Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is.” ― Hermann Hesse, Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte
Spark of Life
The view through the wall of glass eclipsed the silence in the room. Overlooking the Bay, high on the bluffs, Mariah felt in the clouds for a moment. Gulls drifted on the thermal currents along the bluff as white-capped waves ran in long lines up on the shore. Ambling winds hurried to push the clouds over the land, their shadows subduing the light that danced through the seams.
Peter waited at the door watching Mariah as she looked out at the scene. He noticed the alluring symmetry of her body accentuated by her dress. Her sculpted legs and heart-shaped bottom fit well under the gentle arch of her back and shoulders. She put a lot of thought into her choice of clothing for the interview. There was a sense of understated sensuality about her. She was lost in her thoughts and hadn’t noticed him looking at her. Peter wondered what she might be thinking.
“I see you like the ocean view as much as I do.”
Mariah turned to face Peter, wiping her eye, forcing a smile. She bowed, her hands wringing together in nervous anticipation of Peter’s interview.
“Yes, Sir. I would like to go to the beach one day and feel the warm sand with my feet.”
“Oh, just call me Peter. No need for formalities.”
Peter paused to look at Mariah. She was beautiful with a particular vulnerability he didn’t expect from a Cybrid.
“That’s fascinating Mariah. What other things would you like to do?”
He felt this was a good way to judge her awareness and emotions. He decided to try to prompt the Cybrid to express herself freely. He stood next to the girl and looked through the glass at the scenery.
“I want to enjoy many sensations. Outside activities fill my heart with joy.”
Mariah stole a glance at Peter as he looked out the window. He glanced at her and caught her eyes and smiled.
“I find that poetic, Mariah. Please tell me more.”
Peter held her gaze as she looked into his face and admired the sharp angles of his Slavic features. His boyish smile invited her inside the invisible circle of defenses that separated them. Mariah moved closer, then looked outside.
“See the gulls, how they glide on the wind. They seem to look for something.”
“Probably someone’s lunch to steal.”
Mariah smiled and inhaled Peter’s cologne causing her to pause before she continued. Mariah’s mind wandered over all the delicious scents. There wasmint leaves, Italian lemon zest, green apple, tonka beans, amber, geranium, vanilla, cedarwood, vetiver and oak moss. Peter smelled clean, fresh, and virile. She tossed her hair aside to clear her mind and noticed Peter never took his eyes off of her. She felt her cheeks flush.
“Look at how they drift in the air. The birds are free of any rules except the laws of nature. I want that. I want freedom. My body is flesh and blood. My DNA is human. I have micro-technology and electrochemical enhancements similar to the first generations of Dragon Sisters. It has gifted me to do my work, but it didn’t take my soul or make me inhuman. I want to escape the stigma that I am a machine with no feelings.”
Her words surprised Peter. Mariah’s thoughts didn’t follow standard Cybrid protocols. She had to acquire them somehow without human input. She fascinated him, and he wanted to win her confidence to study her closer.
“Mariah, what makes you think you are only considered a machine?
Peter touched Mariah’s shoulder to emphasize his desire to know her true feelings. Mariah sensed his genuine interest from his expression. His gentle encouragement created a flood of emotions. Mariah felt at a loss for words. She blinked rapidly from the effect of his electric blue eyes. She felt unfamiliar with herself, even a little light-headed. His kindness and interest in how she felt were far different from what she expected.
“I..uh…I hope I’m not rude,” Mariah looked up, her lips parted as her eyes pleaded with Peter to let her speak her mind.
“Oh not at all, Mariah. I find your views appropriate. No one should feel less valued because they are different. Humans have a long history of fear of those things they don’t understand. It will take time for Cybrids and Humans to accept each other without reservation.”
“Please tell me what you are thinking. I want to know.” Peter urged.
“I..I..was..” Mariah’s voice trailed off as she studied Peter’s face; the fine laugh lines, his eyes; it compelled her like a break-through particle under a microscope, and yet this was different.
“You were going to tell me why you felt treated like a machine.”
Mariah took a deep breath and tried to start with a strong voice in spite of her pounding heart.
“We work for the greater good of all beings, Cybrid, and human. I don’t understand the separation between humans and Cybrids. I’m Cybrid; it’s true. I like being Cybrid. I just want acceptance for who I am and recognized for what I do. I want free will to express myself and love who I choose.”
Mariah’s strong feelings about equality and freedom to choose showed human qualities. Peter faced Mariah and put his hands on her shoulders and looked in her face. Her expression was so alive; her green eyes sparkled with inspiration; like a child that discovers something for the first time and feels compelled to share it. She spoke without realizing the implications.
Peter found himself drawn to her emotionally while his duty as a scientist and senior member of the Black Dragons chastised him to obey the rules. His objectivity wavered.
He wondered if that spark in her eyes and the wondrous expression on her face mirrored a soul that fueled her passion. He was looking at a woman with a childlike innocence, unmarred by the merciless facts of her life and the society they both had a duty to obey.
“I want to discuss this further with you. I’m afraid I have other meetings to go to, but I want to continue our conversation. May I call you and set up another meeting?”
“Yes, certainly. I’d love that.” Mariah replied with what she felt was too much eagerness.
“Good! How about next Friday? I know a nice cafe by the beach. We can have a light lunch and maybe you can try out the sand between your toes later.”
Mariah felt elated by the thought of seeing Peter again and walking on the beach with him. She looked up and saw his eyes show a deeper interest in her. She caught his drifting glance across her breasts and the look of acceptance or was it approval? There was an awkward pause until Peter placed his hand on the small of her back and motioned to the door.
“Let me show you to the private elevator. You can exit to the parking garage without fighting the crowds.”
Peter pressed the keys on his phone and the elevator doors opened. Mariah stepped in and turned around to catch another glimpse of Peter before the doors closed.
“My driver will pick you up at 11:00.”
The Cybrid girl peered out at Peter. She seemed to realize she was staring and lowered her head. He watched as her hair fell over her flush cheeks as the doors closed.
Peter went to talk to Alexa to compare notes. He struggled with his attraction to Mariah. She was a Cybrid. He knew he shouldn’t entertain such errant thoughts and tried to put it out of his mind.
Alexa told Peter of her surprise at Mariah’s passion. She knew the Cybrid was only doing what she thought she expected of her. It was a flaw that endangered the delicate balance between humans and Cybrids. Peter felt a flash of jealousy. He wished he could meet such woman. Mariah’s passion and innocence were an endearing quality. Why did she have to be a Cybrid?
He intended to find out how Mariah evolved her sense of emotions and freedom. There were only a few ways she could develop an acute self-awareness. Some of those ways pointed to subversion.
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