[Word count: 5380]
She should never have listened to the lizard.
Sitting on top of the heavy wooden crate that she’d just lugged from the elevator Gisa rested her face in her hands. A shaded lamp cast heavily diffused light over her living room and the clutter of baggage by the front door. Less noticeable in the shadowy space was the small stone gecko, perched atop the dead flowers on the coffee table. It was his voice that had made her sit down by the door rather than relaxing comfortably after her trip.
“You can’t say I didn’t help you,” he said, tone sharply accusatory.
“I didn’t,” she mumbled through her palms before sighing and dropping her hands into her lap, “I wasn’t expecting a sudden midnight visit.”
“The deal was for a favour, no one mentioned times.”
“That was two decades ago, I was fourteen,” she reminded him, but it wasn’t much of a protest. Magic had different concepts of time.
A yawn disrupted her thoughts, popping her ears as her jaw cracked. An impression of soft, clean blankets and pillows called from her bedroom.
“Can we do this in the morning?” she asked, smothering a smaller yawn.
“I’ve waited over a day for you to get home,” he said.
“If you’d arrange to meet that wouldn’t happen.”
“You have the energy to argue.”
Gisa returned her face to her hands, trying to wipe the exhaustion from beneath her eyes. “What can I do for you?” she asked.
The dried poppies quivered as the gecko resettled himself, dropping another petal amongst those already littering the table. “I need a plant,” he said.
“A plant?” Gisa asked, sure that she’d misheard.
“Do you need me to take you to a nursery? There’s one across the canal,” she said, gesturing vaguely.
“I need a mielis vine,” he said, causing her to drop her hands again, “You wont find it in the city.”
Tired eyes widened as she stared at the small shape amongst the petals. “Vana’s breath, where am I going to get that?” she demanded.
“Not that resourceful,” she said.
Mielis vines were notoriously hard to propagate, and despite their usefulness for telling truths the sheer distance between their native lands and Carmine meant that few, if any, of the famed plant had ever made it to the city alive.
With a flat thock the gecko dropped to the tabletop so that he could pace amongst the fallen petals. “Don’t talk yourself down,” he said, using the same tone he had when she’d bemoaned her mathematics work as a teenager, “I never ask for the impossible.”
“Always a first,” she muttered, but her tired mind was already seizing the challenge. There were some people she could ask, and she could check with the university. “There’s almost no chance I’ll be able to find one,” she said.
“All I ask is that you try.”
“I’ll try, but don’t expect me to travel across the globe for it.”
“Thank you,” he said before dashing away into the shadows.
With a muffled groan Gisa stood and looked down at her bags, dropped in a pile when the gecko had startled her. Sorting through them for the one holding her toothbrush she got ready for bed at last, refusing to look at the clock.
Stepping lightly across the pavement Gisa inhaled the sun-warmed oils of the lavender and rosemary hedge beside the road, enjoying the crisp breeze that stirred her short curls. One of the lavender plants leant out into the path further than the rest, a purple flower tip swaying over the stones at hip height. She plucked it as she passed, holding the fragrant plant to her nose before pocketing it.
That morning she’d woken late, only leaving the comfort of her own bed when hunger forced the decision, and went to the university by way of a cafe. Buoyed by the best croissant she’d had in a week she’d shrugged off the expected disappointment when no one was studying the rare vine, thanking the young scholar who had inquired for her. He had seemed more distressed by the failure than she, and had swiftly produced a richly illustrated text book opened at the appropriate page. It was all he had, he’d said, and she’d lingered to peruse it.
She told the gecko it wouldn’t be easy.
Turning down the alleyway that held the entrance to her building she startled a small flock of lorikeets, who’d been feeding on the flowering eucalypt peaking over the wall opposite her door. With a whirring of wings the air beneath the boughs filled with pale gold blossom filaments, a single green feather drifting through the haze to land at Gisa’s feet where she stood watching.
Tucking it into her curls she walked inside.
Energetic music leaked into the hall from beneath her neighbour’s door, Enkeh’s familiar voice rising in cheerful song over the melody. He often held practice at home.
The beat of the drums followed her up the stairs, lending a rhythm to her steps as she crossed the second floor landing. With a click the door beside her opened, revealing one of her other neighbours.
“Hello Gisa,” Lien said, lingering in her doorway, “Busy day?”
“Trying to find a rare plant,” she said, “For a friend.”
“That should be easy in this town.”
