Ashes of the Fallen(A deleted scene)

“Gliese?” Auriga whispered. Gliese moaned, it was too early to be awake. “Gliese!”

“Mmh?”

“Let’s do something today?” Auriga pounced on top of her. Gliese rubbed her eyes with the palm of her hands.

“Like what?”

“Let’s go the to marketplace!”

“Uhm, okay?”

“It’s the Eighth day, the flea-market is open. I want to see if we can find something for the new place.”

“New place?” Gliese peeled open her left eye.

“I found us a house. We can move in together… if you want?” Gliese shot up, which caused Auriga to tumble backwards onto Gliese’s legs.

“Really?” Gliese asked. Auriga nodded. She was conflicted: one the one hand, Auriga; one the other, everything else that was wrong. If the Insurgency came after her, and Auriga got caught in the middle, she wouldn’t forgive herself. Auriga was able to take care of herself; the day at the lake testified that. Gliese’s stomach knotted at the memory. Could she really be with someone who killed? Did it matter, it was a thief after all? She swooped forward and embraced her. “We better get ready, the day won’t wait!” Auriga shrieked and bounced on the bed.

“Hurry up, will ya?!” Auriga said as she jumped off the bed. Gliese hadn’t seen her so excited. The market opened every Eighth day, and Gliese wasn’t sure why she was so anxious to get there.

“Hold on! It’s not like it’s gonna shut down forever.” Gliese paused. “It isn’t, right?”

“Of course not, silly.”

“Then why the rush?”

“It’s my first time.” Auriga shied her face away and rubbed her forearm. Gliese giggled then got up and grabbed her coat. They walked down the busy road, hand in hand, to the marketplace. Auriga swooped up and down the columns of stalls, and browsed through everything. The couple strolled through a second time once Auriga calmed.

“We must get home again,” Gliese said as she looked at the setting sun.
“Just five more minutes, okay?” Auriga tugged on Gliese’s arm and pulled her toward a stall with several types of pottery. Gliese picked up an old, white vase with blue ink drawings and decoration.

“How much for this?“ she asked the stall-keeper in a platonic tone. Her cycles in the cities taught her not to show retailers any excitement; that was when they took advantage and hiked the price up, sometimes two-fold.

“Ten,” The stall-keeper replied. Auriga stared at Gliese as she paid the human.

“What?” Gliese saw Auriga’s expression on the way back.

“You were the one who didn’t see the point in coming here, and now you buy that piece of junk?”

“This, dear, is an authentic vase from humanity’s ancient culture; the Tang Dynasty. It’s priceless!”

“It looks like crap,” Auriga scoffed. “But, it’s your doom…”

Gliese placed the vase on the mantle above the fire-screen and climbed into bed next to Auriga.

“It fits right in with this run-down Old Cottage.” Gliese nudged at her. Auriga laughed at her attempt to convince her of the vase.

“Nice try, but no. It’s not coming with us when we move. You can keep it in the Library,” Auriga said.

On the great oak desk, it went. Gliese stepped back to admire it. Perfect. As she turned to start the day’s chores, a litter of younglings burst into the Library, passing by the desk. Gliese held her breath until the danger subsided, fortune had it and none of them knocked the vase off. Like a new parent, she hurried to coddle it when her foot snagged on the corner of the carpet that had come loose the day before. She fell forward and raised her arms to brace for impact but she had overestimated the distance between her and the desk.

Her hand bumped against the rim of the vase and slid down as she fell further. Her chest hit the ground in a muffled bump and along with her, the vase met the floor. She hesitated to look at the damage done. A loud breath of relief was forced through her nose when she found it had not shattered. The prop that closed the vase, however, came off and lay a couple of feet away. Gliese sat up and picked up the vase to peek inside. Horror filled her mind and she dropped the vase out of fright. Again, it didn’t break and out from it, sprayed the grey cloud of someone’s ashes. Who would do such a thing?! Cremation was a taboo practice, reserved only for criminals far removed from the morality of society. The last remnants of a vile being now lay spread across the carpet of the Library, tainting it with its disgusting identity.

She picked up the vase and search every inch for any indication as to whom the ashes belonged. On the bottom of the vase, scratched into the porcelain, was a name. No last name, date of birth and death; nothing but a single name: Herta. Gliese wondered what she had done that deserved such ill treatment of her body? She scooped up as much of the ash as possible when she recovered from the initial surprise and poured it back into the vase. She got up and placed the vase in the large drawer on the left side of the desk and retrieved a hand-held vacuum.

“Sorry, Herta. You’ll have to make do without whatever these were.” She flipped the switch and sucked up the powder. Auriga should not find out about it; she would never let Gliese forget her prophecy of the vase.

“Hey, you!” said a soft voice. Gliese jumped.

“Auriga!”

“Yes,” She giggled. “Why so surprised?”

“I… just didn’t expect you, is all.” Gliese wound up the chord and shoved the machine under the desk.

“So where’s your priceless vase then?”

“It had a crack so I sent it to get fixed.” Gliese tried to hide the sweat of her palms.

“That’s a shame. It would look perfect here as is. Then, when you least expect it, shatter all over your keyboard.” She giggled louder. “Come on, then? Show me your Littjamas suggestions!” She tugged on Gliese’s sleeve. It was Littjamas already?!

Read OF BEASTS AND MEN…