Beth Bernobich‘s work isn’t what I’d classify as light reading. Nor is it difficult, simply rich with a mix of politics and the personal that will stick with you.
I committed the message and drawing to memory, then burnt the paper along with several other scribbled notes from my research. I moved with great deliberation, my emotions held in check, as I gathered my books and headed for home.
Strange, how strange, I felt. I ought to feel a sense of victory. I did, but my emotions were strangely muted, as though my mask encompassed my heart as well as my outer self. A foolish fancy, I told myself. The late hour and my long weeks of spying had affected my mood. I had spent too many months erasing myself for a better cause.
I came at last to my lodgings. Though we had left behind the darkest season of the year and stood on the verge of spring, the wind blew cold and damp through the streets, and the sun hung low in the sky, a small white disc against the expanse of gray. Two stories up, I could see the golden squares that marked the windows of our common room.
One last night here. Then I go home.
I was sick with longing to end my exile and accomplish my task.
I longed to stay in Duenne, and earn my degree.
Two contradictory desires, much like the contradiction of magic, of life followed by death and life again.
I sighed, shifted my haversack to a more comfortable position, unlocked the door, and climbed the stairs to our rooms.
Nedda and Klera sat by the hearth, toasting bread and cheese. Taavi sat cross-legged on the floor, teasing Biss with a morsel of bread. At my entrance, Nedda glanced up, her face still alight with laughter from whatever Klera had said.
“Irene,” she said, with such obvious gladness that I collapsed into tears.
I pressed the heels of my hands against my eyes. “I’m tired,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
Before they could reply, I hurried into my room and locked the door.