A Tale from The Lotus Chronicles
The pungent odor of lye was the only thing that kept the memories at bay, as his scrub brush scraped back and forth across the wood floor. The acrid sent was the only thing that cut through the smell of smoke and ash that wouldn’t leave him. If he concentrated on his work and didn’t look at his arms, he could almost pretend he was someone else and that the fire had never happened.
“Tip.” Master Shiro’s voice called to him. “It’s time to go.”
Tip sat back on his heels, placing the brush in the bucket. His arms and back ached, but it was a good ache. He undid the ties on his sleeves and covered the scars. The memories tried to come, but he turned his mind away from the scars.
“You can finish that tomorrow.” Shiro said from behind him.
Tip nodded, not looking at his guardian. He picked up the bucket with its soapy water as he stood.
“I’ll wait for you at the door.” Shiro said. “Be quick about putting that away. Leah and I have reached our limit of arguments for the week.”
Tip pressed his lips together and tried not to smile at that. To say Master Shiro and his wife had a passionate relationship would be to put it lightly. He often wondered if they enjoyed fighting with each other.
He put his cleaning supplies in their little closet and joined Shiro at the entrance to the guild house. It surprised him as they stepped out onto the street to see puddles gathering in the corners of the brick streets. “It’s been raining!”
“All day.” Shiro said. “It finally let up a few minutes ago. The farmers should be happy, it’s the first rain we’ve had in weeks.”
The smell of sweet mildew filled Tip’s lungs. The scent instantly transported him to his mother’s garden, where he could feel her arms around him and her soft breath as she spoke in his ear.
“Do you smell that, my dear?” She asked.
He shook his small head.
She kissed his cheek. “Close your eyes.”
He did, and the sweet, cleansing smell of rain filled his senses. A smile filled his small face, and he nodded.
“The smell of dust after rain is the sweetest in the entire world.” She nuzzled his cheek and squeezed him tight.
Tears slid from Tip’s eyes as he remembered the warmth of her embrace. A hand squeezed his shoulder. He looked up into Master Shiro’s kind eyes.
“I didn’t do it.” Tip croaked past his tears. “I didn’t start…”
“I know.” Shiro said. “Come on, Leah will get upset if we’re late for dinner.”
Tip wiped away his tears and breathed deep of the sweet air, the smell of rain filled his heart, the smell of his mother’s love. He clung to the memory, wanting desperately to remember her before the fire took her from him.