He capered across the wall, and those rising to start their tasks looked away from him. He cracked a grin at the back of their heads. It always pleased Omri immensely to watch his little magicks work on them. Dressed in a bright yellow coat that caught the sun and made it jealous, in blue and purple pants, in boots almost too white to exist, they were still compelled not to notice. It was freedom in every magnitude, and Omri loved it.
He landed on the ground with a thud that should have halted their work, and they ignored him. He sauntered across the manor’s overgrown lawn, pants and long grass hissing and hushing. He whistled a little. No one cared, but when he passed just behind a boy bent double to rip weeds from the edge of the path, there was a small shudder in the boy’s spine.
Unhurried, Omri passed the north wall of the main house, and crossed into the back gardens. The trees hadn’t been tended to in years, and they had overgrown their bounds, arching indelicately over the paths. They seemed to lean together, perhaps for comfort, perhaps in subtle, radiant rebellion. And deep beneath them, She crouched, deep in her hood, trying to hide in shadows. The shade seemed over large for her, and yet couldn’t cover her. A woman, almost hidden behind the corner of the manor, kept standing up, turning, looking over her shoulder as if she could feel Her breathing.
Omri leaned casually against the tree trunk beside her.
“Who are you here for today?” he asked.
She looked up at him, dark-eyed and pale, every feature clean as stone. And She barely breathed at all. “No one,” She murmured. Her sickle was laid out on the ground beside her. She never seemed to care for it overmuch, never seemed to like it in Her hand. But the blade was always sharp. A careful moment passed, and She turned her attention back to the workers.
“That’s an unusual day,” Omri mused. He turned his face into the little breeze, catching as much of it as he could. The wind shuddered over Her, and couldn’t lift a hair.
“You should be happy,” She said. “They all get the long day they expect. You get to keep them.”
“I get another tomorrow,” Omri told her. He flashed Her a grin, and tried not to be bothered that She didn’t return it. She wasn’t in the habit.
“I know,” She said without looking at him. Omri began to wonder if she even noticed his smile. “Her grandfather will get to meet her. Maybe they’ll let him name her.”
Omri raised his eyebrows. “He’ll be here that long?”
“Maybe,” She said. “Hopefully.”
The breeze shifted. Omri turned with it, keeping it running through his hair. The woman behind the corner stood up a little straighter. A quick look over her shoulder. Then a longer one when her hands weren’t quite as busy. She hunched deeper into her hood, leaned further behind the tree.
“You’re making them nervous,” Omri said.
She hummed a short note – agreement, probably.
“Why are you here, if you’re not taking anyone?”
She paused. She tilted her head. She watched the woman bend, disappear around the corner and come back as she straightened. “They ignore you,” She said. “Never even see you coming. They can feel me. It’s annoying.”
Her eyes darted up to his face, quick, and Omri laughed. Loud. As if to prove her point, no one turned.
She cracked a low smile, shook Her head at him. “They don’t even know how to chase you,” She said. “But they’ll run away from me.” Taking one long, careful breath, She focused on the workers again. It was a long moment, before She continued Her thought on a whisper. “If I stay… If I watch… They’ll be watchful too. They’ll all get their long day.”
I’m a thief! I managed to pick the first line of this piece out of my friend, Kate‘s pocket. Be sure to stop by her blog to see the original story she wrote, and then take a peek at everyone else who got away with it.