Lersai skipped as best she knew how along the path. Stones cut her feet. Gratefully she acknowledged the day’s beauty, lit by the day-star’s glare that seared her sunburned face. A young, tooth-gap smile, brighter than the radiance of that celestial orb, sparkled beneath two windows – one a portal to the rain outdoors, the other boarded and shuttered. Sprinkles of brown sugar dotted her raw, red cheeks. A lily, wilted, crumpled, and tattered, proudly adorned her ferocious mop of fiery grey hair.



Her pace skipped a beat – one, two, four – and she was at the door of the cottage in the valley ‘neath the mount. “Aye.” Fwap. The pale, smooth hand sent the grey-child whirling among the weeds by the doorstep.

“Slinking cur. ‘Aye, mayam.‘ And curtsy next time.”

The bruise throbbed now, but the hunched over, nymph-like frame, trembling, stood to her feet. Again, that beautiful smile flashed – not so large, but no less radiant.

“Aye, mayam.”

“Next time I must call you inside from your folly, ten lashes you have. Wash the mead-bowls.” Lersai scuttled away from the marvelously stunning, cold face, deeply grooved neither with care nor with oppression, but rather with sorrowed hatred. The grey-child stooped over the utensils, her clumsy hands fumbling with the dirty pile, and totter-skipped towards the door.

Hi-yo-hey-yo-hi-yo-riding in the skye…

“How many times have I told you to cease with your singing!” Fwap. Fwap. The dishes fell into the rain. It was raining in the cottage. The downpour overflowed, enveloping the arm that smacked her, swirling abundantly in her vision, blurring it. Lersai swiped at the windows before the rain tried to flow through them too. She picked up the spinning bowls, one by bone, and stepped outside the cottage. The sun was still burning the parched earth.

Lersai hovered a moment before she cheerfully hurled the bowls, crusted with half-finished food, into the aire. They almost returned to her. Almost. Now they floated gently upwards. Into the clouds. She waited. Here they came.



She stopped.

“What are you doing?” The expression was hard. The tone, harder so.

“Waiting on the dishes, mayam.”

“Hurry, child.”

Lersai caught the newly-sparkling utensils from the aire before they dropped into the dust. A rustling caught her attention. Something was in the bushes over by the waste-house. Now she must go look, of course. And-it-must-be-very-large-whatever-it-was-and-was-it-growing-so-she-must-back-away-now-

A gentle hand a-held her wrist. “Come along now, Lersai.” Meerkan’s silhouette now stood between her and the bush. He knelt down so as to be on eye-level with her. Taking her inquisitive face between his giant hands, he smiled, “They cannot see me – you will not always see or feel me by your side. I love you. Remember that. I love you.”

A searing wave of ice-cold water awoke Lersai. She looked around her at the bowls scattered all about the cottage floor. Mayam was beating the aire with a bucket, ranting about the inconvenience of yet another of grey-child’s fainting spells. The curtains at the window rustled slightly, and a gleam of sun amiably alighted upon the dirty sill. She smiled.






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