Monday, May 14, 2001
The air seemed lighter in the suite.
Cya had felt the ghost leave – they all had, she thought. The thing had sighed out of their lives with a remember and a sort of smug, self-satisfied feeling that it didn’t really seem like she’d earned.
Zita was safe with Sheba and seemed happy. Howard might not like the collar (what collar? All he had was a flower in his hat) but he and Magnolia were happy together. Leo was – well, Leo was almost Leo again, and he was doing pretty well with Aviv.
All the major problems of the year had been solved. It looked like even Lily had gotten rescued by an irate Arnbjörg and a very amused Jaya. Cya had seen the aftermath – Rand spewing blood from his nose and sputtering as he was escorted to Dr. Caitrin’s. It was the sort of satisfying finish that a book ought to have.
That left her with only a couple major considerations to deal with.
She looked around the racks in the back of the Store. She didn’t have long – Dysmas had gone back to being clingy recently, and while she liked the attention, it did mean she had to plan her private time very carefully – but she absolutely needed to pick exactly the right yarn for Zita’s baby present.
She hadn’t knit much, but she had three books on knitting and she was willing to keep trying until she got it right. And, in one of the oddest things to happen all year, when she’d mentioned to Shahin, who seemed to want to talk to her for some reason, that she wanted to make something for Zita’s baby:
“Oh!” The implacable goth girl – with the coolness and un-wavering emotional chill that Cya envied – had suddenly lit up in a smile. “Knitting! If you bring some yarn and some needles over to our suite – or, no, we can come here – I have some of the most adorable baby patterns. We had a baby last year, you know.”
“I — ah. I’d heard.” Shahin smiling was like a glacier suddenly lighting on fire: Cya had no idea what to do with it and wasn’t sure it wasn’t dangerous. Still, she was only a year older than Cya, and her questionable taste in friends aside, didn’t seem awful. “If you’re willing, I’d like to learn how to knit. I think ZIta would like that.”
“Almost everyone does,” Shahin had confided in a conspiratorial whisper. “Knit them something and they’ll forgive you almost anything. I knit for Ioanna’s baby.” That had seemed to be without context, but the smile was gone, and Cya decided it probably was none of her business. “I’ll come up with a few of my favorite patterns, and say — next Thursday? Thursday’s good for me.”
“Thursdays are good,” Cya had agreed, not entirely certain what was going on.
Tomorrow was Thursday, and here she was, trying to pick out the perfect yarn, the one that would make Zita happy, make the baby happy, and be right for knitting a baby sweater. How did you even knit a baby sweater? What needles did she need? How was she ever going to find something like that in this wall of yarn, and why did the Store even have this much yarn?
She put both hands over her face. “I’m an idiot,” she muttered. “I can just Find it. Can I? Does it work that way?”
Who was she asking?
“Who are you talking to?”
She turned slowly to see a skinny woman standing behind her. “Myself, I suppose. You’re… you’re Lydia, aren’t you?” She was wearing a long purple skirt and a long black tunic, and her skin had a faint hint of violet to it.
“That’s me. And you’re Cya. I heard about you, when I was-” she faltered and turned very purple around the cheeks. “That is.”
“You Kept Leo. And then you gave him to Aviv. Which seems to be the best thing any upperclassman has done for him yet this year, so, ah. Thank you.” Why had Leo been talking about her? He’d barely been coherent, from the stories she’d heard. And he’d been away from Eriko…
Cya smiled up at Lydia with an abashed look she was getting quite a bit of practice using. “I’m trying to find the perfect yarn for a baby project – for Zita,” she added, more quickly than she meant to. She wasn’t pregnant. She wasn’t going to have any little vampire-squirrel babies that bit while they nursed, no. “Shahin – she’s a Fifth Cohort, her husband is friends with, with my, with Dysmas.” What was wrong with her? “With my boyfriend. And I thought, well, I can Find things, sometimes. Like a missing door..?”
“That’s a useful skill.” Lydia’s smile was a little crooked. “Some people really win the innate power lotto. So, you were wondering if you could find the yarn that your friend Zita would like the most for her baby?”
“Yes. And… and that I could knit into a good sweater with Shahin’s help. I think that’s the only – I suppose that the baby would like, too.”
“Careful, you might find yourself finding something that’s not here. Like the One Perfect Yarn.” Lydia smiled at the idea. “I know when I start thinking about fabric, if I’m thinking about the ideal fabric, it’s going to be a hundred dollars a yard and I’ll find it in one shop in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Texas.”
Cya chuckled. “All right. So the yarn here that Zita’s baby will most like, Zita will like, and I can knit a baby jacket with.”
She closed her eyes and reached her hand out, pulling a soft, fuzzy yarn from the racks. When she opened her eyes, she found it was rainbow-hued.
“Probably two skeins,” Lydia advised. “Anything left over, you can make booties or a hat from. We all end up making something, if we’re… if we’re attached to the baby.”
Cya’s smile slid from her face. She thought about Dysmas, and about a little Dysmas baby, and she struggled to keep her expression pleasant.
“What,” she asked carefully, “do you think I should get for buttons?”
It was better to focus on the important things.