Toiréasa didn’t know what possessed her. Saoirse was taking too long getting her sword repaired and she was bored. All she had meant to do was look around a bit.
Trying on clothes had not been in the docket. Especially not clothes that had anything to do with the amount of travel they were in the midst of. There were plenty of dresses that were made for such things, this was not one of them. It was the type of dress she might have been made to wear by her father had the world not changed around them. It was the type of dress which was the adult version of the ones she wore as a child.
Not exactly. It wasn’t the same style at all. There was no knotwork on this one, after all. Not as many layers either. Though it was elegant, for this culture’s style, Toiréasa had to admit. Which was why she had looked at it. Which was why she had stopped.
Which was why she was wearing it now, looking at herself in a mirror and wondering if she ever would have worn this had the world not changed. What she might have been wearing now otherwise.
However, she might not have been taught the sword had the world not shifted. Her father might not have thought it necessary. And that was unacceptable.
Toiréasa took it off, replacing her well worn travelling clothes upon her body. Maybe some day. When she and Saoirse returned home.
When Saoirse married her like she had promised.
Winter watched the woman and her gorgeous hair, long curling strands well kept, at a contrast to her rough palms and occasionally chapped lips. When the rest of her was made for work, this woman kept her hair perfect.
“Winter. Are you and Summer keeping warm?”
“Yes’m.” She nodded, watching the woman set down the bundle of something she had brought with her.
“Well, I hope these will help with that. Simply being cold outside shouldn’t keep you in all the time.”
She brought out two coats. Winter’s was a little big, but the woman said she was certain it would last longer that way. The two of them helped Summer put hers on, as she didn’t want to wait. Then she wanted to run around in it.
Winter went to chase after her, but stopped to look back at this woman, this woman who had changed everything. “Thank you.”
There was a moment that hunting became the most important part of her.
Leondra didn’t know when it had happened. When watching and waiting became as easy as breathing. When taking an animal down in one shot became what she expected when she pulled the trigger, rather than what she hoped. When dressing the carcass didn’t cause her any hesitation.
When she ate well on her own, well enough to then help other people eat well. To afford the place she was staying in.
Hunting was important to her family, her family that all had the beast inside of them, telling them to be a predator.
Yet Leondra was the only one. She was the huntress.
“There is only one thing worse than sneezing,” he said.
His friend looked at him oddly. “Really? With all of the terrible things in the world, sneezing is up there? Only one thing worse? Is it murder? Or more abstract. Is it the potential for murder?”
Now that was awkward. He scratched at the tip of his nose. “I… was going to say hiccups. Hiccups are the worst thing in the world.”
“Oh definitely. Yeah, I’d rather be homeless.”
“You know, talking to you is always a barrel of laughs.”
The tendency for taking things too literally was at an all time high that day.
When building a gingerbread house, there were two rules that Katsuya and Mami decided to abide by.
First of all, neither could do anything to the other’s house. That had been the cause for many lost house in previous years and while the two of them usually ended up eating everything, there had never been a completed project because of how they messed with each other. They hoped this year would be different with this established rule.
The second, and even more important, rule was that they had to each watch a random video on the internet and have that be the base for how they decorated their houses.
Katsuya lucked out. The video was about some city he didn’t care about, but it showed houses all over the place. He was going to make a gingerbread house this time and no one was going to stop him. Least of all Mami, who had promised she wouldn’t set her cat on him this time. After all, that would be considered a breakage of their first rule.
Mami watched a man skateboard down some stairs and then promptly jump over a railing, never to be seen again.
“Can I get a second video?”
Katsuya ignored her. “And we start!”
The volcano finally grew quiet. From above, the phoenix watched the cooling fields which had dripped down over the side, which had run all others out of the vicinity.
Now that the volcano had stopped speaking, the area was silent. No one else but the phoenix for miles. From the highest point, the phoenix glided down to the once lava, now obsidian, grounds. The bird raked talons across, creating marks within the forming stone. Flapping wings once more to gain height, the phoenix repeated the process.
For days, until anyone returned, all that was left to this place was the newly formed rock and the shapes which a playful avian decided to carve from it.
Sitting here it is hard to see how fast we go when
pushing down on the pedal.
Even when the world spins by, it’s a difficult comparison with
every time you stand still, watching the
distance with the wind pressing back against you.
The letter took a very long time to reach them. Sent out with the best of those who could travel in this new world, it still had to find its way to someone who refused to stay still. Who couldn’t stay still. When they arrived at the inn though, having doubled back, the letter was waiting for her.
Saoirse opened it with a nail and read it fast. Then her pace slowed.
“I can’t believe they managed to send news all the way from home to here.”
Toiréasa’s words had faded into the background, despite how she stood near Saoirse’s shoulder. “Of course my father wouldn’t do that. Or failed to.”
“My cousin is dead.” From injuries sustained in the new environment. Because he couldn’t hunt as well on his own, more like.
Toiréasa’s attitude dwindled. She made a sound, like the slight exhalation of air.
Eventually, they got their room.
He could have left. He should have left. There was no reason to stay here. If he stayed here, he might fall prey to whatever it was that they might be doing here.
But Gladiolus was tired and nothing actually seemed to be here. He didn’t recognize any of the children as having come from where he had. None of them knew who he was. They wouldn’t ask anything of him. With that in mind, he decided staying for a little bit would be all right. Just long enough to recover. Until someone who thought they knew who he was would come across him.
Time passed. It went from days to weeks and no one had outed him. No one had claimed him to be a monster. He watched them as they continued to mill about him, the other children, unsuspecting, trusting. They didn’t understand how they had gotten here, they had no idea.
He would hide and watch. He would hide and wait.
He tried to hide, only to find a much younger girl already hiding. He knew her name, he’d heard it. He couldn’t remember it.
She looked at him, but her wariness wasn’t like his. There was no anger. She scooted aside.
He hid beside her, because maybe she’d be quiet. If not… well, he could move. Maybe.
It all seemed a bit mundane after a weekend in the wood. After the haggling with the butcher shops, with the tanners, with all that would buy what she didn’t use. Leondra picked up a fruit she didn’t recognize. She thought she did, until she realized it certainly wasn’t a coconut. “What’s this?”
She looked up at the woman, who eyed her lazily from over the counter. “You realize that if I have no idea what the fruit is or the word you say, that doesn’t help me determine whether I want to buy it?”
The woman shrugged with a lazy smile. “It tastes like chocolate, if that helps. The pulp, anyway. Don’t eat the outside.”
Leondra wasn’t a huge fan of chocolate, but she had to admit to some curiosity. “Maybe another time.”
“Rare. We have them in now, but when they sell out, they’ll be a while in coming back.”
Leondra looked at the woman again. “I’m not certain whether you’re really trying to sell me on this or not.”
The woman continued to smile at her, without effort. “Hey, I can’t control what you want to eat, just telling you what you want to know.”
Leondra didn’t buy the cupuacu. She did, however, return to that shop the next time she went looking for something other than meat to eat.