Tuesday, September 29, 2009


(Lavafall entering ocean at southern tip of Yanja)

To begin reading this sci-fi novel or for background information, go to my Chapter One post here. To read about the background of the first novel, read my post here, which will also direct you to appendices.

For more detailed information, posted elsewhere on this blog are:

Pya Dictionary from Skenish to English (complete up to present chapter), with some cultural notes included
Pya Cast of Characters (complete up to present chapter)
Map of Pya with Description of Each Island
Map of Skene (but not Pya)
Map of Saya Island and Environs When Pyosz First Arrived
Skene Character Lineage at Start of Pya Novel
Skene, Chapter One (With Cultural Notes in Links)


Pyosz woke up in chilly darkness, hearing a steady roar and feeling something fumbling around her feet. She thought it was one of the katts trying to wake her during a rainstorm, and she kicked out. She heard Abbo say "Ow!" and opened her eyes to utter disorientation for a few seconds.

"I was trying to reach the thermos with tea in it" said Abbo in an aggrieved tone, "I didn't mean to wake you up."

"I thought you were Curds" said Pyosz dopily. "Here, I'll pour you a cup." She poured herself one as well, and Abbo said "You got food for me in that hamper you brought aboard?"

"Yeah." She'd made sandwiches with grilled samaki and chopped vegetables in Qen's egg dressing, plus spinach onion fritters and lemon tarts. Abbo began talking immediately, which woke up Maar, and they all ate together. Pyosz had filled her large thermos with corn soup, and they drank that down as well. Maar said "Old pilot trick, using calories to replace sleep. Works for a while."

"We might as well switch" said Abbo, though technically she had another half hour of her leg to go.

"Fine" sighed Maar. "Privy first." Once Abbo was bunked down in the back seat, using Pyosz's silk pillow again, Pyosz poured herself and Maar more tea from the Lofthall thermos and said "I can't see a thing, stars or ocean."

"Yeah, no visibility. I'm flying by instruments, and if they're correct, we're OFF COURSE BY HALF AN HOUR." She raised her voice, aiming it toward the back seat, but Abbo didn't stir. "Every levvin' time" Maar muttered to herself. "If I don't take the first leg, we always pull in late because she just won't course correct in the early stages. Says it'll work out, which it does because I MAKE IT WORK OUT."

Pyosz was silent, and Maar said "Sorry. It's just, we're trying to hit a very small target in a world of ocean, and without stars to run down, it's all about faith in the instruments."

"I have faith in the pilot" said Pyosz softly.

"Listen, once the adrenaline chocks back down and all that food hits my bloodstream, I'm going to get a little sleepy again. We'll hit dawn soon, would you mind staying up and talking to me until I have light to keep me alert?" asked Maar.

"Of course" said Pyosz.

"Tell me about Szebel. How did she and the Sheng Zhang come to be lovers?" said Maar.

"I'm not sure. It was some time when emma was little, because she remembers the ruckus about it. Szebel was part of a multiple partnership herself, six or seven others, I can't remember. They're all dead now except for her and one other -- well, now just that other. How hard that must be." Pyosz considered the cruelty of such loss at the time in your life when you need the memory of others most.

"How many children did they have, with all those partners?" asked Maar.

"None. Didn't want any. They have a huge manage on the western ridge of Yanja. Szebel was closest to two of the bunch, one of whom died before I was born, and the other -- you remember that terrible yanjanging accident when we were around four or five, blew up an entire chamber, killed a lot of workers?" asked Pyosz.

"Not really."

"Well, you remember playing glow on the flow in the schoolyard? And how for a while we weren't allow to play it?" persisted Pyosz.

"Yeah, vaguely."

"That's when it happened. My emma and her sibs made up that game, by the way, after watching Szebel's partner yanjanging" said Pyosz.

"No kidding." Maar was impressed.

"Anyhow, her partner whose name I can't remember was killed in that explosion" said Pyosz. "After that death and another one, they let one of the partners' sibiyas move into the Manage with her family, children, and Szebel didn't much like it but who else were they going to hand on the Manage to? Abba Bux sometimes made snide comments about Szebel's disdain for kids and family life, what on earth did Halling see in her, that kind of thing. But it was pretty clear what Halling saw in her, power and sex. At least, that's what emma said."

"So, Szebel wasn't like a sort of extra abba to you, I gather" said Maar.

