As the shadow of the strange ship, held aloft by complex clockwork, fell over her, Y’ora’s mind did not blank with panic, nor did she mourn the loss of her smuggler’s empire.
Her mind turned to the past, to one particular moment in time. She wasn’t sure why – perhaps it was the warmth of it; the mirth and the carelessness of it – but she thought about the time that she and Courtland had made bread together.
She, a young girl with her hair in the haphazard braids that her adoptive father had never quite managed to get right, standing between Courtland and the counter, her arms elbow-deep in dough, with flour clouding the air, turning her faded green dress a still paler shade. They were both laughing. Laughing.
In the here and now, Y’ora’s vision blurred and her eyes began to ache. Was she crying? Nonsense. Y’ora El – no, the Spider – never wept, never feared or wanted for anything! And yet, there they were. Fat tears rolling down her cheeks, burning her skin with their unfamiliar heat, as they traced along the slight hills and valleys of her face.
Was the recipe for that bread from Courtland’s old life, the life without Y’ora in it? Had it been the bread his wife made with their daughter while Daddy was out working?
Y’ora still had that old recipe, she was sure of it. But where was it? In her diary? Maybe in the book of pressed flowers, not so lovely to look at anymore, but still beautiful with the memory of Courtland gifting her with them; one each year, on her birthday.
The shadow over her grew larger still, the flying ship gaining on her easily, soon to overtake her completely. Y’ora could not hear the mocking calls and bestial growls of the undead things on the deck; she could not feel the horse beneath her as his hooves thundered at the earth in his blind panic. She was a dozen years ago; a little girl in the warm kitchen on a summer morning, making bread with her father. She was safe, protected. And they were laughing. Laughing.