The Trickster by Jane Downing

By Jane Downing

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Their joyful, playful flight back and forth across the firmament wove the sennit into a net that was named the sky. If anyone should doubt this history, let them watch the rain fall in drops like tears, separated by the strands of the sennit net above. And let them look at the top of each and every coconut. Can they claim not to see the little face with nose and mouth and two eyes? Many thank the gods that Tobolar was born to the good woman Limokare who had love enough to live with the wonderment of a nut that spoke.

50 pm, ten minutes before close of business, and Rosina alone graced the government office. Daniel wailed plaintively on her shoulder. He knew something was wrong. ’ Rosina’s bejewelled hand waved toward an identical low white building steps away. ‘But you must sit. ’ Joy was already sagging into a chair. Rosina imperiously took the weight of Daniel from her and clucked like a majestic mother hen. ’ ‘Just my period,’ Joy improvised quickly. Rosina gave her a knowing, comforting smile, affirming the bond of women worldwide.

No such shadowy figure lurked: there was no room with all the kids hanging off the rails, tumbling down the stairs, chipping off what paint remained. Joy counted each step in the ascent past filth, flaking walls and unintelligible graffiti. Thirty-five stairs to climb in a country where any building above the ground floor was a rarity. A woman in what could euphemistically be called the lobby was very friendly with her toothless smile, and mildly The Afghan Heat apologetic that the electricity was off.

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