Chapter 6 Juicy Gossip
The winter melted into spring. Flowers broke free from the freezing ground and the brown trees became covered in leafy green. Moss and a few mushrooms grew on their bark. Rain and puddles replaced the snow and ice.
The news that Peter was my beau travelled throughout the village like wildfire. To my uttermost surprise and displeasure, the young woman started visiting me when I was home and conversing with me and Peter while I delivered milk. At first I thought it was because they were curious about Peter...which they were. But when the planting season approached and he was called to help his father, Dulcina and her friend Rachel continued to call on me for tea time almost every day. It was after a week or two of this silliness when I realized why I was receiving this attention. I was the subject of juicy gossip, for I was being courted by a repented thief. It was too much for them to resist. What exciting stories I must know. As they were too bashful to needle them out of Peter, they would needle them out of me. When my mind began buzzing with their ridiculous giggles, incessant questions, and preposterous assumptions, I shocked them with a snappy remark. “If you had anything better to do, besides spending hours curling your hair and looking like a flock of fluffed up chickens, you would be married already.” Both were my age, and I knew very well that they were becoming desperate. I had a little bit of pleasure in seeing their faces flush with anger.
“Maggie!” My mother cried out, and she immediately apologized for my behavior. To my surprise, the two intruders did not leave, but instead changed topics.
“I never thought,” I stated to my mother when they finally left, “that I would loathe the day I would have friends calling on me. I thought this was supposed to be pleasant.”
“It will never be pleasant if you treat them that poorly.” She rebuked me.
“I have been hospitable to them, and all they do is try to strip every thought and spoken word from my mind.”
“It is what women your age do, Maggie. You will grow used to it.” She assured me, but I was unsure if I believed her.
Because the daylight was full of activities for both of us, Peter would call on me at dusk and we would steal away for a short while. I showed him the places of my favorite childhood memories, such as the little brook that gurgled and laughed behind our home, and he shared with me stories of Adonay. My favorite so far was of a righteous people that were saved from a Great Flood in a boat Adonay gave instructions to build. I could not stop imagining what they must have thought when they saw the animals, two by two, walk willingly into the enclosed space. Did they praise Adonay for His brilliancy, or were they frightened by some of the dangerous creatures that slithered past their feet? Did they have doubts in His instructions? Were they afraid?
Usually after one story of Adonay, I would coax him into telling about his adventures. He would comply after a few persuasive statements, but I am afraid I interrupted him the first time. I was rather shocked to hear that the mass of land we lived in was called Ischuros.
He cocked his eyebrow when he observed this. “You did not know that?” He asked.
“My world is about as big as Uz.” I said gesturing towards the village. “How big is Ischuros?”
He knelt down and began to draw a map in the dirt. “Here is Uz,” he drew a small circle. “Here are the Betach Mountains.” He made a couple triangles. “West of the Betach Mountains is the sea, though it is not good for ports…too many cliffs. You head east and you will come across a few villages.” He continued to point out different places he has visited “Here is Sunoida in the Todah Valley, the Balak Moors, the Binah Wood, Chloros Desert, and here…” he drew an x next to the desert, “is Tipharah.”
“You traveled far.”
“It is not as far as it seems. This,” he gestured to the map, “is more of a straight line from here to Tipharah, and would probably take…” he scratched his head, “possibly a month.”
“That is not how you traveled though.” I assumed. “How did you come to Uz?”
“From Tipharah? You are asking for years of travel. After Chaphaph we went north to Roma.” He pointed up. “We did not enter the city though. Then we travelled across the moors, stayed in Hava…” He drew a few other distinguishing marks that was South West of Tipharah. “Then we went to Shale, which is a sea port. We stayed there for about a year.”
“Are there any other places?”
“There are villages and towns here and there. Not all of them have names.”
I stared longingly at the map. “I want so much to explore our land someday.”
“I can understand why.” He said slowly. “But please take my advice. Be happy where you are. Adventures and travels do not compare to a safe home, one you know you can always return to.”
I glanced back at my village. Simple living and outward contentment emanated from the bargaining men, gabbing women, and laughing children. Food and wood were plentiful. Friends were easy to find. Yet I knew I would never be truly happy here. My soul felt restless whenever I looked to the Betach Mountains.
Even so, would it really be so bad to marry and raise a family? With Peter? Of course not! I tried to convince myself. I will be perfectly content.