Lien’s brows rose above the thick dark rims of her glasses as she pursed her lips, puckering the wrinkles around her mouth.
“Yeah,” Gisa said, shrugging at the futility of her task.
“Hmm,” Lien hummed, crooking a finger at her and stepping back through the door.
With a hesitant stumble Gisa passed her and walked into the apartment.
Despite the similar layout to her own home upstairs the two were vastly different. Where comfortable couches and soft rugs warmed her own living room this one had been converted into a painting studio. An easel was erected over a stained drop-sheet in the middle of the room, the canvas angled toward the light streaming through the glass paned balcony doors. A wheeled wooden cart beside it held all manner of paintbrushes, sponges, and colourful pastes. Low cabinets lined the walls, the closest with its door ajar to reveal many glass vials carefully stacked beside dark tubs of chemicals.
Along the top of every window hung a row of glass baubles, assorted tear-drops and spheres, filled with different coloured liquids that caught the sunlight and cast rainbow shadows across the floor.
“Where have you looked for the vine?” Lien asked, walking through the studio and opening the doors to the balcony, gesturing for Gisa to follow.
“At the university this morning,” she said as she joined the older woman outside, where some comfortable chairs had been arranged amongst potted ferns, “But no one is working with them. I was going to try the exotics nurseries next, the one out near the western farmlands fills obscure orders.” Gisa chuckled briefly, guessing by Lien’s face that she doubted her plan.
“What about the Shifting Market?” Lien asked, squinting as sunlight lit her face, reflected by one of the hanging glass balls.
Gisa laughed outright. “I’m not that sort of trader,” she said, “Low level jewellers who fossick for their own stone do not go to those markets.”
“I can take you.”
Lien’s lips pulled into a sly smile. “For a favour,” she said.
A moment passed as Gisa stared at her, searching for similarities between the wrinkled brown face and the stone gecko. He’d made the same proposal all those years ago.
“I’ve torn my favourite dress, a rip right up the side of the skirt,” Lien said, at once distinct from the gecko, “Your needlework is finer than mine.”
“I can mend your dress for you,” Gisa agreed with relief. She’d learnt her lesson about ambiguous favours. “When can you take me?”
“I was just on my way out, are you ready?”
Gisa straightened slightly as she searched her mind for things that had to be done that afternoon, snapping her fingers to help herself concentrate. “Can I go put laundry on first?” she asked, the bag of dirty clothes from her recent trip hovering in her mind’s eye.
Hurrying downstairs with the scent of fabric soap in her nostrils Gisa let herself into Lien’s apartment.
“Here, take a drink of this,” Lien said, holding out a tall glass bottle as she left the kitchen, where paint splotched cups and plates lined the sink as the drying rack was taken up with brushes.
“What is it?” Gisa asked, taking the bottle and peering at the contents. A tightly rolled page filled with tight foreign script was submerged in clear liquid, which a quick sniff told her was highly alcoholic. “Thanks, but I don’t drink spirits,” she said.
Lien hesitated. “Religious reasons?” she asked.
“Hmm,” she hummed again, “I advise you make an exception, it helps with the trip. But it’s up to you.”
As she shrugged and hummed and wandered away to close the balcony doors Gisa held her nose and took a gulp of the fiery liquid. Holding back a rough cough she gasped for air, cooling her throat with an odd tingle. Trying to shake off the sensation she recapped the bottle and set it on a side table, taking a swig from her own water canister to wash away the lingering taste.
“Ready?” Lien asked, wrapping an extra scarf about her head.
“Yeah,” Gisa said, coughing again as her throat tickled.
Following Lien from the building Gisa had to step quickly to keep up with her neighbour’s fast stride, hurrying after her through the winding streets.
Ducking beneath a bean tendril as she turned down another lane way she was beginning to wonder where they were going. Carmine City had no public access to the Shifting Market.
“This way,” Lien said midway down the lane, taking Gisa’s forearm in a firm grip as she turned left.
Unable to resit the sudden strength Gisa stumbled and winced in preparation to walk head first into the wall, and instead gasped as a shivering sensation settled over her shoulders.
The cold ran through her bones and she opened her eyes in shock.
A fading brightness receded behind her as she continued to walk on shaking legs, Lien supporting her by the elbow. Where before they had walked between the reddish stone of one building and the green painted wood of another, canvas squares lined the sides of this new path, wavering with the movement of breezes. Pale hard-packed dirt had replaced the smooth stone beneath their feet and the warm air that stirred around them was dry against Gisa’s skin, used to the humidity of home.
