Hanna bundled up with my scarf as added protection against the cold. He'd been wearing heavy layers now for a while now, but he'd complained about the back of his neck getting cold, so I wrapped the bright blue and green article around his neck before he could say anything. I got a warming smile as he looks at the ending tassels in his hand.
He left twenty minutes later after I found a new crane on the tree, colored in the same pattern and colors of my scarf.
We got back from the rink sometime around noon, Hanna's face still flushed and smiling from the cold air. His apartment does little to protect him from the chill outside, so he remains in all of his sweaters and hat as I make him a stove grilled cheese sandwich and hot tomato soup.
The day's crane for the tree was red and yellow gold, as I was informed later and had been inspired by the city's decorations.
52 and a third. Ice Skating
"Let's do something today."
Hanna was awake surprisingly early, at seven a.m., and of his own will and volition. I'd stayed the night and read some of the library books that would have to be returned soon, so the alarm that I'd only ever heard when Hanna had a morning shift surprised me slightly. It was Sunday Hanna's day off.
Hanna had said no to my offer for breakfast, opting instead to shower right away, which intrigued me greatly. Hanna had planned this completely.
"What did you have in mind?"
"Maybe ice skating?" He had just gotten out of the shower and was pulling on several layers as the steamy warmth from the hot shower slowly left him.
"Ice skating?" I asked, thinking back, "I don't think I know how."
"Oh, it'll be great! I'll teach you. I use to go ice skating all the time, and it's like riding a bike, you never forget. And, well, there's this rink in the city that's free on Sunday mornings. All you have to pay for is skates. And it's in the better part of town, so it's really pretty. Especially when they decorate for Christmas."
I thought of all sorts of ways this could go wrong me without body parts made several of them but Hanna was set. It hadn't really been an offer, just a statement.
The walk to downtown was pretty long, but Hanna enjoyed the fresh air, and it didn't bother me at all. I was wearing my jacket, hat and gloves in an attempt to keep low profile, but I had insisted that Hanna wear the scarf again.
It was a little before eight when we got there, but already there were a dozen people on the ice. The rink was outdoors, and in the center of a park that seemed very well kept. It took Hanna a few minutes and four dollars to rent two pairs of skates for us.
If I'd ever worn skates before, I certainly didn't remember it, and it all felt wobbly to me, even before we made our way on to the ice. I didn't stumble much, but just the unsteadiness of the thin blades made me uncomfortable. Hanna was waiting patiently for me to make sure that I could actually do this.
If walking around in the skates was unnerving, maneuvering on the ice was hell. Hanna was skating backwards to make sure I didn't fall (as visions of me taking a stumble and my head rolling away flew through my mind). However, with Hanna's help and a little instinct guiding me, the sliding motion started to feel natural. At least, natural enough for Hanna to assume that he could let me be as he went off on his own.
While the fact that Hanna is talented in many ways was never surprising, the fact that one of those ways was ice skating wasn't exactly what I'd expected. Nevertheless, he was skating literal circles around me, along with several twists and jumps that made for my benefit.
I started to notice the others that were there besides us. There was an elderly couple that was making slow circles around the edge of the rink while holding hands. A father was helping his small daughter's faulty steps on the ice, while what appeared to be her older sister kept coming up and teasing the little girl. There were some couples out on the ice that were skating together in inter mingled ways (the boy pulling the girl, or skating while holding her from behind, or simply holding hands) while they would give each other chaste kisses. There was one teen aged girl that was their by herself, wearing clothing that must have been far to thin for how cold it was, that was practicing some sort of routine that involved her falling quite often, getting back up, and returning to a familiar position before nodding her head to a beat and starting again.
At nine, I noticed a hot dog and pretzel vendor that had set up along one side of the rink, so I forced Hanna to stop and eat in the bleachers. He was talking animatedly with a cheerfulness that was contagious.
