfolded it…It contained her terminal’s password!
Mate stood up suddenly and began looking around the room. Could it be some kind of practical joke? She looked up at Seish’s office – she knew the rules…that she had to report any security problems to him directly. She started to feel a little ashamed as she walked up the narrow staircase to his office. What if he blamed her for it? Called her careless, for allowing her password to be compromised so easily?
Before Mate even had a chance to reach for the doorknob on Seish’s office, the door opened suddenly.
“Someone steal your password, Mate?” Seish stood in the doorway, a big smile on his face.
Mate couldn’t help but wonder if he was somehow behind it – but she also realized that behind his calm smile, he was a little worried about it as well. She could see it in his eyes. “Yes. I…I guess I need a new one.”
“Done.” Seish tapped his computer screen to indicate her new password as it was displayed on his screen. It only stayed on the screen for ten seconds – within that time Mate had to memorize it, because it would disappear from the screen and never be seen again. GiW didn’t like publishing it’s passwords on paper – it could give someone an opportunity to dig in the trash and have access to their secured system.
As Mate turned to leave the office, Seish stood up to intercept her. “One more thing, Mate.”
Seish sighed as he gently rubbed his chin and stared out his window overlooking the rest of the office. “Someone has been…looking into you, Mate. People have been calling me, asking questions…prying questions. Where you live, what you do.”
“Oh, really?” Mate folded her arms as her mind began to try and figure out who would be investigating her. She came up blank.
“I didn’t answer, of course.” Seish turned around to face Mate. All of a sudden, he looked serious. “Mate, if you’re in some kind of trouble…please, let me know. I’m always here to help.”
Mate shook her head. “Honest, Seish. I have no idea why someone would be investigating me. It’s actually a little…scary.”
“Hmm.” Seish walked back behind his desk and took some keys out of the drawer. “These are the keys for the GiW safe house, Mate. I want you to stay there until we have some people check out your apartment. Don’t go back to your apartment for anything until I tell you. Understand?”
Mate nodded. “But…What’s going on?”
“Your car’s been checked.” Seish continued, seemingly without answering Mate’s question. “We found several tracking and eavesdropping devices. A new active security system has been installed to prevent further intrusions – but be careful, it’s rather…shocking.”
“I have to know…What’s going on, Seish?” Mate completely ignored Seish’s little joke – at the moment, she had more important things on her mind.
“I don’t know”, Seish said plainly, “Just remember that I’m here for you.”
Mate shook her head as she left his office angrily. For some reason, that didn’t make her feel any better.
High up in a dark satellite, the mysterious man frantically switched from one monitor to the other, looking for Mate. He knew that she tended to disappear whenever she entered GiW headquarters – it was monitor-free – but since she left and drove away in her Ferrarri, he hadn’t been able to find her. He was also unable to track the Ferrari any longer. He pounded on his console angrily as the intercom behind him beeped loudly.
“Phone call for you, Kevin. It’s your daughter, Sarah.”
“Thanks you, Lisa. I’ll take it in here.” Kevin hit the ‘connect’ button at the same time as a blue button next to him which shut off all of the monitors behind him. His brown-haired twenty-one year old daughter appeared in front of him on a small display.
“Hello, honey. How was work today?”
Sarah sighed, and Kevin could see her look away from the screen sadly. “My boss called me stupid again today. He’s so mean sometimes…I wish I could quit, but I have to…you know…pay the bills. Daddy…I just wish you weren’t so far away.”
Kevin stroked his chin gently and looked toward his window, to see the darkness outside. ‘Far away’ was an understatement – and his daughter, the only person really left in his life, was alone more now that her mom died. Ironically, her death was the reason Kevin took that job – at the time, he felt he needed to ‘get away’. He regretted it every day since.
“I know, Sarah, I know. I’m trying to find you a better job, one where you can even visit me once in a while.” Sarah’s smile in response to what he said made him feel like an instant hero, like he could solve all of the world’s problems with just a few words. Or at least, his daughter’s problems. “I’m working on it, Sarah. I promise.”
