Chapter six: Delirium
I head to the kitchen the moment the sky turns bright.
I start with filling buns and steaming them.
Then figure since I got the time I might as well make faifa sauce.
By the time I call the other to breakfast the table is filled with little treats.
Himowa looks at it with big eyes “Where did you find the time to cook all this?”
I shrug “I was up early.”
Which isn’t technically a lie.
All I want to do is get back up in the air and then head straight to bed.
“Morning.” Alice announces as she comes through the door “Oooh, what’s all this?”
“Hui was up early.”
“It looks amazing.”
“Just look out for the faifa sauce, it’s hot.”
“Which one is that one?” Elizabeth asks and immediately dips a cracker into it as Himowa points at the bowl. She sits down, pops the cracker in her mouth and then her face pulls into a painful expression. “Yup…you’re right.”
Elizabeth’s voice is a high-pitched squeak as she says “Yes please.”
Himowa shakes her head amusedly and pours the young captain some tea.
Dana is the last one to come in, she looks at the table with a puzzled expression.
“Hui woke early.”
“I see.” Dana sits down “Well, guess we ought to dig in then.”
“The faifa is hot,” Elizabeth explains while wiping the tears from her eyes.
Dana smiles “It’s in the name really.”
“So what’s the planning for today?”
“Right, all we need to do today is pick up Himowa’s clothes and pick up the food we forgot yesterday,” Elizabeth announces.
“Oh right, the food!” Himowa exclaims.
The conversation trails off and I poke at my food but I don’t eat very much of it.
“You can stay here if you prefer.” Dana offers, I look up confused. “Huh?”
“You look very spaced out, I guess making all this food took a lot of time and effort.”
And be a sitting duck while you’re all away? No thank you.
“It’s fine.” I tell her “I can come. Besides I want to know what kind of food they have out here.”
“All right then.”
I barely register the picking up of the garments.
All I know is that Himowa looks beautiful no matter what she wears, and I think Elizabeth picked a fight with someone over some fabric?
Himowa thought it was funny so I guess it’s all right.
The market is organised around a big circular road and tall stone bridges can take you from the outer ring to an inner circle that has the really fancy stuff.
Once every so often a car comes rumbling down it making high-pitched shrieks as it scrapes down the road. It’s far too loud for comfort as it screams nasty smoke into the air.
But the people all look with wonder at these machines. Everyone’s attention fixes on the sputtering beast the moment the rumbling starts in the distance.
I don’t get it.
I keep myself away from the road as much as possible, trying to stay in the outer rings.
The food is odd.
Elizabeth pulls me to a stall with big round yellow blocks and has the shopkeep cut off a small bit for us to try.
It’s squishy but brittle, salty and weird.
I can see by her face Himowa doesn’t like it much but she does eat it out of politeness.
I wonder what would even go with such an odd food.
Himowa spots a stall selling fabric flowers and she and Elizabeth have to spend some time looking at all the different varieties.
I don’t care much for them so I lean against the stall waiting for them to be done and trying my best at keeping my eyes open.
Then I recognise a familiar messy back hairdo.
That’s Takeyo in the crowd.
My legs jump into action starting the pursuit.
My hand reaches for a gun that’s not there and grasping at air I just grumble and decide I’ll figure out the details later.
If he’s here he must be after me, right?
I doubt he’s on vacation.
But then what’s his end game?
Is he here to drag me back even though I killed our brother?
Is he here to kill me?
Or did he leave the kashuya like I told him to and is trying to join our number?
Somehow I feel sceptical of that last option.
He weaves himself through the crowd and I push myself through the throng of people.
People shout at me in annoyance as I push them aside but their complaints are insignificant.
My heart feels like it’s gonna collapse in on itself. My legs ache with fatigue.
I curse myself for being tired.
Then force myself to keep pushing through.
Faster and faster so I can catch up and grab him by the shoulder and-
He shouts at me in a language I don’t understand.
My train of thought snags, as if caught on a nail.
The words aren’t Jigani, the man isn’t Jigani.
He doesn’t even look like Takeyo up close.
I open my mouth to explain but know I can’t say anything that’ll help or that he’ll even understand.
I let go.
Bow in apology while my heart beats in my throat and my head flushes red.
The man shoots me a glare before leaving and I drop to my knees utterly whiplashed by the experience.
A woman walks up to me and asks me a question I can’t answer because I don’t speak the language.
I push myself up, hold up my hands and back away.
Try to escape everyone’s attention. Become invisible.
I just want to vanish for a bit.
And I guess in a way I did.
Because looking around I have no idea where I am.
The market is gone.
The paths are packed closely together here. Redbrick arches loom over my head and I can’t help but sense I’m on the ‘wrong side of town’.
It’s the state of the buildings, an off smell in the air.
The lack of hats or fancy walking canes for the men who walk here.
I keep my hands in my pockets and my head turned down.
I should just turn around, that’s the first step.
I turn around, walk in the other direction.
Maybe that statue is familiar?
There are statues everywhere, how am I supposed to tell them apart?
They stare down at me with judgment.
Even the ones without eyes.
Especially the ones without eyes.
I was an idiot to run away.
A car zips past all loud and violent.
My hands tense, my shoulde shake.
I want to shoot at it.
I want it to stay away from me.
I want to go home.
My breath is ragged.
I’m a sitting duck out here.
I look up at the sky, the one thing that stays the same no matter where we go.
Yaye, I’m scared.
I want to go home.
“Xuiyo!” Himowa’s voice rings out to me.
I look around as she wades her way through the sea of people and hugs me “Why did you run off?” she asks.
Tears force their way out of my eyes “I…I thought I saw …but it’s not important. It wasn’t I just…you know…I’m sorry.”
“Xuiyo what happened?” Her voice is concerned, scared.
I dry my tears and cough “Nothing, I’m fine just, startled.” I don’t want her to worry.
“Hui-” she whispers.
“I’m fine,” I repeat, more insistently this time.
She pulls up an eyebrow at me “If you say so.” She doesn’t sound very convinced as she takes my hand and drags me back to the others.
Dana and Elizabeth seem to be arguing over something.
Their voices sound heated, Elizabeth’s face is red with exertion,
But the moment Himowa announces us the conversation slams dead.
I don’t really care either way.
Elizabeth walks up to me and hugs me.
She asks where I went, and I just shrug. “I followed the wrong person like an idiot.”
The smiles kindly.
“Well, the shimou are picked up and we have food for the rest of the journey. Let’s go back.”
That sounds like an excellent idea.
Elizabeth skips straight for the cockpit by the time we’re at the ship.
I put the food in the kitchen. Put the perishables away in the icebox.
Then wait for the ship to take off.
“Hey.” Himowa is standing by the door, arms crossed but her face is soft.
“I’m worried about you.”
“You don’t need to be sorry I just…maybe we can talk? Just for a bit.”
“Later, right now all I want to do is go to bed.”
“Right.” She walks up to me, hugs me, and gives me a kiss “Good night.”