Semaj Alister Michelson had a forgettable face. There was nothing remarkable about his looks, but he was a far cry from what could be considered ugly. His features were average: brown eyes, black hair, dark brown skin, a mouth, nose and two ears. His plainness made it easy for him to blend in wherever he went. He’d traveled around the globe several times in his life and in the process lost who and when he was.
Today, he sat outside of the Jolly Roger Deli in Providence enjoying a hot cup of black coffee, a peanut butter and raspberry preserve sandwich, and the newspaper. One door down, a group of ladies gathered outside of a shop. They peered inside the large storefront window for signs of life, and we’re disappointed to see none. One of the ladies was on her phone. Semaj guessed she was the organizer of the group. She wore an ivory colored jumpsuit with a camel colored blazer. Her hair was gathered into a messy bun with wavy black strands framing her face. Her skin was a deep ebony tone and she had large black eyes. He heard bits of her end of the conversation. They had an appointment, and were on time for their consult. Her body language told him she was concerned and frustrated. Her day was not going according to plan and there was money involved. But as she spoke, the owner emerged from the walkway between the deli and her shop. She apologized profusely to the ladies as she unlocked the door and stood aside to let them file into the building. Seeing that the momentary crisis was resolved, Semaj returned his attention to his sandwich and newspaper. He spotted an advertisement for an exhibit just a few blocks away, on the campus of the art school. The exhibit was called, “Spring Forward.”
With his plans for the afternoon decided, he folded the paper and took a bite of his sandwich as the leader from group of ladies approached him.
“Hi. Your name is Semaj, right?”
He looked up, surprised. Now that she stood right in front of him, there was something vaguely familiar about her. Maybe he’d seen her in passing at some point. He’d been in Providence for six months, and it is a small town.
“Have we met,” he inquired.
“A long time ago.”
“Won’t your friends be concerned about you taking to a stranger,” he asked, looking around her toward the shop where her friends stood inside talking with the proprietor.
“They’ll be fine for a moment. I’m really here for you.”
“Who are you?”
“Neveah Early, your partner.” Semaj looked at her hands. She laughed. “Not that kind of partner. We work…worked together a while ago. We’ve been looking for you.”
“We? Who is ‘we?'”
She glanced over he shoulder before responding.
“I’ll tell you what, why don’t we meet for dinner tonight and I can fill you in on everything. I know this seems like a random meeting, but I’ve been searching for you for almost a year. Every time I get close, you disappear. You finally stopped moving. But now you’re leaving ripples, and others are on your trail.” She gave him her business card. Infinity Events. Her logo was a wedding ring twisted like a möbius strip. “We can meet at Bacaro’s. My treat. What do you say? Does 6:30 sound good?”
He couldn’t remember her, but he was curious to find out who she was and what she thought she knew. So far, she knew he liked Italian food. Bacaro’s was one of his favorite spots.
“6:30 sounds fine. I look forward to it.”
“Great! I’ll see you tonight!” As she turned to rejoin her party, he recalled something she said that puzzled him.
“Neveah, wait!” She turned back toward him. “What did you mean when you said I’m ‘leaving ripples.'”
“Ripples in time. Your presence here is changing events dramatically, and not in a good way. I promise, I’ll explain it all tonight!” One of her friends walked up and pulled her away as she explained. “I’m sorry, I have to go! See you tonight,” she called over her shoulder as her friend led her back to the shop. He looked at her card again before placing it in his pocket. He finished his lunch and decided to skip the exhibit. He needed to do some research on Ms. Early before they met for dinner tonight.