The barn was silent and cool, like the inside of a newly sold house. With a soft yellow rustling of loose hay, the apple crates were turned by the quiet girls so they sat with their backs to the silent walls, the deserted wine barrels and the wooden planks gave a timely hum that made a kind of music as you walked down the interior into their histories.

Chip! went the small hammer under Iris’s grip and the nails soared through the wood, and the sound echoed across the empty field: abandoned, withered flower meadows, through woods, toward a town that seemed to be dancing and asleep at the same time, in the same breath.

Mira rearranged the tools as Iris’s hands worked.

Iris ran her fingers on the green moss of the rotted beams, looked at the rusted iron clamps, the wine color of the ceiling.

“This’ll take more than a night.”

“I wish I could do something more useful,” muttered Mira from down below. “It’s this damn prosthesis. I only bother to wear it so people don’t get sick of looking at anatomical asymmetry.”

“You can take it off, I won’t mind. And you could move some of the boxes and barrels out of the way, if you want. That’d help a lot. But don’t you dare say that you aren’t doing anything useful.”

There was a soft sigh of air; the barn door collapsed shut, tucking up its corrugated tongue. Mira immediately began shifting boxes with her good arm and her strong legs, and she seemed subtly more content and determined.

Iris, standing on a firm pile of crates, was seeing how it would be tomorrow, when Mira would wake and pour hot water over a chipped mug and slake her morning thirst with hard coffee. She wondered if it would take many years to settle into a life, a series of routines and cards to play by and people to hate and love, and if Mira already had that, was she happy?

Writing month, day twenty-seven, word count: 25,150


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