"Oh my god! Hamlet! That was a smile!" Hanna exclaimed mid-sentence. I had been watching the little girl fall down for the third time. But this time, she hadn't let her dad pick her back up, but instead tried to wobble her way back to her feet. I glanced back at Hanna, maintaining my small smile, before I looked back at the girl. Hanna followed my gaze and watched too as the girl eventually got back on her feet.
Hanna smiles as folds the green and red polka dots paper, squinting at his work because he hadn't bothered to put on his glasses yet.
The weather bug on Hanna's laptop tells us that it's now cold enough for snow, and that there is a fifteen percent chance of it.
Hanna holds out a small white crane that he has given a Santa hat somehow. I hold out my scarf and gloves.
"We need to get me some of my own," he says looking at the floppy fingertips of the gloves that too big for his hands.
around 55. Snowball Fights
Snow didn't fall until that night. I watched as, out the window, big fat snowflakes started to weave their way down in the light of the street lamp. By the time Hanna woke up, it was almost impossible to see the other side of the alley. Instead, you saw hundreds of white snowballs blurring past at thirty miles an hour.
To Hanna, it was perfect weather for a snowball fight.
I somewhat disagreed.
Still, I somehow ended up with a snowball in my face, fifty more on my back, and Hanna laughing gleefully as I squinted through layers of white to see him ran back behind his sanctuary of the dumpster.
That laughter, white as the snow storm, almost made it worth it.
The snowball I landed in between his eyes made up for the rest.
After two hours and an on-coming cold-slash-flu later, Hanna went back inside at my request.
The apartment isn't really warm, but even I felt the difference in heat through the cold of dead flesh. Hanna sheds two layers that I immediately hung in the kitchen over the sporadic furnace. The kitchen still became the least cold room in the house when I started making breakfast. So when Hanna got out of the shower, he flocked to my side as close as I would let him get to the stove.
"The h-hot water's g-g-gone," he shivered out.
"I told you to shower before we went out."
"I-I wanted to w-warm up again after that. I th-thought it would st-still be hot."
There were a few minutes where I focused on not burning pancakes and Hanna focused on not freezing to death.
"You know, Klaus, that was the most fun I've had in while."
I looked over at him, staring at the small yellow light bulb in the center of the room. He wasn't smiling. But he wasn't sad. His expression focused and mouth set, he somehow kept me from reading his eyes. But he wasn't sad. I could tell that much by the set in his jaw, the soft furrow of his eyebrows.
"Are you alright, Hanna?"
He bubbled back to himself as if he had just dozed off like usual. "Oh, yeah, no, I'm great! I mean, if I didn't have to head into work in an hour, I'd be like perfect.
If I didn't have to take the bus, it'd be better."
I focused back on the pancakes as Hanna rambled on about bus fairs and blizzards and his boss, letting him have his secrets.
But at least I now knew he could act. Even if he wasn't fully aware of it.
Hanna was shivering, his wet hair plastered against his face was probably freezing, and even with two layers of sweaters, and flannel pajama pants under his jeans, his nose was still red and dripping.
The crane was white, for the snow that was beating against our window, Hanna said. I think his fingers were too cold to want to draw anything on the crane. Folding it was bad enough.
It was no longer snowing, but all of the sidewalks were still piled high with white left over from yesterday.
The crane was white with a green squiggle around his neck and little dots of red in clusters of three surrounded it. Hanna told me it was a wreath. I had my doubts.
Hanna had been coughing and sneezing, but he said that everything was fine. I made him wear more layers, but he couldn't miss anymore work, so he went in sick after leaving a small green crane that blends in with the tree.
I walked Hanna to work since he had a fever, but I can't stay with him all day. The walk back is cold and dark because of the late winter days.
When I get back to the apartment, I fold a plain white crane and hang it uselessly toward the back of the tree.
Hanna was told not to come into work by his boss. He slept into the early afternoon, when I made him eat some soup. It was snowing again, and Hanna never left the three heavy comforters we owned.