“Where-?” she started, clenching her jaw as her stomach heaved.
“Easy there, wait a moment to settle,” Lien said, halting and facing Gisa, “The passage is roughest the first time.”
Swallowing thrice and straightening her spine Gisa breathed deeply, the scent of warm sand and barnyard drifted on the winds, followed by an unknown tangy spice.
“This is it then?” she asked once her faculties had returned, gazing beyond the other woman’s shoulder to the traffic passing the end of the narrow lane. She recognised Humans and Tulan and even Emmuri, a foreign group of the more familiar Tulan, identifiable by the veils they wore over their antlers. But some of the people roaming the market she couldn’t name, and other skin tones mixed with the more familiar browns and greens.
“Welcome. We should get some food, it’ll help,” Lien said, leading the way into the flow with one hand still firm on Gisa’s arm.
The smell of spices got stronger and more heavily layered as different flavours drifted from every direction. Reaching a cluster of food stalls, their open counter fronts revealing a multitude of miniature kitchens, Lien hesitated briefly before approaching one with advertisements in a language Gisa couldn’t read.
Although she couldn’t understand the brief transaction she watched curiously as Lien reached into a pouch and retrieved a small painted pebble and a couple of shells, which were accepted as payment. Within moments she was passed two steaming buns half-wrapped in brown paper.
In nooks between the eating stalls short wooden stools had been set around unadorned tables, and Lien ducked into the closest. The only other occupant was lightly cowled in a fabric that clung damply to their shoulders, revealing their hands, chin, and neck to be a deep blue. They nibbled little fried fish from a paper cone, thin lips parting to show narrow pointed teeth.
“Eat,” Lien said, gesturing to the seating as she thrust one of the buns into Gisa’s hand.
Thanking her Gisa sat, biting into the soft dough to find lamb, carrot, and cabbage in a hot syrupy sauce that burnt her tongue and lips. Ignoring the heat she tasted cumin and caraway amongst the balance of sweet and salt, her hunger sudden and satisfying.
Licking her fingertips she watched the passing crowd as she waited for Lien, picking out familiar sights amongst the oddities. Watching a passing Emmuri, an elder by the length of her conservatively covered antlers, Gisa caught sight of the sky.
Clouds of all the wrong colours boiled over the bustling marketplace. Flashes of blood red faded into sickly yellow, jewel bright green shimmered around a sluggish band of indeterminate shade, somewhere between brown and purple. The people walking beneath the gut wrenching sight seemed untroubled by the cursed sky but Gisa quickly looked away, wondering if a steamed bun would help settle her stomach this time.
“I have some things I need to get before we start hunting for your vine,” Lien said, standing with a muffled groan, “Shouldn’t take long.”
Following the older woman through the crowd Gisa tried to keep an eye on her fast moving companion while also staring about them. Some of the vendors they passed wouldn’t have stood out in her regular market, except that the second-hand clothing stores had items far too large and with too many openings for a Human, and the flame beneath the kettle at the tea shop was a lurid purple. Others less so.
Gisa started when a long carapaced limb thrust itself before her, holding something brightly coloured. A slice of stone fruit, she realised, its blue flesh dripping juice over the thin fingers of the creature holding it out to her.
“No, thank you,” she said, shaking her head as politely as she could at the large arachnid greengrocer before hurrying after Lien.
The stalls got larger the further they walked, the one Lien stopped at as large behind the front counter as a normal city shop, most of it hidden behind a series of wide curtains. The signs at the front bore colourful paint and ink pots and script that cycled through different symbols, including ones Gisa recognised.
It was a trade house for magical pigments, like those Lien produced.
A few brief words to the shop keeper opened the gate in the counter, but when Gisa tried to follow the attendant stopped her, shaking their head and speaking in the same language Lien had used.
“Sorry, do you mind waiting here? They’re secretive as Dragons,” Lien said, wrinkling her nose as she explained.
“Sure,” Gisa said with a shrug, stepping back from the frowning attendant, who locked the gate and led Lien away behind a curtain.
Moving to lean on the edge of the counter Gisa watched the passing foot traffic until an annoyed huffing sound came from behind her. Twisting at the waist she found the attendant frowning at her once more.
“Hello,” she said, raising a hand to wave at them.
They huffed again, and made shooing motions at her.
