“Welcome back you two! You’re back earlier than I thought you’d be,” said Grendt, not looking away from the stove.
“I got too tired t’keep going,” said Brona, sliding each of her shoes off using only her feet.
“Ey, Brona, shoes,” barked Grendt, somehow knowing that Brona left her shoes in front of the doorway without having to look back.
“It was a fruitful day nonetheless,” replied Callum with a smile, picking up Brona’s shoes and placing them to the side of the entryway. “Have some bad news though, Grendt. It looks like the Tasker has changed again.” That comment was enough to turn Grendt’s head towards them. “I’ll tell you about it after dinner,” said Callum. Grendt nodded, turning her head more to look around him. She counted the number of plates on the table and mused, “Should we invite Brian?”
“Who’s Brian,” cut Callum.
“Oh. I forgot to tell you, I have a new Blood projection named Brian now,” said Brona, suddenly squeezing her fists and looking constipated.
A larger man wearing a purple sweater over a white button-up appeared. Brian looked first at Brona, noting she didn’t require anything from him, and advanced towards Callum who stood wide-eyed. “Pleasure,” said Brian, producing what Brona thought was a genuine smile and extending a hand to Callum. Callum let out a tense breath and shook Brian’s hand, “Sorry about that, I’m not used to Blood Projections aside from Grendt. When you don’t expect it, it can be shocking to have a person just appear in front of you like that.” Callum pulled a chair open for Brian, “Please, take this seat. I’ll help myself to another plate in the cupboards.”
Brian accepted the chair and sat beside Brona with a soft smile. “How are you feeling, Brona? Do you need me to leave?”
Brona felt a cold sweat start to form but tried to muster her inner politician and lie to Brian, but the truth spilled from her lips before she could register her own actions, “I feel sick. I’m sorry, Brian…”
“Nothing to apologize for, dear,” said Brian, who gripped Brona’s hand in a brief tight squeeze. Brona felt the warmth of his hand long after he’d left.
“Oh? Why’d he go?” said Callum returning with a fourth plate.
“I can’t have Brian with me like I have Grendt. Brian makes me tired.”
“That’s normal. That’s normal, right, Grendt?” said Callum, looking back towards the kitchen.
“Totes norm. Eat your dinner Brona,” said Grendt, placing the steaming pasta on the table. She opened a bottle of wine to share with Callum and poured a tiny amount in a side glass for Brona. Brona was still getting used to the sharp taste of wine and the way it left her breathless after the first gulp. She didn’t understand what was so enjoyable about it or why adults liked to have it with their dinner. If you wanted to feel winded, why not just jog before supper time?
No one spoke anymore after Grendt’s story. Not because they were poor conversationalists (especially not Callum) but because the information overload of the day had to be processed. Callum’s eating pace came to a crawl, taking him nearly twenty minutes to finish the last dill potato on his plate while his mind revelled in all the new data.
Feeling it in her bones, Brona knew she would be sleeping well tonight. Although the Giant was still at the front of her mind, her anxiety was quelled by the people around her. For sure, Grendt could be selfish, arrogant, difficult, devious, deceptive, closed-off, unreliable, and obstreperous at times, however she knew when to turn off that character and tend to others. And Callum had proven many times that he would go to every length to keep Brona safe and happy. If the Giant stepped on the house right now, at least Brona’s life had worth to others. The world could hate her and it still wouldn’t matter. She had all the friends she needed.
Callum tapped his index finger against the table.
“Why do you keep doing that?” pointed Brona. “You’ve been doing it all day.”
“Task Letter,” said Callum.
“Its gonna cut your feet off if I don’t tap my index finger against something every three minutes.”
Brona nodded. Good reason to keep tapping his finger then.