His fever finally breaks around four pm, and when he wakes up around nine at normal temperature, I hand him a blank white crane to draw on.
Hanna's cold was nothing more than a sore throat and hoarse voice, so he went back work.
But not before leaving a cheery new red and white checkered crane on the tree.
Hanna was digging through some boxes that appeared to have come out of nowhere, since there wasn't anywhere in our apartment that wasn't already occupied.
Hanna makes no comments on where they came from, however. Instead, he pulls out an old boom-box that he forgot he owned, and a stack of CDs. I recognize a few of the artists from Hanna's computer, but the case that Hanna chooses is old and scratched, and looks like it'd seen a lot of wear and tear before ending up in Hanna's hands.
It fits in with everything else in the apartment, except Hanna.
"Christmas music, Chris!" Hanna informs me as he presses play. The CD skips, and the quality is terrible, but I still smile as Hanna dances around me.
After the first three carols, which Hanna knows every lyric to (but could use some help with the music), he settles down and sighs happily at the table and fold a crane that read Chris Cringle is red sharpie.
61-ish. The Tree II (with Veser)
I answered the door and was surprised to see a head full of grey hair and a mouth full of sharp teeth. "Hello Veser."
"Hey," he said, inviting himself in. "I'm sorry to, like, intrude or whatever, but I kinda got
I, uh, got kicked out."
"Veser!" Hanna said from the kitchen, coming through the doorway seconds later. It's already eleven pm, and Hanna's wearing two layers of sweats and my scarf.
"Dude, what are you wearing?"
Not that Veser's puffy, blue, finned coat was much better.
Hanna stopped and gave the half-selkie a glare. "It's like four degrees."
"Veser was kicked out," I interjected as I close the door.
"Oh, man, that sucks! Hey, you can totally stay here! Not that we've got anywhere to put you, but at least it's not snowing on you. And we've got some extra blankets, so it's not like you have to share with me or anything."
I left sometime after one, while Hanna and Veser were staring intently at the small computer screen shining images of The Grudge at them.
I put the tree back together the next day while Hanna was at work. I'm still not quite sure what happened while I was out on my walk for the night. Neither Hanna nor Veser were really willing to tell me straight out what happened.
I gathered it had something to do with frying pans.
Needless to say, Veser could find somewhere else to stay next time.
The Christmas cranes are scattered throughout the main room after I put the tree back together, and the blue and green one that matches my scarf has been stepped on. I unfold it carefully, and lay it out on a freshly cleaned table. It wasn't hard to find a couple of books heavy enough to flatten it out.
I make a replacement one for it for the time being, but its pattern is a sad copy of the original.
The early setting sun coupled with the mall's seasonal long hours means Conrad's invited Hanna and me to Christmas shop with him.
I hid behind my scarf and gloves, but it was hardly enough. I heard the same "It's Christmas, not Halloween" twice while pushing through the mass of shoppers with Hanna and the vampire, but all in all, everyone was too focused on sales and wish lists to pay much attention to me.
Hanna could tell I was slightly frustrated with the crowds and deals and crazy, over-stressed mothers fighting over the sweater or phone or whatever it happened to be. He folded a crane that says Sorry after yet another person pushed through our group.
I hate malls.
Hanna is excited because he's got the next three days off. He's had the Christmas tree lights on since he first got up, and I made up for it by keeping the dangling bulb in the center of the room dark.
Breakfast is a festive, or so Hanna says, and consists of ham, eggs, bacon and cheese on dark toast.
"I haven't had this in years! Used to have it, like, every day for a month before Christmas."
"Why did you stop?"
" Hanna says solemnly, before taking a huge, stalling bite. "Well, I dunno
I can't cook, so
I can tell it's not a topic to force out, so I don't respond any more than to fold a green and white striped crane.
Hanna seemed surprised that he woke up in his own bed.
"I mean, how did we even get home?" he asks, rubbing at the hangover I'm sure is killing him.
