A Gift for Life and Death (pt28)

Death said nothing. He did not reach out, but Forgiveness didn’t back off. They waited for him.

Finally, Death reached out one hand, palm upward, and waited. Forgiveness felt it, felt what it was that Death was trying to avoid, even if no part of their body reacted in the way that one might have expected. Forgiveness dropped flame into his hand.

Neither of them said anything. There was nothing to say, it seemed. Forgiveness looked up into Death’s face. Death did not look back, not immediately, but eventually Forgiveness could tell that Death was staring them back. Two abysses in his face, calling to them. A call Death couldn’t stop, but one that he always gave.

Forgiveness stayed put, but smiled tiredly up at him.

“Take the angel back to her, Pup,” Death said, fingers closing around the fire. “Before they get into more trouble.”

Before Forgiveness could do or say anything more, the hound picked them up by the scruff of their shirt and placed them back on his spine.

There was something they had needed to say, a word to Death about the gift, even if they had no need to explain the reason behind it. Death knew what this had been brought for, didn’t he?

The angel wondered about this. The rhythmic motion of the hound, moving along back to home. Back to Life. The warmth pressed up against their chest. They wondered what Life’s reaction would be, if she would have a word to say about it. If she would understand as quickly as Death had.

Whether or not either would then… return to acceptance.

Forgiveness, with a smile upon their face, drifted off to sleep.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt27)

Even the flames of the phoenix could only give Forgiveness so much energy. They really wished to sleep, nestled in that little house they had made, with Life watching them with such curiosity, as though she had never seen someone make a house before. Which was untrue, she had seen it so many times. She had helped them, with walls made out of trees, with carpets made out of moss, until Forgiveness had fixed everything to what would be good for them.

It was as though Life had learnt so much that day. Something Forgiveness was happy to teach her.

Forgiveness had stopped to rest after making some distance, when they heard the sound of the wind. It brought with it the pretend panting of the hound, who hadn’t actually broken a sweat to catch up with them. Figuratively, of course.

A low whine came from his throat. Forgiveness reached up to climb up the bones, settling themselves on to the hound’s back. They would have asked to go home, but Pup already shot off as soon as Forgiveness had gotten into the best position. They pressed down against the bone, the warmth from the flame keeping the wind at bay as they shot through the world, back to home.

Or, at least, to Death.

The angel couldn’t help but pay rapt attention when Pup slowed down, looking at the charred remains of the large building that Death was sifting through. He knocked the occasional thing aside with his scythe, not bothering to look up until hearing Pup’s whine. His head didn’t move and he didn’t stop his seemingly random behavior.

“Where have you been, angel?”

Forgiveness sat up, before Death might actually note anything about them. They didn’t know how much Death might be aware, especially with what they held on them, but they wanted to make sure it was still as much a surprise as possible. Separating part of the fire from the other piece, they placed part of it back in their shirt as they slipped down from Pup.

Death turned to them, but before an inquisition could begin, Forgiveness held out the flame to Death.

A Gift for Life and Death (pt4)

Pup lowered his chest to the ground, back legs still vertical as his tail whipped back and forth, slamming into the well entrenched giants of the jungle. The force may have rocked the canopy above, but at their roots they remained still. Those that could move away from the vicinity did. Just as well, Pup wasn’t interested in playing with them. Mostly because they weren’t interested in the first place. If others had been interested, well of course Pup would want to play with them. It was what he liked doing most.

The creature slithered forward on hundreds of thin, synchronized legs. It pulled its front end up and back, creating a general S-shape with its body. The front end opened up, a large gaping hole with teeth inside, shrieking at the both of them.

The hound barked once, twice, in response.

Forgiveness wasn’t sure the creature wanted to play. They warned Pup not to put his hopes up, but he was already in the moment. It wasn’t often that a creature so far away from his master’s domain simply strode right up to him. He usually had to preempt any sort of communication. He liked this.