“Thanks Dad! I love you.”
“I love you too.” For several minutes after the viewscreen went black, Kevin continued to stare at it, his mind filled with the image of his daughter’s smiling face. He wanted so badly to get her a better job. He just wanted her to be happy.
Kevin glanced again at the blank monitors, and back out at the cold blackness of space. He angrily hurled his coffee mug at the bullet-proof window, and watched it bounce off.
He had never been so unhappy in his life.
“Life stinks!” Laura tossed a stack of paperwork on her desk, which was next to Mate’s. “I hate paperwork! Why do they have to give me more of it every single day?”
Mate stood up and quickly reached over to Laura’s desk, pushing the stack of paperwork into her garbage can. “Problem solved.”
“Hey, you can’t just…Uh-oh.” Laura sat at her desk quickly as she saw Mara approaching quickly. She didn’t look happy, either.
“Mate! What did I tell you about throwing out paperwork?”
“I forgot. Maybe we should play the tape and relive those wonderful moments.” Mate took a small tape recorder out of her desk drawer and waved it under Mara’s nose.
“Do you think this is funny, Mate? This paperwork is important! This job is important!”
Mate laughed. “The job, yes. The paperwork…well–”
Mara frowned and pointed a finger at Mate. “This is your last warning, Mate. If I have to come here and talk to you again…or if you’re late one more time…you’re fired!”
As Mara walked away, Mate turned to Laura, who was pretending to mind her own business. “She can’t do that…can she?”
Laura turned to look at her for a moment, without saying a word, and then watched Mara walk around the corner. She then returned her attention to Mate. “No, Seish pretty much has all of the power here. Mara can’t really do much.”
Mate laughed and leaned back in her chair, glancing up toward Seish’s office. She noticed that he was staring at her, smiling as usual.
“Inside job, eh?” Seish turned away from the window to face Lisa, the liaison from the GiW Systems Management division. They were in charge of making sure all of GiW’s worldwide monitoring systems worked right – and their work was…unique.
“Yes, the devices in the Ferrari were ours.” Lisa handed Seish a small piece of paper. “A work order was even made out.”
“Who signed off on it?” Seish began reading through the small form.
“It appears that…you did.”
Seish skipped down to the end of the form to see his signature sitting at the bottom of the page. “Hmm…I didn’t sign this. Someone forged my signature.”
Lisa took the form from Seish and looked at the bottom very closely. “It looks like yours.”
Seish shook his head. “Trust me, it’s not my signature. The ‘S’ doesn’t have a tail.”
“A tail?” Lisa looked even closer at the signature as Seish left his office, heading toward Mate’s desk below.
Mate nearly fell out of her chair when she saw Seish approaching her. He almost never came downstairs…unless there was some kind of emergency. “Is…something wrong?”
Seish grabbed Mate’s arm tightly, and pulled her aside amid stares from her coworkers around her. “Mate…Go home. I’ll explain everything later.”
“Why? Am I fired?” Mate gave Laura a quick glance, worrying for a moment that Mara did have the power she said she did.
“No, not at all.” Seish smiled and gently placed his hand on Mate’s shoulder. “I just have something to take care of…something very ugly. I don’t want you around to see it.”
Mate frowned. “I’m not afraid–”
“Please, Mate. Just go home. I’ll make sure you’re paid for the day.”
She thought about arguing with Seish some more, about trying to find out what he was hiding. But something in his warm, honest smile and bright, sparkling eyes made her feel like she just needed to trust him. As he always said, he was there to help.
As Mate headed outside toward her Ferrari, she couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. Seish would tell her, in time – but for now, she would let him keep his secrets.
“Why do you want to be a part of GiW, Sarah?” Seish leaned back in his chair and put his white sneakers on the desk. “What kind of talents do you have that we could use?”
