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A Great Feast
A The Ones Who Call story
Start at the beginning of The Ones Who Call series
"So, you hold a dinner for someone who's dead?"
Jenny rolled her eyes at the tone in Kyle's voice and gave him a playful shove. "Well, yeah, but don't make it sound all weird. It's not like we expect Auntie Edith to show up or anything. It's just a good excuse to get the family together and remember her life, tell stories, and eat until you burst. That sort of thing."
"That makes sense, I guess." Kyle said. "It's like a really delayed wake."
Jenny nodded and gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. "You don't have to come if you don't want to. I know my family's pretty weird."
Kyle snorted. He hadn't forgotten about the last family gathering that Jenny had invited him to. Her cousins had descended on him like a pack of vultures and given him such a hard time about dating Jenny that his cheeks had felt like they'd been permanently sunburned.
"I'm not backing out now." He said. "We're here."
They made their way through the dozens of cars surrounding the band hall and up the crumbling steps, stamping hard to get the snow off of their boots. The door opened for them as they reached the top of the stairs and Noreen came through it, nearly running into them.
"Oh, there you are." Noreen said. She shoved a zip lock bag into Jenny's gloved hands and glanced back over her shoulder. "I need you to hide these somewhere, my girl."
Jenny frowned down at the bags of cooking spices. "Um. Why?"
"Don't ask. Just get them out of here." Noreen said, and ducked back inside.
Jenny and Kyle exchanged a look, then wordlessly went to the stand of poplar beside the hall and hid the packet inside a snow-covered log.
"Last chance to back out." Jenny said. "I think it's gonna be one of those nights."
Kyle shrugged and blew on his hands to warm them. "Then you'll want someone around who's not totally insane."
Jenny laughed, and they went back to the hall. The warmth and light of the gymnasium-sized room felt good on their chilled skin, and the buzz of conversation and laughter filled their air. They flung their coats into the pile by the door and were pulling off their boots when the screaming started.
Fox erupted from the kitchen at a dead-run, followed by a barrage of flung cutlery. He shielded his head with his arms as a wooden spoon bounced off of his shoulder, and then ducked behind Jenny. She started to protest and shove him away from her when she saw Aunt Sparrow coming out of the kitchen with an expression as dark as a thunderhead.
"You!" She said, pointing one long, bony finger at him. "Get out of here!"
"I didn't mean to?." Fox began, but a sharp gesture from Aunt Sparrow silenced him.
"Don't try to make excuses! I saw what you were trying to do!" The tiny, rotund woman seemed to shake with fury for a moment, and then let out her breath in a long sigh and rubbed her temples. "Just stay out of my sight until the feast starts, okay? And help the men bring in the big drum."
Fox remained behind Jenny until Aunt Sparrow went back into the kitchen, then relented as Jenny shoved him away from her.
"What was that about, Fox?" Jenny asked, hands on her hips.
Fox just grinned in that infuriating manner he was so good at and tousled her hair. "Nothing. I just gotta figure out another way to make this work..."
He turned on long, rangy legs and stalked off before she could ask him anything further. Jenny spluttered, then calmed as Kyle placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Not your problem." He said.
"Not my problem." She repeated firmly, casting her eyes around the room. She spotted an empty place on the blankets that had been spread around the center of the room and led him over to it.
"Does your family always eat on the floor?" Kyle joked.
Jenny punched him in the arm and wrinkled her nose. "It's traditional, silly."
"Are there any rules I need to follow? I won't get thrown out if I use the wrong forks or anything?" Kyle said.
Jenny thought for a minute. "No, for the most part you can just follow what I do. The only real 'rule' is that during the feast you have to take a piece of everything you're offered, and you shouldn't leave anything behind on your plate."
Kyle nodded. "Okay. Sounds simple enough. When does the feast begin?"
"Whenever everyone's here and all the food is ready. The Elders will bless the food, say a few words about Great-Auntie Edith, and then we can eat." Jenny said, toying with a tassel on the blanket they were seated on. Then she looked up and met Kyle's eyes with a softness in her gaze that made him smile. "Thanks for coming. These are usually so boring without someone to talk to."
He wrapped an arm around her and they sat, talking quietly, while around them the preparations for the feast continued. Every few minutes, another family full of relatives would arrive bearing Tupperware containers full of food and the Elders would call out a greeting. Children ran and played, adding to the generally chaotic atmosphere, and all about the room small groups of relatives clustered together, reminiscing and gossiping.