At least, he liked it until the creature struck. The hound jumped out of the way, all play, but the creature slithered up and around him, trying to hold him down while also trying to slip Forgiveness into their mouth.

Pup batted it aside. That wasn’t allowed. He might put the angel in his mouth, but that was different. Other people weren’t allowed to do that. Forgiveness was his friend.

A House, A Home (pt15)

The next morning was the first morning that Salma felt like sleeping in. The bed was comfortable, no cool morning draft assault her toes. She took comfort in the laziness for a half and hour before getting dressed. She made her way to the kitchen and, first things first, put the rest of the bread out on a tray on the windowsill for the birds.

After that, she made her own breakfast. More complex than her dinner, Salma enjoyed it more than any meal she had had in a long time. She opened up her luggage and put things back where she had wanted them. Her laundry had to be done again, but that was all right. More laundry detergent would be on her grocery list. This afternoon she would go into town. The cottage would let her, right?

Nothing stopped Salma from hanging her clothes to dry again, fairly certain nothing would get in her way. Nothing had happened at all this morning to upset her. She began to pin up her pants when the line hit the ground. Irritation welled up within her once more. Reaching for the line, birdsong caught her attention. Salma looked in that direction, not seeing the specific birds who chirped along in the sunlight caught branches, but definitely the sunlight which began to shine brightly at the other corner of the house.

An option, certainly. Salma moved her set up to that corner of the house, putting her wash upon the line once more. There was no problem and in a few hours it was dry.

Not the best way of letting her know, but Salma decided they both had a ways to go.

A House, A Home (pt14)

“I’m not my grandfather. I’m never going to be. He was wonderful, wasn’t he? I never knew. I wish I had known him better while he was alive. It isn’t making up for it, but I will have to get to know him better now, with what there is left of him. You miss him, don’t you? You must, I guess. I won’t ignore what’s here. Still, you have to understand. I’m not him. I will not be doing all of the same things as him. Some of those traditions are not me. Can we try together? I want to know him better and you can show me. If I learn about it, even if I don’t continue it… it won’t be lost. Not between the two of us.”

The cottage did nothing to reply that Salma could tell. Then again, that meant nothing. The cottage did many thing that meant something Salma hadn’t been able to interpret. Partially her fault. Just as much the fault of a grieving cottage.

A House, A Home (pt13)

The skies had turned dark and Salma remembered her hunger. Without much energy, she returned to the kitchen. She looked at what she had and decided upon a simple meal of soup, as she already had a can. She found the pot and while she opened the can up, she realized the stove was already warming. Pouring in her meal, she watched it closely for some time, smelling as the food prepared itself. She added in a few things, stirring all the while.

The cupboard wouldn’t open, not allowing her a bowl. Before Salma could become upset, she looked up to the table in the other room. Everything had already been set up. Bowl, spoon, napkin.

Salma blinked back her tears. Did the cottage miss him? she asked aloud of the abode around her.

Serving herself with what had been set out for her, Salma ate her dinner in the place where her grandfather must have taken most all of his meals. The cottage took care of the stove, putting the fire in the fireplace instead to warm the chilling air. The fire was weak until Salma went to feed a bit more fuel to it. Settling back in her seat, she finished the bread she had dipped into her soup. A simple meal, but the best one she had had in weeks.

A House, A Home (pt12)

Until this moment, she wouldn’t have been able to describe any of these dancers at any point in her life, not even the day after the night her grandfather held them before her. Salma had been here an entire month and she wouldn’t have been able to describe these people. For they were people, captured in motion, sought out by her grandfather and immortalized within renditions of their own bodies. An entire month and she hadn’t looked into her grandfather’s things?

That was untrue, she had looked into some of it. Yet she felt as though she had missed all of the important things. She had spent that time glancing up at the marks on the ceiling, not even guessing what they really were, half the time on her back because lack of sleep or because of a door slammed in her face. The books on the shelf had meant nothing, not during the amount of times she had had to put them back.