Standing once more Gisa took a step away from the counter.
No longer under the shade of the stall’s awning she squinted in the bright light filtering through the discoloured clouds. The stall across from them sold dried tea blends from the Sunlands, and a large urn held ice and herbs in a ready made drink. She wondered what their sample policy was.
Someone short and wrapped in robes passed close in front of her, the scent of their perfume hitting her in a solid wave. Shaking her head to dispel the clinging odour she made herself dizzy, and stumbled back toward the counter for support. Her eyes watered as her throat constricted, stomach clenching in preparation to heave.
A huffing noise caught her attention, annoyingly insistent, and she looked up from her study of the counter top. The attendant made shooing motions as soon as she did.
Gisa straightened, focusing on her breathing rather than the movement.
Shooting the still frowning attendant a look that she hoped conveyed her appreciation, she stalked away on stiff legs. Only one stall over was one of the narrower lane ways between the main streets, where a stack of wooden crates had been left. Taking a seat on one Gisa rested her forehead on her knees, breathing slowly and deeply.
The lingering smell faded at last and her stomach calmed.
Straightening on her crate Gisa looked around, wondering how long she could wait before Lien would return. It was more pleasant in the shade of the lane. Maybe she could leave a note with the attendant, so Lien’d know where she was.
Returning to the stall front with her friendliest smile Gisa’s face fell to confusion when she found herself in front of a small key-cutters workshop, tucked between a butcher and a shelf lined book store. She was sure the stall was a right turn out of the lane, but she must have gotten it wrong.
Four stalls in the other direction, however, was a tailors studio, complete with dressing rooms.
Had she left the wrong end of the lane?
Jogging down the short path she checked both directions before returning to her crate. The stall front wasn’t there. Dizziness returning with a hint of panic she stared at the canvas stall side before her, counting her breaths until she calmed.
Standing in the mouth of the lane Gisa examined what she could see, trying to get her bearings. Nothing struck her as familiar except for the generous dimensions of the stalls around her, which could mean she hadn’t gone far. Stepping firmly into the street she began to explore.
Forcing her back to straighten and her gaze to calmly search rather than dart about dizzying her, Gisa managed to fend off the panic lurking in unacknowledged ideas. If she couldn’t find Lien she would just ask for help.
Ignoring thoughts of language barriers she noticed that the stalls she was passing were shrinking again. A nearby lane led to the next street, but she hesitated at its entrance, watching the movement of people on the other side. They seemed real enough.
Keeping her eyes fixed on the colourful flags flapping atop the stall ahead, Gisa hurried through the lane.
Cheered by her success she followed the new street back the way she’d come, alert for anything she’d passed previously. Two lanes later her pleasure began to pale.
Pausing at the edge of a new street, the sweet smell of Farnosian honey cakes drifting from the miniature bakery beside her, Gisa snapped her fingers. Maybe she should start looking for someone to help.
Wandering slowly past the bakery and the glass-case-filled jewellers next door she looked about for anyone who looked like they were from her own part of the world, or anyone from Lahtavin to the north. Someone that she could speak with.
Passing another lane she caught a glimpse of green from the corner of her eye. There, at the other end of the lane way, was a lushly stocked nursery.
Gisa hesitated. Were it a normal market she would be sure to double back once the street she was on ran out of large stalls, but here she wasn’t certain that she’d find it again. Clenching her jaw she kept her eyes on the verdant stall front as she walked down the lane.
To her wonder the wall of greenery before her spread to both sides, taking up the space of several regular stalls, and bordering a maze of potted plants on shelves, tables, and on the ground, as well as those hanging from the solid wooden framework that extended over the whole forested affair. Stepping through one of many gaps into the green space Gisa found a fine brass sprinkler system hanging from the insubstantial ceiling.
The air amongst the leafy stall felt cooler and damper against her skin as she wandered deeper into its paths, trying to identify the flowers and foliage. Only one in ten plants were familiar to her eye, but she was no botanist. Standing on tip toe to peer over the potted hedges on either side of her she sought an assistant or shop keeper.
No one else walked or stood amongst the greenery, but a row of young palms to her right were shaking as though someone was working on their bases. Winding a circuitous path through the pots she tried to spot some sort of figure through the leaves, but no shape or colour stood against the background of trunks and ferns.
“Hello?” she called as she approached, in case there was someone smaller than she expected lurking amongst the plants.
