Winding down

“That is that.”

Robin’s energy finally had an outlet. “Are you finally done with the papers?”

Jay nodded. “That I am. The case is over- that and all the consequences.” His desk was cleared, for the first time in a long time. Seeing that much of the surface wood felt strange.

“Celebrations then?”

Jay steeled himself. “Very well. What did you-”

He stopped himself as Robin placed a bottle of sparkling wine on the empty desk between them. “I presumed this would go over well with you.”

Relaxing in his chair at the same time as staring bewildered at his friend, Jay chuckled.

“You constantly surprise me.”

“You’ve been tired,” Robin went on, pulling a couple of glasses out and beginning to pour, “so I thought we could celebrate while staying in this time.”

Jay took the proffered glass and rose it in front of him. “Cheers, Robin. Until our next mystery.”

“For all our mysteries!” Robin added.

Glasses clinked together and the both took a drink.

The charity of neighbors

Mikhos supposed he should have appreciated the sentiment. Other people considered it a form of recycling and opposed to sending the paper off somewhere else they had given it to him.

Of course, none of them understood exactly what he got when he ate a book. Thankfully, Menachem liked to read even more than Mikhos did. Of course, Menachem didn’t have any baggage attached to such things. Mikhos watched his expression as he perused the papers. “What is that one?”

“A series of letters. I guess someone didn’t want to keep them anymore.”

“Um. Is it all that personal?”

“That and more. Don’t worry, it’s nothing raunchy. You might actually like this.” Pulling out his phone, Menachem took a photograph of the current page and handed it over to him. “Reading it, I mean.”

Mikhos read it. “This is about Kiara.”

“Yeah. Probably between her mother and her grandmother. Kiara’s mum dumped this off. You know, since the whole fallout.”

Mikhos put the phone back on the table. “I can’t eat these. What if they make up?”

Menachem shrugged. “Your choice.”

For the first time in a long time, Mikhos sat down and actually read from the paper, without consuming it afterward.

So I looked up a recipe I’ll never use

“Have fun at grandpa’s?” he asked his daughter as she ran up and hugged him.

“Yes!”

Considering how long it had taken him to get along with his father, he admitted to being a bit jealous how quickly she had taken to him. “What did you do?”

“We made cookies!”

He almost blanched. “You… you what?”

“Cookies!” She gave him a look as though she expected better of him. “I brought you some! We can eat them now. You don’t think mom will be jealous, do you?”

“Mom knows she’s not the only person to bake cookies.” However, the realization that his father could bake would probably give his wife pause too. “Are they any good?”

“Dad!” his daughter protested. Shaking her head, she pulled a plastic bag filled with cookies out of her backpack and handed him one. “I made them too.”

“Of course.” He chuckled, taking it. “You save just about everything.”

“Did grandpa not bake with you?”

He took a bite from the cookie. It tasted surprising, he couldn’t recognize what type it was at all. He wouldn’t compare it to his wife’s baking, but that was for his own safety. “Must be a new hobby.” Then the kick came in. “What is it?”

“Zucchini and jalapeño.”

He coughed. “Pretty good.”

She smiled. While he was glad for her, he wondered if his father had decided to make this with the express knowledge that his granddaughter would not hesitate with giving plenty of them to her father.

This describes a dog I know

The dog came up to her, tail waving slowly back and forth as he looked up at her.

“You look suspicious,” she said, patting his head. His tail wiggled a little more. “What did you do?”

Absolutely nothing, love me, said his body language, in the most suspicious of ways. Reaching behind his ear, she pulled off a leaf from within the strands of his long hair.

“Trying to become a gardener?” She smiled. The dog buried his face into her lap.

Then she saw the movement.

She exhaled her irritation. “Trying to become a bug catcher?” It wasn’t a flea, thank god, but enough was enough. “You aren’t getting in my bed. In fact, we’re doing your favorite thing. Having a bath.”

No matter how cute the dog could look, he would never be able to evade the bath.

One of those words

Oom-pah, the blast of
noise rises from the brass, ratatat
only inside the drummers hands.
Mopoke, the distinct call of
a bird who insists upon alliteration,
thump for the predator who falls upon
oceans of prey to come away with one.
Purr, either anger or pleasure, the true conundrum
of the kingdom one understands the least,
even those who are a part of such things. And
I’m interrupted by myself, from the particles coming in-
Achoo! There goes my head.

Similar interests

“What sort of festival is this?” Zale asked.

