They all turn to face me.  A slight smile on her face, Zink says,

“Finally.  We thought you’d never come in to say hello.”

I lower my eyes at Benson, but he only shrugs. 

“We have things to do.  We need to leave,” I tell them, trying to keep myself businesslike, to avoid getting caught up in their games. 

“We’re almost done with the deliveries already,” Benson says.

“We have three crates of fruit to deliver before nightfall, and that’s not including the inventory we have to update for the day.”

“I thought you did that already.”

“Well, I did most of it.”

“Then we have time.”

I keep my teeth close together.  I’ll have to  stay late to catch up on all the work tonight.  There is no way that I can politely get out of this now. 

“Time for what?”

“Time to listen to these girls’ stories,” he says, smiling, knowing that he has bested me.  There is something else in his face, a stiffness, warning me.  I will be nice, I will listen and not let jealousy swallow me up.

Zink’s face would reflect the same message, I’m sure, if I were to look at her.  She would be trying to tell me to shut up, sit still, and listen.  I take care not to look at her.  One set of implied rules is enough.  The girl on the rug casts her eyes down.  Her face is rounder than Zink’s, fuller.  She is smaller and wider, but her hands tougher.  They rest in her lap, with cracks and lines running all across them.  She fidgets, turning them over one way and then the other so that I see all of her white calluses.  Is she insecure about them?  I turn my eyes to Zink, who sits with straight posture, her body open.  I catch myself comparing them against one another and derail the train of thought.  It is not fair to compare the girl to Zink, who is all sharp angles and tall, indefinite curves. 

Somehow, in the process of looking at this girl, I have lost the sense that she is bad.  She is only a girl.  I can tell no difference between the sisters, so I do not know her name.  The other is still down the hall somewhere. 

“What do you want to hear?” she asks.

“Tell us about your family,” Zink says, but without even meaning to, I interject,

“No, tell me about your Gift.”

The End

20 comments about this story Feed