Kyle had never experienced anything like this before. His family was small and while he knew he had distant relatives scattered around the country, holidays had been just his parents, his grandparents and himself. They were usually quiet, tense affairs, and everyone was grateful when they ended. A room full of laughing faces and screaming kids was new, and surprisingly comforting. And, oh! The smells coming from the kitchen!
Jenny warned him to skip lunch that day because there would be plenty of food to come, but now he was ravenous. A stout woman walked by holding a tinfoil tray of freshly baked bannock and he was tempted to ambush her.
"Are you sure we can't sneak something from the kitchen? It sounds like it'll be a while." He said.
Jenny wrinkled her nose. "Good luck trying. My mom's in there helping with the cooking, and she's psychic about stuff like that."
"Hands off the bannock." Noreen said, without turning to look at the ten year-old boy whose hand was creeping towards the basket. He jumped, glanced around to find several of the other women in the kitchen now looking at him, and then fled from the kitchen.
Sparrow chuckled. "You could have let him have one."
Noreen continued mixing the cake batter. "He's old enough now to know better. Besides, his hands were filthy."
Sparrow shook her head and continued unwrapping the tinfoil trays full of perogies, pausing only to dab sweat from her forehead. The kitchen, which had been in full swing since early that morning, was now uncomfortably warm. Nearly every available surface was piled high with the containers of food, and those that weren't were being used to prepare the final dishes of the feast.
To those not used to it, the kitchen looked like barely-controlled chaos, but Noreen revelled in it. Let her younger cousins scoff and say that it was sexist to have the women do all of the cooking, but she knew that the kitchen was where the real heart of any family gathering was. She'd been eager to get to the band hall that morning, knowing that the day would be spent talking and reminiscing with her relatives while they drank tea and prepared the food. It was better and far more casual than any forced family reunion.
The day might have been perfect, except for two things. The first was that Noreen had been very close to her Aunt Edith, and the memory of her passing lent a somber, mournful air to the day.
The second was that she'd been forced to put up with her sister.
Valerie hadn't always enjoyed cooking, and for years Noreen hadn't needed to share a kitchen with her. But over the past few years, Valerie had developed a sudden love for cooking that coincided with her weight-loss kick. Or perhaps it wasn't the cooking that Valerie loved, but the chance to show off how right she was.
Only the presence of their older relatives had kept the two women from erupting into a full-on screaming match after Valerie had insisted that they use her spice mix for the roasts, despite the bird being Noreen's contribution to the feast. Noreen had won that argument, but her sister had been bitter about the loss and had spent the rest of the afternoon making subtle jabs at her sister.
Thankfully, Valerie had announced that she was 'getting tired' a few hours ago and had left Noreen to her work. Now, she hummed happily to herself as she poured the batter into a pan and put it into the oven where the other deserts were baking. She spent a few minutes cleaning up and sipping at her coffee before one of the numerous timers dinged. The goose was ready.
Noreen pulled the giant roasting pan out of the oven and opened the lid. Immediately, she could smell that something was missing.
"Val!" She yelled. "What the hell did you do with my stuffing?"
Valerie came around the corner and leaned on the wall, giving Noreen a haughty look. "I told you, you can't cook it in the bird, Reenie. There's bacteria. Do you want to poison everybody?"
Noreen felt her eye begin to twitch. This, too, was an old argument. Noreen had thought they'd finally settled the matter earlier this evening when she'd demonstrated the meat-thermometer she'd received last Christmas. But at some point when her back was turned, her sister had taken all of the sausage and juniper berry stuffing that Noreen had slaved over out of the bird and probably thrown it out.
She grabbed the squeeze bottle of mustard. The mustard splattered with a satisfyingly loud noise right across her sister's smug face and Valerie reeled back, squawking with indignation. For a tense moment, they two women simply stood there?Noreen smirking with victory, and Valerie with a mix of surprise and anger as the mustard dripped down her nose.
The sound of shrieking and clattering pans reached the main room a few moments later. A few of Jenny's cousins leapt to their feet, eager to rush in and help, but when they realized who was fighting, many of them sat back down and pretended not to hear the curses coming from the kitchen. They'd long since learned that it was never a good idea to get between that particular pair of sisters when they really got into it.
The few who did rush in to break up the fight came stumbling back out of the kitchen a few moments later, covered in unidentifiable smears of food and choking in a thick cloud of flour dust. Inside, the battle continued unabated.