No one responded, but as she got closer she heard something smooth moving through the closely packed palm trunks. Shiny green scales appeared in a gap, a scaled and crested head soon emerging from one end of the small potted grove. Gold and grey mottled eyes blinked up at her, forked blue tongue tasting the air currents between her and the reptile.
With a final writhing motion the creature pulled itself free, falling to the pavement with a smooth twist to land on its two hind legs, wings extended to soften the landing. A wyvern.
Scraps of old skin clung to the base of its tail and the backs of its legs, explaining what it was doing amongst the young trees. Pale remnants of the shed were left clinging to the rougher parts of the trunks.
Tilting its head curiously at her the wyvern chirped, an odd croaking warble that sounded almost like a question.
“Do you speak Doiri?” Gisa asked, watching its response through narrowed eyes. “Didn’t think so,” she said when it simply continued to watch her.
The wyvern chirped again, louder, lowering its wings to its side and walking around her legs. Its tongue flickered constantly and it occasionally brushed against her calves with the side of its head. Gisa watched it but remained still.
Circling back to her front it blinked up at her once more.
“Wanna lead me to someone who can help?” she asked, shrugging in the hopes that it at least understood body language.
Croaking deeper it bobbed its head and turned, leading the way between the pots.
Following it in a loop back toward the front of the store Gisa kept an eye out for the mielis vine, the detailed illustrations from the botany book hovering in her mind’s eye. Another chirrup from the wyvern called her attention as they approached a small thatched awning.
The sheltered space beneath it housed a bare counter, a roll of brown wrapping paper on a raised bar at one end. On a tall stool behind the counter sat the owner.
At first Gisa thought she was a short Emmuri, the scarves over her head held high by the bundle of hair atop her crown, one of their looser folds fallen forward to hide her down turned face. Looking up from the book she was reading, alerted by the wyvern’s vocalisations, she revealed a Human face with dark brows raised in curiosity. Amusement tweaked the edges of her lips as she looked from the reptile to Gisa and back again.
“Hello,” Gisa said, raising one hand in a small but hopefully cheerful wave.
The shopkeeper mimicked the movement, but the word that came from her mouth wasn’t the same language. With a flap of its wings the wyvern jumped onto the counter top, prowling its length to perch where it could watch the street.
“Doiri?” Gisa asked, shoulders slumping a little.
The shopkeeper shook her head and began speaking again, a series of words strange and unfamiliar to Gisa. A list of languages, she realised as one word jumped out at her. Aranek, conglomerative trade language of the many nations of Ara, a continent across the sea from her own.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a tongue Gisa could speak, so she shook her head.
The shopkeeper shrugged, making a rolling motion with one ring-adorned hand as if to say “go on anyway”.
“Uh, well, do you stock mielis vine? Mielis?” Gisa asked haltingly, the confused frown on the shopkeeper’s brow discouraging. Making a spreading motion with her fingers she tried to mimic the shape of a growing vine. “Mielis?” she repeated.
“Ah,” the shopkeeper exclaimed, copying Gisa’s hand movements. “Mielis,” she said, leaning heavier on the second “i” to change the pronunciation.
“Yes, mielis,” Gisa agreed, her enthusiasm faltering slightly as the shopkeeper’s wide grin revealed diamond canine teeth.
She couldn’t dwell on the oddity however, as the shopkeeper was already jumping from her stool and making beckoning motions to Gisa as she followed one of the narrow paths. Jogging briefly to catch up she didn’t have to chase her far.
A short wooden bench held a row of pots roughly the size of Gisa’s head, each backed with a light wire trellis. The vines they held were only young, a handful of leaves clinging to thin trunks that had just begun to wind their way through the wire, but the leaves matched what she’d memorised from the text book.
A larger example of the plant rested in a bigger pot at the end of the row, several small buds waiting to open on its lower reaches while one solitary red bell-shaped bloom hung from its top.
The words spoken by the shopkeeper were unintelligible, but were evidently a lie as the blossom paled quickly to a pure white, remaining that shade until she said something else, presumably truthful.
Gisa grinned thankfully. “That’s what I need, yes,” she said, selecting one of the smaller plants for purchase.
It was only once they were back at the counter and the shopkeeper was looking at her expectantly that she realised the hole in her plan. Holding out a handful of her own money had elicited a brief head shake from the shopkeeper, but Gisa had seen no money changers on her way there. And Lien had paid for their lunch with bits and pieces from her pockets.
