Benson

I come to town, to the market to find Zink.  I find only people, the crowds somewhat larger than usual for a workday noon.  The market is set up in a circle, open and central.  Four paths lead out from the market circle, an earnest attempt at depicting the four directions, but even now no one is sure whether the paths go in any way at all, much less north, south, east, and west.  Still, the paths are referred to directionally, North Street heading to the sea.  The circle is our public place, to get gossip as well as goods. 

The people here recognize me; many of them wave.  There are no more than a few hundred of us living here, maybe a thousand.  I nod at Benson, who has finished his runs and sits on the ledge of the central fountain, the sole waterwork in this ocean town. The work for today is finished, and Ben smiles warmly at me, unabashed at taking an extended lunch break. He is an old man compared to Koso and I, but the years have not tortured him as they have Koso.  He has not entirely lost his black hair and gentle eyes.  He would have made a good father. 

“Tomas, come here,” he calls.  I go, sitting down aside him.  His face relaxes, then furrows.  He places the pad of his thumb to my temple, so close to my eye, then runs it down my face, sliding like a teardrop.  He asks, “What is on your mind?”

I only consider for a moment, should I tell him?  Then,

“Arezzo.”

He does not know of the letter, I was wrong.  His face shows only confusion. I’m so wrong, like such a child, believing that my adults know everything and can save me. 

“Koso was telling me about Arezzo, his sister.  I didn’t know her for long, but I remember flashes.  It made me wonder about things, about who I would have known, what I would have become apart from this.”

Benson’s smile returns, but is different.  Of all of us, I believe that he alone likes discussing the past.  Still, I wonder if he completely believes me, if he can tell that I scrambled away from speaking of the letter.

“Regal,” he says.

“What?”

“You would have been regal,” he pauses, thinking, “still foolish, though.  Maybe you are just young.  Koso never speaks of her, you know that.  He showed you her letter, didn’t he? She managed to get one to him here, no one knows how.  She had the touch, though, in such connection with Ilene, so I’m sure she had her ways.”

Ben purses his lips, and I wonder at my mistake, and then about Koso.  I have known him since we came to this godless land, and long before.  Yet, there is so much that he still hides.    

The End

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