Over the Hedge
Time Warp, Part Eighteen
It took me a minute to get my bearings, but once I did I realized we were a few blocks away from the shop. My hand slipped away from the woman’s, but when I turned back to check I realized they were still there.
“Can everyone see you?” I asked. He nodded.
“Well. They see something,” she said with a shrug. “They know you’re talking to a person. Who they see is another question entirely. Do you know who they’re seeing?” she asked, turning to the man. He signed again, and she whispered “ooooh” before turning back to me. “He does, but it’s different for everyone.”
“And he knows what they all see?” He nodded. “How?”
“You’re going to Nan and Sergei’s yes?” the woman said as she began walking in the direction of the shop. The man and I quickly caught up and continued. “None of our names are arbitrary, you know. King and Queen are because we functionally rule over the Metaphysical Realm, and it was easier for him.”
“Huginn and Muninn are appropriate names because they more or less reflect what we do. Muninn,” she said, jamming a thumb to point in his direction, “is memory. Literally, well, as close to literally as we are anything. He remembers everything every mortal has ever known.”
“And that makes you Huginn, thought, right?” She nodded.
“Thought is more fluid, more lively. I bring the spark, the flow, the energy and vibrancy and life to the Realm. He gives it form and structure.”
“Look, we’re trying to make sense of Hecate and what she’s planning. Can you tell me anything about that?”
“We could tell you everything about that.”
“Not a word.”
“Why not?” I stopped, blowing on my hands and then shoving them into my coat pockets. The Two stopped as well, turning to me. Huginn sighed.
“This story is bigger than you know. It’s more important. It must play out a certain way. We can nudge to keep it on track, but even we cannot spoil or change it. If you knew,” she said, walking over and placing her hands on my cheeks. My entire body suddenly felt warm, as if we had traded January in for July, “oh, if you knew.” She shook her head and lowered her hands. “There is no way it can play out as it needs to if you know the answers too soon. But, I promise, it will all make sense. You’ll see.” She turned away and took a couple steps toward the shop, and he did the same.
“Will it hurt?” I asked. They both stopped and looked at each other, then back to the sidewalk.
“Some more than others. Come, Nan’s porridge will thicken too much if she leaves it hot for you much longer.”
“I thought he was memory?” I asked, catching up. He pointed to a nearby awning, and when I looked I saw the Ravens perched and watching us.
“He is everyone else’s memory, Jackie. But I have watched this play out before, and I will likely watch it play out again.”
“So this is a cycle? Does it keep happening?”
“Not for you. And not for the world. But we are not bound by time, and flow through it in our own way, on a path that you cannot begin to track.”
“But…you must know, if you see everything, about the meeting—”
“We agree not to watch your meeting, if you agree not to give anything away.”
“What would I give away?” She smiled.
“You’ll know by then.”
“The Fates, they said the beginning hadn’t happened yet, and that time was more complicated than I knew. Were they talking about you?”
“In a sense. But mostly in the way people are frequently talking about us without knowing it.” We stopped in front of the shop, and I looked them over again. “We have one more gift for you.” She held out her hand. “Please, let me see the thread.” I hesitated, then reached into my hair and removed the golden thread from the Fates.
“What do you want with it?”
“To help you.” I took a deep breath, and decided then and there to trust her. I handed her the thread, and she formed it into a circle. “You have been entrusted with a great gift. You cannot risk it falling out of your care.” She held it up directly in front of my face, pausing over my brown eye. There was a flash, and I recoiled. It took me a moment to clear my head, but when I did, I saw the thread was gone.
“What have you done with it?” I demanded. She pointed past me, and I turned around. In the window of the shop, I saw my reflection. There, in my brown eye, were the golden flecks. “It was good to talk, Jackie. We’ll see you again soon.”
“My soon, or yours?”
“I don’t know yet,” she said, then gave a weak smile before they both vanished. I watched the spot where they had been for a moment, then took a deep breath and reached for the door.
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