"Ohhh." He idly picked up a paper and folded it twice before pausing. "Who would have thought that Conrad knows how to party?
How did he get home?"
"I have no idea."
"Oh well. We'll have to go and check on him later. I mean, Jeez, the guy can't even get drunk, so what was that? I doubt he can get into too much trouble, though. I mean, since he learned how to fly and all."
He was still talking as he grabbed the red Sharpie and started writing on the new crane. "And that scarf Toni got me for Christmas? Now I don't have to steal yours all the time! But I probably still will, just for old time's sake and all that. It's a comfortable scarf!"
He hands me the crane that reads Christmas Eve!
"Maybe a bit ostentatious, but it totally suits you! Somehow
I mean, that's really weird, since you wear it trying to blend in, but you probably get more stares because of it."
I wondered slightly why he wasn't facing a massive hangover.
A few hours before 66. Merry Christmas
I had told myself that Hanna was an adult. No matter what the bartender at Curved said, his ID was correct. He could take care of himself. He had before I'd even been resurrected
But it only helped my worry slightly.
It was snowing. The ground was covered in a fresh and almost flawless sheet of white. Very few people had really been outside on Christmas morning, so I picked on the five paths leading away from our apartment.
I found him just standing there ankle deep and footprints already softened with minutes, maybe hours, of snow at the top of the hill across the street from the thrift store where we would get some of our groceries. The street was empty of just about everyone, and Hanna's hair and new scarf were easily seen from a block away.
"Columbus! Hey! Is it eleven already?"
"Something like that."
He laughed a little, but didn't say anything. He turned around and looked back over the hill as I made my final steps up to the top.
I could see the skyline of the nicer part of town, and for once I didn't feel like I was encroaching.
"O-of course I am! Why wouldn't I be? It's Christmas!
And you're here, so I kind of finally remember why the Holiday actually means something."
I could hear a snow truck a couple blocks down, and a woman bundled up in a dress coat walked out of the thrift store with her arms full of paper. The umbrella kept most of the snow off my back.
"Feh. That was pretty sappy. Anyways." He reached inside his jacket, pulling out a brown fedora with an orange trim. And handed it to me.
"A fedora?" I asked, taking the hat.
"Yeah! You lost your last one in the theater a while back. But it fit you, so I got you a nicer one this time."
It was new none of the stitches were lose, or edges worn, or color faded and it was nicer. The ribbon of orange was satin, and the padding inside was covered in a similar fabric. The seams didn't show, and the tag was still square and pristine.
"Merry Christmas! Just don't lose this one, kay? Hey, I think the IHOP is still open I want some freakin' pancakes."
The snow started blowing from the east, landing on my shoulders and in my hair. But it didn't bother me much. The hat fit perfectly.
My smile wasn't tallied by Hanna.
But even though we didn't go to IHOP (too expensive), and Hanna still had to wear his new red scarf in the apartment (furnace was broken), and the pancake mix had technically expired almost a week ago (it was on sale for that reason), and the light went out a couple hours later (snow storm), I sort of counted it for him.
The crane was simple and white and read Our First Christmas! in Hanna's block lettering.
I hung it on the tree while Hanna finished his pancakes, bacon, and sunny-side-up eggs I made him as a present.
I hadn't taken off the new fedora he got me since he handed it to me.
At twelve o'clock, Hanna handed me a crane that read Happy New Year.
We could hear the fireworks crackling over downtown.
"It's gonna be an awesome year," Hanna assured me. I agreed completely.
The snow never got old for Hanna. So we walked together the third night this week.
We decided to stop at a park for a second, the one with the pond that had frozen over. Hanna made a miniature snowman out of three snowballs.
While he did that, I found an old receipt in my pocket from the grocery store. You could read iBROC ... 4.67/i on the wing.
The camera was probably as old as Hanna, but it still worked rather well. Since Hanna found it somewhere in his dresser, he'd already taken four pictures of me cooking, two of him posing around me, and one of the hanging cranes in the corner.
