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.
Birke continued to explore Canby's downtown. on the main street, he passed a butcher’s shop, a seamstress' shop, and a bookstore. then he reached a hardware store with a hiring sign in the window.
upon entering the hardware store, Birke was pleasantly greeted by a stocky man. their conversation flowed easily. when the owner emerged from an aisle and walked closer to greet Birke, his enthusiasm faltered as his gaze went to Birke’s shoe. the employee’s gaze followed and he frowned as well.
“no,” said the owner. “my customers know where I stand. I can’t hire you.”
Birke left, unsettled, and glanced at the splatter of silver on his shoe. he thought he had been careful while melting mirrors with Ashton, so he hadn’t given a second thought about his shoes.
a thin man walked by, nodded in greeting, and then stopped a few feet away and turned toward him. a nervousness flittered behind the man's deep brown eyes, and dark patches rested beneath them, but the man noticeably relaxed in Birke's presence.
“Birke!” said the man, with a smile. it was a smile Birke recognized; though the man's light beige skin was recovering from a sunburn, and his wavy dark brown hair had become long and tangled, it would take more than that for Birke to forget the face of someone from his mountain village. “didn’t think I’d see you around here! heard you left the village after-”
“no need to be so formal, Al’s fine. so, you sticking around? we could always use more help.” he smiled. “there are two Houses now, which keep us busy. or, if you want, you can help out Crafting. you were always good with metal, right?”