Some days Phaedra liked to take Missy to the walled park in the Canal District where she could let missy run loose while she read a book and didn’t have to worry about the dog wondering away, as she never crossed a doorway without permission. Once they were close to the park Phaedra un-hooked her leash and as soon as Missy was loose she started to worry at Phaedra’s ankles with playful barks, as was their routean.
“Foolish little mutt,” Phaedra said with a smile and reached into her pocket, pulling out her handkerchief. The dog immediately went stiff, staring at it. Phaedra held it half-balled in her hand and waved it slightly, “Is this a rabbit? Is this a rabbit in my hand?”
Missy was fixated, her eyes following the motion of the handkerchief. Phaedra pulled her arm back to toss it, “If it’s a rabbit, you’d better catch it!” and she let it go. For a moment the handkerchief did indeed look very rabbit-like, seeming to skip frantically away from the dog which was now in hot pursuit of it with high, yipping barks. Missy snatched it out of the air and gave it a neck-breaking shake before running with her prize into the park proper and out of sight.
Phaedra registered just a half-second too late the sound of metal-on-metal. She’d forgotten that sometimes the Brothers at the church took-over the park for their bouts. She was just opening her mouth to call Missy back when Missy gave a high, injured-sounding yelp; at the same time a man shouted, “look-out!” Phaedra hurried through the arch and Missy ran straight to Phaedra’s feet and flopped over onto her back yelping and whining at her. Phaedra knelt in alarm, running her fingers over the dog, looking for an injury.
She looked accusingly at Brothers Rudyard and Lapis who seemed the only occupants of the park, “Did you just stab my dog?”
“No. It ran under our feet.” Rudyard said, dropping the point of his sword to the ground, “What are you doing letting that animal run loose anyway?”
Missy, seeming to have forgotten her injury, rolled to her feet and growled at Rudyard.
“There’s usually no one here,” Phaedra replied, straightening back up, and smoothing the bodice of her gown.
“Obviously there’s someone here now,” Rudyard’s voice was venomous, “Would have served you right if we had stabbed it. I may stab it now.” Missy growled louder at him.
Phaedra looked from one glazed, sweaty face to the other. Though there was little love between her and the church, it was unusual for them to be quite so open about it. Then she recalled that the fast must be on. She noticed that Lapis seemed fixated on a spot slightly to her right, as if she had an invisible companion he was intent on studying, she let annoyance creep into her own voice, “My mistake.” She snapped her fingers once and immediately Missy left off her growling at Rudyard and turned her full attention on Phaedra, “Missy, Go home.”
With a parting growl at the brothers the dog darted out of the park’s archway and toward Wheatstone, “Forgive our interruption, Gentleman.” She gave a cold half curtsey and turned her back on them.
She was just stepping through the arch when she heard Brother Lapis speak-up, “Miss Byrne?”
She turned to him, “Yes?”
With a very tidy flourish of his sword he scooped up her forgotten handkerchief and held it out to her, dangling from the point, “Is this yours?”
“It is,” He strode toward her and she plucked it from the blade with a slight smile, their eyes met for a long moment, “thank you.”
He looked away.
She turned from them and left the park, suddenly in a very good mood.
Phaedra had the faintest stirrings of a song in her mind, a delicate melody and a wonderful idea.