Eaton woke to the motel room aglow with the blue light of early morning. the light reflected in the silver residue on his silver-lined beige skin; anywhere his skin had touched was brushed with the silver powder. Miki slept soundly on the other side of the bed; Eaton was glad to see Miki's short and scraggly grey fur was clear of any silver. across the room, the twins slept on undisturbed. Eaton hid the silvered patches of bedding as best he could and quietly went to shower.
the twins were still sleeping when Eaton was done, so he decided to go for a walk. Miki “ro-rowled” but refused to join him, spoiled by the soft warm nest of blankets. Eaton smiled and went outside alone.
he stepped into a crisp dawn. the sun peeked at him over the distant foothills. nestled in the valley, the leafy village slept quietly. while he appreciated such peace, he looked forward to familiar streets farther west.
the quartet took to the road as the sunrise painted the sky in pinks, purples, and reds. it outlined the horizon behind them, highlighting the progress they had made the day before.
a few hours later, Eaton pulled over for a stretch break. he chose one of his favourite overlooks, with a view of a glittering blue lake surrounded by forested slopes. he saw the twins’ light beige faces light up at the vista; Kolina even closed her eyes for a moment to better soak in the mountain ambiance. Miki sniffed the air appreciatively, and looked up at Eaton - a knowing expression in his black eyes.
as Birke approached Vireo carrying a crate of supplies, he noticed someone climbing off the sailboat onto the dock. from their neat attire and the worn mahogany leather bag they carried, Birke inferred they were Calum’s doctor, whom he had never met; Birke knew Calum had been expecting another visit to check on his healing rib.
Birke set the supply crate onto the dock beside Vireo. as he leaned forward, a strand of light brown hair fell in front of his light beige face and he pushed it away.
“how’s he doing?” Birke asked the doctor. in his tiredness, the question came out in a mountain accent.
“much better,” replied the doctor. “whatever he’s doing, it’s certainly helping.”
though Birke was glad the healing tea he had made for Calum regularly over the past week was working, he only had two kinds, and one was running low. thinking of adding variety, he said: “maybe I’ll make some clover tea to-” but the doctor held up their hand.
Sadie awoke with a jolt; the person in front of her had reclined their seat farther back, right into her kneecaps. she drew her legs up and glanced to her left. though Laurel had chosen the window seat, she hadn’t put it to much use; she had been asleep beneath one of Dara's knitted blankets for the entire flight. Sadie was grateful for this, since her sister had never been able to sleep on planes; Laurel had found it difficult to sleep over the previous week, from the night the pair had first arrived at Dara and Ashton's house.
as the plane began its descent, Sadie peered past her sleeping sister, out the window. pastel clapboard homes along a winding hillside road came into view, followed by a sheer cliff dropping to churning waves. the plane flew in a gentle curve over the ocean, then inland, until tarmac was all Sadie could see. then came the feeling and thud of the plane landing on the ground.
“what’s that?” asked Laurel, groggily. she yawned and pushed strands of wavy light brown hair away from her face, revealing the network of vivid white lines on her light beige skin.
“we’re here,” said Sadie, putting her long brown hair into a bun. her light beige skin was free of shimmering lines.
Laurel squinted out the window. “so bright,” she said. “wait, where’re we going?”
“the new terminal,” said Sadie.
“oh, yeah,” said Laurel. “I guess a lot happened while I was away.” Dirigo Valley Airport’s new terminal was eight months old.
Eaton was grateful when his cabin came into view. he ushered the twins inside. Miki looked up sleepily from the couch and Eaton hurried over, kneeling beside him.
“what are your names?” he asked the twins, as he checked on Miki.
the twins stood just inside the door and looked silently around the long narrow room - dining room, kitchenette, and living room combined.
Eaton stood, retrieved the herbs from his backpack, and gathered up the mortar and pestle from beside the sink.
“you can sit, if you’d like,” he said, motioning to the small dining table.
the twins exchanged glances and continued to hover by the door.