Koso lives on the farthest end of South Street, where the little dirt road ends in a circle of lumpy houses. His house is right in the center, one story and made mostly of earth bricks. There is a light on inside. I knock twice. Koso’s door is the easiest thing to appreciate about his home. It’s sturdy, but more importantly, echoes loudly throughout the house when someone knocks. The rest of us have not perfected the craft of Koso’s door, and guests must beat our door with practically their entire body if they want to be heard by someone outside of the front room.
Koso sticks his head out the door, then waves me inside. He pulls a shirt on over his head as I walk in. He has on linen pants, long to the floor. I guess that I woke him up, but his expression seems friendly enough. We migrate to his living room, where he has a comfortable couch. There is an indentation in the cushions still, the mold of a curled body. He was asleep.
“How were things today? He asks. There is a comfort to his voice, softer around the edges now that he has slept and been away from his troubles. There is a blanket crumpled on the couch, and he shakes it out, billowing it in the air. He slides sideways onto the couch, his back against the arm and feet in the middle, and pulls the blanket back over the top of him. I sit down across from him, my back against the other couch arm, my legs crossed upon one another. The edge of his blanket touches my leg, and is warm.
“Things went well. Benson and I delivered all that we needed to. He socialized a bit excessively with Zink and the new girls at the herbalist’s, but that was expected.”
“There are new girls at the herbalist’s?”
“Yes, I forgot to tell you earlier. The trader’s daughters that arrived yesterday, Soraliyn and Eravyn. They work with Zink as interns of a sort.”
“Interesting, I assumed they’d be leaving. No one stays here long.”
“I know. There’s something I need to tell you about their family, though.”
He pulls the blanket up over his nose and looks at me with big eyes, like a child. His bright hair contrasts almost comically, like a cloud against the dark of the blanket and the room. I am not sure that I have seen this Koso before. He blinks at me once, twice, then shuts his eyes, waiting for me to tell him the news or deciding that sleep is more significant.
“Eravyn talked with us today, when I went in to retrieve Benson. She has my Gift.”
The corners of Koso’s mouth turn down. I can see his face and hair in the dark, but only the faded, grey outlines of anything else. He touches my leg with his bare foot, and I nearly jump. When I look back up at him, his eyes are open, round again and considering me.
“You were torn apart in much a different way from me.”
This time I do not say anything, simply wait for the continuation of this thought. He pulls his hands out from under the blanket, clenching and unclenching his fingers. “An inconvenience, maybe a burden. That’s all that took the place of my stripped Gift. Our little affinities drilled holes into us from birth, but they filled them. It was alright. It was a bit like love, you know. Falling in love only means drilling a person-sized hole into your gut. While they fill it, you’re complete. When they are gone, you are empty.” He stretches his shoulders, up and back. “Those little affinities were the same, we each have to fill those holes differently. They’re deeper for some. Deep for you.”