Hanna danced as he shook the Polaroid, trying to dry it out.
"This is a pretty good one, Lester," he said, showing it to me by leaning in front my cooking. I moved him away from the boiling soup and took the picture. It was my face in profile highlighted by his kitchen window.
"I agree." I said, handing him back the photo.
A few minutes later, Hanna ooh'd with a good idea and immediately folded a white crane.
By the time Hanna's hot potato soup was ready, Hanna had ten new pictures of the crane pose in various positions. One of them was Hanna holding the crane as if it were perched on my head. Another was the crane physically perched on my head.
"How much does Polaroid film cost?" I asked.
Hanna stopped taking pictures for a while after that.
Hanna couldn't sleep, so he decided to join me on my visit to the library.
We went around midnight, when the staff knew me and my cover story. The librarian, to Hanna's surpise, sometimes invited me over for tea or to join her at church, and the twenty-something that worked part-time as their night custodian often invited me to play at a bar he knew, he had connections to the management and it paid well. Sometimes, I felt inclined to accept. But still, Mrs. Dreggor's church had yet to see my without my green makeup and Zac still hadn't seen my band play. I felt a little guilty that they never would.
Zac and Hanna, who played along as a groupie, talked about my band while I searched through the classics. I lost them somewhere between C. S. Lewis and Edgar Alan Poe. By the time I found them again, I apparently knew five new instruments other than guitar.
"You never said you played bagpipe!"
I looked directly at Hanna before saying, "I don't play it very often."
Luckily, Mrs. Dreggor decided Zac had gotten out of enough work, and Hanna was left with a parting, "Well, anyway, you should totally talk Kirt into playing at the Grey Lady. He keeps saying he's too busy."
Hanna was so humored by the idea of me in a band that for the rest of the stay at the library, that's all he could talk about. Until Mrs. Dreggor finally asked me to keep him quiet.
As I collected a couple more books, Hanna grabbed on of the slips from beside the catalog card box.
"You really should learn how to play the bagpipe or something. It'd give you something to do," Hanna said, handing me a small crane that read Kirt in pencil.
I considered it.
We were running. Very fast. Hanna had warned me that wereravens were dangerous. I hadn't doubted him. But in hind sight, he underestimated.
The giant bird was close behind us. Too close for me. Way too close for Hanna. He was trying to write some runes on his arm, but he kept messing up because of the fast pace. He needed some time.
I was still moving, but it's mainly momentum, as I turned around, sliding back on the balls of my feet, and planted the glowing hammer right on the bird's face. She was blindsided, but frantic as her talons landed in my left arm, the arm that was up to block. I felt the stitches break messily and new scars form before the whole limb goes numb. I raised the hammer again to strike I wasn't sure at what, but at something when a burst of tell-tale green exploded in my (and the wereraven's) face.
"Charlie!" Hanna screamed as both the wereraven and I went down in a mess of burning feathers, before an unfamiliar unconsciousness overcame me.
When I woke up disoriented, Hanna was there, my arm was reattached, I was in Worth's office, and Hanna was there. He was yelling at me and sobbing and apologizing just a little too fast for my mind to catch up with. What my mind did catch up with was a small paper crane being crushed between me and Hanna as he hugged/screamed at/cried to me.
It wasn't that I didn't trust Lamont, I was just wary of people who knew too much without being told.
But Hanna trusted him completely, even acted a little like his kid brother.
Besides, Lamont and I were never alone together. It was even rare for it to just be us and Hanna.
Lamont leaned back against Worth's desk. "I've heard you and Hanna are trying to make a thousand cranes."
I shifted uncomfortably and looked back at the examination room's door. "Yeah."
When I looked back he was touching a piece of paper on Worth's desk, sliding it closer to him.
Lamont didn't say anything else as he focused on the paper. His folds weren't as precise or fast as I'd come to expect from Hanna or myself, but a crane takes shape nonetheless.
