Jenny: The Little Wooden Horse

Artos gestured to the little horse. "What do you think of it?" he asked in Iceni.

The Guttersnipe, flushing, held it cupped in her hands. "It is adorable. I wish I could carve." Her forefinger touched the dished profile. "You have made an arab - like Pharaoh!"

"You never miss a trick, do you?" He leaned over and rubbed a finger along the hindquarters. "I can lift the tail a little, if that would suit you more..."

"No, no! It's perfect just how it is." She drew it closer, cradling it like a bird. He wondered, what did she see in such a simple shape of wood that drew out the colour in her cheeks and flashed the light from eye to eye? What made that impulsive face of hers twitch into a smile, sparked by a lifeless image? She held it close like a living thing, and he was sure that in some deep part of her, she thought it was a living thing. Was it himself, he wondered, or a life unique in itself? He looked up over her head and saw Jason on the far side of her watching as well, his face, which was never much closed, suddenly opened wide in tenderness. The young man reached out and turned the horse in the Guttersnipe's hands: as though it were a drop of delight in a cup already full, a tiny laugh spilled out of the girl into Jason's palm. He pushed her hair back and kissed her ear, and she tossed back her mane, biting back a string of laughter.

She laughed, and weak yellow beam of sunlight wrung itself through a high window into the atrium.

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