15.) Drinking with friends.

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When Hexen finally did take up Vitre’s offer to stop by for a drink some evening, he found Terynik already there. He’d dragged Illikhr along after him as, well, his security blanket if he was being honest with himself, and it was obvious the small space inside the trailer would vastly overcrowded by the four of them. But there were lawn chairs and a large woven mat in blues and greys just outside the door on a strip of grass, so they all settled themselves comfortably out there, instead. Vitre vanished inside again right away, and soon emerged with four small glasses and a large bottle of a golden-brown clear liquid Hexen guessed was alcohol. The label was in a strange alphabet he didn’t recognize, and he guessed it was from the wetlands.

Illikhr, already packing the bowl of his pipe, gave the bottle a satisfied grin and leaned back. “The good stuff, huh?” he said. “I’m flattered.”

“Straight from home,” Vitre replied, returning a conspiratorial smile.

“Oh, well, if you must,” Terynik said with a sigh and smirk, rolling her eyes.

The liquor burned in Hexen’s mouth when he tried it, leaving a warm glow like a banked fire in the pit of his stomach, and the taste of smoke in his mouth.

Continue reading “15.) Drinking with friends.”

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13.) Vitre and Terynik.

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Vitre hadn’t bothered with seeking out a new lover in quite some time. It didn’t bother nim much; nis lover back home in the wetlands more than made up for it when ne visited him, and most other people just didn’t seem worth the trouble. Easier to just be alone during the times between visits.

But sometimes being alone got lonely.

Continue reading “13.) Vitre and Terynik.”

11.) “Tell me a story.”

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“Tell me a story.”

“What do you want to hear?”

“Something from back home. But one of the good ones, not one of the ones the elders are always nattering on about.”

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10.) Hyss.

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Terynik was passed out from too much work and too little sleep. She lay on her stomach on the floor, snoring softly. Hyss and Vrissa stared at her. It wasn’t a judgmental or a curious stare. It was a drac stare, the unblinking understanding that the eyes had to rest somewhere, so it may as well be on whatever was moving at the moment.

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9.) Dmiri and Illikhr.

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Dmiri had come by after work to smoke with Illikhr, who had gotten a new pipe tobacco he wanted to the other man to try. Hexen was curled on his bed, reading and only half paying attention to the book. The door to the porch was open, letting in the hot afternoon winds as well as the scents and conversation of the two smokers. Hexen had liked the smell of the new tobacco — it was fruity and spicy, with a sweet caramel note that made him think of desserts — but now he was distracted by something he couldn’t make sense of: a tang of still-wet blood. Illikhr hadn’t gotten cut at work and Dmiri hadn’t mentioned any injuries, so Hexen was confused where it was coming from. Once he’d noticed it, he couldn’t concentrate on anything else.

Continue reading “9.) Dmiri and Illikhr.”