There is a room in Gibbelins’ Tower that overlooks the chaos. Its window has no glass, and there is always a wind. There are strands of pink and green and silver in that wind, torn upwards from the surging sea.
Straight across the window, more miles distant than a bird could fly, there is a lighthouse. To the left of the window, there is a bridge. There is something that might be a tugboat, off to the right. If so, it is foundering, and will most likely drown with all its crew beneath the terrible sea.
Martin stands there, looking out. Jane enters.
“The door says ‘keep out’ and ‘no girls allowed’,” Martin notes.
“Also, ‘toxic’ and ‘radiation warning.'”
“Does this, for you, occasion no concern?”
Jane stands next to Martin and looks out the window.
“Taking measurements. And you?”
“I made an armored umbrella,” Jane says. She holds it out to him in two hands. “See?”
Martin takes the umbrella. He studies it. Then he steps back and opens it with a flourish. It clicks open with a clang and a click. It’s a pretty ominous umbrella.
“Martin!” Jane accuses.
“Not topologically!” Martin protests.
“Does luck really care?” Jane wonders.
“It’s very nice,” says Martin. He rotates it. He puts it over his shoulder. It clangs against the stone wall. “What’s it for?”
“I thought that it would be raining screws and bolts,” Jane says. “Since it’s a season of metal.”
Martin considers. He looks outside. “It’s pretty chaotic,” he says. “So maybe. But that’s not what the season means.”
“And maybe appliances,” Jane says. “We could finally get a dishwasher.”
Martin re-estimates the umbrella’s tensile strength.
“Or a tank!”
“I don’t want a tank,” Martin says, reflexively. He does, of course, but he’s a responsible boy who knows that tanks kill more family members every year than intruders or enemies of the state.
“What’s it actually mean?” Jane says.
“It’s the season of gathering,” Martin says. He goes over to a cot in the corner of the room, reaches under it, and pulls out a handful of dust bunnies and lint. Martin does not vacuum this room very often, and the last time he exposed the Roomba to the vapors of chaos, it developed sentience, extra LEDs, and an End of Everything Button. “In the spring, you see, it’s all right to be choosy. To say, ‘I’ll keep this dust bunny, but not that one. I like fruit, but I don’t like squash.’ But when the months pass and the year grows older, it’s important to collect everything you can. To look for the good and the salvageable in everything. To have hope for things, even if it costs you.”
Martin sifts through the dust bunnies and finds the one that’s made of chocolate. He sifts some more and finds the great dust bunny leader that organized the others and kept them peacefully under the bed rather than messing up the whole room. He hands these, and the best of the remaining bunnies, to Jane. Then he goes to the window and lets the others fall down into the chaos below. He dusts off his hands.
“It’s crying,” Jane says.
“The world is not kind to dust bunnies,” says Martin. He takes the bunnies from Jane’s hands, all but the chocolate one, and puts them back under the bed.
Jane licks the salt of dust bunny tears off of her hands.
Martin looks at her.
“I like salt,” Jane says.
Martin looks back out the window. “Anyway,” he says. “If there’s a tank up in heaven, or a dishwasher, that they don’t need, then I guess this is the right season for them to drop it on me so I can make it good. So I’ll be keeping the umbrella.”
Jane smiles. She hugs Martin.
He scruffles her hair.
“If it’s a season of metal,” Jane says, “then I want them back.”
Martin hesitates. “Which ones?” he says, warily.
“I don’t know,” Jane says. “Just . . . you know. Them. The gods they took.”
“Iphigenia,” Jane says, because things happen in a certain order and chaos succumbs to the dictates of pattern when it must.
“How do you take her back?” says Martin.
Jane is suddenly shy.
“She made her from me,” Jane says. “She cut her out of me like with a torch. And I could never figure out if a sculpture belongs to the sculptor or the stone.”
Martin sits on the cot. “Jane,” he says.
Her eyes go round. “Are you all right?”
“I think that there is nothing I need less to imagine in all the world than the idea that sculpting people is taking from them,” he says.
“Oh,” Jane says.
“Everything everyone does,” Martin says, “is about changing the world. Making it different. And sometimes there is pain. But it is a gift and it must be a gift because you cannot gain rights to someone else simply by acting upon them.”
Jane peers at him.
“That’s backwards,” she says.
“It is the dharma of a god,” Martin says, “to view certain moral and causal relationships from the other side.”
Martin adopts an expression of intense intellectual concentration. He looks like a boy trying to read his own thoughts in a mirror. He offers, “If she had no right to carve from you, then why should she have claimed the result?”
Jane shrinks in on herself for a moment, but she is Jane. She straightens out again and grins.
“She deserves some compensation for her pains,” says Jane.
“That’s true,” Martin says. “It was good work!”
“She’s very fiery and stuff. And she kept the sun going.”
Martin looks dubious. “I bet the sun would still be going anyway.”
“It might have fallen into the sea!”
“Copernicus would argue.”
“Maybe,” says Jane. “We could unearth him and find out.”
“He’s not in his grave,” Martin says, sulkily.
“. . . so I hear.”
“If I welcome her,” asks Jane, “do you think that she’ll come?”
“It’s that easy? Just . . . tell her that she can be mine?”
“Is that easy?”
“I guess not,” says Jane.
“I was always glad,” Martin says, “that you accepted what I’d done to you. Because you could have stopped it.”
“It’s ’cause you keep not pushing the End of Everything Button,” Jane says. “I think that’s very noble of you, considering that it’s red and has that ‘don’t push’ label and all.”
“It is very difficult,” concedes Martin. “I’m a scientist.”
“So I’ll do it,” says Jane. She takes the chocolate dust bunny to the window. She kisses it. It does not respond. It is as nihilistic and detached as only a Cadbury bunny can be. “Go,” she says, and tosses it out into the chaos. “Tell Iphigenia she’s welcome here. Tell her she can come home.”
“A chocolate dust bunny?” Martin says.
“It can keep the sun running for Tina,” says Jane. “Since, you know, she won’t have Iphigenia any more. And if she eats it, she’ll get sick!”
The wind picks up the bunny in the air and tumbles it off towards land.
“Bunnies are a double-edged sword,” Martin agrees.