Girls’ Night

The third Wednesday of every month, at least during the summer, was girls night. That’s what my boss said when she left the shop in my care. So, I was expecting to be alone in the old barn surrounded by odds and ends until closing time. I wasn’t expecting a teenage girl in a Day-Glo blue archery camp t-shirt and a woman a few years older than me in a neat blouse and flowered skirt to come walking in through the door within short order of each other. The younger girl spoke first.
“The Huntress says you know.”
The other woman relaxed visibly.
“Oh thank the gods, I was starting to think I’d taken a wrong turn. When my boss said to come to the home of the forgotten things, I never pictured a junk shop. Even if she did give me an address.”
I looked between the two of them, relaxing the grip on the chunk of stygian iron in my pocket.
“Well then… I wish my Lady had told me I’d have company tonight.”
Unceremoniously, I shifted a box of records to the floor and sat at the now-cleared off patio table. With an airy gesture, I motioned for the other two to sit. Names weren’t exchanged, but that was to be expected. The lawyer took a seat but the young archer didn’t, she paced. After a long silence, the lawyer spoke. I was starting to suspect she didn’t like silence.
“Do either of you know why we’re supposed to meet?”
I stayed silent. The archer didn’t. She was dynamic and mobile in a way that the overcrowded barn did not tolerate and it was starting to get on my nerves.
“I would guess,” she started, “that they don’t want us to be alone. We know who they are and that sets us apart. But that makes us kind of like a little group.”
I expected the lawyer to object, even sparing a moment for a mental laugh at the image the thought conjured. But she nodded.
“That makes sense. We’ve seen things that are…hard to explain. Or impossible.”
The archer stopped dead in her tracks, her expressive face closing.
“She…she turned a man into a stag. We ate him. I killed him. I…I didn’t mind. The gun was aimed at my face! And I like venison a lot. He was going to hurt the kids, I think…and…”
She was shaking and I stood, grabbing her by the shoulders.
“Tell it from the beginning.”
My voice sounded like hers for a moment, like my Lady’s. That clear and calm tone that radiated confidence. The girl’s shoulders slumped and she nodded. Slowly, the story came out of her and I nodded.
“He’s been judged and found Punishment. You did the right thing.”
The easy smiles were back on her face now.
“I know, she told me. But I needed to…to talk to someone else, I think. You know?”
The lawyer spoke softly then.
“How did you do that?”
It took me a second to realize she meant me. I knew I was just staring at her like an idiot.
“You pulled the ghost of the memory out of her.”
“I did what?”
Then I looked at my hands and saw the shadows there. With a quiet curse, I pulled it together into a ball and cast it down into the Underworld.
“I…have no idea. But it’s good to know I can.”
I looked back and forth between them for a moment and then sighed.
“I’ll go grab some sodas and a deck of cards. We can all talk and sort this out, alright?”

Pro Bono

It was my first job out of law school, working as an intern at a Pro Bono law office in the city. The place was run by two women. The first, my direct boss, was pretty much the poster child for female fire iron. She was the kind of woman who thinks nothing of staring down a judge and telling them that they’re wrong about a point of law. If you look up ‘she-demon’ in the dictionary, she’ll be there smiling out at you in a pantsuit and sensible flats. Her partner wasn’t exactly like her. She won every case she ever saw, but she also showed up late a lot of days wearing a tracksuit and carrying a gym bag.

It was your average Tuesday, which meant new cases coming our way and I got to deal with the clients in the waiting area. Make coffee, translate what Mrs. Gonzalvez was saying about her landlord, try to pretend I didn’t know the meanings for some of those words because those should not ever be written in anything official. Stuff like that. That was the day that the young man walked in. He was thin and pale, his clothing ill-fitting and his hair roughly cut like he’d done it himself. When he spoke, his voice was higher than I’d expected and light.
“Excuse me, but…can you help me file…something? I don’t know what I need. I just need to get away from my parents and keep them away.”
And my boss was there before I could call her, gray eyes flashing and her stance like she was ready to put a spear clean through someone.
“I’m sure we can help you.” She glanced at me. “A pot of coffee and order a pizza. Feta, olive.”
“Of course, Ma’am.”
Her partner was talking to the woman in the corner with the two toddlers and the black eye. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but that wasn’t important right now. I placed the order with the pizza place on the corner and they said they’d bring it as soon as it was ready. I heard my name called and stepped into the back deposition room.
“Yes, Ma’am? Did you need something?”
The young man was sitting at the table, tears of relief on his face as my boss presented him with papers and options and plans.
“How’s the coffee?”
“Coming right up.”
“Good. Can you also pull an official change of name form and…” She paused, thinking. “And call my sister and see if she needs an extra counselor at the camp of hers.”

There was something about that office. It wasn’t just that we tried to help people, or that my bosses always won their cases. It was like the women who walked through the door left stronger no matter what. Like they had a glow of confidence about them.