"You know, I use to worry a little about Hanna. The company he kept and all that." Lamont laughed, "Hell, I worry about anyone who's keeping company with Luce."
He tossed the new crane to me and smiled.
"I don't so much anymore worry, I mean."
It was snowing again and Hanna is watching a movie with pirates. From what I can remember when Hanna sat me down to explain, as he put it, the universe, it has Johnny Depp in it which automatically makes it great.
Hanna was just paid, and most of our bills had been paid for this month, so I take what was left over and go shopping for the next two weeks.
Hanna was drawing an eye-patch on a crane that already had a striped red and white shirt. He was getting pretty good at drawing on cranes.
"It's Captain Jack!" he said excitedly, waving it around for me to see.
I smile as I put the groceries down on the counter.
"Tomorrow, we'll have to watch a ninja movie."
Hanna didn't make it to the next day to watch a ninja movie. Although, Naruto isn't quite what I was thinking when he said ninja.
"This show use to be really, really popular a few years ago," he said over the opening song.
I must have missed it.
He puts a ninja mask on the new crane and names it Sasuke. "Even though he's such a cliché."
It took us a while to count them all after Hanna mentioned that we had no idea how many paper cranes there were. Hanna was surprised to see we had passed fifty already, regretting not counting off from the beginning.
Even so, seventy-five was an important enough number for Hanna. The crane was made out of the biggest paper we could find and old manual for a VCR that Hanna no longer owned that Hanna decorated with several different colors of marker until the teal and magenta ones had run out of ink. The end product was big, as large as my head, and had taken both of us to fold.
"We'll have to find bigger paper for the one-hundredth one," Hanna said, putting the paper monstrosity on top of the fridge with the help of a step ladder.
Because Conrad offered to pay, Hanna had half a cheeseburger shoved in his mouth. Veser was already done with his.
Hanna had asked for a a flimsy, cheep cardboard crown when he ordered, and had put it on my head. I took it off now, and stared at it for a few seconds.
Hanna met my eyes and he gulped down what was in his mouth. "I've never made a crane out of cardboard."
The hardest part was actually trying to get a square out of such an odd shape. Without scissors. Veser tried using his teeth, but we only ended up with a soggy, chewed up half of a crown. Conrad got another crown, refusing to put his hands on Veser's saliva, and with a few simple back and forth folds, handed Hanna a perfect square.
It took a lot of redefining creases and going back to the beginning, but by the time we were ready to leave, we had a crane.
I went exploring through the apartment to pass the time while Hanna was at work. Hanna came home to me looking through all of his high school yearbooks. He stopped dead on in the doorway.
"Wh-where did you find ... those?"
I looked up. "You were cute as a kid," I not-answer, holding up the page.
Hanna simply stared at the fifteen year old with dark hair and braces and freckles and thick rim glasses like it was advance calculus. "Wh-what?"
I go back to looking at the signatures in the back of the book. There weren't a lot, but there was one every year that would take up a whole page in random jokes and doodles. "Who is Fredly?"
"Wha-what? Who? Oh, n-nobody!" He said, walking over, taking the book, and ripping the page out. He stumbled over nonsense about "a friend, he's no one, why do you ask?" as he crumpled up the page.
I stared at him and he slowed. "I'm sorry," I said, taking this page from him. It was roughly the right size, so I didn't have to damage any of the writing as I made it square. "I didn't think you'd mind me looking at them. I'll ask, next time."
I handed him back the page as a crane covered in half words and partial doodles.
Hanna sighed. "It's a complicated story. I'll tell you one day," he said, and took the crane.
Hanna handed me the threaded crane, and I thumb-tacked it up on the ceiling.
"... I know it's a little after-the-fact, but ... do you wanna sign my yearbook?" Hanna asked as I got down.
I smiled and held out my hand for the book and a sharpie.
When I was done, Hanna grabbed at the book, but I tore the page out and started folding.