Vidvan wrapped his cloak around himself. “A celebration of the tide. This time of year it ebbs very low and they believe making offers to the gods will bring the tide back to the level it is the rest of the year.”

Zale stared out at the festive banners, at the crowds dressed in bright greens and blues, lined with reds and yellows. “This is the time of year for a low tide?”

The older man nodded. “Yes, it is odd. Not the same as the surrounding areas. It certainly does make it seem as though the gods are focused on this particular spot to draw the waters away.”

Vidvan didn’t believe that was the answer though, Zale could tell. He smiled. “Or an interesting creature with an annual tradition.”

“That would be more likely.”

The excitement in that single sentence was contagious. “Perhaps we should see if we can find it.”

“Zale, my boy, if only Deston was as adventurous as you,” Vidvan praised. That said, the two of them made their way through the festival.

The smell of earth

Kun could smell the earth outside. Dry, damp, alive, dead. He could feel it in his very skull, where the curse was engraved in his mind. It called to him, inviting him to stay out there and disappear within the soil.

Perhaps he should have found a place in the city. There were places there that could have distanced himself from the nature that beckoned him. However, Kun didn’t want to avoid it completely. He wanted to live alongside it, surviving it, much as he had for the longest time.

Now that Ling was gone, though, everything had changed.

The years went by and Kun pretended he was all right. The children couldn’t tell. He taught them the best way he knew how, unsure if he should be allowed to. Unsure if he should be allowed near anyone at all. Yet he was too selfish. He couldn’t let go of what he had left. He might take loss in silence, but he wouldn’t let it go without struggle.

Then what was this? This time that passed, this time that was empty? He knew the whispers were encompassing Shui and there was nothing he could do.

Kun didn’t know when he had last seen Jin.

“Surely this is boring to you,” he said to the dragon. The warmth of the creature, face pressing into his side, was more than abating the cold. “Don’t you want to go fly away? For more than a few hours. I’m not always available. I know we understand this. Maybe Shui would bring you more entertainment?”

The last suggestion he let out to see the expression on the dragon’s face which Kun had always equated to laughter. Kun’s eyes sparkled.

I want you to talk to me about Ling.

Kun felt the emptiness creep up upon him. The petrichor permeated his scent, a tight grip on his heart. Constant, but only hurt when he let it. “Very well. What do you want to hear about Ling?”

The dragon gave him a look that was all-encompassing.

Kun would talk about Ling. Even when it hurt, he kept talking. Because he was asked.

He wished he could distance himself from it all, instead of surviving it. He wished.

Another magazine

“Look at this one, Jay. Doesn’t that make you hungry?”

Jay entertained the thought of not looking at all, but in the end glanced over the magazine Robin had been pouring through. “For goodness’ sake. Stop looking at food magazines. You’re insufferable.” Partly because Jay could have cared less. Normally. Partly because he was afraid one day all of Robin’s metabolism might leave him a completely round human being if he continued.

Partly because this was actually making him hungry.

Serious sportsmanship

It was the finals and there were only a handful of them left. He didn’t know where his teammates were, or even who were still in play. That was a dangerous position to be in. If he struck one of them instead of the opposing team, he would be at fault for them losing the championship.

He took stock of his weaponry. Mashed potatoes. Barbecue sauce slathered steak. Both good for leaving a mark, though the pieces of steak would be easier to aim. The potato would splatter though, he could get someone on the rebound. As long as no one else was nearby.

Then he was hit in the back of the head with a pie, sending him out to watch the rest of his team get one shotted by the single remaining member of the opposing team.

She liked using pie.

It was an embarrassing defeat for them in the Food Fight Nationals.

Dollhouse

They waited in vain to be remembered. A fine layer of dust covered her body, over her opened eyes as she stared at the same thing she had looked at for the last several years: her sister’s arm, still cracked from when it broke and was glued back together.

A couple years ago they would be dusted and lovingly replaced in the exact same position. Before that, they would be dusted and rearranged, able to see the new additions to the room, watching the people who entered here. Before then they had been in a different room, where few people ever entered, still tended to meticulously. Before then they were moved every month, brought down from the shelf to be held by a child that didn’t belong to them, but was nice nonetheless.

Before then was when they were played with, day to day. In the house that was built for them by the child they loved.

She hadn’t seen that child in a very long time. Not even the woman she had grown into.

Not in years.

They waited for her return, the old woman she had become. For whatever she would wish of them.

They waited.