Adventuring

You spawn in a bar next to a second, freshly minted character. You don’t know where in the world she lives, but she is here now. She buys a drink. You buy two. She passes hers to you. You return the favor twice over. She tells you she likes the description of the bartender. She teaches you how to look. She shows you how to look at yourself. You’ve poofed into being with a dagger and 10 gold pieces in a purse on your belt. The purse is closed. You ask how you have a dagger and she has a sword. “Random,” she says. Then she admits she stole the sword, successfully, from you, about thirty seconds ago. She left you the dagger because you bought her a drink. You try to steal her socks, but apparently she is not wearing any. “Drink up,” she says, “and let’s go kill something.” She does not seem to care what.

Not all friendships are born in publics, bars, and gardens—and when you spawn side by side with your impromptu, serendipitous date, sometimes the room needs to be a cathedral—or a bookstore—or a junction where three roads cross, and ten feet into the weeds there are two bodies half hidden. If you inspect them you find they are dressed exactly like the both of you. Sometimes you are sitting in the back of a horse-drawn coach traveling between towns. You can stop the driver at any time. Sometimes you inhabit the back row at a festival where a woman is singing ballads and two jugglers are about to set a man on fire for volunteering before they become famous and really get their act together. Sometimes you order coffees instead of whiskey, cheese curls instead of unshelled peanuts. Sometimes you find yourself on a boat, or at a hostel. Grab a night’s rack. Scout a deserted building. There are square feet missing, and you’ve all but forgotten how you came here. Sometimes you must build the room first. Then the furniture. The table is a supporter. The table has a top. The top can be removed. The table is a container. It contains a drawer. The drawer is a container. It is opaque, closed, openable, locked, and cannot be taken. The lock requires a bronze key. The key is in the drawer.

You remember your name and learn how to do simple things, like picking up a stick, lighting a lamp, and opening a door. Sometimes breakfast is served, and the fire has crisped the skin of a rabbit. Coffee and yellow light warm the hollow between the trees and the rock. And sometimes you chat into the long hours at a table in a restaurant that stopped serving ages ago. You’ve been playing games with the beer mats and the spoons. The window panes are frosted, and you can’t open the front door without bruising the shoulder of a homeless man who thought it his turn to warm the dry tiles. Everyone apologizes. Everyone means it. “We’re going to remember that,” you say, on the way to the car. “Yes,” she agrees.

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