San Francisco Wednesday 9th March, 6.28 p.m.
“I HOPE I haven’t left anything behind,” Carrie wondered aloud.
“Too bad if you have. It’s too late to go back now.” Amber laughed. “Don’t worry so much.”
Amber’s old Ford Capri was travelling smoothly as she drove Carrie over the Golden Gate Bridge. The glowing Pacific sunset, yellow to orange, down to red at the horizon, stretched away to their right. A palette of colors reflected off the water at the end of the spring day.
“I’m trying not to.” The two hairpins in her mouth muffled Carrie’s reply. She looked in the mirror on the reverse of the sunshade, adjusting her long blonde hair.
“Well, no delay with fog this end. That’s a good sign.” Amber carried on the conversation in her lighthearted way. “Pity you won’t be here for Saturday night. I had a great guy for you . . .”
“Come on Amber,” Carrie cut in. “Just because Dave’s away on a three month course, it doesn’t mean I’m looking around!”
“Well you’ve got to take every opportunity. WATCH OUT, BLOODY ROAD HOG!” she shouted at the driver of a car cutting in front of her. “It’s hard to find a decent fella let alone keep him these days. Now you’re going to miss Steve, Steve Newman. He’s ideal for you—brilliant programmer . . .”
“Cut it out Amber! You know how important my work is to me. Dave’s a good friend and our relationship suits me fine at present. I don’t want to start another one. You know that!”
“I know. I know. I’ve heard it all before. But mark my words my girl you’re going to fall one day. And when you do you’ll wonder what’s struck you.”
“It’ll come when it comes.” Carrie took the opportunity to change the subject. “Do you think what I’m wearing is OK?”
Amber looked to her right at Carrie’s slim willow-like figure, and felt a twinge of envy as she thought of her own short stature. “You look great. I always say you should travel in casual gear, and jeans. That top and the pink jersey will be fine.”
“Thanks.” They were now on safe ground. “What do you think of my T-shirt?”
“Well as Greenpeace doesn’t have a standard uniform I suppose “No Time to Waste -- Greenpeace” written over your boobs is as good as anything to show what you do!”
“Yes I thought so,” Carrie replied briefly before lapsing into her own thoughts. Twenty-five months had passed since she had completed the assignment with Project Jonah and joined Greenpeace. She had been lucky to head up the Whale Division of the Research Center. Of course, her Ph.D in zoology and thesis on ‘Methods of Whale Stock Assessment’ had been the clincher.
Amber was concentrating on her driving as the dusk turned into darkness. Carrie indulged herself, thinking back on how she had critically assessed the six methods of assessing whale stocks and concluded that even when results from each were combined, the level of error was still too high. Then she had proposed developing a combination of the ‘La Jolla Model’ and ‘Whale Marking’, which would be superior to all of them. This had been the basis for STROW’S development. It had been operating for six months, getting better each month as their techniques improved. And now, because of its accuracy, differences such as lower numbers of bull sperm whales, immeasurable in the past, were quickly and accurately reported.
“Is there anything else you’d like me to do?” Amber’s question startled Carrie.
“Oh. Um. Yes there is.” Carrie’s thoughts returned to the present. “Could you ring Mom and tell her I left safely. She asked me to do it from the airport. But I might not have time.”
“Sure, no problem. Anything else?”
“Ah, if you have a moment could you ring through to where Dave’s staying in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Don’t worry if you don’t speak to him. But could you leave a message that I’ll be away overseas for a week or so.” Carrie’s instruction tailed off.
“What. No ‘I’m missing you so much’, ‘My love for you is for ever’ or ‘I’m waiting for your passionate thrusts’.” Amber burst into laughter at her flat-mates embarrassed silence.
“Just ring as I asked.” Carrie’s smile was hidden in the darkness. “And please leave out the extras.”
“Right on. No worries. But you remember to enjoy yourself. I know it’s a big adventure but enjoy yourself. Try and have a good time.” Amber’s words echoed in Carries ears as the car turned off the freeway to San Francisco Airport.