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[Some years later]


There ain't no rest for the wicked,
Money don't grow on trees,
I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed,
There ain't nothing in the world for free,
Oh, I can't slow down, I can't hold back,
Even though I wish I could,
Oh, there ain't no rest for the wicked,
Until we close our eyes for good.


Used t'be onna m'fav'rite songs t'dance to, back'n m'kootch days. Zann gave me a present last Christmas, a music player she'd got workin' anna disc she'd made 'a songs she knew I liked. It's sittin' onna cloth next t'me on th'sand, playin' quiet but still loud 'nough fer me t'hear. Takes me right back, hearin'is duz, annit's funny list'nin' t'it here'n now.

Don't never get tired'a seein' th'ocean, no matter how many times we come up th'coast. Spent th'early years'a m'life seein' nothin' but stone'n steel, smellin' nothin' but smoke, hearin' nothin' but machin'ry 'n breakin' glass...t'stand'ere, lookin' out over th'shinin' water, smellin' th'salt, hearin' th'waves, like a dragon breathin'. Remember Nanshe tellin' me't my element wuz water, an'I think mebbe when'm too old t'travel 'd like t'live somewhere near th'sea, somewhere I c'n always hear't, feel't.

Sadie's doin' a way better job 'n charge'n I thought she ever would. All th'energy she used t'put inta sneerin'n back-bitin's now goin' t'finances, organizin'. Seems like she's found'er niche. Know'ere wuz some't thought I'd take th'reins, back when we first started out, but I knew better. One week'a dealin' wit' th'money an' th'ruddy townies an'd be runnin' fer th'hills. No, 'm happy where I am, doin' what I do. 'm a far better witch'n 'd ever be'n admin'strator.

Genny'n Zann've both grown inta fine young women, strong'n sens'ble. Genny misses'er ma, I know, but she's also provin' a fine ma t'Nu, who's growin' like a ruddy weed. Already readin', pickin' up thin's 'bout'er his'try. Don't think't'll be much longer 'fore she's pretty much 'membered't all.

Find m'self thinkin' ovvit all more'n more 's th'years go by. That night by th'river, callin' th'storm wit' Hermia, that bright, joyful song ringin' m'ears's th'rain poured down. Course, what came after wuzza lot less happy. Don't know how much blood m'knife spilled, how many bellies'n throats't opened, ain't even sure how many ovvem wuz human. Saw th'sheriff go down guns blazin', saw a white horse run by witta bloodstained saddle, remember callin' waves'n foam up from th'river, drownin' summa th'beasts on land, trappin' others'n mud, roots...all b'comes a blur after a while. Woke up'n th'brothel, tucked under a blanket, mornin' sun shinin' through th'windows an' th'tower'n ruins. 't wuz done.

Take a last, slow drag on m'cig, breathin'n smoke'n salt. Yeah, I think lots 'bout 'at last fight...but I think 'bout th'rest too. We ain't been back t'Excolo since'en, annit's funny, after havin' lived'ere fer so long. Funny t'miss't. I miss Nanshe. Miss Simon. Miss Verdi an' m'twins an' Tess an' Glass. Miss a lotta people. And God fuckin' help me, I still miss Tez, even after ev'rythin'e put me through. An'I 'member meetin' "Caldwell" 'n th'tavern. S'funny too, thinkin' ovvit now. Di'n't really consider't then, but I understand now, I think. Y'take comfort where y'c'n find't, an' y'find people who understand whatcha been through 'n weird places.

Scoop wet sand from th'beach 'n bury th'cigarette butt. Th'silver case's still in m'pocket. Song's changed now...norm'lly I don't like songs I can't dance to, but'is one...ain't really gotta tune 'r beat t'it, but if'n I had t'pick one song t'hear't th'end, likely be'is one.

They drive along the pipeline,
They tango till they're sore,
They take apart their nightmares
And they leave them by the door.

Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair,
Deal out jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs,
I'll tell you all my secrets but I lie about my past,
So send me off to bed forever more.


Sigh heavy'n heave m'self up. Got work t'do 'fore sun goes down, lots'a stuff on th'beach y'can't get nowhere else. Shells 'n bones t'dig up, weeds t'gather'n dry. Always more t'do, an' ain't no one gonna do't but me.

Ain't no rest fer th'wicked, after all.

[CLOSED]

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