Interlude II
The Skeleton of a Soapbox

Owen put the finishing touches on a new design he was painting on his wall.

It contained each of the twelve pentominos exactly once in such a manner that each included all five colors.  And with only fourteen cells, it was as small of such a figure as he could find after an extended search.  He painted it simply, with just a little shading wihin each of the squares to keep them form looking too flat.  He’d see later on if someone might want to add embellishments to it; some of his previous designs had acquired celtic knot work or arabic calligraphy in this manner.  The main problem wih this was that people tended to gice him too much credit when complementing them, when other people had done the hard bits.

Tamson house being the sort of place it was, the other problem with Owen’s designs was that people would invariably ask him what they meant. 

“What kind of thing is it supposed to mean?” he had asked Morena.

“Well, something magical, of course.” Her eyes glinted madly at this, and Owen could only roll his own.  But then, Morena claimed she could see fairies and such, which was a little weirder than even the typical resident of the house. 

Looking at the time, and feeling not at all tired despite it, he decided to try to catch a 10:00 movie. Since it was Monday, he could get in at the matinee fare.  As he approached the door, he remembered he would need his wallet.  When he got back to his room, he realized it was in his pocket.

Owen hated it when he did that.  Still, he did not leave, but froze with the sense that someone was missing.

He noticed a box outside his door and smiled.

He had been clearing out a room in the attic with Molybdenum to make space for a new resident when they came across the box which seemed delightfully organic, carved into interwoven slats from some pale wood, which met at hinges in the corners.  Owen remarked that it would make the perfect nightstand.  Moly wanted to study it for a while, but she had promised to give it to him when she was done, and must have left it there sometime the previous night.

“You should see a live one sometime,” she had said.  Owen had thought she meant t the tree that it had been carved from, but now in this better light, he was less certain.   It almost seemed to be constructed out of bone rather than wood.  If it was constructed at all.

Moly’s parents were Science Hippies, which was her explanation for the name and her interest in fey biology.  She had an improbably number of extremely rare books on the subject, from Victorian era anatomical prints of fairies in the style of “Gray’s Anatomy” toa meticulous forgery purporting to be Guy de Chauliac’s thoughts on fairy surgery, written in a Middle English indistinguishable (to Owen’s untrained eyes at least) from the original fourteenth century translations of his works.

Owen still felt like there was something else missing, but he convinced himself that it was just the box.  He must have seen it from the corner of his eye the first time he left his room, without it registering consciously. 

As Owen again retraced his steps through the hall and down the stairs, he scented the chocolate wafting from the kitchen.

DragonMom was there, cleaning a few dishes.

“Do I smell your famous hot chocolate? Is there any left?” Owen asked.

“A little, it’s probably cold.”

“No problem, I’ll just nuke it.”

“I was trying to go out to a movie, but I keep getting distracted.”  Owen explained while microwaving a cup of chocolate. The microwave dinged and he took it out. Owen savored the hot chocolate. “But with distractions like this, who needs destinations?”

Owen finished the chocolate and rinsed out the cup, then again set out toward the front door again. On his way he practically bumped into Morena who was just emerging from a door along the hallway.

--Alexandre Owen Muniz 1999

Strangers in the Night