74.2 \ 256

A familiar quiet knock came from the edge of the front door. Even though lockdown monitoring didn’t affect the inside of their apartment building, people still had this feeling like seeing each other might get them in trouble, the atmosphere of control was so heavy. Then there were those who did break rules in order to take care of their own, and it was halfway accepted. All knocks had become quiet, so that the quieter ones weren’t so suspicious, and the louder ones were noticed. No one was sure when the tension would break, or how.

Navann opened the door and let Leyga in. She was carrying the usual grocery bag, customarily weighted with a container of food from the most recent meal she’d cooked for her and her son. They hugged. “Hey, I brought this for you. Braised dartleaf and mixed grains.”

Navann accepted the grocery bag warmly. “That’ll go perfectly with what I have in my kitchen.” She set it down in there and came out with a bundle. “Also here, I have the previous tub and bag that you gave me. Clean.”

“Great, that’s thoughtful of you.” The mother tucked those under her arm. “Oh, and Isten passed me some of his new puzzles to give you. They’re in the bag.” Navann looked toward the kitchen. “I love how you two share this cryptic game. It’s actually kind of popular, right? Other people seem to know what it is, I’ve seen them looking at this stuff. I don’t really have time for it, but I can sense a craze.”

“I would imagine that lots of people find interest in this. There’s not much else that’s new and hot right now, and this works from-one-hand-to-the-next. So that suits our current… system. But I don’t really know any others, myself. I’m just glad to have something interesting to do, and an intelligent young person like Isten to enjoy that with. He seems to know more about the social aspect than I do.”

“Well, it’s no trouble for me.” Leyga looked a little drawn and slightly sunless, but strong and decidedly optimistic. “Are you running low on anything? You know it’s easy for me to get things. Running a grocery store through the back end is a bizarrely difficult twist, and they don’t exactly pay me more – but I don’t actually have to wait my turn to purchase.”

“I was thinking of that, but I’m fine for now, Leyga dear.” Navann patted the younger woman on her arm. “I’m truly thankful for your neighborliness.” She was also excited to see what the lad had sent her.

“Okay well, I’ll be around and you know I’m right over there.”

“Of course, have yourself a good night, and rest well.” Navann closed the door softly behind Leyga. She looked around her apartment for a moment before going straight to the grocery bag.

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