thewolfeinwillowell: (girl against sky)
[personal profile] thewolfeinwillowell posting in [community profile] dearcousin
Dear Emma,

How unusual! Do tell me if you see her again. I wonder if I shall see her as well. Questions or no, though, do not spend too much time at the water's edge; the rocks and the mud are more slippery than they appear, and the current faster and more powerful.

I have not seen Azra in a while, but we have both been busy. Him with what he does and me with volunteering at the bookstore-that-is-actually a library.

The place is owned by Iswy the Bookseller and is a stuffy labyrinth of paper and dust. I fear I may find some silverfish scuttling about. You know how I detest them. The books are mostly nonfiction, with a few classics, but they are all in disarray, which is why Iswy brought me in to help organize. The store stocks maps, too, though I don't think much of any of them; I found a few of the island, of Europe, of Brooklyn, but every last one of them was wrong! I know for a fact that there is no gaping toothed void in the center of Sunset Park, unless it has changed since I was last there. I've collected as many maps as I could find into one particular corner of the store; I just hope neither Iswy nor any customers will have touched them when I return later this week.

Today was Ygritte's Death Day. To celebrate, Christophe had baked her a red velvet and butter cake and a bought a balloon that said, "You're cool." I availed myself of some of Iswy's black pudding, of which she had made too much, to bring to Ygritte. But when I returned to Willowell Apartments from the bookstore, I found Christophe standing outside Ygritte's door as a terrible wailing came from inside. It sounded like siren crossed with a fire alarm, or like a soul being rent from its body.

"Ygritte?" Christophe said tentatively, knocking lightly on the door of Apartment 4 while balancing a cake box on his other hand. I took it from him and placed the pudding on top of it. He mouthed a thank you, then continued, "Ygritte, that doesn't sound like happy wailing. What's wrong? Ilyana is here. Please let us in."

The wailing increased in volume, almost drowning out the jingling of the locks as they were undone. Then the door flew open, and Ygritte stood there, her veil stuck to her face in wet spots and her hair in tangles around her cheeks. Behind her I could see a sparsely furnished room: a pile of rags over what seemed in shape to be a mattress, a wash basin filled with murky pink water atop of which lay a washboard and a man's soaking pink shirt, and books, strewn all over, open with their pages to the floor.

"My son," said Ygritte. "Today is his Death Day, too."

At first I did not understand, but then Christophe said, "Oh, Ygritte," and pulled her into his arms and then I did.

We accompanied her to the train station, which is a dock sticking out onto the water on the side of the island opposite the floating graves. A patch of green roses waved at us as we approached. (I had thought roses grew on bushes, but I guess that is just not-green ones.) We watched the train climb over the horizon and pull up beside the dock. A trembling man with ruddy skin who frankly looked nothing like Ygritte disembarked, and the train glided back out to sea.

"Why did he not come in one of the floating graves?" I asked Christophe as Ygritte and her son reunited.

"He must not have had anybody to bury him," Christophe said, "or there was not enough of him left to bury."

"Or he was cremated?" I guessed.

"That's ridiculous," Christophe said.

Ygritte made her son a stew that evening; I could smell it across the hall. But her wailing that night really did not sound like happy wailing, assuming I would be able to tell the difference. I hope nobody I know comes to visit me too soon. I can wait.

Love,
Ilyana

May 2015

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