Reaching into her own pockets Gisa felt her fingers move over the small stones and found items that lined their bottoms. But what was a fair exchange for the vine?
A lump of quartz, rough but clear at one end and fading into milky white at the other. A red sandstone pebble, worn smooth. A lavender flower, slightly wilted. The lost bell off a pet’s collar. A short length of twine she’d been using as a bookmark.
Putting the handful of items on the counter Gisa watched the shopkeeper’s response. She sorted through the small pile, separating them according to some personal value system with the length of twine positioned in place of honour. Done with them she looked up at Gisa and rolled her hand through the air again, “more”.
The other pocket held another pebble and a broken shell, a button carved from abalone shell, and a small piece of paper that held last week’s shopping list. Watching as they too were sorted she fidgeted with a stray strand of hair, tucking it behind her ear. It pulled on something stuck there, the lorikeet feather she realised as she retrieved it. A stray hair clung to the fluffy down at the base of the feather, which Gisa carefully removed before adding the feather to the collection.
The shopkeeper’s face brightened when she picked up the feather, nodding decisively as she selected the rest of her payment, leaving behind the broken shell and the lump of quartz. With a brief flurry of brown paper she had the base of the pot wrapped to prevent spills within moments, grinning broadly to again reveal her diamond teeth as she waved good-bye.
The wyvern chirped as Gisa left.
Standing on the street with the pot in her arms Gisa again looked around, the now familiar feeling of being lost creeping back up on her. Wandering slowly with the crowd she kept an ear out for her own language. It was time to find help.
“Gisa,” a voice called over the general clamour of the market, making her stop still.
Looking for whoever had called she found a hand raised over the heads of the crowd, Lien visible through the occasional gap between people.
Relief flooded her, and it was all she could do to not sit in the middle of the road. Instead she forced suddenly weak legs to carry her forward.
“Where did you go?” Lien demanded as soon as she was close enough, “Thank the Diih I found you, this place isn’t somewhere you want to get lost.”
“No kidding,” Gisa agreed, stepping closer to Lien for good measure.
“I see you found your plant,” she said as they continued to walk, nodding at the pot.
“First nursery I stumbled across.”
“Ready to go then?”
“Please,” Gisa said with a restrained sigh. The occasional glimpse of the sky above them still unsettled her despite having found Lien again.
A wrinkled hand gripped her elbow, guiding her down a lane.
The smell and feel of the air in Carmine City had never been more comforting, more homely, than on that walk home. Gisa paused multiple times on their way, restocking the supply of pebbles and flowers in her pockets.
Lively horns and drums rang from the downstairs apartment as they let themselves into their building, the crescendo of the song finishing to the sound of applause from behind the door. The latch clicked as they climbed the stairs, opening to let Enkeh wheel himself out into the hall.
“I thought I heard someone come in,” he called to get the women’s attention, leaning forward in his wheelchair to grin broadly up at them.
“Your ears are unnatural,” Lien told him, propping her elbow on the bannister as she turned to talk.
Enkeh’s laugh was bright as he waved away her words. “We’re doing dinner in the garden, if you’d like to join,” he said, vaguely gesturing through his living room toward the communal green space behind the building, “I made chicken and rice.”
Gisa’s stomach rumbled. It had been too long since the buns.
“I’ll be down in a moment,” she said, grinning thankfully before dashing up the stairs past Lien.
It was only after she’d washed her face, changed her clothes, and returned to the living room when she realised that despite having closed the balcony doors that afternoon, they stood wide open.
Fetching the vine, she wandered out into the evening breeze.
“I knew you could do it,” the stone gecko said from his place on the railing.
Gisa put the pot down near it. “I got lucky,” she said.
“Always so doubtful of your own abilities,” he said in his tutor voice, making her shake her head gently.
“Someone has to be, you’d have me do the impossible every week,” she said, leaning on the railing beside him and looking down at the garden below. In the glow of many lightstones hung from the lemon tree Enkeh wheeled his chair between the raised garden beds, picking fresh leaves for the salad.
“No, you owe me nothing else,” the gecko said, turning and dropping to the wire trellis of the mielis’ pot, “I’ll be around though.”
Without a sound he and the pot vanished.
Gently waving her hand through the empty space where they’d been Gisa reassured herself that he was gone, not just invisible.
Closing the doors once more she grabbed a shawl and walked downstairs for dinner.
Little Fried Fish