“Hats off for Miak!” the merchant greeted Miak like an old friend, as soon as the door was opened. “Oh, you have a visitor. How rare!”
“How rare indeed,” Miak agreed. “Come on in.”
The merchant entered the house. “Your house seems small now that there are three people inside,” he noted, observing me as he passed by.
“The world is small too,” Miak said. His tone was hinting at something, and I knew what it was, but I kept quiet. “You still going around the same places every month?”
“Yeah,” the merchant answered. “Just this country, actually. It’s big enough for me to travel around here for a month.”
Miak brought forth a box, and put it on the table for the merchant. “Haven’t you considered seeing other places?”
The merchant shook his head.
“Sigrun here is a lone traveler. She wandered by today,” Miak told him. Then, to me, he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to introduce you. Sigrun, this is Biyn.”
“Is something the matter?” Miak asked, noticing the change in atmosphere.
“The world is small indeed,” Biyn said, taking his hat off. That was when I saw him clearly. “I thought you looked familiar before, but I’d never known I would get to–”
I walked away, heading for the door to the field. Biyn was the last person I was ready to see. I’d wandered everywhere and came back here, because I thought he would be gone, or at least, that I’d grown old enough not to be recognized.
But sometimes, the world is just too small.
“Sigrun?” Miak inquired. “Could it be…?”
“Yes!” I called out to answer him, running out to the field. Biyn followed. In two steps, he’d caught up with me. He took hold of my elbow.
“Sigrun, I’m sorry,” he said. “I hadn’t meant to leave you there. I was just scared of losing my family and–”
“You ended up alone anyway,” I pointed out. “You’re a lone merchant traveling by yourself. You’re so beastly, so selfish, you’ve always been alone, and you always will be. Nobody would willingly stay with you.” The words I’d always wanted to say to him gushed out in rage.
“It’s been more than twenty years. People change, Sigrun. Time changes people. Trust me. I can do better now.”
“Do better at what?” I questioned. “Stealing?” Biyn had his back to the door that opened to the field. Since I was facing him, I could also see that Miak had followed us out of the house, and although he kept a distance, he was watching us with a thoughtful expression.
Yes, time changes people. That was what I thought when I looked at Miak. Heartbreak and time had changed King Midas into Miak. But Biyn as I saw him now was the exact same man that had begged at my feet all those years ago. As much as I hated to admit it, I’d been thinking about him often enough to be able to tell whether there was any difference in him since the last time we met.
He shook his head. “I’m bolder now.” He lowered his voice then. “Sigrun, this is an abandoned city. The old man is rich. From what I see, he doesn’t have family around. No one would know if I killed him and took his wealth. It could be ours. I can give you the good life you didn’t have a chance to experience before.”
For the second time that day, my eyes widened in shock.
It was craze in his eyes. It was craze, I was sure of it. I grabbed both of his elbows. It must have looked like we were holding each other dear, but we were in fact trying to restrain each other from making a reckless move–whatever we thought “reckless” meant, and our definitions had to be different.
“Don’t kill somebody for wealth,” I said. “It’s not worth it. Diamonds isn’t worth getting your hands dirty for.”
“You are worth anything,” Biyn said.