“Well–” Sarah fidgeted nervously as she sat in front of Seish’s desk, legs crossed, trying to keep as much hidden as possible in spite of her short skirt. Not helping matters was the fact that Seish’s office had deep chairs. “I…I’ve traveled a lot. I drive a sports car–”
“Are you willing to put loyalty to GiW over everyone and everything else in your life?” Seish sat up and leaned over his desk, closer to Sarah. “What are you willing to sacrifice, Sarah?”
“Th…This is my dream job, Mr.–”
“Seish. Just call me Seish.”
“Seish.” Sarah shifted in her seat again. “I’ve always wanted a wild, adventurous job like this one.”
“Uh-huh.” Seish smiled and held out his hand. “Congratulations, you’re hired…on one condition.”
“Anything!” Sarah jumped out of the chair, nearly knocking it over. She shook Seish’s hand as a smile took over her face. “I’ll do anything for this job!”
Seish stood up. “You must complete a mission successfully first. I’d like to send you to our satellite office to track a man who’s been misusing our systems.”
“Yes, quite literally.” Seish pointed at a poster of a large, dark satellite on his wall. “It’s in high Earth orbit.”
Sarah looked at the poster a little nervously. She’d worked in offices her whole life until now…and this guy wanted her to travel into space? She felt a little overwhelmed by the whole thing – but now was her chance to start a decent career, one that she would enjoy.
“I’ll do it.”
“I am so…bored.”
Mate stared out over the landscape outside her apartment building, her hands on the permanently sealed glass window. She wished that she could open that window, feel the stiff breeze she knew was blowing this high up off the ground. It would be almost like…flying.
She turned away from the window, feeling a little disgusted with herself for wanting to live in such an ultra-modern place. It left her encased in a giant glass bubble, having no contact with nature.
“Are you bored too?” Mate walked over to a poster on the wall of her apartment, staring at Supergirl, and then into the drawn landscape below, wishing she could somehow step through the glass covering the poster and fly alongside the heroine. “No, you’re life’s exciting, isn’t it? No paperwork, lots of adventure–”
Mate paused as she heard a knock on the door. It was the pizza she ordered! She raced to the door quickly, grabbing her purse along the way. She opened the door with one hand as she dug for money in her purse. “I got it…hold on.”
She froze suddenly as she noticed a larger then normal shadow looming over her – this was no pizza delivery. She looked up to see three men standing in front of her, one holding duct tape and another holding a baseball bat.
Mate slammed the door suddenly, and raced over to the window – before she realized, once again, that it was sealed. She quickly snatched her cordless phone as she heard the men pounding on the door – and found that her phone was dead.
“No…No–” Mate raced into the bathroom and slammed the door quickly as she heard the three men bursting through the entrance door and racing through her apartment. She looked around the room quickly and noticed only that the shower was dripping…
She took a deep breath as she held her hands out ahead of her, toward the door. She closed her eyes, and began to think about the ocean – the merciless tide washing over the beach again and again, taking anything in it’s wake out to sea. She could hear the roar of the ocean as her fingers began to feel cold, like her hands had been immersed in ice. She began to shiver a little as the cold sensation quickly worked it’s way up her arms to her head…and she could smell a refreshing ocean breeze, and feel it blowing through her hair.
By the time Mate opened her eyes the three men lay unconscious on her bathroom floor, in a large pool of water in front of her – seawater, to be exact. She held her hands in front of her and noticed that they were wet, and smelled of the sea. She smiled to herself – the power of the ocean saved her again.
“Kevin, there’s a GiW agent here to see you.”
“Thank you, Lisa. Give me a minute.” Kevin began turning off all of the monitors in his office quickly. He tried to remain calm, but he was very nervous – he knew that the fact that a GiW agent was visiting the satellite office meant they might be on to him.
He looked up slowly as a shadowed female form entered his office. As soon as she passed underneath the single recessed light in his office, he turned pale. “Sarah?”
“Dad?” Sarah turned pale as well, as she approached Kevin’s desk. She was shaking – her first mission, as Seish assigned it, was to escort the ’employee in charge of monitoring’ to GiW headquarters to be disciplined for abusing GiW resources. But she had no idea it was…him.
