A Fine Juncture

black and white spider

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She had to find the necklace, before the guards came into the room. She knew her mother had hidden it somewhere, trying to be clever, but wanting it close to where her mother spent the majority of her days.  There was an ornate chair by the fireplace, where her mother held counsel with the frequent visitors.  She brushed her hand under the cushions and into the crevices of the chair but no necklace.

She stood still for a moment. THINK KATE THINK she scolded herself. She sat down in the chair. She could smell her mother’s perfume…strong clove notes and an underlying slight stench of rotting leaves. Katy looked about the room, lingering on the bed in the far corner and the various trunks and chest of drawers. There was a large standing bird cage by the near window, the window panes grimy with fingerprints and smeared nose prints. Were people looking in, or trying to get out? She wasn’t sure she wanted to know. There was something moving in the bird cage.

She went to the bird cage, and then stepped back as something came out of the woven basket enclosure at the bottom. It was a black furred Snerral, about the size of a large pear, with more legs than usual and large unblinking eyes. It peered up at her.

“Hello you,” she said. “Aren’t you a lovely boy.” She tried to keep her voice from shaking.

If  only Malicson were here, she thought. He had no fear of small crawling creatures, even ones with fangs, like Snerrals. But Malicson had created a diversion to get her into this room and her mother out of it and this might be her only chance.

She felt around in her skirt pockets and pulled out a small piece of dried meat. She tore it into little pieces and began to drop them into the cage. As the Snerral ate each one she’d drop another. She opened the door of the bird cage.

I can’t even conceive that I am doing this, she thought and slowly moved her right hand into the cage, near the Snerral. She stood motionless as the Snerral moved slowly to her hand and then one leg after another climbed onto the back of her hand. Its coarse fur scratched her skin and inwardly she shuddered. She slowly pulled her hand out of the cage and moved her hand to the window sill and rested it there.  She took her left hand and reached into the cage, feeling under the enclosure. Her hand closed around a metal object and she pulled out a dangling necklace, a dark blue large stone glowing from the pendant.

She felt the Snerral moving and then a sharp pain in her right hand. It had bitten her. She thrust the hand back into the cage, shaking the Snerral off and slamming the door shut. Her hand was throbbing and she felt light headed.

Malicson where are you, she thought and dropped to her knees. She slipped the necklace into the bodice of her dress, between her breasts, and swayed back and forth. The room was blurry. Oh this is a fine juncture, she thought.

She could hear steps in the hallway outside the room and then the carved wood door opened. Malicson  was standing in the doorway.


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