Outside in the February stillness, no sign of the chaos going on indoors could be heard. Fox found a parking place in amongst all of the other cars and whistled appreciatively at how many people had arrived in the few minutes he'd been away. That could work to his favor, but it could also make things a lot more complicated that they were already. He chewed at his lip for a moment, thinking.
"You wait here." Fox said, patting his 'date' on the arm. She smirked at him.
"Are you sure you don't want me to come along and help? It didn't go well the first time." She said sweetly.
Fox frowned. "No. You're not getting me that way."
"Fine, fine." She said, and flapped a hand at him to shoo him on his way. "Just be quick about it. I won't wait around all night."
He slammed the car door and stamped inside without checking to see if she was comfortable. One of his cousins, who huddled beside the door in a thick cloud of cigarette smoke, glanced sideways at Fox. "Dude. Leaving your girl in the car? Harsh."
Fox shrugged. "It's complicated." He said, and pushed past him into the foyer beyond.
Luck was with him. There was no one else lurking about by the entrance. In fact, there seemed to be a riot going on, and everyone was looking towards the mob of food-smeared people milling around outside the doors to the kitchen.
Perfect. He thought. Moving quickly, he slipped along the edge of the room and into the dark hallway at the back of the band hall. He paused for a moment, heart beating loudly in his ears, and then eased open the door to the basement.
The stairs groaned under his weight, and each squeak made him wince, but he got to the bottom of the stair unnoticed and felt around for the light switch. The bare bulb flickered to life reluctantly, revealing a forest of old boxes and cobwebs.
Okay. It's got to be down here somewhere... Fox thought. But where to start?
Trusting to luck, as he always did, he wandered through the close-packed aisles and ran his hands over the grimy surfaces of the boxes until one felt right. Of course, it had to be the one at the bottom of the pile, Fox observed wryly, but quickly got to work moving boxes off of it. Once it was clear, he wiped the dust off of the label with a sleeve.
"From the house of Edith S." The label read, and Fox's smile grew very wide indeed.
He took the knife from out of his pocket and began cutting through the old, cracked duct tape holding it closed.
"What are you doing with my sister's things?" A voice said from the darkness.
Fox lurched back, hitting his head on a low-hanging beam and cursing as stars erupted before his vision. He clutched at his head and turned to see Kohkum Agnes standing by the stairs, her arms crossed firmly over her flowered shawl. He boggled. How had he not noticed her coming down the stairs?
"I... Err." He began, but she shook her head.
"Don't lie to me, Fox. I know what you're up to." She said.
He felt a weak, watery feeling in his knees. Her deep brown eyes seemed to stare into his very soul.
Still frowning at him, Agnes reached into the pocket of her dress and pulled something out of it. Fox flinched, expecting to see one of the spirit-charms that she wove out of sinew and beads. She shuffled closer to him, holding out whatever was clutched in her fist as though it was a weapon. He took a half step backwards, nearly tripping over one of the boxes he'd moved earlier. He wobbled, regained his balance, and looked around for somewhere to flee, but it was too late. She caught him by the wrist and held him firmly, her hand as strong and bony as an eagle's talon.
"Here." She said, pressing something into his other hand. "I know you were going to pawn her things. You don't need to do that. This will pay for your gas until you can find a job."
He looked down dumbly to see two crumpled twenties in his hand. Kohkum Agnes smiled at him, but shook his wrist firmly to keep his attention and waggled a finger at him.
"I don't want to see you stealing again, you hear me? Especially not from my sister." She said, and let him go.
He stammered out an apology and tried to give her back her money, but she refused to take it. Relenting, he helped her up the stairs, which squeaked and groaned with every step they took. She leaned on him as he led her back to the other Elders, and when he'd gotten her settled back in her well-padded chair, she patted him on the hand and told the other Elders what a good boy he was.
Still bewildered by this turn of events, Fox stumbled to the bathroom to regain his composure. What had plan C been again? Had he even thought of a plan C?
Fingers slid up his shirt, nails sharp against his back, and Fox bit back a shout of surprise. The bathroom had been empty when he'd entered, but of course, she didn't have to play by the rules of space or causality.
"Looks like you're at a dead end, puppy." She purred into his ear, so close that he could feel the heat of her breath against his neck. He shivered.
"I've still got options." He said.
