He should have waited until his eyes could open up proper. They still stung and streamed when he finally wheedled his way out of Lina and Tessa’s determined care and into the sultry heat of the summer night. What the blazes were a pair of children and their elf doing with all that pollen anyhow? When Geffy told him, bold as brass, what part of a boy tree that was, he about called for Lina to douse him with a few more buckets of water. His skin itched as much for a bath as it did with the horrid puffy pain of the gritty orange gunk.
“Papa? Why’re we going to the shop? Mrs. Robson said you should rest.”
“Well, Mrs. Robson told me to do a few things now. Reckon I’d best do them in order.”
Geffy frowned up and said, “I think she meant the part about resting the most.”
Brent rumpled his hair and took another dab at his puffy eyes. “Reckon she did.” He let the boy tug him back up the hill to their house. After a bit, he asked, “Geffy pup?”
His boy craned his neck to say, “Yep?”
“Ever made sad glass before?”
“Glass ain’t sad, Papa.”
“If you could, what would it look like?”
Geffy trotted along for a bit, then said, “Tears look like glass.”
Brent gave his shoulder a squeeze, “Reckon so, lad.” The silence stretched as the lightening bugs swirled their lazy way through the fields. Brent leaned against the fence and watched while Geffy saw to his new pony and the romping dogs. He was a lucky sod in that boy, Brent thought to himself. At that age, Brent had been liable to forget his new pets after the novelty wore off, but Geffy seemed more responsible, so long as schedules were followed. He had Mellie’s sense of a day’s rhythm and what needed done when. She’d be right proud of him.
Geffy asked as he brushed Cookie’s spotted side, “Papa? Why don’t you love Mrs. Jane anymore?”
Brent startled a bit to say, “I still love her, son.”
“Pup, we talked about it. Mrs. Jane and I weren’t the one right person for each other, that’s all. Don’t mean either of us is bad, or don’t care about each other. Just means we shouldn’t get married. When you love someone, you do what’s best for them.”
“But she’s sad. You’re sad. That’s not good.”
Brent squirmed. Damn it but Lina was right about the pony not fixing squat. Perhaps two ponies? He could feel Lina’s glare from across Snowflood. “Man up, Brent,” he thought to himself, and knelt to be eye level with Geffy.
“Are you sad, son?”
“Yeeeeeah….” Tarnation, there went the wobbly chin. What would Lina do?
“Well… look, son. It’s all right to be sad when things don’t work out, all right? I’m right sorry I put you through all that.”
Geffy snuffled into Cookie’s mane, “Can’t you just marry her anyway?”
Brent messed up his hair, feeling more an arse by the minute. “Well now, what if I did that, then the man who was all the way perfect for her showed up? It’d be sort of mean, knowing we were only half right for each other and making it so she couldn’t have someone better.”
Geffy squirmed and said, “I reckon. So am I not right to be her little boy?”
Brent dredged up a smile from somewhere and said, “You’re just perfect. A lass can have but one husband, see, but she can have lots and lots of little boys and girls. Reckon you can do lots to help her feel less sad. Maybe you can keep an eye out for the one lucky fellow who’s right enough to marry her, eh?”
“Like Tessa does for her ma?”
Drat. Drat, drat, drat… “Well, not that much. Just… er… keep her company, like. Show her what you make. Don’t blow pollen on her.” He waggled his brows, and Geffy giggled.
“I won’t, Papa. You go rest now like Mrs. Robson said.”
“Fair enough, lad. You be sure you give the pups their roast legs now.”
A few days later, Nellina would come back to her kitchen to find two items set up on the windowsill.
First, a glittering thing with no discernible function besides weighting papers and gathering dust. Its shape resembles a heart, but it spikes and bristles with a thousand sharp fragments of glass. Some bits are clear, some iridescent, some faintly blue, some smoked, but the lot of them were set into the underlying cloudy center edge-on rather than smoothly. It’s on a bit of leather so it can be moved without touching the razor-sharp points, and it’s set well out of Tessa’s reach. The sun throws rainbows from it in all directions and it looks for all the world like snow and ice.
Second, there’s a molded glass pony. It’s a beautifully made piece with white socks and a blaze on its chestnut brown coat. The glass strands of its mane and tail are braided with magenta flowers, and there is a matching wreath around its neck. One forehoof is raised and it looks up with apologetic glass eyes, biting its lower lip at the viewer in a truly sheepish fashion.
Someone must have spent the better part of a day on each piece, and not his commissions.