The Crossing Guards: The crossing guards at a busy intersection of the city do more than just help the living humans walk across the street.
It was the quiet moment. You know, that time when the day seems to pause, take a breath and think, before breathing out again and hurrying on exactly as before. Eoan wondered why it bothered to think at all, if the thinking never changed the activity.
Today’s pause, like most Tuesdays, was around three in the afternoon. Market shopping was now just for luxuries and browsing, lunch was over, children were in school, artisans and clerks were in their various workrooms and places of business. Few people were needing the help of a crossing guard in the lazy light of the afternoon sun, when the only traffic on the road were a few ambling donkey carts belonging to the farmers heading home after selling their produce in the morning’s first rush.
He leaned back in the little guard box that protected him from sun, rain and sundry gifts from the heavens and stretched his arms over his head, yawning widely. He was short on sleep, nothing unusual there and nothing likely to change in the next couple of years, not with his wife having only given birth to their second six weeks before, and their first being only just turned two.
He smiled at the thought of the three of them, his girls.
“Ha, Eoan, quit your daydreaming man, looks like you’ve got a client of the other kind arriving.”
Eoan jerked alert at the call from his guard-mate across the section. He turned to where Samun was pointing and sighed. It was just so wrong to have to see someone across to the other side in the bright light of a happy day.
Next realm crossings should take place in the gentle dark of the night. But that traffic had its own ebbs and flows as well, peaks at the turn of the light – sunset, sunrise – and quiet nights unless it was either full moon or moondark They were busy nights and usually for troubling reasons.
The hazy light slowly drawing near his station began to resolve its form. A girl. Eoan had a horrible moment but, no, she was too old to be his eldest and far too young to be his wife. No mind, she was doubtless still someone’s beloved daughter, sister, friend.
He went down on one knee. Crossing guards assisted the crossing, but they also kept records. They’d proved important in the past.
“Hello there. Are you able to tell me your story?”
The girl looked up at him, puzzled, then down at herself.
“Why am I see-through?”
Oh dear. Well at least they had a standard spiel for those new to the city, or not yet taught the process.
“Um, it would seem that your body and your soul are no longer together. That usually means that your body is no longer living, and you’ve come here to cross over into your next destination.”
A translucent lip quivered.
“It would seem so. Are you able to tell me what happened?”
There, best to keep the conversation moving, he hated tears, especially when any attempt to dry them failed dreadfully.
“It’s Janey’s fault. She wouldn’t stop teasing Mara and Mara was crying and trying to get away but Janey grabbed her and so I got in Janey’s way. Then Janey pushed me and I fell off. I think I screamed, then there was a thud and it hurt and then I had to walk here.”
“Okay, so you were with Janey and Mara. Now what is your name, and what did you fall off?”
“I’m Petra and I fell off the top of the castle.”