"Yes, but you're running out of time, and I'm running out of patience." She leaned closer, pressing her lips against his ear. She nibbled casually at his earlobe, making little sparks of pleasure sizzle down his spine as her hand. Then, without warning, her nails dug into his back and his ear burned with a sudden sharp pain.
"You have fifteen minutes." She hissed, and then was gone.
He clutched at his bleeding ear and swore, staring into the empty place in the mirror where she'd been. Outside, someone banged on the door of the bathroom.
"Hurry up in there. They'll be starting the feast soon." Called an older woman's voice.
Fox growled something unintelligible and pretended to be washing his hands. She shook her head at the rude reply, turned on her heel and stalked back into the kitchen to finish preparing the food to be moved.
"Okay, everyone. Quiet down. Quiet! We're gonna eat soon." Alphonse said.
The Elder waved everyone to their seats, and the roar of conversation in the room slowly ground to a trickle of murmuring, shushing, and quiet rustling. He waited until the last few squealing kids had been hushed by their parents, then folded his hands behind his back.
"We got a few things to do first." He continued. "All you kids who are old enough, you help bring food out from the kitchen. Put it in the middle of the circle there, so we can bless it." He paused, looking around the room. "Okay, now. Is the drum set up?"
A low 'thum thum' from the drum group in the corner signalled that they were ready to go, and Alphonse waved his thanks to them.
"Okay, then. Agnes, are you here?" He said.
"I'm coming." Agnes called back as she hobbled down the hallway, coming from the direction of the basement. "Don?t start without me."
"Agnes, I'm gonna need your help with the prayer." Alphonse said, offering her his arm.
She took it, and shuffled into position with the rest of the Elders, who were beginning to light braids of sweetgrass and small tins of loose tobacco. A hush fell over the room as sweet-smelling blue smoke drifted and curled through the air. The only sounds in the room now were the fussing of a few infants too young to feel the expectant energy in the room, and the soft padding of footsteps as the older children and teenagers brought in the food.
It came in an endless tide of crock pots, mixing bowls, sauce pans and dutch ovens. Bannock, golden brown and overflowing from baskets, filled the air with a delicious oily scent. Innumerable stews and soups added a rich, meatiness to the bouquet, and even the pungent scent of the boiled tripe stirred the appetite. The centerpiece of the feast, a massive goose with skin crackling and glistening despite the hastily-cleaned smears of condiments on its surface, brought appreciative murmurs from the crowd. Noreen and Valerie both received pats on the back, though they sat at opposite ends of the room and were steadfastly ignoring one another.
Then, as the last of the food was piled in the center of the room, the drum began to sing in a slow heartbeat rhythm. The Elders walked slowly around the food, murmuring soft prayers and sending wafts of smoke over the food with eagle-feather fans. The hush that had fallen over the room deepened, so that even the soft shuffling of the Elders' moccasins could be heard on the tile floor. Alphonse led the chant, a quiet, nearly wordless song echoed by the other Elders.
It took several minutes for them to finish blessing the food, and by the time they were finished, Kyle was shifting uncomfortably. He'd half-risen to his knees when the prayers started, and now his legs were cramping. He waited until the prayers finished and then shifted into the same cross-legged position that Jenny was seated in. She flashed him a quick smile and then bowed her head as Alphonse began to pray in Cree. He ducked his head, listening to the rich syllables of the language echoing through the room. He didn't understand any of it, but it sounded solemn and powerful.
After the prayer, the drum group played an honor song in Edith's memory, and then Agnes was asked to come to the front and say a few words. She shuffled into place, holding tight to the arm of the young man helping her, and took a moment to look at each and every one of the faces gathered before her. She cleared her throat, which had become suddenly a little tight.
"My sister. She was not always a good lady." Agnes said, eliciting murmurs of confusion from the room. She held up a finger to silence them. "She liked to play tricks on people. Sometimes I thought they were pretty mean, but I get to think that because I'm her little sister."
That got some laughter from the room, and those who knew Edith best nodded their heads solemnly, thinking of the times they'd been the butt of her jokes.
"But Edith always meant well, even if things didn't always turn out the way she wanted them to." Kohkum Agnes went on, her voice quieter and shakier now. "Those husbands she had, and losing her oldest, well... Those were tricks the world played on her. But she was a strong woman. A real strong woman. And in the end she was a good lady who just wanted everyone to have a laugh, just in case they forgot how."
