ABBY AND AMY Z
Illustration by Lawrence Tate
As Abby and her mother were speaking, people kept arriving. Abby’s mother began looking around the crowd, and stared at the long line forming at the cafeteria. “They need me,” she said. “Margie’s been at it all day, and she’s too slow for this crowd.”
“Go, Mom!” said Abby. “I’m proud of you and Dad. It makes me happy to be here.” Her mother hugged her for a moment and dashed off.
‘Okay,’ thought Abby. ‘That went well. Now what?’ She felt someone approaching her, and turned to see Sara Williams. “Can we join you?” she asked.
“Yes, of course.”
“Abby, this is Amy. We’re at Evansville College together, and… we do so many things together! Amy needs to speak to you.” Abby stood up and shook hands with a young East Asian woman with glowing dark eyes and straight black hair that glistened in the light.
“I’ve only got a moment,” said Sara. “We have to practice our show for tonight. They’ve given me a part.”
“How exciting,” returned Abby. “What will you do?”
“You’ll see! Right now they’re calling me.” Sara hurried off.
Abby and Amy looked at each other, and pulled their chairs close together. “Okay, Amy, you have my full attention. We may only have a few minutes.” Abby was feeling nervous, and very curious.
“You may know,” began Amy in a low voice, “that I work a couple of days a week with the Parks Energy Project in Half Moon.”
“Oh!” exclaimed Abby. “Jeremy and I were just talking about it two days ago… Are you a supervisor there?”
“I’m only a student intern like Sara is at the Evansville Record. Sara’s a journalism major and I’m in Energy Science.”
Amy leaned forward with a warm smile. “Actually my major is called ‘Energy Science in the Age of Climate Change’. It’s a new department, just four years old. You might have heard of our department head, Roberto Richardson. He’s well-known in this field.”
“No,” Abby replied, “I’m afraid I’m… pretty ignorant of the science involved. I’ve never been to college.”
“That’s okay, I understand. We’re not looking for another college type person, we’re looking for someone like you.”
“Really? Why? No one knows anything about me.”
Amy smiled to herself as if she was trying not to laugh. She looked into Abby’s eyes and said, “Let me say a few things quick.” She moved closer and kept her voice down. “I know Sara, I know Junior Walker and his father, I know Chi Chi, I know Jeremy, I know Isaiah, I know Freddy Baez of the Evansville Record, just to name a few. And I follow the news, so of course I know a lot about you. Just listen to our problem: I’m writing my thesis on the Energy Project, and my advisor is Roberto Richardson. He’s fascinated by what we’re doing, and wants to visit and know more. He’s an influential guy. For example, he’s a member of the United Nations climate change group, what they call the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They have representatives from all over the world, and try to keep up with issues and solutions from every country, urban and rural, rich and poor. Roberto is in the middle of writing a paper with recommendations based on our Energy Project, using it as a model. He might make a presentation to the Panel.”
Abby felt the excitement tingle in her fingers. “That is amazing… I hardly know what to say… But why speak to me?”
“This is where it gets complicated. The Energy Project is based on a very special situation, one that neither Sara nor I fully understand. I’ve had to tell Roberto, and Sara has told her boss, not to create publicity about this, at least not yet.”
Abby looked at Amy with respect, and nodded. “A wise decision, I can only thank you…”
“First and foremost,” said Amy with passion in her voice, “We want to be your ally, a part of your group. We want to join what you’re doing, and understand the opportunities and dangers. Right now we are very cautious, knowing how little we know.”
Abby nodded. Her eyes sparkled. This conversation was opening up a new world. “I think this is wonderful. But I’m still not sure where I fit in. Why approach me?”
Amy pulled her chair right up to Abby and spoke in her ear. “Frankly, the people who understand this situation have asked me to speak to you.”
Abby stared in surprise. “Is this Friday evening good for you?" she asked. "Come early for our Youth Council Meeting. But you should know that I’m followed wherever I go. Oh, not here to Rivergate. They weren’t expecting me to leave by boat. But our church is watched day and night. Just so you’re aware of my situation.”
“Count me in!” exclaimed Amy.