Nested, Storied, Ended.

“Adam tells the man where to find the purple bloom.  The man disappeared.  Adam went on making his food.  After he eats, he lays down and closes his eyes.  Just as he begins to dream the land beyond death, where people are clothed like birds and have wings for garments, a young man enters his house.  This man says he was the old man who had just come to visit him, reborn.  He had found the flower and eaten it.”  Inky stops to take a drink of water and passes the bottle to you.
“Adam sits up, opens his eyes wide and sees that it is, the same man.  He laughs for several minutes.  Then he lays down and drifts back to the land beyond death, with a smile on his face.”


You know, the stuff you eat

Cedric and Kinzie start signing again, this time peering into the bags of gear that were scavenged early today.  Money changes hands.  Elle stands, breathing.
Kinzie grabs Elle’s hand and leads her out of the store.  They walk through the city together, taking main roads again.
“Time for food.”  Kinzie turns, signs and talks at Elle.
“Food?”  Elle blinks.
Kinzie stops and laughs.  “Yeah.  It helps me think more clearly.  Thinking clearly helps keep me alive.  Staying alive beats the alternative.”
“Why did you save some of the salvage?”  Elle asks.
“You noticed that?  I'll get a better price at the market for that stuff I saved than Cedrick could give me.”
Elle nods.
They stop at a food stall.  Kinzie orders them food.  The whole time, the man behind the counter is smirking at them.
They sit down on a set of stairs and eat.  “This food is amazing!”  Elle exclaims.
“That's because you're hungry.”
Elle shakes her head.  /No./  She signs while chewing.  “No.  It's not just that.  It's amazing.”
Kinzie shrugs.  “Food helps me think clearly.  Great food turns my thoughts into swords.”


Forgetting, Dreaming and Climbing

“Finally, one of these broken men talks to Adam.  The man tells Adam about the flower of immortality at the top of the mountain.  Adam laughs and tells the man that he only seeks the summit, the challenge of climbing.  He has no need for a magic flower.  All his life he has answered to other people.  All his life he has been a servant to laws, traditions, wives, mothers, fathers, bosses, children and grandchildren.  Now he wants to carve the rest of his life out for himself.”  Inky moves on to sorting big chunks of wood and you begin digging a fire pit.
“Adam climbs the mountain for a week.  Each day he encounters one hundred people, all of them coming down.  Each day one of the hundred stops to talk.  The talkers all tell of the impossibility of getting the flower.  On the night of the seventh day of his climb, he knows the next day he will summit and swears to himself that he will get the flower.”


Page 20

Through the window, Kinzie signs at her.  /Hey.  Come here./
Elle walks through the side door.  The store has a smell she can't place.  Not bad.  Not good either.  Odd.  Distinct.
“Cedrick.  This is my friend Elle.”  Kinzie slows her signing down.
Cedrick nods.  /Nice to meet you./
Elle holds her breath and signs back. /Nice to meet you./
He turns to Kinzie and begins signing quickly.  Elle catches that there is a question about her.  Maybe where she is from?  Kinzie signs back with equal speed.  All she catches is the signs for meet and friend.
They look at her again.  Cedric signs and Kinzie translates.  “You look familiar.  Have we met before?”
“No.  I mean, I don't think so.”
“But you're not sure?”
“I'm sure I don't remember meeting you.”
Cedric and Kizie exchange a look.
“And where are you from?”
“I… I don't know.”
Cedric nods and starts signing again with Kinzie.  More about Elle and then several times a sign that looks like little wings sprouting from their shoulders is exchanged back and forth.  When they turn back to Elle, she copies the wings sign and furrows her eyebrows.
“Angel.”  Kinzie says.


Flower, Flower on the Wall

You've come to a small clearing.  Inky leans against a tree and begins to roll up a cigarette.  “Want to hear the story?”
“Which one?”  You motion that you also want to smoke.
He nods and begins to roll a second cigarette.  “The story of the old man who sought after eternal life, who sought the purple flower.”
“Well we found it pretty damn easy.  Nearly pissed on immortality.”  You kick a nearby log to see if it will make a sturdy seat.  Chunks of rot fly off.  You mumble and then sit down on the forest floor.
He taps the decapitated plant.  “What if the bloom avoids those who seek it out and seeks out those who avoid it?”  He fires up the lighter and hands you one of the burning cigarettes.
"Then I'd say it reminds me of some bitchy girlfriends I've had."
Inky begins his story.


Page 19

/Follow me./  Kinzie signs.  Elle sighs and walks behind.
When they turn on to a major road full of people, Elle nods.  “I was starting to think this whole town was made of alleys.”  She looks at Kinzie’s back.  “I know you can't hear me.”
After a few blocks the buildings change from residential to storefronts.  Elle looks up.  The upper stories are still apartments.  The street level are stores.
Kinzie turns right into an alley.
“Finally.”  Elle says.
Kinzie turns around.  “I'm going inside.  I'll wave you in when things are good.”  She walks through a side door.
Through the window, Elle watches Kinzie walk up to the store owner and start signing.  The middle aged, white haired man signs back at her.  Their conversation becomes a dance in Elle’s eyes and what few signs she knows lose their meaning and become movement.
A middle aged woman is talking to someone else.  A scavenger.  He's handing the woman electronic parts.  A teenaged boy.  The woman is handing him cash.  He scowls at everyone.  Kinzie.  The two shop owners.  Her.  It takes Elle a moment to figure out the boy is scowling at her, too.  He exits the shop through the side door and deliberately walks into her with his shoulder.
Elle yields and says nothing.  Watches him walk away.


There I Go, Up on the Roof Again

“What are you doing?”
“Looking at the roof.”  He points.
“Ah.  Is mom sleeping up there again?”
“No.  She's awake.”
Rolling down the driver side window, you poke your head out and see your mother up on the roof, staring off into the distance.  “Hey mom!”  She blinks and plays with her hair.  “Nin!”  She brings her knees in close to her chest.  “We're going for a ride.  We'll be back...”  You shift your voice down several notches and glance at your brother.  “When are we coming back?”
In a most unhelpful and serene voice, Inky replies.  “Depends on how long we stay.”
You snort quietly then lift your eyes back up to your mother.  “Yeah, so… We'll be back soon.  Love you.”