"No. Although she did show an interest in me once I began demonstrating an aptitude for maths" said Pyosz. "I'm going back for abba's sake. Well, and I'm missing them all pretty fierce, it'll be really good to see them all, despite the circumstances."

"I was planning to attend the funeral with you and Abbo, if you think that's all right" said Maar.

"Of course, Maar." Why wouldn't it be? Why is she asking my consent?

They talked on until dawn overtook them and raced ahead of them. When Maar began sounding distracted, Pyosz looked at the dashboard clock and realized they were 20 minutes from landing. She went silent to give Maar room to focus. She reached back and roused Abbo, giving everyone a final cup of tea. Maar radioed to Skene, reminding them she and Abbo would not be able to unload this huolon because they had a funeral to attend.

"Got that" came the reply. "We have a large sinner on standby to carry your funeral party back to Riesig."

"We'll have one large crate to transfer to that" said Maar. Pyosz felt her heart fluttering in her chest, seeing Yanja in the distance and knowing her abbas and emma were already there, waiting for the sound of their engines. Or probably Halling has heard them already she thought.

They were a cluster in white silks at the edge of the jichang. She waved vigorously through the streaked side window and saw her emma wave back. She turned to Abbo and said "Abba Halling will require a motorized cart to get to the lavafall, I don't see one nearby. Can you go round that up once we've said hello? Don't let her argue with you."

"Okay" said Abbo. Pyosz explained "I have to go change into my funeral silks."

"I do too" said Maar, surprising her. Abbo looked a little sullen. Pyosz couldn't think when she'd seen Abbo outside of uniform. Buying ordinaries costs coin, but the Lofthall provided uniforms for free she thought.

She was out of her harness and through the hatch door before the huolon was chocked, leaving her personal belongings behind to run across the tarmac and into Halling's arms. "Oh abba, I'm so so sorry" she whispered. She could feel Halling fighting back tears. She was dismayed at how much Halling seemed to have aged in only two months. Bux and Yoj were hugging her from either side. When Maar and Abbo walked up, Pyosz pulled free to go be encircled by Prl, Lawa and Qala. Prl had a garment bag over one arm but that didn't impede Pyosz's urgent embrace.

"My word, look at you!" said Qala. She said to Lawa "You're right, she does resemble a Jiang Giant." Prl kept cupping Pyosz's face in her palm, saying "You seem so much older, and you've darkened beautifully."

Pyosz turned to introduce a very pale Maar to her emma and other two abbas. Maar was very formal and attentive. Prl's gaze was dissecting. Pyosz said "I should go change. Abbo's getting a vehicle for Halling and whoever else needs to ride." Prl handed her the garment bag, saying "I had them cleaned for you."

Pyosz returned to the huolon to retrieve her crate, hamper, carryall and pillows. Maar went with her, piling her own belongings on top of the crate and insisting on taking one handle to help carry it into the jichang office. They were pointed to a store room as a changing space. They each went to the privy first, washed their face and hands, before meeting in the store room. Pyosz felt unexpectedly shy, and turned away from Maar to change her clothes.

Pyosz had had her funeral silks made two years before, a rush job after the death of Yoj's friend Z'bef. They were of cream-colored silk in a subtle herringbone pattern with flecks of crimson silk here and there. Her hanshan had a rolled collar with crimson piping, and her gilet had crimson ties and accents. Over it was a matching uwagi with flared lapels and exaggerated shoulders. Her zaoxue of black patent leather had been polished by someone, she noticed. She wasn't sure how the garments would fit on her current body, but the drapes hung beautifully and the cut was more comfortable than she remembered it being previously. She adjusted her dreads, and turned to face Maar.

Maar's hanshan and celanas were of stark white brocade with a faint ripple pattern. Her long hanshan had dropped boxy sleeves which narrowed to a wide cuff fastened by a row of waterdrop-shaped buttons in lapis lazuli. Lazuli was also used for the row of breaking waves encircling her high stiff collar.

There was no gilet. Instead, a vast damask cummerbund covered her middle, bedecked with dangling strands of lazuli and silver beads. The celana's balloon legs had kick pleats from knee to ankle inset with lapis-colored silk. Her zaoxue were of silver leather. For the moment, at least, Maar's parted hair lay flat against her head in a coppery burnish.

"Waves and ripples" marveled Pyosz. Maar's cheeks went pink, which only added to her glamour. When they rejoined Pyosz's family, Halling, Yoj, Bux, and Qala now sitting in an electric cart, Pyosz saw Prl appraise Maar's attire in a swift glance. It shouldn't matter, but it will to emma thought Pyosz with a mixture of pride and irritation.

