I called him first, she says. He makes me feel safer than you do.
The frames are a delicate silvery-grey metal, and suit my face as if made for it, but that isn’t what made me gasp: it’s my eyes. The lenses are completely clear, yet somehow I am changed. My eyes aren’t green any more. More a blue-grey. I turn my head side to side, take the glasses off, put them back on again. Study myself like looking at a stranger. This dark-haired girl is other. She looks older, too. No one would recognise her. Not just Ben; I could walk past Mum and Amy in the street, and they’d be none the wiser.‘That’s amazing. You’re amazing.’
‘Why, yes: I am.’ He smiles. ‘And this technology—’ he touches the glasses ‘—isn’t known in the UK, at least not yet. So wearing them shouldn’t arouse any suspicions.’He spins my chair around so we are facing each other again. ‘So. The green-eyed blond girl is gone, replaced by a more sophisticated version, one who can pass for the eighteen you need for ID and travel if necessary. What is next for you?’ I hesitate, and he laughs. ‘Keep your secrets. I hope – no, I am sure – we will cross paths again.’‘Thanks for everything.’
He tilts his head, something in his eyes still measuring, assessing.‘What is it?’
He shakes his head. ‘Nothing, and everything. Time for you to go.’ He holds the door open. As I step through it, he adds, ‘Tell Aiden I need to see him.’
Later that day I’m in a small room hidden in the back of a factory. A dark room where new identities are forged. New lives begin.My boss never missed a thing.
Roll all the tires out to recycling, Bud said. They’re filling up the back.I stuck my punch card in the sleeve dangling beneath the clock. You hatin’ on me today?
You look like you need a chore that won’t cost me money if you screw it up. Bud coughed into his elbow. Class that tough?I tossed my backpack beneath a scuffed-up desk by the door. You have no idea.