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Galley fare

Dinner with the crew was simple fare, but delicious. With the extra members of the team the galley felt a little cramped, some deciding to eat on the deck because it was fair weather. Brenzel liked the Kumites and their sense of humor. Tane and his crew could believe for sunshine on a rainy day and always erred on the positive side of things. They were hard workers, too. Brenzel admired how they followed Tane without complaint. For his part, Tane never hesitated to join in whatever they were doing, work or play. Practical jokes were common between the crew members, a sort of unofficial score kept. Tane was particularly notorious for cracking terrible jokes.

He had approached Brenzel yesterday, “Brenzel, what do ships do when they pass each other at sea?” he asked, a slight smirk on his face.

“I am sure I don’t know,” Brenzel had said, caught off guard.

“They wave!” he said, chuckling his way back to work.

She could see why they followed him without complaint.

They all seemed to know what they were doing, too, but what? What was under the tarps below that no one was supposed to go near? Brenzel guessed it was some sort of contraband they were selling to the Haders in the southlands, under the table stuff. They all seemed to be in on it, but Brenzel couldn’t plumb the depths of the skullduggery. There were six Kumite crewmembers, four men and two women, plus Tane. This evening as Brenzel sat next to Fallon and Meha, she wondered about many things.

Please pass the potatoes

“Could you pass the potatoes?” Fallon asked.

From what Brenzel understood from Meha, they weren’t really potatoes, but they looked enough like it. Brenzel reach for the bowl, handing it over, watching the young woman dish up an extra helping. You really took our little talk to heart, she thought. Noting her friend was beginning to fill out nicely, Brenzel smiled.

Meha even seemed to be more at ease around people, following Fallon around like a puppy, excited by everything they did together. Brenzel like Meha’s spirit.

Only Komae seemed to be absent-minded as she sat on the opposite end of the table, quietly picking at her food. Brenzel noted that she had taken to wearing a bandanna around her head, tied in the back, covering her ears. She sensed that the Forest Warden was still in a lot of turmoil. She’d tried talking to her, but Komae seemed to want to be alone.

Brenzel hated lying to 3 about the dragon, but she had sensed that he wouldn’t like knowing that she felt her friend Wichapi had taken control of the beast. The Lakota maiden’s presence had been unmistakable, as if she stood next to her. Her sure command of the fire-breathing beast felt just like her control of the herd of buffalo on the prairie. It seemed so long ago since she had seen Wichapi. Brenzel didn’t understand why everyone was afraid of her friend, for despite Guanyin’s warning, she knew that Wichapi wasn’t all bad, just a little wild and head strong. Truth was, Wichapi had saved their ship and everyone in it from near certain destruction. In a way, hiding Wichapi from everyone felt necessary, right, like keeping the gift of the trunk from Joshua a secret. She just needed a little privacy, that’s all, something that was just hers.

Helping herself to some more yellow peas, she speared each one carefully as she thought. It had hurt so much when she and Wichapi had fought in the autumn meadow. As her friend and the braves had walked away, it felt like she was tearing in two; like the page of a book being torn in half. She’d assumed their friendship was over, though she didn’t know why. She guessed it was the way Wichapi had acted that made her believe they would never see each other again.

Wichapi, where are you?

Brenzel woke out of revelries as the crew burst out laughing at some bad joke Tane made about a fish that got away. Meandre, grinning from ear to ear, ribbed him with her elbow. Brenzel liked the way she loved her captain – it was simple, uncomplicated. Whatever he needed, she was there. Tane treated her like a princess, too, always complimenting her in small ways, appreciating her. They were a lucky couple.

She looked down the table and saw 3, sitting with the group, but obviously by himself. The big archangel seemed distracted, even worried, if it were possible for an angel to be that way. Since Hatty left, 3 was even more aloof than his normal, serious, brooding self.

“I’m going to bed,” Brenzel said as she began to gather up her plate and utensils to wash.

“Don’t worry about that, Brenzel,” Fallon said, Meha and I will take care of it for you. ou go get some rest.”

Brenzel smiled, nodding and squeezed Fallon’s shoulder as she left.

