Biibi darted from her brother’s shadow, thrusting her arms across Naqiit’s lap as she clung to her leg, head below the table, bobbing up and down to peek at Gabin. Kuua slid onto the empty chair and reached for the glass of juice, draining it, and wiping his mouth before looking from Gabin to his father.
“I put the bag in the hall.”
“Thank you,” Gabin said.
“It was heavy.”
“It’s the clay.”
Iisaaq said something to Biibi, nibbling at her ribs with his fingers until she pulled away from her mother. “I told her to get a bucket,” he said. “The air is very dry here. Clay will turn to brick and dust before you know it. Biibi will get you a bucket of water. She’ll keep it full.”
“I can do that,” Gabin said, as Biibi darted out of the kitchen.
Iisaaq reached for his coffee, and said, “Biibi will do it.” He finished his coffee and stood up, leaning over the table to kiss Naqiit’s cheek, before tugging a crumpled packet of cigarettes from his pocket. “I need a smoke,” he said, nodding for Gabin to follow him.
Naqiit watched them leave, then spoke to Kuua. Her soft words followed Gabin and Iisaaq into the hall and out of the house as soon as they pulled their shoes on. Iisaaq tapped two cigarettes out of the packet and they smoked as they walked back down to the beach.
“The house on the corner,” he said, pointing with the tip of his cigarette. “Uularikka lives there. She mends clothes. All the women can, but Uularikka is the best. You can pay her in fish.”
Gabin laughed. “I haven’t got any fish.”
“I will teach you to catch more than you need.”
They stopped at the beach. Iisaaq rested against the gunwale of his dinghy, puffing smoke from the cigarette clamped between his lips as he slid his hands into his pockets. Gabin stood beside him, nodding when Iisaaq pointed to Biibi as she filled a bucket with lumps of brash ice from the fjord.
“That’s less than half a bucket, when it melts,” Iisaaq said, as Biibi struggled up the beach, too busy to look at her father or to sneak another peek at Gabin. “She’ll have to go many times.” He called out to his daughter, laughing at her reply.
“What did she say?”
“That she was too busy to talk.”
Gabin watched Biibi drag the bucket along the path and then finished his cigarette.
“You’ve been very generous, Iisaaq,” he said. “But you haven’t asked me any questions.”
“I don’t need to.”
“No?” The pebbles beneath Gabin’s feet crunched as he turned to look at out at the fjord. “Where I come from… Well, let’s just say people would have a lot of questions, and they wouldn’t be so helpful as you.”
“Don’t think about it.”
“But I do.” Gabin caught Iisaaq’s eye. “And I appreciate your help.”
Iisaaq plucked the cigarette from his lips and flicked the butt onto the beach. “I know you do. And I know you’ll do what you can to help me in return.”
“How can you be so sure?”
Iisaaq lifted his chin and looked Gabin in the eye. “Because I know what you did.”
To be continued…
Copyright © Christoffer Petersen, 2021.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
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