The open-air part of the herbal store is more of a display and checkout, it backs up into the door of a building. An older woman with wrinkled eyes stands outside; she is Riana, and was a fantastic herbalist before she came here and lost her Earth Gift. Zink had studied under her, and effectively took over in this new town, for Riana couldn’t face her plants without her affinity. Inside, shelves upon shelves are stacked with jars of herbs, medicines, ointments. The place is dim and seems musty, with live plants blocking all light from the windows. Two people move, shapes in the dark. My eyes have to adjust to the dim light, and at first I cannot recognize the shapes as the same girls who I had met earlier in the morning. Soraliyn and Eravyn, the identical moon-faced twins, are clad in aprons. They stop moving as Zink and I walk in.
“Hello again,” I say into the silence. One of the girls murmurs a hello, the other scowls. I can only guess that Soraliyn has the nastier expression. Who knows what I am projecting now. Zink looks at us for a moment, then infers,
“You met this morning?”
“Yes,” I say, “unloading their ship.”
I want to leave. Sometimes I forget my lost sense for whole blocks of time. I awake, function, work, and feel a part of the community. Yet I am like a blind man. I live a full life, live well, but I cannot pretend that my sight is not always missing. These girls see with perfect eyes, and I envy them.
“Excuse me,” I tell all of them, and duck out and away.I walk the streets, wondering, trapped. We have all adjusted to a life we despise. Even I have structured mornings and days and conversations. Our world has changed, and we have accepted it and moved on.