Pyosz claimed the walking spot next to Halling in the cart, with Prl on her other side, linking her arm through Pyosz's. Speranz and Tlunu were both there, though not their children. Neither was Moasi, Halling's other sib, too disabled on Motu Fling to make this trip. Prl said in a caustic murmur that Ndege claimed she couldn't get away from Sigrist duties for the funeral, though she would come to the wake later on. Other members of the funeral party were Szebel's surviving partner, in her own electric cart with a few friends from the vetriste guild, and a couple of younger great-sibiyas from Szebel's family. Still, it was an impressive turn-out when you considered the titles of those in Pyosz's family.

They began the slow cavalcade to the lavafall. Szebel's body would already be there, wrapped in a white shroud and watched over by the coroner. Prl whispered that she had gone with her emmas to help prepare Szebel's body, and Halling had almost passed out during the washing; they'd had to put her in a chair and bring her tea.

Yoj was driving the cart, and Halling kept barking instructions at her, which Yoj accepted patiently. As they approached, the busy industrial district would clear for ten yards ahead, people standing respectfully to one side as they passed. The yanjanging building was still visibly new, and Halling stared at it silently as they went by. But when the glow of the lavafall came into view, with a small white-wrapped figure on a table before it, Halling gave out a cry of anguish. Pyosz pressed close and Yoj drove on.

Bux delivered a beautiful eulogy that Yoj had clearly helped write, which made Pyosz impressed with both of them. Halling and Szebel's partner each said a few choked phrases, and the head of the vetriste guild talked about how much Szebel had contributed to the development of Skene. Then her organic remains were returned to Skene, tipped into the lavafall, and with the brief flare, Halling gave up control entirely, shrieking onto Yoj's shoulder with Bux holding her from behind.

They went to the coroner's office for tea and a rest. Szebel's Manage was having its own wake, but Halling made her apologies, saying they needed to return to Riesig. She looked ashen, and they used the cart again to get to the jichang. Maar came with Pyosz to load her crate, and Abbo flew them to the Lofthall, where Danaan and Rark came out to meet them.

Prl insisted that Halling allow others to carry her through downtown and up the cobbled lane to her Manage. Pyosz and Maar instantly volunteered for this job, and Abbo, with a touch of sullenness, agreed to help carry Pyosz's belongings with Tlunu. At the Manage, Halling was put into a chair before the hearth and more tea was brought to her. Prl said to Pyosz "At least the rain held off" as they began cutting pies and cakes already delivered to the Manage by neighbors. The parade of visitors began arriving to offer condolences and casseroles. Yoj and Bux sat on the couch facing Halling. Ndege came early, without Gerra or any of their grown children. Pyosz gave Halling the cards and letters from family on Pya, and she began slowly reading through them, her battered gold glasses having to be wiped clean of tears periodically.

Abbo left after half an hour, citing exhaustion, to sleep at the Lofthall. Maar refused to go with her, despite Abbo pushing at her. Instead, Maar sat in a chair in the corner of the living room after all her offers at help were turned down. She listened to the various conversations going on and smiled at Pyosz whenever Pyosz looked her way. Pyosz couldn't resist whispering to Lawa "Maar did a lot more of the work getting us here than Abbo did". Lawa said "Doesn't surprise me", and when Pyosz turned around, she had the distinct impression Prl had been eavesdropping.

After an hour, Halling consented to eat a small plate of food, her first meal of the day. Her color improved with this. When Pyosz went to gather her plate and fork, she noticed Maar had leaned her head against the wall and was fast asleep, upright in her chair. Yoj followed Pyosz's gaze and stopped her, whispering "We can give her our bed for a nap. I know how pilots need recharge time."

"What if abba needs to lie down?" asked Pyosz.

"She won't. She deal with grief by surrounding herself with talk and people" said Yoj.

Pyosz went to Maar and knelt in front of her, shaking her arm gently. Maar awoke with a jerk, then went bright red with embarrassment. "Yoj says you can lie down for a while in their room" said Pyosz. "You need it, buddy. Don't you have to go meet your sibus in an hour? I'll wake you up for that, it's all right." She more or less pushed Maar down onto her abba's large old bed, pulled off her zaoxue, handed her a quilt and said "Get rest, you're needed later." She knew how to talk to driven people.