“No–” Sarah turned away from Kevin quickly, her face full of confusion and pain. “Don’t even talk to me, Dad. I know what you’ve been up to. Seish told me all about it.”
“Honey, I was just trying to help you.” Kevin hung his head and looked down at his desk as he spoke.
“You’ve always done this, Dad!” Sarah slammed her hand down on his desk, both to emphasize her anger and to get his attention. “You tried to scheme my way into the best high school, the best college, the cheerleading squad…and every time, you’ve failed, and made my life miserable!”
“Sarah, I’m so sorry–”
“No more!” Sarah leaned in closer as Kevin bowed his head further. “You’re always sorry, after it’s too late! You know what you’re going to do? You’re going to turn yourself in, and face the consequences. Because you owe it to me, Dad.”
“Sarah…I was wrong.” Kevin looked up slowly, his eyes red from tears he was too proud…or too afraid…to shed. “Please forgive me. I…love you.”
“Oh, Dad–” Sarah suddenly reached across the desk and hugged Kevin, a hug which was immediately returned, as tears began to fill her eyes as well. “I love you too. I promise, I’ll ask Seish to go easy on you.”
“No, Sarah…Take me to Seish. Do your job.” Kevin stood up slowly, holding Sarah’s hand gently as he headed toward the door. “There has been enough interference between us. Let me take care of this myself.”
Words were no longer necessary as Kevin and Sarah, holding hands tightly, headed toward the shuttle which would transport them back to GiW headquarters. People stared as they went – they knew Kevin was in trouble. But he didn’t even notice or care – the only thing he saw was Sarah.
“What have you to say for yourself?” Seish looked directly at Kevin as he spoke, before glancing at Mate and Sarah momentarily.
“I…I’m guilty. I’m so sorry, Seish. I’m sorry, Mate.” Kevin took a deep breath before he continued. “I didn’t mean it to be personal…I just wanted to help my daughter.”
Seish glanced at Sarah again. “It seems she did fine by herself, Kevin. I’ve given her a job in the monitoring department. She’ll be watching those big screens you see below.”
“I know, I know. I’m so sorry.” Kevin bowed his head to avoid Seish’s penetrating gaze. “I suppose…I’m fired now, right?”
“On the contrary, I’m giving you a raise.”
“Wh-What?” Kevin looked at Seish, confusion on his face. “But…I don’t deserve it.”
“You managed to track one of our agents for days.” Seish sat down at his desk, putting his white sneakers up on a nearby shelf. “That’s something not even the government has been able to do. If you can do that, you can track anyone, or anything. You’re a huge asset to GiW, and we don’t want to lose you.”
Kevin froze for a moment, speechless, before looking at Sarah. “Did you–”
“No, she didn’t”, Seish interrupted, “I’ve planned this all for some time. I knew you would respond well to a visit from your daughter. I never wanted to fire you, Kevin, I just wanted to save you from yourself. I wanted you to face what you’ve done.”
“Thank you, so much.” Kevin jumped to his feet and reached across the desk to shake Seish’s hand.
Seish didn’t even get up as he reached over and shook Kevin’s hand. “You’re welcome. Now everyone…get back to work.”
Kevin smiled as he headed for the door, hugging Sarah quickly on the way out. He then held out his hand to Mate. “I hope you can forgive me one day.”
Mate smiled. “That day is today, Kevin. I’ve seen how your daughter loves you. I’m sure you meant well.”
As Kevin and Sarah left the room quietly, heading to their new jobs, Mate looked at Seish and smiled. “You didn’t really plan this all along, did you?”
Seish laughed. “No, not really. I just sent Sarah to Kevin’s office to see what would happen. I had no idea it would turn out this well. Get to work, Mate.”
Mate shook her head as she left Seish’s office. Just when she thought Seish was strange…he would become even stranger. She had no idea if she’d ever understand him – but it sure was fun to try.