A woman opened the door, “Damalh,” She acknowledged, “come in.”
Ducking underneath the arm of Mrs. Gerald, I entered the front corridor. Her house by comparison to my own was a palace, made out of stones of regular sizes; the walls were covered in decorated paper and paintings of ridiculous things such as dragons and mermaids. My feet were raised above the dirt by floorboards, with lavish carpets adorning those floors. Everything in the house was designed to impress.
“Let’s get you some breakfast.” Mrs. Gerald said, waddling down to the kitchen, at the end of the corridor.
I followed silently, never sure how to thank Mrs. Gerald. One evening she found me wandering around the lanes and pathways. She told me not to be so reckless and ushered me into her home, letting me sleep in the kitchen by the fireplace. Never in words did she say I could come back again but thankfully she let me in anyway. An overly, conversational stomach is hardly a reason to abuse her kindness but I knew my dad would have a seal on the door to prevent me entering.
“Sit down then.” She ordered, “You had better not have slept out all night.”
“No.” I lied automatically, sitting down at the central wooden table.
“Tenrat has gone down to inspect the crops, so we have the house to ourselves.” Mrs. Gerald informed me, as she sat down on her stool on the other side of the table, which was in front of the fireplace. Spooning a bowl of oats and milk from the pot, she placed the bowl in front of me.
“Thanks.” I mumbled, spooning the lumpy mixture into my mouth. Mere moments had passed before she felt the silence needed to be filled with something.
“Jraion shouldn’t throw you out like this. It isn’t safe for a boy your age.” She frowned.
I glanced up at the middle aged woman, whose blonde hair was fading to grey. Concerned folds had formed between her eyes and I could see her thinking of her own children, several of whom had died from disease and being too adventurous.
“It’s okay; he’ll let me back in eventually.” I supplied, but from the sigh she gave my words failed to console her.
“He’s a fool Damalh.”
“He’s my dad-“
“I mean he’s a fool for throwing you out, not that he is a fool.” She corrected herself.
“I think you meant the latter.” I stated.
She laughed, then paused, “I meant no harm.”
“Then why did you laugh?” I questioned, pushing the empty bowl away from myself.
“An eleven year old boy shouldn’t be so serious.” She chuckled, taking the bowl and placing it on top of the pile that was building up in the sink.
“You think I would want to be happy and laughing with you after my dad has thrown me out?” Mrs. Gerald turned back round from the sink with her left hand on her hip.
She shook her head. “No but I think you can wash these dishes, in return for your breakfast.”
Now I regretted coming here, always a price.
She threw me a rag.
Time passed in a silent stalemate. I began washing the dishes but as I got more water on the floor than on the dishes, Mrs. Gerald suggested I dry the dishes instead. Fortunately the washing of the dishes occupied Mrs. Gerald in such a way, that she had forgotten about being angry at my dad: but I hadn’t. Instead it was me that was angry at my dad, for giving up on me. Calling me a Gnath and leaving me to my own devices to get through the night. Then I was angry at myself, for not being able to lift the feather. Most humans have some level of magical ability; able to chant basic spells of protection and bless their fields to produce good crops. Born of one of the most powerful magicians in the country and I can’t even enchant a rune.
“Care to share those thoughts with me?” Mrs. Gerald interrupted.
“No.” I responded.
Her silver eyes clouded over with concern once again, “Damalh I want to help, I don’t want to have to read your mind forever.”
“Can you help me unlock magical abilities I don’t have?” She knew she couldn’t.
“Why can’t you be happy without magical talents?” She countered.
“My dad would never let me back in.” I muttered, just loud enough for her to hear.
“You will always have a home here.” Mrs. Vanbar smiled, placing the last dish beside me.
Now it was my turn to sigh, “I can’t come here all the time.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” She took the rag and the last dish from me, “but I don’t think I can convince you otherwise.”
To that I had no answer. Mrs. Gerald quickly finished drying the dish and placed it in the correct cupboard, moving the plates that I had placed in the wrong places.
“Right then,” She puffed, “let’s do something more interesting.”
“I don’t know. What would you like to do Mr. Syhen?”
“If I knew that, then I wouldn’t be here, would I?” I snapped; I disliked her using my last name.
“Delightful,” She responded sarcastically, “if that’s the case then we can practice your reading.”
“I thought it was my choice.” I frowned, I didn’t like reading either.
“Your choice disappeared when you decided you would rather be somewhere else.” Mrs. Vanbar supplied. “Besides the best way to re-acquire your magical talent is to read.”
“Nice.” I quipped, although she was right. If an answer to my missing abilities existed, it existed in a book; the problem was finding that book.
Following her into the front room on the right side of the house, Mrs. Gerald dragged the curtains open, revealing the two green sofas surrounding a low oval table. Walking over to one of the sofas I dropped onto into the green mound, bouncing slightly, until the sofa returned to stability. Mrs. Gerald left the room temporarily and returned with a darkened book with rusted hinges.
“This belonged to my grandmother,” She explained sitting next to me, “I thought you might get some ideas.”
“It’s older than me; it can’t possibly have the answer in it.” I grumbled, reluctant to begin stumbling over my words.
“You never know.” She chuckled.