"Hey hey!" Someone shouted in agreement, and several people pounded their feet on the floor and applauded. Agnes smiled, waiting for the noise to die down, and then looked up to the ceiling.
"Edith. We miss you. We love you. But we're hungry, so we're going to eat now. Okay?"
More laughter from the room, and those closest to Agnes patted her on the shoulder or took her hands and squeezed them, thanking her for her words. A flurry of activity began as the young adults were roped into becoming servers for the rest of the gathering, ferrying containers of food from the center of the room to the Elders, who got first choice of all of the food. Paper plates and plastic cutlery were handed from person to person, and once the Elders had been served the food was passed around to the rest of the room.
The solemnity of a few moments ago was replaced with a bright cheer. Noise levels rose as the food was passed around, and then abruptly fell as people realized just how hungry they were.
"Um. What's this?" Kyle said as a bowl of something wriggly and translucent was passed to him.
Jenny laughed. "That's the tripe."
Kyle made a face, which only made Jenny laugh harder. "You have to take a piece!" She said, poking him in the ribs with her elbow and giggling at his sour expression.
"Hey. Where's that good meat stuffing, Auntie Noreen?" Called Alex.
Noreen glowered. "Don't ask."
"Oh." Alex said. "Well, the goose is real good. Nice skin on it."
Noreen smiled and turned the subject of conversation to his new boyfriend. Alex shyly told her how happy they were, and Noreen's earlier bad mood disappeared.
Everywhere, the family told their stories and laughed. Agnes sat back in her chair and picked at her food, her appetite not as big as it had once been.
"Your sister would have loved this." Said Alphonse.
She nodded, smiling, but her attention was not on the peaceful scene before her. Someone was missing from the gathering...
Soft footsteps padded through the now-dark kitchen. Several piles of dirty pans were shifted aside without noise, and a curse broke the stillness as the counters behind them were revealed to be empty.
"She must be wearing it." Said the voice.
There was silence for a moment as the figure worked through the possibilities, and then a wicked light blazed into existence, glinting off of the knives.
Fox was in the basement when the fire alarm went off, sorting frantically through the box he'd opened earlier.
Her brush, her ring, or her necklace. He thought. One of them's gotta be in here.
He started at the shrill ringing from upstairs, and then cursed as he realized what it meant.
Maybe someone just left the stove on. He thought as he raced up the stairs. God, please let it just be the stove...
He'd just reached the top of the stairs when the sprinkler system came on. He could hear shouts from the main room as everyone was doused with cold water, but he ignored them. He slammed shoulder-first into the side door of the kitchen, and saw a wall of dark, unnatural flames roiling up from the stove. A lithe, long-haired figure slipped through the other door.
"Damn it!" He yelled, and sprinted after his her.
The main room was in chaos. Some people were trying to get the food covered, others were running for the fire fighting equipment or trying to shoo the children outside. Several people pushed past Fox and into the kitchen, cursing when they saw the flames.
Fox's eyes darted across the room, looking for his date in the middle of the turbulent crowd, but she was nowhere to be seen.
"Coyote!" He screamed. "Coyote, get back here! You can't do that!"
"Of course I can." Her voice cut through the cacophony and was as clear as though she was whispering directly into his ear. "You broke the rules first."
"I didn't! I still had time." He insisted.
The crowd cleared and he saw her now, standing in the midst of the Elders circle. She had Aunt Sparrow by the wrist and was trying to pry open her clenched fist. The older woman was feebly hitting her on the forearms and face, but Coyote ignored the blows, intent on her prize.
"I said 'no hurting anyone'." Fox yelled, pushing a cousin out of the way as he tried to get to Coyote.
Coyote's answering smile was narrow-eyed and wolf-sharp. "The game's over, Fox. The rules don't apply."
She turned her pretty face and snarled at the older woman, shaking her wrist sharply and making Sparrow cry out in pain. "Stop fighting, you, and give me the ring."
Fox looked around for something, anything that might help and saw a chair lying on the ground. He grabbed it and swung it at Coyote's head, hard. It splintered against the pretty woman's black hair, but she didn't react to it otherwise. She twisted Sparrow's arm harder and was rewarded was the Elder's hand opened to reveal a small golden ring.
"Hah!" Coyote cried, holding it up and letting the old woman fall to the ground. "Hah-hah! I got it!"
Fox cried out in desperation, hammering at her with his fists, but the gentlest blow of her hand knocked him into a nearby wall.
