Tourmaline: Nedforum (part six)
But a vision came, of himself too obviously up to something, not at rest on a mental health day, but outfitted for the office, escorting his mother around the market booths. Buying anything, because ticketholders were allowed. Buying candlesticks, figurines… And what if he curried favor, told his mother he would like new curtains and a change of rug?
All that must start a hare. He wished they would arrest him again, that his power, so abused, would force them to.
“No,” he told her, while a seller paged through hanging rugs, walking into the dark center of his display, lifting corners, bringing patterns into better light. “I need colors psychologically enhancing of positivity. Do you see this ring?”
His hand under the seller’s nose drove, closed in a fist. The man shrank in body, but showed a brave closing-the-sale face.
“I want a yellow that’s mated to that green. I don’t know the name of this stone.”
The seller, Hidtha—in scattered communities some full-Hidtha lived assimilated—chose to nibble the bait. Anton judged this from the passage of two or three thoughts, the eyes and jaw settling at last into acceptance.
“A crystal like that will be tourmaline. It is another sort of stone if it is not. Or I should say it is another sort of green.”
Permitting himself to gesture in search of a word, he removed to a distance, his person from Anton’s.
“This tourmaline, then.”
The seller gripped a rug, swung it forward to widen the gap, back to reveal itself. “I have yellow with red.”
“I don’t want red. I want tourmaline.”
“Then I can promise you only that I will ask my suppliers. Don’t come next month. Come this day two months.”
“Can we get lunch now? Or coffee, someplace outside the market.”
“You’re manic. This is too much for you. Stop it, Anton.”
His mother gasped a little; he had got her by the arm, and was rushing her down the winding aisle, everything arranged to shunt strollers past as many booths, as much merchandise, as possible.
He did feel manic…he had set a great act in motion. This day, Wednesday; or this day, the twenty-third, in two months.
Aromatic coffees brewed at a food-court booth, one that sold chicken wraps in sweet-and-sour, peppercorn, bacon. Anton halted back of the queue, willing Mrs. Leonhardt to stay or take the bus by herself, to be in his hair or out of it, but to silence her ignorance. He must review and mnemonicize all the seller had drawn his attention to.
Red, red, did it matter?
Screens attached, at every few meters of ceiling flanking booths, went a sudden blue, a simultaneity that altered the market’s mood. A chime repeated, E above middle C; the note best to infiltrate human consciousness, stilling thought. Anton’s overstimulated brain had been trained to this in captivity, and he lost for a moment the whole of his day.
(2020, Stephanie Foster)