As she clicked the door softly shut, she saw Prl watching her from the dining table. She walked directly to Prl, sat down and put her arms on her forehead. "My body is on Pya time, too" she said tiredly. "It will be so good to sleep in my own bed tonight. Even more glorious will be a tub bath, I haven't had one since I left." Prl put her arm over Pyosz's shoulders and said "I've cleared my schedule for tomorrow."

"Good" said Pyosz. "Except I need to go visit Ngall, I have gifts from Pya for her."

"I'll stay here with my emmas while you do that" said Prl. After a silence, she said in a careful voice "Where will Maar be sleeping tonight?"

"I don't know, probably either the Lofthall or maybe a couch at the Chloddia jichang office" said Maar. "You should ask Abbo, not me."

"She doesn't stay with her family, then?"

"Either there isn't room for her in that Manage or -- her emmas don't much respect Maar. Because she became a pilot and left Chloddia, apparently" said Pyosz, her eyes closed.

"But they allow her to look after her sibs." Prl was probing.

"They seem to be happy to leave some work to her, yes. And Thleen would never shut up if she was denied access to Maar" said Pyosz.

"Is she supporting her family?"

Pyosz opened her eyes. "I haven't asked her directly, emma, you can be that intrusive if you like. But I assume so, Maar can't stop herself from being helpful in every way imaginable. She brings me food all the time, flushes my privy on Saya, cares for the katts and chickens, flies me around, she even did my laundry for this trip. I'd have really suffered without her friendship."

Their conversation was interrupted by a neighbor looking for a spot to set down her bowl of soup. Pyosz went to the corner where her crate had been placed and unpacked the items she'd brought for her abbas. Bux joined her and exclaimed over them all, then stashed them at the back of the larder, saying "We don't want to share this right now, we want it for ourselves later." She and Pyosz stood side by side at the sink to wash all the dishes used so far, while Bux told her about Szebel's decline and Halling's vigil with her at the hospital.

After an hour, Pyosz went into her abba's bedroom and gently shook Maar awake. Maar didn't actually look any more rested. "Part of it is simply traveling across all those time zones" she said blearily. "Did you bring dried cherries in your crate?"

"Yeah" said Pyosz. "How come?"

"Eating a handful helps. I need to go drink down a lot of water, eat some cherries, drink some orange juice. Then walking up the lane in sunlight will help my body adjust, too. You should try all those tricks as well" said Maar. Pyosz went with her in the kitchen and complied. Maar made her rounds of farewells. When she got to Halling, Halling said "You're bringing your sibus back to the wake, aren't you?"

Maar looked uncertain. "I hadn't thought I would, no, I mean -- "

"I'd like to see them" said Halling. Maar glanced at Yoj, who nodded briefly. "All right" said Maar. After she left, Pyosz felt such anticipation at spending time with Thleen that she went back into the kitchen and began cleaning the counter, to distract herself.

She went to the dining area when she heard the front door open. Thleen stood on the steps, scanning the room until she found Halling. She crossed directly to Halling, throwing her arms around her and saying "Nan Halling, siba says someone you loved died and you had her funeral today."

"That's right" said Halling, leaning into Thleen's hug.

"I don't really understand about dying. Siba said when someone dies, we never get to see them or talk with them again. I think that's so sad." Thleen began crying. Halling pulled the child into her lap and began weeping as well.

"It is terribly sad" said Halling. "I miss her so much, and I can never make it better."

"I don't know what to do" cried Thleen. Adon and Su were in the living room now, and Maar was going to Thleen. Pyosz could see a resemblance between Maar and her next two sibus in terms of facial bone structure and body mass, but not in coloring. Thleen, however, despite the darker red of her hair and the deep brown of her skin, reminded Pyosz so much of a young Maar that she couldn't tear her eyes away. Maar put her hand on the back of Thleen's head and whispered to Halling "I can take her, if you want."

Halling held onto Thleen tightly. "No, this is just what I need" she said.

Pyosz waved at Adon and Su, offering them seats at the table. They threaded their way through the crowd and shook Pyosz's hand awkwardly when she introduced herself. Adon, in a not quite adult voice, said "I, uh, my condolences for your loss."

"Thank you" said Pyosz. "It's very good to meet you, Maar talks about her sibus all the time. Can I get you some tea or juice? Let's make you a plate of food, shall we?"

