asia ralaia schiegoh

heaven's little harem

because love is always worthy of sharing...


a little bit of trouble

"God, it looks worse than I remember."

Achilles passed through the splintered threshold with despondent acceptance, gripping the cardboard box in his arms all the tighter. A trashed, cluttered menagerie of dust-blanketed furnishings and fixings; overturned dining tables, eviscerated appliances, random puddles of blackened, singed fabric that could just as easily been curtains as they could once have been tablecloths. A right proper mess. And it all belonged to him now.

"Where'd yeh like I put these down, laddie?"

He blinked his blues, stammering as he glanced back to see the heavyset old shepherd moving to lift several suitcases from the back end of his tiny vehicle. "I'll take them, Mr. Carson. Yeah, just leave them on the floor there. I'm not worried about getting anything dirty."

The elderly Mr. Carson rolled a suitcase from the sidewalk just inside the door, pausing himself to take a brief glance around. "Fancy luggage yeh've got, lad! Though I dunno what much good it'll do yeh here now; I daresay yeh'll have to live out of it fer a while, hmm?"

A blight of humor tickled the new tenant as he dropped the box haplessly upon the wooden counter between the displays, returning to help roll in the remainder of his baggage. "It's certainly not what I remember, if that's what you mean," he sauntered dryly.

"Ah, yes, but what ever does remain the same once we've left our childhood behind?" For a moment he could do naught but look, a victim to the appalling conditions that had befallen The Rolling Pin. "I tell yeh, yer granny sure knew how ter run the place! Back in those days? Why, us Carsons used ter drop in the mornings on our way ter the marketplace. Yer Granny made the best breakfast rolls I ever did taste, yeh know that? Blimey."

Carson lowered his cap in something of deference as he looked to Achilles. Those watery grays once held the perceptivity of the ruling lion once upon a time, he remembered. And now the poor old shepherd could hardly see beyond his own wrinkled hands without squinting for focus. Like most things he recalled from his childhood here in quiet little Westingshire, Carson had aged. And quite terribly.

The elder sighed, brushing the dusty particles from his tattered gray cap. "Ah, well. Those days are long gone, are they not? It's good yer back in yer roots, laddie. Yeh'll fix this ole place up real proper, find yerself a nice girl that's not ashamed ter be traditional at home, make yerself a good place in this little world of ours. Penny's got ter be smilin' down on yeh from heaven as we speak fer all yer doing. She'd be mighty proud."

Achilles had to smirk at that. "I hope so, Mr. Carson."

"And yer mother then, hmm? How is dear Verena these days? Oh, there now, laddie, let me help yeh -"

"Nonsense, I've got it." He paused to adjust his glasses before dragging in the other two suitcases. For everything that still needed unpacking, it would be time for tea rather soon. "And frankly, Mr. Carson, your guess is as good as mine how Mum's been doing. But I'm sure she'll find her way around these parts sooner than later. Just as Mrs. Carson will be if I don't let you go before tea!"

The two of them chuckled in synch, the old man turning to go as the younger tossed down the last of his baggage. Funny how the mention of the man's wife was more than enough to spur him into action.

Mr. Carson snappily fitted his cap back on before quipping, "Well! I'm off, then, laddie. Don't be afraid ter give us a ring should yeh need anything. Oh!"

He flailed his finger excitedly at his newfound idea, Achilles pausing in his overwhelming perusal. "Why don't yeh come on over this evening fer supper?! Mary'll have a mind ter bring yeh dishes anyhow, so just bring yerself on over."

"Mr. Carson, really, I ca-"

"Mare won't be taking 'no' for an answer," the graying shepherd excused. He waved his hand in farewell, already making for the rickety jalopy that was nearly as old as Achilles himself. "And nor will I. We'll see yeh at seven, then! Oh, pardon me, lass..."

Achilles had ignored the small talk taking place outside the tattered storefront, sneezing into the crook of his arm. Goddammit, this bloody dust! Even standing around staring at the place drove his nerves into madness, his already garbled questions into enraging accusations. His mother had given him the impression for the last fifteen years that, despite Granny's illness, The Rolling Pin had been seen to. "It'll be in good care for when you're ready to take it," Verena had always promised.

Now that Achilles ran a frustrated hand through his dirty blonde hair as he began the egress out the back, he realized his mother must have assumed her son had no intention to uphold his grandmother's dying wish.

That'd explain why she nearly lost her head with me making the trip here. At that he had to chuckle; his mother remained selfish even still.

A flighty knock upon the threshold prompted Achilles out from his thoughtful stupor, only to send him knee-deep into another.

"Can I... help you, miss?"

"God, I sure hope so!"

It were as though she needed no invitation, much less anything beyond a greeting with inquiry for assistance. Her wild, tumefied hair encompassed her smirking face as some sort of kinked halo, dark eyes centered solely on him as she stepped over and around the heaps of luggage and boxes strewn upon the sooty hardwood floor in a pair of magenta pumps. Despite the eccentricity of her chic city garb in an English village some three hundred miles from London, Achilles himself could not shake her stare. She was, undoubtedly, a complete eyesore. Yet how she managed to look so comely in all her bizarre allure remained a mystery.

The young woman adjusted the multicolored designer bag within the crook of her arm as the other extended to him, still a good few feet away in her zigzagged walking. "You must be Achilles, then? You've gotta be, with that chin and all; look just like her."

"I'm sorry?"

But she had already forced the handshake, her grip tight yet remiss as her own gaze finally began to take in the rubbish surrounding them. "She told me you'd need help and all, but I never expected the place to look quite like this. We'd better get started if we want it open before the Fisherman's Festival -"

Achilles shook his head, solidifying his tone as he crossed his arms. "Alright, now look here! I don't know who sent you down here, miss, but I'm quite sure it had nothing to do with me. And you can tell me mum I don't want any of her bloody lot coming to weasel me out of anything."

"Oh, please. I've hardly come on your mother's regard. What've you decided to do about these old display shelves, dear?"

"Well I haven't got anything to pay you with if you're looking for employment in any case, much less a rusted shilling to do a damn thing around this place. Whatever you've come for, I don't want it and won't be giving away anything I don't have. Now, I'll have to ask you to leave."

He started to usher her away when she slapped at his shoulder with her bag. Startled, Achilles furrowed his brow before finally grabbing at her arm.

"The hell is wrong with you, woman?!"

"Clearly, the one in the wrong is you! How dare does the likes of you lay your hands on me, a goddess?!"

He paused in his confusion, frowning. Yes, it seemed tea would likely be late this evening.