I left that evening with a cookie wrapped in a napkin, sugar crystals gritty beneath the polished paper surface. Each breath tasted of honey and nectar, and I couldn't imagine eating anything that had been further sweetened. We had drunk mead with our dinner--a large but not dense salad accompanied by homemade bread. It had not soaked up enough of the alcohol and the clear glasses of water we had shared afterward had not completely cleared my head.
The sidewalk seemed to wink at me, flares of crystals that had floated to the top of the dull matrix. I wasn't stumbling, but I was humming to myself and thinking about sunshine, floating toward home without clear purpose. She fell into step beside me, dressed as if she'd just come from the office and smelling like refrigerated air.
Startled awake, I glanced over at her. "They told me that it was time to shake up the department," Fate stated. "They didn't tell me that you lived with the woman who destabilized an entire level of management before leaving for greener pastures."
"Is that an apology? I'm not really in the mood to care about them tonight."
"You're not? You smell like you've fallen into a florist's storage cabinet and I heard that you were both interested in the flowers that they keep behind the glass. I grew up around here, I've heard about The Pollen and The Sting. Don't you have a booth in there?"
She yawned and I noticed that her head was canted back, as if her neck had grown tired of its weight. Must take a lot out of you to spend days trying to determine which employees were goofing off enough to warrant firing.
"Take me to lunch tomorrow. I'm out at noon, after the last exit interview." Fate continued on from me, not looking back to see where I turned or if I grabbed a bus at night. I wanted to call my mom and talk about the evening, but I realized that she'd never accept what I was about to do. If there was a way out of the Garden, there also had to be a way back in. Maybe my human side would be enough to keep me safe.