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Guitar Gifts, XIV

A short story in small installments.

On Monday—the slowest day for busking—Gifflet took Arrietty to Blue Fin Beach, and they spent a glorious day splashing and laughing; and Arrietty held her breath and dove down to the rocky bed and brought up smooth stones and shells which they put in Gifflet’s bag to bring home. But Gifflet worried about not making any money that day—in addition to having spent money on bus fare and snacks—and about what he could possibly do to earn more.

Arrietty fell asleep on the way home, and Gifflet carried her into The Old Boathouse. His arms being full, he tapped at Brasilia’s door with his toe.

“Oh, Gifflet, bring her in.” He crossed the room and laid Arrietty in her bed, first taking off her sandy shoes

Brasilia looked haggard.

“Brasilia! Have you not rested today?”

“I had to go out—it was very important. I was out all day.” She sat down and seemed to crumple.

“What’s the matter, Brasilia? What’s going on? Every day you look so tired.”

She smiled sadly. “I haven’t told anyone . . . Well, I am ill, Gifflet, very sick. I thought maybe my family—well, anyway . . .”

“Sick with what? What is it?” He didn’t want to know; he had to know.

But she didn’t answer. Instead she said, “I’ve used all my savings and I can’t afford the medication anymore. It’s so expensive . . .”

“What medication? What’s it for?” said Gifflet, alarmed. “How much does it cost?”

But Brasilia only smiled sadly and said, “I need to rest now, Gifflet. Thank you for taking her.”

***

Brasilia had stopped dancing. Now Gifflet didn’t need to babysit Arrietty in the mornings, so he had more time for busking; but it brought him no pleasure at all. Brasilia struggled even to go out for food, so most of the others had started chipping in to bring her and Arrietty daily supplies. Gifflet never saw Charming Tom contribute anything, and most days Gifflet didn’t have extra to give either; and it nettled him bitterly.

These days, he was so tense he seemed to have wooden blocks for hands when he played; and he couldn’t sing at all. Without the daily cash from Brasilia, he was barely able to eat—and even worse, Brasilia had said she needed medicine. What could he do? What could he do? Neither he nor Doctor Dolci had come up with any viable side hustle idea.

At last, it was inevitable. There was only one thing he could do, and it made him tremble with dread. But it had to be done. So, he went across the city in search of the kind of person he had never dreamt, in his worst night terrors, that he would deal with.

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