Su seemed to be too shy to meet her eyes, although she did talk with Bux more easily. They ate with the rapid gracelessness of teenagers, and answered Pyosz's attempts at conversation with monosyllables. Maar came to stand nearby and accepted another glass of orange juice from Pyosz.

Thleen and Halling reached a point of calm, Thleen wiping her face on her sleeve. She began looking around the room again, noticing people holding plates with cake or pie on it. She said "Nan Yoj, why are they all these desserts?"

"People bring food of all kinds to a Manage that is grieving" explained Yoj. "Would you like a snack?"

"I'll get it for her" said Pyosz from the doorway. Thleen slid off Halling's lap and started toward her, then did a double-take and flung herself into Pyos'z arms, shouting "You're Pyosz! You came from Pya?"

"I did" said Pyosz, feeling an electric shock throughout her body at contact with the small child. She picked up Thleen easily and carried her into the kitchen, Thleen fingering her dreads and asking "What about your goats? And the katts, who will keep them safe from the owl tonight?"

Pyosz explained as Thleen selected a piece of cake and two slivers of pie for herself. She sat down with Thleen in her lap and whispered to remind Thleen to wipe her hands. Thleen drank a glass of milk and looked back toward the counter, asking "Can I have some more pie, some other kind?"

Before Maar could say "No" and Yoj could say "Yes", Pyosz said "First you should eat something that isn't dessert. There's more yummy things here than in a restaurant, how about if I tell you what's in every dish?"

They made the rounds and Thleen came back to the table with a full plate. Pyosz cut up her chicken and buttered her roll for her. Prl appeared with another glass of milk and sat down beside them. Thleen stared at her, back at Pyosz, and said "You've got the same color eyes! Like Nan Bux."

"Nan Bux is my emma" said Prl, "and I am Pyosz's emma." Thleen slid from Pyosz's lap into Prl's, cupping Prl's cheek with not quite clean hands to say softly "They are so pretty. I never seen prettier eyes."

Prl's face lit up. She speared green beans with a fork and began feeding Thleen, who was still sideways on her lap. Thleen took the bite, chewing noisily, and moved her hand down to lightly touch the dark green velvet collar and medallion of office around Prl's neck. "This is like Nan Bux and Nan Yoj, but it's a different color, what's yours for?" she asked Prl.

"I am the Genist of All Skene" said Prl. Su choked slightly on what she was swallowing.

"I don't know what that is" said Thleen. Pyosz glanced at Maar, whose face was paper white. Prl fed Thleen another bite and said "I help emmas have babies."

"Oh, I know all about that" said Thleen. There was a tiny strangled sound from Maar. "What's this a picture of, then, Nan Prl?" Her fingers were now on the gold double helix over the hollow of Prl's throat.

Prl began explaining, then asked Pyosz to bring her paper and a pencil. Within five minutes, she had explained genetics and DNA in a way that a seven-year-old could comprehend, lightly and lucidly. Adon and Su were listening intently. Thleen took the pencil from Prl and drew a picture of a face with light-colored eyes, asking "Will Pyosz's babies have blue eyes, too?"

"Possibly" said Prl, grinning at Pyosz. "I can't control the science, only guess at probabilities."

"I like science in school" said Thleen. "I like history too. I don't like maths much." She gave a guilty glance toward Maar. "But my favorite part of school is when we play kickball."

"I loved running and jumping games in school" said Prl, something Pyosz hadn't ever heard. They chatted on, and Pyosz remembered how vast her emma's attention had always been for her as a child. In a different world, Prl should have had a Manage full of children thought Pyosz.

The radio buzzed on the sideboard and Speranz squeezed around them to answer it. She carried it to Halling, saying "It's your siba, Moasi." Prl said quietly to Pyosz "It's killing both of them that Moasi's not here."

"Does she need someone to go pick her up?" said Maar. "I could borrow a lighter, I'm sure." Pyosz went to relay this offer to Halling, who talked it over with Moasi, then said "She'll need to be carried from her Manage down to the jichang, it's steep, and again from the Lofthall to here. But if that could happen, we can put her up for the night. Or a few days."

"I'll help carry her" said Lawa. Qala put her hand on Lawa's shoulder and said "Let's allow the youngsters to do that chore. Moasi will need you in other ways."

Speranz said "We'll give her our bedroom, we can go into the loft over the kitchen." Halling's face picked up animation as plans were made. Tlunu said she would accompany Maar. Maar turned to look at her sibs and Adon said urgently "I want to go with you, too, I can help carry. I'm very strong for my age." Indeed, her shoulders were almost the match of Maar's, but the panic on her face showed her real motivation was not be left behind at a wake of mostly strangers. "Me too" said Su, pleading, "I want to go, too."