"When you're ready to tell me about high school, I'll be ready to let you read it," I explained to Hanna confused face. I had planned it so that the only two words he could read on the crane were "Dear Hanna".
Hanna was extremely tired when he got home. I had dinner for him already done as he flopped into the chair at the table.
I was getting a plate down when I heard a loud thunk from behind me, followed by a long sigh.
"Today was horrible ..." he says weakly.
I place his chicken and mashed potatoes next to him and grab a sheet of paper from his stack and offer it to him.
He looks at it and smiles for what is maybe the first time that day.
It caught me by surprise, and I think it caught Hanna off guard, too.
It was just lunch with friends, offered by Conrad, but everyone was there with colorful Valentine's Day Cards.
We got away with drawing on the napkins and tactfully blaming it on paychecks.
It didn't last long Toni, Veser, and Lamont all had dinner plans to get ready for. And Conrad and Worth didn't say where they were going, but they probably had somewhere to be, too.
"We should make them into cranes. You know. So we don't lose them?"
So we folded Veser's "Scooby-Doo, I Love You!" card ...
... Conrad's hand drawn sketch of a red heart ...
... Toni's classy blue and white outline of two birds on a branch ...
... and Lamont's store-bought card with Worth's scrawl across the printed words.
Hanna was laughing loudly and picking himself up while I tried to find my left thumb. It wasn't terribly important, but it would have been nice to keep.
"I'll be honest, Nosferatu, I wasn't one-hundred percent sure that would work."
I could see it half covered in a pile of brick that came down towards the end of Hanna's plan, so I crawl over to it. "It worked?"
Hanna laughed louder that time. "We're still alive, right?"
I got to it and put it in my pocket. "I don't know about that," I said, smiling over at him.
After he's sown my thumb back on, I test it out by folding a new crane.
It was a clear night with some left-over snow still clinging to the ground as I walked home.
I didn't notice I was being followed for a few blocks. Then something, at the stoplight at Farris and Green, rubbed loving against my shin. I looked down to catch eyes with the small grey cat purring up at me.
I think I should have hesitated more before bending down to pick it up. But no curses were sprung or demons appeared when I took it into my arms, so I felt somewhat safe.
The tag it had around its neck was cheap: a braided string, probably homemade, and a small tag with an address and the word Tak on it.
The apartment building is middle class, but has a lobby with a nighttime receptionist that stares at my skin color while I talk to her. At least it only takes two tries at the explanation before she recognizes the cat I'm holding in my arms.
I kept the tag as a keepsake, and folded it to pass the time on my way back to my own apartment.
Hanna had open the book that came with the (now used up) package of origami paper. So far he'd been able to make a frog, a giraffe, and a flower.
"I still think cranes are the coolest," he said, folding one as fast and he could.
So I folded one as fast as I could.
Hanna smiled mischievously at me. "Are we playing that again?" he asks slyly.
So Hanna got the stopwatch from under the sink in the bathroom.
He went first, and 39.24 seconds later, a new crane was made.
"Ready ...? Go!"
And 37.08 seconds later, I had won.
Hanna, who had apparently been counting this time, asked, "Do you think ninety is a bid enough number to do something special, Al?"
I thought about it for a moment. "If it were, wouldn't we have to do something special every ten cranes?"
"Hmm ... good point."
So instead of a number, the ninetieth crane read Al.
Hanna had already gone to work when I got home from my walk. I had forgotten that it was a Wednesday.
I found a new crane in the fridge where the left over pancakes from Monday had been.
Toni's band, which had a new drummer after an incident back in January and hadn't performed yet since, was opening at a club for a rather well-known band. Or, at least, Hanna owned all of their albums.
"You guys are opening for of Montreal?" Hanna asked gleefully. "That's so amazing! They aren't huge or anything, but still! Big!"
It required a ticket, but Toni was able to get one for everyone. Hanna, at the very least had fun, and the crowd responded well to the band.
The male lead singer coming out in a mini skirt reading a dragon, though, was a tad bit beyond me, though.
