Bloomsday, 14 Vernuz

Earned 39 / Spent 5

Savings 18,269

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Foist and I plot and plan.  Our letters to each other have never been exchanged so frequently.  Volatus, the mail man, noticed the change in me and wondered if I’m now writing to two women, three maybe?

‘You won’t have to haul my letters much longer, Volatus,’ I said, snatching the envelopes out of his hand. ‘In a few months, I’ll be gone.’

He blinked. ‘You’re leaving Capital Hill?’

‘I’m leaving Kernel,’ I said, and closed the door.

Foist is excited.  Her words tremble on the page, or is that just my eyes?  She’s thrilled to be leaving Metrodon, where she’s lived for too long, and that she will see and experience something new.

I unrolled a huge map across the floor.  Hundreds of miles away, I knew that Foist was doing the same.  We traced invisible lines across the whole of Terrene, from Kernel to Metrodon and beyond, moving east, east, across mountain ranges and continents, across rivers and oceans and islands.

But it got too hard to understand one another, in our long, rambling letters.  We talked as though we could look through one another’s eyes.  We misunderstood each other, wasting paragraphs, and started scrawling ungainly maps and diagrams onto scraps of paper to fill the void in our understanding. 

Then I was at the Union distribution centre, waiting for the next packet to deliver (the Queen over in Torment has prepped PMU for an alarming number of impending pick-ups and runs) and Steph Jarvie came to me, expression unreadable, to say, ‘Brineline.  For you.’

The brineline.  It hadn’t sung in a week, and it’s never sung for me.  I climbed the steps to the overseer’s office and found the door open, Grouter leaning back in his chair with his eyebrows raised.  Written all over his gnomic face was some emotion, or mischief, and as always I couldn’t quite read him.  He pointed to the brineline receiver, which was out the pool and waiting.

Silently I picked up the receiver and peeled back its petals.  The veins were wet and pulpy in my hand, and the cord dropped on my feet and the floor.  I’d never used the expensive brineline before but I knew how it worked: breathe into the hollow stem and millions of water cells unfold into a resonant crystalline formation, through which a person’s voice can carry over tremendous distances.


There was a pause.  I had no idea what to expect, but I was still surprised to hear the voice on the other end of the line.  I could almost hear her smile.

‘Hello, Reks, baby.  Let’s talk properly and finish our plan, shall we?’

Foist.  I hadn’t heard her voice, except in my head, for months.

I smiled.

‘Let’s,’ I breathed.