You had a few friends that you trusted with the news, once you made your decision.
Mostly the same ones who knew who you really were, and not who you had to pretend to be.
The closest center wasn’t far from your office, but you were afraid of getting recognized by coworkers.
(Would you have to go back to work? Would you even need money anymore?)
You decided to visit a center a couple of hours away, just to be safe.
If only they knew what was really sparking your joy.
Even when you knew you were certain, it took a certain amount of courage to overcome your fear.
Your last cup of coffee was a cinnamon mocha with extra whipped cream.
You tried to walk casually towards the center. Tried not to think about the people you passed. Could they see what you were thinking? Could they tell how nervous you were? Would there be protestors outside?
A pair of units stood outside. One with a tall, lean build and deep green antenna “ears”, the other broad with generous curves and glowing fire engine red.
Somehow you knew both of them were watching as you approached.
“Hi,” you manage to get out as you reach them. “I’d...um...I want...can I come in?”
Neither of them are actually blocking the door. It’s just up to you to step through.
You take a deep breath and go inside. What you assume is a lobby seems pretty much like any office. A tile floor, a reception desk, a set of chairs, and a couple of doors leading further in.
The only thing that hints at the purpose of this place is what’s on the desk.
You wait for it (him? Them?) to reach the desk before you speak. “Hi. I’m...I want to join. To belong.”
They don't respond in words, of course, but he does lift a headset out of its cradle before offering it to you.
Something in your gut says this is the point of no return.
But as you stare at the unit’s beautifully sculpted hands and arms, you know that it’s not a mistake at all.
For a moment there’s nothing. Then a burst of static, a series of several musical tones, and finally a voice speaks to you, soft, warm, and clear.