The Bravest Pair
Everyone thought I was crazy when I took a Tyrolese calf as my Pairing, but as soon as his mother delivered him, I knew I wanted him to follow me for life. I was twelve, and he was the most adorable calf I’d ever seen.
“Addison,” my father said, “nobody Pairs with cows. Don’t you want a shepherd or a falcon? Something…tougher?”
I just shook my head at him, and carried a steaming bucket of milk out to my Pair. He was all doe eyes and oblong ears and the sweet smell of hay. With his grey coat still damp from delivery, and his black nose searching out the smell of milk, he seemed more like a large dog than a cow.
He lowed once, a long and plaintive sound that made me bury my fingers in his wooly baby coat while he sucked on the fingers of my other hand, leaving them slimy and red. He slurped the milk from the metal bucket, and fell asleep on my lap.
The Magi Paired us the next day. I had to demand it, so out of the ordinary was the match. My peers chose more typical guardians: dogs, cats, birds of prey. Dogs for their loyalty, cats for their cunning, and eagles for the swiftness of wings. And there I stood with my big-eyed knobby-kneed calf. The other kids laughed, but I was proud. I named him Asher, and the Magi made him my Pair, my guardian. continue reading…
The Price of Love
It was a bright sunny afternoon. Junior, my older brother, picked me up and swung me round and round until I begged to be let down. We laughed so hard that we fell into the grass, clutching our sides. Junior sat up, his tinny ringtone sounding from his pocket.
“Yo, girl, what you calling me for?” he said, winking at me. I watched the happiness drain from his face as he turned his attention to the person on the phone. “No … I’ll take care of it … I said I’d handle it. Later.”
At seven years old, I didn’t understand this side of my brother. He may have been twelve years older than me, but he was always kind. More a father figure than a brother. Daddy was old when he and Mommy brought Junior into the world. He was almost seventy when I came along: the accident. Junior never hesitated to step in. He taught me how to throw a baseball. And how not to be afraid to catch one too. He was ready with Bactine for a scrapped knee, or a kiss on the forehead when I had a fever.
Junior stood up and shoved the phone into his front pocket. Gravity pulled his shoulders down to the ground. He kicked at the grass a little. I got to my feet immediately, grabbed his hand.
“I’ll go with you, Junior,” I said.
“Not this time,” he squeezed my fingers and then released them. continue reading…
The Fixed Sign
‘I’m terribly sorry,’ he said. ‘I don’t quite know how I managed—‘
‘Hush, Taurus,’ I said. ‘It’s all right.’
‘It’s not all right. It’s embarrassing.’ He pawed at the ground furiously. ‘I can just imagine how that damned crab will be, Aquarius.’
Curious, I turned to him. ‘How so?’
‘Please can you hurry? It’s awfully hard on this—this—‘
‘Ground,’ I say. ‘That’s what they call it. And I can’t help you until Orion gets here, so you’d do best to humour me. I don’t like being down here any more than you, you know.’
‘You could have sent Sirius,’ he said. continue reading…