Thursday, September 16, 2010

345 - Everyone Is the Wrong Height

Gannara stopped and sat down on the bench under an oak, tugging at his shirt.  I sat next to him, leaned forward, picked a long hair off Gan’s shoulder and brushed an invisible dust-speck off his sleeve.  

“You look very Yeoli, my brother,” I said.  He looked so odd, with all odd colours over-dyed with black like his own natural colour.  “You look fine.  Don’t worry about it.  I’ll wait here for you but you don’t need to come running out again.  You’ll know where I am and I won’t worry if they don’t want to let you out of their sight for the first little while. They’ll want you to stay.”

“I want them to meet you.”

“So bring them to the Azure suite with you, later.  Then they can meet the real me.”  We were speaking Yeoli, since my accompanying guard was Arkan.  Gan sat for a while longer, in silence, looking at the sign over the door on the other side of the street. 

GreenHills Shipping and Merchant House



“What’s it like to have family?”  I wasn’t even sure why I was asking.  1st Amitzas was hardly something one would call ‘a family’.

He snorted.  “I… can't remember so well. You're better to ask someone else.”

“Ah, shen.” I seized him in a hug.  “I’m sorry I asked.”

He hugged me back and then fought me off.  “Hey! You’ll wrinkle the shirt!”

“Considering that it’s crinkled cotton, it’s not hard!” He took a deep breath.  “It’s all right.”

“I wish you had never met me... I wish you had never met my family.”

“I don't wish that.  I mean the meeting you part. I could have done without your dad.”

“Yeha.  The fat guy.”

“You could ask Kallijas Itrean, since we were introduced…”

“I just met him, really… but yes.  He has a sort of normal family.”

“Or you could ask Ch’venga, if he has time.  He always makes you feel better.”

I sighed.  “Yeha.  But…um… Yeolis…”

“You don’t see Yeolis as normal?”  He started grinning at me, looking a little less nervous.  I started blushing.

“Four parents as the most usual family?  Not normal at all.”  I smiled back at him.

He laughed more than my little joke warranted.  “I had four parents. I knew a guy who had eight.”

“Oh, my beloved ancestors spare me.”

“You can't get away with anything.  There’s always at least one of them around!”

“I’d hate to bring a girl home to that… like your friend Fari… something?”

“Farasha.  I wouldn’t mind.  I think they’d like her. What do you know about bringing girls… or boys… home to the parents, anyway?”

“I used to read about how hard it was… to... umm... be... 'checked out?”


“We’re stalling.”  I pointed across the street to the office.  “You need to get this over with.” I put my hand on his shoulder.  “They’re in pain and so are you.  Go on.”

“Yeah, brother.”  He covered my glove with his hand and got up.  “I’ll see you… probably in a few days.”

“Sure.  You can do it, Gan.”

I watched him let an express chair pass in a blast of whistle, throw his shoulders back, step into the door and disappear.


I could feel Minis watching me as I stepped through the open gate.  It led to a courtyard with a garden office in it.  A greeter… a boy a little younger than I was… stood up… and he looked familiar to me but I couldn’t remember… 

“Can I help you, kere?” The greeter asked politely.  Was that… my little brother?  I… I could’t… I thought…I had to cross my arms across my chest.  “S…ss…ssach…er…ao?”  He stopped, his smile replaced by round eyes.

“PAPAAAAAA!” He yelled.  A man at a table desk leapt to his feet, ready for trouble.  He took two steps and stopped, staring…

“GANNARA?”  I had time to draw breath, maybe, before I was enfolded in the biggest hug and I remembered it.  I remembered and started crying.

“Shadow-papa!  Shadow papa!”  I managed to gasp.

Then my little brother piled in and was hugging me and shadow papa nearly deafened me yelling, right in front of a client or two, not caring in the slightest… ‘TISHA!  IT’S GANNARA! HE’S HERE! HE’S HOME!”

The shriek from inside was deafening and it wasn’t like shadow-mama at all but she came tearing out, her hands covered in ink and flung herself on the pile of us and there were other people but I couldn’t see them all I started crying harder.  I was bawling hard enough I couldn’t see.

“GANNARA! Oh, kahara, where have you been—what happened to you—you were on Haiu Menshir—we were there the same day!—Duma, run and let Auntie Rao and Great Uncle Cham—we’re closing!—you look just like your father! Look at you!  You’re so big! That awful boy let you go! Are you all right?...” and on and on a flood of words and questions I couldn’t answer or even then it wasn’t until I was cried out that I could even think about answering any of them.

“Sh--- sh---shadow mama, Sh-shadow papa,” I tried to say, and my tongue locked up tight.  I couldn’t say anything but cling to people until I was cried out and even then.  I had snot running down my face and no more tears and I couldn’t even sob… I was so happy and scared all at the same time.

“Everybody… everybody back up a bit,” shadow-papa said.  “He’s here, he’s not going to disappear from under our hands, he’s safe… let’s let him catch his breath.”

“I’ve got the wine case you set aside dad,” a voice… Erano-e, my older shadow brother’s voice.  He was… a year older than I was, I remembered.

“Good lad, kerel,--“ Without letting go of me he managed to turn to the clients in the office garden.  “Our son is home after being lost for years… I’m sorry but our business day is done.”

I didn’t have to talk.  But I did manage to say, “Shadow-mama, Shadow-papa, I’m… I’m… I… I… I…m all right.”  Forzak that Mahid stutter. “Min isn’t an awful boy, he saved me… I…I’m.” I smacked a fist on my own thigh.  “Kahara I hate this… I’m sorry, I was scared… you… I… I don’t know why I was scared.”

Shadow-mama patted my cheeks with a handkerchief, wiping the muck away.  It felt so good.  “Gannara.  It’s all right.  Sit down and have something to drink and let your shadow papa hold onto you. Linasika, he’s shaking… I’ll get everyone organized, when Duma gets back…”

They got me sitting down and more family was coming in… more than just shadow-mama and shadow-papa had come to the city.  The business was doing well I guess.  I kept blinking because I was wrong about having cried myself out.  Shadow-papa’s hug was just wonderful and I hung on hard.  I held onto shadow-mama’s kerchief and sniffled and smiled and tried to unlock my throat.  My voice was coming back.

I was crying but I had a huge smile on my face at the same time. My chest was loosening and I could take a deep breath.  “I’m back, shadow-papa.  I’m all right.  I’ll tell you all about it.”  He let go of me with one hand to sign chalk and then charcoal.

“Wait until everybody’s here, Gan.  You don’t want to keep telling everybody over and over.”

I turned my big, teary grin on him.  “Yeah, shadow-papa. I love you.”

“We love you too, my lad.”  He was a lot shorter and balder than I remembered.  Everybody was the wrong height, either too tall or a lot shorter.

1 comment: