Red wakes up one morning, finding the other side of the bed empty and cold except for the dog curled up on the blankets like a furry, four-legged Ouroboros. Routinely sampling the taste and smell of the air in the cottage, she can tell Blue isn’t here, though she was when the night began. Red isn’t worried. It would be strange if a pair of renegade time agents were always at the same time and place.
She gets up without disturbing the dog, although by the time she arrives in the kitchen, the animal is awake and right at her heels, tail waving and tongue hanging out in anticipation of crumbs. This seems to be the way of dogs, in this time-between-times untouched by her Agency. She always liked non-Agency dogs better for not being quite too perfect. It feels more right for the wag of the tail not to be regulated by precise angular measurements and atomic clocks.
There is no message in the kitchen that she can perceive as she puts the kettle on for tea. But in the living room / craft room / sitting room / whatever they feel like calling it each moment, she finds the multicoloured shock of yarns Blue was knitting into a shawl last night, now unravelled and spread out in intricate patterns to spell out a letter.
My love, my cherry, my ladybird on a poppy petal,
it begins, and Red reads on, winding the yarns back into tidy balls as she deciphers the letter, storing it in her mind.
The roots of my violets and the leaves of my lavender tell me of vines which don’t belong in this land, in this bridge of in-between that is ours. These seem to originate from Strand 14B, where I know my side has been a little too active of late. Not to worry, for I don’t think they’re so close they would find us. The signs would be different, stronger, if they were. But, as we know, it’s better to keep them that way, so I’ve gone to investigate, to cut the threads that could lead them here, and to make sure our defenses stay intact.
I don’t expect much trouble, but I will send you a note in one of the usual ways if I need any assistance. Do keep an eye out for signs from your side, just in case.
Please take the dogs out for a good, long walk. I only had time to take them out to the yard for a moment so that you won’t have to wake up to less-than-rosy smells in the house. But you know how restless they get without their good long walk, getting to move their handsome paws through the landscape while straining at the leash the most non-metaphorically. I left most of them in the enclosed orchard, except the one that wanted to return inside and curl up next to you. I cannot blame her.
If I’m not mistaken, Strand 14B Belgium in the 22nd century has those marvellous ginger truffles that you love, so I’ll try to pick up some. Maybe I’ll also get a chance to stop by my tailor in Strand 67C. They also have the best buckwheat flour, so what would you say about some galettes for dinner? Or if that seems too laborious, I could try to pick up something ready-made from Strand 197 Egypt, in their late decopunk free state fusion kitchen era which I remember offers some unique delicious flavours which you rather appreciate. In any case, I’m sure I can get dinner taken care of, so you don’t need to go to Madame Falconnière for the eggs unless you really want to.
Love you, as always. Sorry for the mess I’ve made, but you’ve probably cleared it up as we speak, or rather, write and read.
Cashmere-silk-soft kisses from
your Blue, ever yours
Red smiles, places the now tidy balls of yarn onto the basket beside the divan, and goes to brew her tea and find a slice of pancake and some apple compote in the kitchen. She may not technically need to eat, but she cherishes her hunger and doesn’t easily forgo the chances to tend to it.
When she is done, she goes out to find the dogs. It’s time for their walk. The air outside smells sweet.
Later, when Blue returns, there are indeed truffles.