That afternoon, Kepa was opening the door to their hotel room when his phone began to ring. He fumbled with the key, pushing the door open as he grabbed his phone. He smiled as he saw Maite’s image smiling back at him as he answered it.
“Maite!” he exclaimed. “How did it go?”
“It has been great so far!” replied Matie’s voice. “My presentation went really well. There were lots of questions that really showed they were interested in my work. And none that I couldn’t answer. And then I toured a few of the labs and met with some of the professors in the department. They are doing so many cool things here! At lunch, some of the students took me out and we talked about what life was like working and living in Berkeley. So far, it has all been great! I can’t wait to tell you all about it.”
Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!
“I’m so glad to hear that!” said Kepa. “Though, I knew you would do well. I always had confidence in you.”
“Thanks Kepa. So, one of the professors asked if I could meet her and her group for dinner, to talk about a possible position in her team.”
“Great! Where should I meet you?”
“Well, it’s all going to be shop talk, with just her and the other students.” She paused a moment. “Do you mind?”
“No, no,” answered Kepa as he slumped on to the bed. “You have fun. I’ll see you when you get back.”
“Mil esker, Kepa! You are the best!” He could almost hear the ‘click’ of her hanging up.
“Yeah, the best,” he said to himself as he let the bouquet of roses he had been holding fall to the floor.
It was late at night when he finally returned to the hotel room. Maite was sitting up in bed with the light on and a book in her hands.
“Where were you?” she asked. “I was so worried. You weren’t answering your phone.”
“I was… out,” replied Kepa as he stumbled to the bed and almost literally fell on top of it, not bothering to get out of his clothes or brush his teeth.
“Are you drunk?” asked Maite.
“I only had a few drinks,” he said as he rolled on to his side, his back to her. “What do you care anyways?”
Maite reached out a tentative hand but then pulled it back. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“If you didn’t want me around, you could have just said so before I got on that damn plane with you.”
“What? No, of course I want you here…” she began.
“Not today though, huh? I’m not good enough to be around with your fancy new friends.”
“I didn’t mean… I didn’t think…” began Maite. For a moment, the room was quiet. “I’m… I’m sorry, Kepa.”
“Well, I’m tired, Maite. Gabon.”
Almost instantly, Kepa’s snores filled the room, almost drowning out Maite’s quiet sobs.