“Mama? Why is the old woman so hungry? She ate the fly and the spider and bird, why did she need to eat a cat? Also, a horse? That’s impossible.”
“I really don’t know, Lor. Maybe she was a giant old lady.”
“I don’t think the teacher would be very happy with that answer, mama.”
“… maybe you should ask your mum.”
“Will she know?”
“Probably, after all she used to go to your school. She probably had to read the same things.”
Lor stood up and stretched. Luckily the weekend was ahead, so he had plenty of time to try to understand the tale of the old woman. It was a shame that grandma wasn’t here anymore – she had been old, she might have known.
“What is it, love?”
“Why do you think the old woman swallowed the fly?”
Morgan looked at Lor, confused.
“What old woman? Has Lissi been telling you stories again?”
“No mum, the one in the book I need to read for school.”
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, she thought, memories flooding back. She remembered now.
“I think I wrote down something about it being because she had a high metabolism, but I can’t remember if the teacher was annoyed or not. Anyway, that was what my mum told me to put.”
“What’s a metambulism?”
Morgan held the letter in her hands. She was unsure when it had arrived, as the flag had indicated that there was nothing in the box, but hopefully it hadn’t been there long. The envelope was made of a strange, plant-like material that had been woven tightly together to create a canvas of sorts. It… glowed?
“Lissi? There’s a letter for you. I think it may be radioactive, so be careful.”
Lissa walked over, curiosity visible in the gleam of her eyes. When she saw the paper, she let out a joyful cry and held out her hands.
“It’s from my mother! I wonder how she got it here? The shuttle has been broken for ages.”
She opened the envelope, and gently unfolded the letter. She read the contents out loud, translating as she went along.
I hope this letter reaches you, as I am having to entrust it to some rather… unusual couriers. I do not trust them, but they were passing by close to your planet and I couldn’t ignore the opportunity.
I was planning to send you an email with this information, but for something this important I felt that at least attempting a physical correspondence was best.
As you know, your brothers and sisters have been moving out since you left. They’re making their own lives on Sixam, for which I am grateful. However, I have been retired for a while and therefore there have been no new children to look after. The house seemed too empty, but I waited until the last had moved out to put my plans into action-
“I see you’ve received my letter. I had hoped to give you some warning, but it seems that I misjudged the time it would take to arrive.”
Lissa and Morgan stared in shock. How?
“Mum, how did you get here? Did you fix the shuttle?”
“I hitch-hiked. It was rather thrilling actually. You must be Morgan. You can call me Verixe – after all, we’re going to be living together. Now, where is my grandson?”