The day had been hot until the noon shadowing. When the suns had been precisely at their zenith, the smaller sun passed in front of the bigger, second sun. The heat always dropped nicely when that happened, lowering to a pleasant temperature for a couple of hours. During that time, people rested and slept a little. Tonight, the sky was clear as the stars in the Hala night shone bright. Wichapi, where are you? Brenzel thought, yearning for her friend, good memories flooding back through her heart and mind. I miss you…

Black feather

As she walked across the starlit deck, she noticed a feeling of something soft in her left hand. Bringing it up to her face, opening her fingers, she knew what it was before she saw it. A black feather.

A thrill rushed through her body, running from her head to her toes. A shiver of recognition. She looked around the deck, was she there? No, no one. Yet, the invitation was clear, as clear as if Wichapi stood before her, hand out, beckoning her. Staring at the black feather in her hand Brenzel wondered, Does she have wings, like Dove, now?

But what about Joshua? 3? She sensed the big angel didn’t like her Lakota friend, though she probably could get Hatty on her side if she tried. The feather felt so warm and soft in her hand as she held in gently.

Brenzel turned toward the steps, walking down below to her cabin. Once inside, she awkwardly tried to lock her door behind her with one hand, not wanting to damage the feather she held. Looking around, she tipped her hat visible, then hesitated. Sliding her fingers around to the right side, she tipped, causing the trunk to appear.

Brenzel looked at Joshua’s gift for a moment, feeling emotions of loyalty and gratitude well up inside. She took the key awkwardly from around her neck, inserted it into the lock, then turned it as the luggage opened like a sideways clam. She’d begun to put little things in it, though she didn’t have much yet, just the dream catcher hoop in one drawer, the singing shell in another. Some clothes she had bought in the Hala market with Hatty hung on the rack. Below them she stored an extra pair of sandals.

Opening her left hand, she looked at the feather, pitch black in the light of the orb floating up in the corner of the room. Her heart pounded, I want to see you so much, she thought. Who was she fooling anyway? She shook her head in frustration. Brenzel knew putting a different feather in her bonnet would get her into big trouble, lectured, maybe even punished in some way. Dove, though very patient, could be quite firm. Brenzel rolled her eyes, remembering being scolded over the motorcycle incident. Joshua? Well, he might be disappointed at first, but she couldn’t imagine him angry.

Joshua. Brenzel dared hope that there could be something between them eventually. It was a small hope, but she cherished it her tiny hope chest hidden somewhere in her heart. Joshua’s always kind…though she wouldn’t call it loving…although that would be nice. Perhaps paternal, fatherly? No…not that, she knew he liked her company well enough. He smiled and laughed a lot when they talked. She felt free to be herself around him, too…but it frustrated her that he was always so busy. She just needed time with him, she felt sure something would come of it.

The feather felt warmer the longer she held it. It was alive with Wichapi, even smelled of her she noted as she held it to her nose…after so long she could still remember her smell! Her hand wanted to put it in her hat so badly! For once, why couldn’t life be simple for her! Wichapi never worried about anything or what anyone thought. I wish I was like that.

Hoping for a letter

On impulse, she reached out and opened the letter drawer as she had done multiple times that very day. She did so slowly, almost closing her eyes, hoping against hope for a letter. As it slid open, the edges of an envelope appeared. Yes! She grabbed it with her right hand. Holding it up, she saw the Z emphasized on the front and a similar stylized T pressed into sealing wax on the back. To open it, she’d have to make a choice, set the letter down or let go of Wichapi’s feather.

She struggled, heart pulled in two directions. She brought the black feather to her face, stroking her cheek with it, remembering her friend, looking at the letter as she did. She knew what had to happen, but she began to set the envelope on the trunk anyway, she could read it later. But. . . then, she couldn’t bring herself to put the feather in her hat. Ugh! Why was everything with her a hard choice!

Finally, using her teeth to grab its corner, Brenzel opened Joshua’s letter with one hand, reading,

Dear Brenzel,

I hope you are doing well. Perhaps you have started your journey by now. I am visiting Whaitiri in Aukum. She sends greetings, asking when you will visit?

I think about you and what you are doing often. I am proud of you, and I realize how much you’ve grown since the first time we met. You’re quite amazing.

Perhaps when I get some time, you could take me to that coffee place you keep talking about. I would like to see you soon.



I would like to see you

She read “I would like to see you,” couple of times. Hugs was new, too…was that just Joshua being nice or did he mean “hugs” the way she wanted him to mean it? She felt something shift in her heart, like moving a piece of furniture to just the right spot near a window.

Turning her left hand over and opening her fingers, she let the feather fall. It burst into a thousand pieces of light as it touched the wooden floor.