Malt stood just inside the hut, apparently waiting to hear what the day’s fate would be. In the dim light it took him a moment to realize she was near glowing with fiery agitation, as opposed to the gloomy variant that had been claiming her, a dark mist invading the mind. As much as he didn’t like seeing his leader upset, he found a touch of relief in the familiarity, in the type
of irritation. This was so close to being normal, to being right
Malt spoke carefully. “So I take it there’s been a misunderstanding then, huh?” He felt a little bad for so quickly assuming that she really had neglected to tell him something important, but a sort of panicked stage-fright had gripped him when he thought at all that he might have to direct the entire village’s proceedings for a day. He just couldn’t stomach the idea of being a sole leader, and in his scare, had forgotten to question the validity of Twigs’s claim. He wanted to crack a joke about the situation, but found himself coming up short.
“Yeah, something like that,” she muttered. “I think he thought... well, I don’t know, that’s not important. He told Chisel not to come here today. Without my consent, of course. So we’re down a sculptor for today’s ‘stuff to be done’ list. Guess we’ll just have a freakin' giant piece of ice sitting at the south end of town, huh? Suppose it’s no worse than all the piles of stuff we still have lying around.” She stopped to consider. “Oh, today’s the dump day, isn’t it? I hope we can get that plot all cleaned up and nice this week... I mean I know the bodies’ll be gone, but it still smells kinda bad, and we have to get all that trash gone. For Vertigo’s sake, anyway. I still can’t believe Candy’s missing...”
Happily, he noted that her temper was slowly burning out as she changed topics. “Yeah. I was going to try and get extra done today. I’m pretty sure most of the...well, I think Ivory and Chex have finally taken most of the questionable stuff from the dump area, actually. Today was the day to send all the rest of the waste out to the facility near the bay, and then we were going to get some flowers and stuff to try to make the place smell nice before turning it into the new spot for the café. And speaking of flowers, we might want to start planting trees and flowers around the village and in the forests, because they’re seriously just all dying. I arranged for the construction workers to get to take most of them away as some payment for their services, but...”
“Dying... yeah, I thought so. Okay, after we finish with the village, we’ll plant a bunch of stuff. I guess we have to do at least that much. Maybe we can turn it into something fun. And flowers in the dump, huh?” she asked. Malt nodded, and she continued, “I hope they work, and I hope the smell fades before too long. I don’t want to wait ages to have the place built,” she added. She put her tiny hands against her hips and looked down, apparently in thought.
“So, what’s the deal with Twigs?”
“I’m thinking,” she responded. “I’m certain, I just know I didn’t set anything up last time. I’m trying to remember if I might have promised him something when he first showed up, but my memory’s foggy. It’d be really annoying if I said something like ‘Sure, I’ll go out with you a week after the first date, too!’ or something equally dumb like that, but I really don’t think I did.” She looked back up at him. “That leaves me in a tough spot. I don’t want to call him a liar in case I really don’t remember,” she said. Malt didn’t share that he felt Twigs was, in fact, a liar. Everything at its own pace, nothing without evidence.
Part 23 of "The Dates"