"Stop it!" Jenny cried, seizing Coyote arm.
Coyote's bright eyes focused on her. "Ahh, pretty one. We meet again." She ran a fingernail down Jenny's cheek, freezing the girl in place. "I don't have time to greet you properly right now, but I'll be back later."
Coyote licked her lips, then bent and kissed Jenny. Fox snarled in outrage, but slipped in a puddle of water as he tried to stand and sprawled back to the floor, landing hard on his injured shoulder.
Coyote threw her head back, letting the sprinklers cascade water down her face, and laughed. It was a loud, ugly sound that echoed over the screaming of the fire alarm, but it was the quietest sound in the room that had the greatest effect.
Kohkum Agnes chuckled.
It was a small sound, hardly louder than a cough, dry and wheezing, but it had the effect of a slap on Coyote. She reeled, head whipping around to where the old woman still sat, and snarled silently at the Elder.
"Oh, Coyote. Old Coyote." Agnes laughed. "You're not so smart, are you?"
"What are you talking about, old woman?" Coyote said. "Your kind are no match for me, and I have want I want already, so I don't need to bother fighting with you."
Agnes shook her head and held out a hand. "My sister would like her ring back, Coyote."
Coyote laughed, a short bark of a sound. "No. It's mine now. Finders keepers." She said, singsong.
"No." Said a voice that was many voices. "It is ours. It belongs to the family."
The voice came from everywhere, and from nowhere. It came from the mouths of all of the family members gathered in the room, but it was not them who spoke.
Coyote's eyes went wide and she began to tremble.
"You are powerful, Coyote, and we respect you." Said Agnes, calm as the water poured down her face. "But you are not welcome at this gathering. Come again some other time, and we shall have food and songs to honor you. But leave my sister's ring, and go now."
Coyote made a quiet choking noise as the power of the S?sis family struck her. Her eyes went distant and seemed to focus on something beyond sight... Every S?sis in the room turned away from whatever task they were doing, whether it was fleeing or fighting the fire, and stared at Coyote. They moved as one, directed by the hands of those from beyond, and stared at Coyote.
Then they took a step forward.
She whimpered as though struck. She dropped the ring and fled, pushing past several people on her way to the door and recoiling with a yelp from the contact as her skin burned. The moment she left, the family members shook themselves out of their stupor and continued whatever it was they had been doing.
Only Kyle, who had no S?sis blood in his veins, had been aware of what happened, and as Jenny tugged at his arm to hurry him outside, he stared at her in horror and awe.
Fox struggled to his feet and joined his grandmother, placing a hand on her shoulder. His smile was rueful. "Thanks, Kohkum."
She scowled up at him. "Thanks for what, you trouble-maker? You brought her here. "
His grin faded. "I... I... Uh."
He crumpled, sinking down to his knees and groaning. "Yeah. It's my fault."
She nodded slowly, then pointed to the floor. "The ring, Fox. Give it here."
He did, and she held it up before her. "All that trouble, just for this old ring." She said. "What were you going to trade it for?"
Fox grimaced. How had she known what he was up to? And why hadn't she let on before, in the basement? "I... I was asking her for a way to stop the Mishipizhiw... "
At that, Agnes' expression softened. "Ah." She said.
The room went suddenly quiet as the alarm was turned off. A quiet cheer from the kitchen signalled that the fire had gone out.
Fox sat back, shaking his head. "You don't have long left before it comes for you."
Agnes patted him on the shoulder. "You didn't need to do that, boy. It's my time soon, and I'm not sad."
She waved a hand at the room around them. "There's so many people I'll be able to see again. My mom. My sister..." She paused, looking beyond him, and then chuckled.
"Your great auntie says 'thank you', you know." She said.
Fox looked up, frowning in confusion. "But I ruined her Feast..."
Agnes shook for a moment, until tears rolled down her creased face. It took Fox a few seconds to realize that she was laughing.
"Oh, my boy!" Agnes said, wiping at her face with a handkerchief. "Oh, don't you realize?"
She waved a hand at the room, where people were laughing and splashing now that the immediate danger was over. The sprinklers continued to pour down, but when had a S?sis ever had need to fear the water?
"This was the absolutely perfect way to celebrate Edith's life"
Fox thought that over for a moment, and then laughed.
He'd almost forgotten how.
Story by Alina Pete, Copyright 2011
Image by Tara Willett, Copyright 2011