Don’t need permission, but

Maybe Summer was tired, or maybe it was his help that meant Winter didn’t spend another hour looking for her. Summer giggled when he opened up the closet. All Winter could think was that she couldn’t have been here the entire time, because that was the way to bore Summer.

“You found me!” she exclaimed, as though this had been a deliberate game.

“I found you all right,” Winter groused, yanking her sister out of the closet. It didn’t put a damper on Summer’s mood, but Winter had a cure for that. “I’m going to tell Khauhelo how much trouble you were.”

Summer’s mouth shaped into an O, long before she said anything. “No!”

“Yes. I told you not to go far!”

“But I didn’t!”

Winter nearly said more, only to remember it wasn’t just the two of them. She looked over at the Baroness’ son apologetically.

He shrugged it off. “Don’t mind me. Take your family in hand, Winter.”

It wasn’t as if she needed permission or anything, but for some reason the acceptance of her seniority over Summer, the only family she had left, was cathartic. “To Khauhelo it is!”

“NO!”

Summer’s protests aside, they returned to the orphanage.

Awaiting her death

When grandmother Parvena died, Shachaf hadn’t been there.

Zamir tried not to grind his teeth or pick at his sleeves. Parvena wasn’t asleep, not yet. She breathed slowly. But both age and her recent illness had taken its toll. Everyone knew it would be today or tomorrow. Any moment now. That is why the family was here. That was why what remained of Parvena’s closest friends were here. He felt as though any one of them might go too. A couple were older than his grandmother.

Then he chastised himself for the thought. He was upset because mother was upset. Because Shachaf was not here.

“She wishes to speak to you,” mother said, voice tight.

Zamir didn’t want to talk with his grandmother. She made him uncomfortable in life and near death didn’t help. But it was her final moments and he would not begrudge her whatever she wished now.

Zamir went to speak with her.

Better than resolutions

​List of things to believe in:

1. Myself. Pretty good idea, as he keeps telling me.

2. Bike. Because if I think about how fast I’m going downhill on something with two wheels for too long I might panic. Because what if I fall off at that speed? I could die! Or worse, break my wrist!

“What are you writing?” his boyfriend asked, sitting down on the other side of the futon.
He paused, pulling the pad of paper down into his lap. “Oh, just a list of things to be optimistic about.”

His boyfriend stretched out across the way. He moved the pad out of his lap for the other’s head to land there. “Cool. Am I on there?”

“Of course.”

3. My boyfriend​. Who bought me the bike so I would stop complaining about taking the bus.

Minimum wage

“In ten years where do you see yourself?”

The younger boy thought about it for a moment, setting down his friend’s order in front of him. “Probably not making minimum wage?”

“Think grander than that!” He emphasized his point by stretching his arms out.

He did, because his friend asked. “Rich.”

“Yes, that is indeed grander! But from doing what?”

At that, he didn’t hesitate to answer at all. “Run a noodle cart.”

The two boys stared at each other. The older boy’s eyes widened. “Good god. That’s genius.”

Before his boss could yell at him for messing around, he quickly returned to work.

Considerations

Vidvan refused​ to have missed the boat. Not a literal boat, of course, but his one chance to have spoken with Tavesh. Ruined by his inability to comprehend someone breaking his Master’s law.

The problem was leaving without being caught. The problem was leaving. The problem was that Vidvan should not disobey his Master’s orders, no matter what some other person had done. He should have said something.

But it had hurt no one. There was a reason for this stringent security, but Vidvan couldn’t equate that to Tavesh’s death. He couldn’t believe someone risked their life to learn his name as well.

Therefore, it only made sense to return the favour. Vidvan prepared to make his escape. Just this one time.