Hanna kept his ticket and folded it as best he could when we got home.
It's above freezing for the first time in a long while. And I didn't need Hanna's computer to tell me that.
"Ugh ..." Hanna groans, staring out of the window at the cold down pour.
He stalls walking to work by folding a white crane that he gives a yellow raincoat with a highlighter.
"That was such a lion start of March."
I take Hanna's drenched jacket and give him a confused look. "What?"
"You know, that old superstition about the lion and the lamb?" He said, grabbing clothes while he spoke, "It's got a rhyme, I think, but I can't remember it. But anyway, it's all about how if the first day of March is a lion if Niagara Falls decides to relocate above your head ..." he gestures to the window, "then the last day of March will be a lamb. Like, all fluffy and shiny pretty. And vise versa."
As if to emphasize his story, he draws a red mane skillfully on the crane he folded.
Hanna put the soggy crane on the dress as he squelshed in.
"Will it ever stop raining. Really?"
The frisbee, Hanna's only frisbee of course, landed so far lodged in the tree that even Hanna gave up on it.
"Ugh." Then to emphasize, Hanna added, "Ugh."
I agreed. "So what now?"
Blades of grass and bits of dirt flew as Hanna grudgingly kicked the ground. "I dunno."
I glanced at Hanna, glaring up at the blotch of faded red in the leaves. All the bad weather had put him in a mood, and I think we were both hoping the first dry sunny day would help. It hadn't so far.
I reached into Hanna's pocket and found what I was looking for at the expense of a baffled Hanna. But the crane I folded out of the crumpled up brochure for roller-durby the young woman who had knocked Hanna over handed him, plus the ridiculousness of the day, made him laugh.
Hanna was staring at the hem of her dress instead of her eyes. But she was so flustered I don't think she noticed.
She trailed off in the so far short story that Hanna heard nothing of, twisting her hands nervously and staring at the wall behind Hanna and me.
"Miss ...?" I prompted, and her watery eyes focused on mine.
"My brother. He used to fold cranes. Made three wishes that way."
I glance back at the accumulation of cranes in the corner. Some of the most recent ones were sitting patiently on the chair below the rest, waiting for a break in our busy schedule.
"That's ... Tha" was all she got out before she broke down into sobs. Both Hanna and I caught her before she could fall to her knees.
We set her down at the table and she composed herself quickly. But as she finished telling us her problem, she grabbed a blank piece of paper. It almost seemed like she was telling her story to the folds, weaving her voice into the creases, she was so focused on the crane. But as soon as she finished the fold, he voice faltered for a beat, and I was almost certain she would cry again. In stead, she put the crane down and continued, staring Hanna directly in the eye. She didn't once look at her work.
We left immediately after she finished. Hanna didn't even worrying about his pay he was blustering at the masquera running down the girls face, and I had no doubt that if she asked him to work for free, he gladly would have.
The days seamed tense anymore. The case was closed, but it didn't feel that way.
I tried to put it behind us by wondering aloud to Hanna how many cranes we had now. It worked amazingly well to bring the redhead out of his funk.
He thought he knew, but he counted, with my help, just to make sure. Then folded another ...
... two, giddy the whole way through.
"Oh my god, Tristan, this is monumental! Our hundredth's crane! We're going to have find some of those ginormous rolls that high school always have for free in the library? The ones that have to be a mile and a half wide? Oh, man, where are we going to put it?"
In the end, we both decided that Conrad would know where to find gigantic sheets of paper. After one phone call, we were right.
Hanna was making preparations for the occasion late into midnight. I left him gleefully scribbling down ideas and doodles into a notebook when I left for the library.
My footsteps were echoing, and I took my time heading back. I don't remember why, but I tried a different way home, weaving through streets.
My footsteps multiplied, and I turned in time to see a small white crane flutter down from the rooftop and a silhouetted figure disappearing.
The crane read Congratulations on 100.