I looked at back at him. He, too, was watching the village. The familiar smile had left his face. “Do you miss it?” I asked.
“Tipharah, your home.”
“It is not a home to me anymore, has not been since we left.” He shook his head. “No, my home will be here. It will be with you.”
I would have kissed him if my father had not called me inside.
When the days of Marche were nearly completed, the attention of the village shifted from the usual gossip to the anticipated arrival of the traders. The iron smith worked till the late hours of night to complete his hooks, nails, and other tools he could think of creating. Women worked at their looms and knitted their blankets till their fingers were stiff. Farmers gathered whatever crops and savings they had. Visions of new seeds and gardening tools frequently passed through their minds; at least that is what I assumed. My father was not the only one staring longingly at the fields and muttering, “Wheat in the south square, beats in the west, corn…”
One morning, while I was pouring the frothy milk into Hillaria’s pail, we heard a low rumble that seemed to shake the ground. The trees shuddered and the birds fluttered away as the sound of rolling wheels came closer.
“Well,” Hillaria smiled as she spotted the white canvas of the first covered wagon through the evergreen trees. “There they are. You have something to trade?”
“I made a blanket…I do not think it will buy anything though. It looks awful.”
“Here.” She pulled two small, copper Greecents out of her pocket, along with the one Colbone for my father. “Tip for serving the milk. If your blanket does not buy anything, you can at least buy some candy with this.”
“Are you keeping my inner child alive?” I laughed as I took the coins. “I have not had candy for years.”
“You never grow too old for candy. If your Peter is smart, he will buy some too.”
“Grammarcy, you are kind.” I smiled as I lifted the plank.
“Speaking of which, where is Peter?”
“Had to help his father again.” I said as I turned away and started walking down the road towards the next house. I glanced at the wagons, and guessed that they would be camping in the woods. I also caught sight of the sweaty men dragging the wagons. Though they appeared tired, they would undoubtedly be ready to display their goods by the morrow.
I often wondered what happened to the creatures that used to drag the wagons. Father once told me that they were magnificent and beautiful animals known as horses. I had a feeling I had seen them before, but every time I tried to remember I could only think of cows. No one knew why they disappeared.
After I finished delivering milk, I spent the rest of the day helping my parents gather the tradable items we had. The floor was cluttered with a pots we no longer used and blankets, both knitted and crotchet. Father gathered almost every coin he had and dropped them into his small dear skin pouch. I saw what I thought to be ten Greecents and five silver Colbones. “Maggie, you have money?’ He asked.
“Hillaria gave me two Greecents.” I adopted her high voice. “Tips for serving the milk.”
“That was kind of her.” My mother stated hastily. Father frowned but did not respond.
“It is not charity.” I said, guessing his thoughts. “She paid me for my services.”
“I probably should be paid for my services anyway?”
“You have a house and food; that is payment enough.”
I shrugged and glanced out the window. The sun was beginning to set, leaving behind dust of amber, amethyst, and ruby. “I wonder if Peter will be calling this evening.”
“I imagine he will be too busy tonight.” Mother stated. “And if you are quite finished staring out the window and daydreaming, come and help me with supper.”
While stifling a groan, I obeyed.
After our meal was made, devoured, and the dishes cleaned, I announced I was going out.
“Do not go wandering down the street.” Father’s eyes narrowed. “Do not go anywhere near the traders. You can never trust a camp of traders. Very few of them, if any, have good intentions.”
“And yet we always look forward to their coming.” I laughed. “I will not wander. I just wish to enjoy the night air.”
“Searching for your beau is what you are doing.” Mother stated as she picked up her sewing.
“Remember when we were young and in love?” Father teased. “Remember that night I charged through the darkness and claimed you as my lady in front of all the village.”
“Yes dear, I remember very vividly. You had a wooden bucket on your head for a helmet, and a mop for a sword, a brave knight indeed. I thought I would die when you tried to pick me up with those skinny little arms you had.”
I slapped my hand over my mouth as I giggled.
“I almost did too.” He smiled and his eyes twinkled. “One pound lighter and I would have held you up like a sack of flour.”
“Sack of flour! I will have you know I weighed no more than a small bag of oats, very light, and if you had dared to throw me over your shoulder I would have never married you.”