"I need someone to look after Thleen" Maar said to them quietly.

"I'll do that" interjected Pyosz. She and Maar looked at each other levelly, and Maar said "All right. She needs periodic reminding that this is a wake, not a party."

The four went out the front door, as Halling jubilantly told Moasi an escort was on the way. Pyosz went into Speranz's bedroom with her to change sheets and put a chamberpot under the bed. Thleen remained in Prl's lap, having a third sliver of pie, until Halling clicked off the radio and called for Thleen to come visit with her some more. Pyosz came with a damp washcloth to wash Thleen's hands and face. Thleen submitted to it impatiently, then ran her hands over the ivory silk of Halling's embroidered hanshan. She confided "I would have come to the funeral, too, but I don't have any silks, not of any color. Emma says silks are for grown-ups only."

"Well, you're here now, that's the good thing" said Halling.

"Did you know Szebel since you was in school with her?" asked Thleen. Halling began telling the story of how she and Szebel had joined their lives together. Pyosz moved close to listen. She noticed Bux was becoming agitated, until Yoj pulled her to sit close and whispered something to her. Ndege took her leave, and Prl joined the cluster by the hearth.

Almost an hour after they'd left, Maar and Tlunu's group returned, Maar and Adon carrying a frail-looking elder between them. Halling got to her feet and wept as she settled on the couch with Moasi next to her, Lawa on the other side. Pyosz's camera memory was all full, but she borrowed Yoj's camera and began taking quiet photographs.

Maar's face was shiny with sweat, and she rested a few minutes at the table, drinking more cold water. Prl put her hand on Maar's arm and said "Thank you. For all your service to our loved ones." Maar turned red and said "It doesn't feel like service."

Tlunu said "There's a lighter held at the Lofthall for you, Danaan said, so you can run your sibs home to Chloddia when you're ready. Also a bunk at the Lofthall."

Maar looked at the clock and said "I need an early night. Thleen, pry yourself off Pyosz's lap, it's time for us to go."

"But I don't want to go to a restaurant, I like eating here better!" protested Thleen.

"You'll be having lunch with us tomorrow" said Halling. "I'm looking forward to it, and my siba Moasi will still be here."

Pyosz walked them to the front door, kissing Thleen on both cheeks and whispering "You are every bit as wonderful as I thought you would be." After a moment, she also kissed Adon and Su on their cheeks, thanking them for their help. She pulled Maar aside and told her what Thleen had said about funeral silks. "I'd like to buy her a set of silks, if you think your emmas wouldn't be upset" she whispered.

Maar looked thoughtful and replied "Let me do it. I'll get them all silks, I know what each of them will like."

"And you've certainly got the fashion sense" said Pyosz. She kissed Maar lightly on one cheek, looked her deep in the eyes to say "Thank you so much for being my buddy", then kissed her other cheek.

"See you soon" said Maar, and they left. Visitors had stopped dropping by, and soon there was only family left in the Manage. They gathered in the living room, listening to Halling and her sibs tell stories, eating off one another's plates, until Pyosz felt her eyes drifting shut. Prl noticed and stood, saying "I need to take my child home to bed."

"Your child is almost twice your size" laughed Moasi. "But we'll see you tomorrow for lunch, yes?"

Pyosz and Prl nodded. Lawa and Qala decided to stay a while longer. Pyosz allowed Prl to carry her small bag but lifted the crate herself, saying "It's not as much as milk cans, emma."

At the Genist's Manage, she went from room to room, noticing small changes, feeling a shift in the size of the place, reveling in the heat and space.

"I'll start you a bath" said Prl. Pyosz put her carryall in her room and found an old schmatta in her cupboard to wear. She fell asleep in the bath, and when Prl roused her, she dried in utter exhaustion. "Do you want tea before bed?" asked Prl.

"Mm, no. Emma, I very much want to be in my own bed, but would you come crawl in with me? Like when I was little?"

Prl's face glowed. "Go get settled, I'll be there soon." By the time she joined Pyosz, Pyosz was sound asleep. Prl rubbed her head gently for a few minutes, thinking over the expression on Maar's face every time she looked at Pyosz -- and the expression Pyosz gave in return. But I don't want my grandchildren growing up on Pya she thought as she, too, went to sleep.

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.

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