It was Matthias' birthday and he was standing in the doorway to his father's shop. He hesitated on the threshold for only a second before stepping inside. He had been given the day off but had decided to stick around for the morning. He enjoyed the shop, watching all the people who came everyday and listening to the babble of different languages. And plus, he could see if Mika remembered it was his birthday.

It was as he was joining Lief at the counter that he realized something was amiss. It was one of those moments where the thought hovers just out of reach like a word on the tip of the tongue and Matthias struggled to grasp it.

"Have Limmansa and Lurgoy already been and gone?" He finally asked Lief, naming two of their regular customers.

"They're here now." Lief nodded towards the canned goods. "So are Diyayam, Mikakamas, Zallapell and Kok." Lief named some of the other morning regulars. "Is something up?" Lief was tall and a year older than the newly sixteen Matthias. He had a strong face and his blue-gray eyes studied the younger boy curiously.

Matthias shook his head absently and studied the shop. He was certain something wasn't right but he couldn't place it. What was off? And then it washed over him. Most of the morning regulars spoke languages other than Common but today he heard, and understood, the many conversations going on around him. Had they all begun to speak Common for some reason? Or...

Matthias looked over at Limmansa and Lurgoy. He could just hear their conversation drifting over to him.

"Is two cans of black beans enough? Should we get three?"

"I think we should go with three. You know how much your mother eats."

Matthias was wrenched from his eavesdropping by Lief shoving Mrs. Monomer's vegetables at him. As Matthias began to bag the vegetables he let his mind again drift to listening. Were they talking Common over the beans? They never did that before. Or was he thinking in Octotok, a language he knew nothing about?

"The price of melons these days!" Diyayam was exclaiming to himself as he brought a melon towards the counter. So he couldn't be thinking in Octotok. Diyayam spoke Sayaml.

Matthias handed Mrs. Monomer her vegetables and focused his ears towards Mikakamas. She was humming to herself as she browsed over the sweets.

"Hmm...mmm...mmm...Ooh! Toffee! It has no price tag... I will ask Matthias."

Okay. Matthias knew for certain that Mika spoke to herself in her own language as he had spent many an afternoon with her and was often asking for a translation of something she had just said.

The End

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