“A special bag of oats that I would have held up like a baby…Oats and add a little sugar to that.” When the warning bell rung in my head, I walked swiftly out the door. Though seeing their sweetness was pleasurable once in a while, I did not want a full dose.
The heat of the spring day had seeped into the night, making it unusually warm. I could not see the moon, but everything seemed clear and defined as if the sun was at its zenith. I glanced towards the woods and saw the glowing campfires as bright as stars. I could see the white canvas wagons...twelve in counting... and forms of the tradesmen seated in small circles.
I leaned against the old tree and observed them for some time. A few stood and began to pace back and forth. Unintelligible but passionate words aroused my curiosity. As slow and silent as a stalking panther, I snuck towards the camp, crept behind one of the wagons and strained my ears to hear their words.
“…and if one dares to pay less than three gold Quiblers for that brooch, you can call me a hoodwinked fool.” One man stated gruffly. His gravelly voice led me to believe he was an elder man. “I tell you, it is worth its price.”
“If one of these villagers pays that much for it, you can call me a duck.” Another retorted. His voice was more nasally, but calmer and relaxed. “You will not find a buyer here. The richest probably has five Colbones at most.”
“I do not see why we have to keep traveling here.” The first grumbled. “There is hardly any profit in traveling over those mountains. It is amazing how we are not all dead. If these villagers want to trade, they should go to Sunoida and let us keep our lives.”
“This has been our route for generations. I have reason to believe they came from the sea and that Uz was their first post.”
“How did they find a way over the cliffs?”
“Do not ask me. I am only telling you what my father told me. However, I agree; trading here is dangerous and barely worth the risk. I thought for sure that path was safe.”
“Safe! Dain, you call falling boulders safe?” When Dain did not respond, he continued, “First post my foot. If another man dies on those mountains I will quit this life and settle down, maybe find a wife.”
“Good luck with that, with your looks.” I had a feeling he regretted that comment because afterward there was a thump and “Ow,” from Dain. After a few moments his voice darkened. “If you dare do that to me again, Brone, you will be settling down…in the ground that is.”
“Change topics then.” Brone snapped.
After a few moments of silence, Dain did just that. “I think this place is much better than Roma. It is quieter, calmer..."
"Of course it is, you nincompoop. Uz is a village, not a city."
"Less chance of coming across thieves...or somebody like Chath."
"Do not speak to me of Chath." Brone gave an audible shudder. "Wish you did not agree to take Ameq along."
"I had no choice. It was either I agree, or Chath use other means to make me agree."
“All the more reason we should be suspicious of the product he is selling. If those are not dangerous, you can call me a red, back-sided…”
“Did you hear how he was planning to sell them?” A rough, lady’s voice joined the conversation unexpectedly.
“Do enlighten us, Ramara.” Dain said tiredly.
“Sleeping draught of all things. He is a hoax, I tell you.”
“Enjoying yourself?” The whisper in my ear was so sudden and unexpected that I jumped and let out a squeak of fear. Peter’s hand was immediately over my mouth, but not before the sound was noticed.
“What was that?” Brone asked, alarmed.
“No idea.” Dain answered while stifling a yawn. “Like I said, I like it better here.”
“I think you are too relaxed.”
“Better than never relaxed.”
“Do not be too relaxed around Ameq.” Ramara stated irritatingly.
“There is not much I can do about him.” Dain responded.
“Why not? You are the master of this forsaken troop! You can tell him to leave.”
“He is giving us a profit, whether or not he is a hoax. Not to mention, I do not want to have Chath on my case."
“People definitely seem to love whatever he is selling. That is why I do not like it.” Brone stated.
There was silence. I heard feet stomping and the rustle of cloth. Ramara was no longer interested in the men’s opinions. They began talking about the likelihood of somebody buying the brooch for five Colbones.
Peter quietly sighed in relief and lowered his hand. “Sorry.” He whispered. He held out his hand and beckoned for us to go.
“Are you mad?” I mouthed.
He cocked an eyebrow and shook his head as we both stood up. “No, but I think you are being a little silly.” We quietly took a few steps away. “By any chance, was this Hillaria’s idea?”
“No, but it was not planned either. Sorry…I like to eavesdrop. Gossip…no, but I like to know a few things.”
“Like what, in this example?”
“Oh, the usual…hints about what they are selling, strange stories…”
“Was there anything else that was interesting, besides what I heard?”
