"Advice for Your First Time at the Faerie Market"
I marinated nightingale hearts in yogurt and onion juice, pressure-cooking them with cinnamon bark, turmeric and slivers of mandrake root. I sliced fluffy mushrooms patterned like butterfly wings into fillets, and steamed them folded in banana-leaf-squares.
I bit my lip bloody when the urge to taste it myself grew overwhelming—I would not add to the mounting interest—and pulled you complaining from your play to lick spoonfuls and tell me how you liked it, instead.
They rode it every hot, sticky summer, multiple times if they could, huddled together in the boats with their backpacks full of issues of National Geographic and Meccano dinosaurs they’d built together. Over the years, they went from staring awestruck at the animatronic saurians craning over them, to playing spot-the-anatomical-inaccuracies. Ash still remembers, though, that first time, when they were younger—though they’d ridden it so many times already by then—when they rounded the corner where the T-Rex lifted its metal head and roared in the low reddish light, and Mei grabbed his hand, their smaller, warmer fingers tightening in his.
The pigeon is a broken knot of feathers convulsing on the sidewalk. Kat waits for it to fall completely still before reaching forward to scoop it up. She cups it in her small, ten-year-old hands, thumbs pressing into the fragile bone-arch of its breast, and raises it from the dead.
“Wake up, birdie,” she says, and the pigeon jerks. Its jellied red eyes snap open.
His research, he explained to me, concerns itself with the spermaceti organ’s role in producing the unearthly noises that whales issue forth. He proceeded to demonstrate by connecting a number of wires and waxed cotton threads to the sac and tissue, then setting up a number of small drums at various angles to both. From his tools he produced a small instrument that he pressed against the soft swollen side of the wax and glycerine-filled organ and blew on — and lo, a low note echoed and swelled to great size & shivered off all corners of the room in a manner that rose the hairs on my arms.
My search had finally turned up two promising results: a temple in Rajasthan and another in Gujarat. Both still performed exorcisms for the princely sum of five thousand rupees and three boxes of chickpea-flour-and-sugar sweetmeats. The money was supposedly for the priests, and the sweets for the gods, but I had the sneaking suspicion the sweets, too, would end up going down the priests’ gullets the way the pret had gone down mine. I concluded that you couldn’t put a price on a ghost-free digestive system, and pulled up the number for the temple in Rajasthan.