We were assigned housemates by a lottery, due to the over-population of Foxcastle’s immortals. Once one turned thirty, one was entered into the lottery automatically, by compulsory nature, unless one was already married or had a house and partner already. And, for those who lived ten years every a-hundred, marriage was not something we did on a whim or heartbeat. Even if things didn’t work out with a partner and one returned to singledom from many years marriage, one would still be entered. To be single and over thirty was to be part of the monthly lottery sort.
Of course, we were sorted, assigned, under districts and by our skills: academics, ‘learnèds’ like myself; war-mongers, protectors, who occupied the bailey-outskirts of the town; like any hierarchy, it was the ‘smarter’ ones who lived on the ‘higher’ ridges of the town. Those who were skilled in trades (for we had to move forward in some way) lived on the slow incline between the cobblestones town and the mud-filled hamlet; it was no hill to raise cattle upon, but it was within comfortable distance of the hotels and mayoral buildings, and the markets and family homes. Sure, one could cross a thousand years walking from the entrance of Foxcastle to its centre, but all children born here, from the many outcasts who arrived or were born themselves, were used to growing and moving in such a varied place.
On the day after my thirtieth birthday, I was moved, told by word of mouth and made sure by the watching people who hid around every corner (so it seemed) that I had less than a day to leave the Tailor’s shop I had grown up in. Because of my academic status, I had been, so it turned out, moved into the centre of Foxcastle, to a ‘dual-house’. There, I suddenly found myself in the presence of another thirty-year-old, a non-upstart who had been brought up in the world of scholars: Sonit Alexander. Four inches taller than I was (and duly proud of the fact), Sonit had passed with distinction only a year before, despite the many certificates and emblems he set about adorning the wall with that called out his otherwise brilliant mind. Whilst I had spent my free-time sewing and shopping with my mother, he had spent his jumping from experiment to experiment- one minute dissecting a frog, but the next studying how others spent their free-time in the taverns and dance-halls of our suburb. He was dynamic individual, and he certainly knew of that skill.
However, as for home-keeping, Sonit had no interest. He might have declared keeping our house clean- and my part in doing it- dowdy, but it was uncalled for when he left his mucky shoes wherever he pleased, and when his literally-open-door policy included midnight, when he finally traipsed back inside.
On the other hand, I didn’t find Sonit all that bad as a person: when he remained in our shared house, our combination of degrees gave for some interesting conversations; and it turned out that Sonit’s arrogance slipped away when he was listening to other academics.
“I don’t suppose you know what the weather will be like this week,” he would tease me every seven days. To which I would always reply as our typical conversation unfolded:
“I study rocks, not work for the sages or augurs of sky-patterns. You know that there are two different ‘Meteorologists’. Don’t ask me again.”
“Oh, but it’s so tempting. I cannot tell if you’ve learnt something new or not. One day you might return to the abode in early morning time, after a liaison, and then you will be able to tell me exactly what you see in the weather.”
That was how we continued for the next two hundred years (mere months in the eyes of one who knows that time will not fly past them), until that fateful day when another stranger arrived at our gates.