“They mentioned Roma…apparently somebody named Chath is making them sell something."
“I also heard something about a brooch they are trying to sell…you heard about that.”
“Must be a lovely brooch.”
“Probably, but I bet it looks vain.”
He chuckled. “When do your parents want you back?”
“I do not know; I am pretty sure they know I am with you.”
He glanced back at the traders. “What if we see if we can have an early peak? Maybe we can see that brooch.”
“No, let’s not make Hillaria jealous.” I laughed.
“I do not believe we will, but let’s take a look all the same.” Without a break in his steps, he turned us around and headed back towards the camp. I almost mentioned that my father said to stay away from the traders, but changed my mind.
“One step closer,” a loud voice commanded, “and you both will be dead where you stand.”
I jumped and shrank back at the sight of the large, burly, snarling man. His bloodshot eyes stared at us with such fierceness, I was certain they could turn us to stone. I was beginning to have second thoughts about walking into what could be a camp of luxuries and tortures if there were men like that in there.
Peter, however, did not change his countenance. “Begging your pardon, sir. We are two villagers and we were curious about what we were going to see tomorrow.”
“Leave, you sniggering cows, or I will cut your noses!” He pulled out a glinting dagger.
“Cain!” A short man with a bald head and greasy look stepped out of the camp. By his voice, I knew he was Dain. “Why would you threaten our future customers?”
“You told me to keep everyone away.”
“That was in Roma and Sunoida. There are no thieves that I know of here.” Dain smiled and bowed. “How can I help you?”
“We do not want to cause any trouble.” Peter stated, rather nervously. He tightened his grip on my arm. “We will leave now.”
“You stand calmly in front of Cain, and yet you turn away when you face me? Come, you are welcome! If it is curiosity that brought you this far, then come and be satisfied.” He beckoned us forward, then turned away and disappeared behind one of the wagons.
A smile crept up my lips, and I stepped forward. To my surprise, Peter hesitated before moving. I looked up at him, and whispered, “Everything all right?”
“I have met him before, years ago in Shale." He grimaced. "It is not one of my fondest memories."
“Have you convinced your beau to join us?” Dain’s head peeked out, and a teasing smile grew on his lips. “I am correct in assuming he is your beau, of course. You two look nothing alike, and you are such a lovely couple.” He jiggled his eyebrows.
Heat rushed to my cheeks. I glanced at Peter, who shrugged and gave a curt nod.
“Welcome!” Dain lifted up his hands and led us to a burning camp fire. “Warm yourselves by the fire. Ramara! Grab those blankets of yours! Merek! Where are those tools? Rowan, maybe a few of those jewels we chose for tomorrow. Not all of them, mind you, just a few.”
“You are being too hospitable Dain!” Brone stepped forward. He, too, had a bald head and was rather short in size. They were undoubtedly brothers, maybe twins.
“Mind your own business Brone! Let me have some fun. Bring that brooch of yours. Maybe they can tell us who will buy it.”
“I can already tell you that my father will not pay for it.” I stated.
“How do you know that?” Dain raised his eyebrows.
“Oh,” I realized I had nearly given myself away. “He has a mind for tools and such, seeds.”
“We have plenty of those. Ah, there is Ramara.” A rather strong jawed, heavyset woman climbed out of one the wagons with three weaved blankets. She gave me the first one, decorated with bright yellow colors and wool from a black sheep. It reminded me of a bee. The second was plain, only made from white wool. But the last left me awestruck with wonder. It was as if the hues of the essence of the forest had been captured and interwoven into this glorious fabric, and it was as soft as the nose of a calf.
“It is beautiful, the most beautiful clothe I have ever seen.” I said.
“Where did you find this?” Peter asked.
“Where else but the Binah.” Ramara stated. “You would not know about that place. It is a forest some distance from here, and I will say I took great pains to take it.”
“It is a beautiful clothe, and well worth the highest price.”
“I am glad to hear it, though what do you know?”
I frowned at her as I noticed the bitter edge to her voice. “More than you think.” I muttered.
“My turn now.” Brone stepped forward. I peered eagerly at his enclosed hand, which he opened promptly. The stone was redder than the blood of my veins, polished, and encased in threads of gold that laced itself into the shape of a blooming flower. What I thought was rather strange was that somebody had carved the words Teleios in the stone, which seemed to tarnish its beauty.
