Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Enemy of the Gods 25

Later, they pulled into the port of Myra and unloaded the fish from the day. Captain Lysimachus counted out 40 gray denarius coins into the palm of Nicholas, saying, “There’s your pay.”

“My allowance,” said Nicholas with a smirk.

“Whatever you wish to call it,” said Lysimachus. “We’ll see you again in two weeks.” Then he handed Nicholas a basket of fish. “Bring this to your uncle and send my greetings.”

“Thank you. I will,” said Nicholas as he turned and headed off into the city.

As he wandered along the forum, some young voices called out, “Nicholas!” He spotted three of his young second-cousins, children of his cousin Chrysanthe.

Nicholas ran to them. He mussed the hair of Lucas, the oldest, and dropping the basket of fish, he snatched up the youngest girl and swung her in a circle. They all laughed. Nicholas asked, “Where’s your mother?”

“Over there,” pointed Lucas. Nicholas saw her at a merchant stall down the way. She waved and turned to join them. She had a smile like her mother Berenice, only not so wide.

“Do you want some figs?” he asked the children, spotting a fig seller.

“Please, please,” they all said together.

As Nicholas stepped over to the table, Chrysanthe came up and said, “You’re not buying figs for them, are you?”

“I have money. It needs to be spent.”

Chrysanthe said, “No, thank you. We have figs at home.”

Nicholas said, “I’m buying them for me then.” He paid out his money and took a bag.  He opened it and popped one fig in his mouth. Then he said, “Done. They can have the rest.”

“No-o,” said Chrysanthe, almost singing her protest. She’d been through this with Nicholas before. “They don’t need them.”

“They’ll go to waste then.”

The children repeated, “Please, please, please.”

“Alright,” moaned Chrysanthe. She couldn’t help but smile.

The children giggled with delight and Nicholas counted out the figs in equal portions. One odd fig remained. He handed it to the youngest. Lucas protested, “Why did you give it to her? I’m bigger.”

Nicholas grinned and said, “She has to grow to catch up with you.”

They parted ways and Nicholas continued to wander the forum. The smell of roast beef drew him along until he came to stare at a table full of juicy slices of beef still steaming from the temple of Zeus. Since living in Myra, he’d picked up the habit of buying a slice or two after a couple of weeks of smelling nothing but fish. He could still picture his parents behind him saying no to buying meat sacrificed to idols, but he was an adult now, and it smelled so good. He paid his money. The merchant scooped up a slice in a folded hazel leaf and handed it to him.

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