Peter took it from his hand and studied it. He betrayed no emotions, but after a few moments a smile crept on his lips. “How much did you decide to sell this for?”
“I want three Quiblers for it, but I am willing to take five Colbones. A fair price?”
“If you took great pains to acquire this jewel, then yes, it is worth its price. But for the jewel itself, three Quiblers is not its value. This is from Hava; it is one of their Rubicund stones. If a man wanted to make a living there, all he had to do was dig near the Blood River, and he would have plenty of stones to polish. He had to be creative though, since the stones are only admired for their beauty, and basically sold to people with little money. At most. I think it is worth two Colbones, so you were close.”
“Now how did you know that?” Dain asked taking a seat next to me.
“I spent a number of years in Hava; I have seen many of these. The fact that it was carved means it was not considered very valuable. The person who designed this was trying to be creative, but I think he rather ruined the effect.”
I took the brooch and studied it as he had. “What…what does tel…tele…?”
“Teleios,” Peter explained. “Complete.”
I looked at it again. “If it is only worth two Colbones, maybe I could convince my father to buy it…after he buys his tools and seeds.”
“You like it?”
“I do.” I handed it back to Brone, who accepted it stiffly. “You may have a buyer yet, Brone.”
“I do not care what this boy says. For his incompetence, I will raise it to seven Colbones.”
“Do not be a fool, Brone.” Dain said, glancing anxiously at his brother. “You know as well as I do that he is right. It was mad of you to think you could sell if for more.”
“I would in Tipharah.”
“We are not in Tipharah.”
At this point, Peter stood up and took my hand. “Grammarcy for your kindness, but we must leave now.”
“Is that all you want to see?” Dain asked. “Perhaps we have other things that are over-priced.”
“I am sure you have good judgment, and I do not wish to interfere anymore.”
“Yes, but you are knowledgeable, and this leads me to believe the rest of the village is as well. We do not always come across people like you.”
“You are careful in your selection of buyers.” Peter mused in distaste.
“We need to make a good profit with the life we live. If we did not have the Quiblers to plead our case to the leaders to have weapons, and then the money to actually buy the weapons, we might have been killed by those Shriekers.”
What on Earth are Shriekers? I wondered.
“Shriekers?” Peter asked, his eyes growing wide.
“Yes, there has been a rapid increase in their population, and they have spread like mold on a piece of bread. They snuck up on us about a year ago, and killed one of our own.” He raised his index finger as if he was making a very important point. “If we did not have weapons, they would have killed all of us.”
“You seem to forget,” Ramarah muttered, “that you did not even have time to pull your swords out before they killed him, and those who did ran the other way.”
“We had time…” He stopped and glanced at us. “I would not worry about them. They are too large to make it past the Betach Mountains. I consider those more dangerous than Shriekers. However…” Dain was interrupted by Brone’s boisterous laugh.
“Ha! They could climb the steepest cliff without breaking a bone, or dig through the mountain like it was sand!”
“Nobody has anything to worry about here Brone.” Dain stated stiffly, staring at his brother straight in the eye. “If Shriekers ever dared to venture here, they would have done it a long time ago.”
“Would you like to put your money where your mouth is? I will bet that the Shriekers will be here in a matter of months, if there is something here they want." The movement was swift, but I saw Brone give Peter a glance as he said this.
A still silence met his words. Peter stared at the ground in deep thought for a few moments. His face was blank; I could not tell what he was thinking. Finally he opened his mouth, but was interrupted by a very different voice. “It is my turn now!” Every traders’ face turned grim when an old figure climbed out of one of the wagons and hobbled towards the group. His hair was white as the snow, and his face was surprisingly yellow like butter. His eyes were sunken, he had a humped back, and he wore a large, leather coat that dropped down to his feet. “Greetings.” He bowed. “I am Ameq, and I sell sleeping draughts.” He pulled out two, glass vials from his coat and handed them to us. “My own creation. Try them tonight, and tell if they are still working properly. If they are not, I will not sell them. Make sure you come back early in the morning so I will know.”
“What does it do?” I asked.
“Silly girl, is it not obvious? It puts you to sleep. I might also add that it gives you the most wonderful dreams.”
“Grammarcy.” I said, though I was unsure if I meant it. The conversation Dain and the others had earlier lurked in my mind. The elixir appeared suspiciously foreboding as well. I could not tell if it was a liquid or a solid inside. There were no air bubbles or any movement to betray its form.
I felt Peter twitch his hand, and I knew he was impatient to leave. I stood up as he faced the traders and again thanked them for their kindness.
“We will look forward to seeing you tomorrow.” Dain stepped forward, smiling. “I again say, do not worry about what is out there. I doubt very much the Shriekers will come here. I will bet with Brone, and I know I will win.”
Peter said nothing, but proceeded to lead me away from the camp and back towards my cottage. When we were out of earshot, I laughed. “That was an adventure. Whoever thought we would be threatened, then brought in as guests? Grammarcy, Peter.”
“You are welcome.” He did not smile, and still had that thoughtful look on his face.
“They seemed very impressed by your knowledge. I knew nothing about Rubicund stones.”
“Something to consider.”
I waited for him to say more, but he continued on in silence. Finally, I asked, “A Greecent for your thoughts?”
His solemn countenance broke into a smile. “Sorry, I was just...disturbed by the news.”
“Sounds like they have had quite a time, especially if they had Shriekers…you know what?”
“I know what Shriekers are.”
“Uh-huh, they are the wives of the magical farmers, enchanted with wagging tongues and sharp words that stab the hearts of men at night.” I smiled wickedly. “They shriek when they realize their husbands have been drinking whiskey again.”
“Maggie!” Peter laughed. “I think you are closer than you realize.”
I snickered. When we were almost to my cottage, I lifted up the vial and uncorked it. “Well, what do you say?” He glanced at me, and looked at his own. “Should we give it a try? A good night’s sleep would probably be suitable, and I like the sound of nice dreams.”
“If anybody needs a good night’s sleep, it is my father. But I did not like the looks of the trader.”
“Neither did I.” I poured out the contents, hardly noticing the odd smell and the dusty texture of the liquid as I pocketed the glass. “I will keep the vial as a souvenir.”
Peter shrugged and prepared to uncork his own, when the horribly rough and familiar voice met our ears. “I thought I told you to stay away from the traders.” My father stood at the threshold of the door, towering tall and terrible. “Why did you disobey, Daughter?”
I flinched. Whenever he called me, ‘Daughter,’ I knew he was more than angry. He was tyrannical. He approached me, his furious eyes peering from underneath his bushy eyebrows. “Peter,” he said slowly. “I have a few words I need to say to my daughter, and I ask that you leave.”
Peter glanced from him, to me, then back to him. “Sir, it was not her fault." He said quickly. "It was me who suggested we go to the traders. She…”
“I am aware of that, and I ask again that you leave.”
Not wanting the argument to include Peter, I tapped him reassuringly on the arm. With a curt nod to my father, he walked away.
To my surprise my father did not say anything at once. A strange, anxious look passed through his face. He took my arm and began to lead me back to the cottage. “What was that thing you poured out?”
Taken off guard by his question, I hesitated before answering. “It was just something one of the traders gave us. He called it a sleeping draught.”
“Why did you pour it out?”
“Because I did not like the looks of him, and the other traders seemed to dislike him. They said he was from Roma.”
He scowled. “There is something not right about all of this Maggie. That mixture did not look normal. It did not even pour like a liquid.” When we went inside, he stated. “I told your mother to go to sleep. She was worrying too much.”
“I am sorry.” I said. “But I was…”
“I do not want to hear excuses. You disobeyed me. Whether you realize it or not, traders do not have good intentions. I will not allow you to visit them tomorrow.”
“My answer is final.” He hissed. “I can even limit your time with Peter if you dare disobey me again.”
“You are being unfair!”
“Am I, Daughter?” He held out his hand. “Give me those Greescents.” Boiling blood rushed to my face. “You will not be using them.”
Fighting for any self-control I had left, I shoved my hand into my pocket. All I found was the empty glass vial.
“Well?” He asked.
“They are gone.”
He stared at me with a knowing look. “Someone sit a little too close to you?”
I shoved the glass vial into his hand. “Goodnight.” Hot with rage, I lied on my bed and fell asleep.
I received my first draft book of this about a week ago through Createspace. It’s not ready to publish yet, but I’ve contacted an editor and she’ll be reading it soon. I’m hoping this will be published by next year. So excited!