And now she wondered, not for the first time, whether her mere knew of this ability. She suffered a moment of guilt and self-doubt (such moments were always brief) as she saw the situation through her mere’s eyes, but it was quickly staunched by the force of her conviction. Carmen had a very clear definition of justice. This, she knew, was wrong, and every particle in her body cried out against it.
(I’d rather die than give you up)
Grim didn’t answer, but nestled deeper into her arms and purred like a motor.
Her raging through the house had brought her, unexpectedly, to the flight of stairs that led up to the attic door. She put Grim down and he twined himself about her legs, his eyes half closed.
She climbed the steps and rapped on the attic door. There was movement inside, and the creaking of floorboards, then her pere’s voice. “Whoizzit?”
There was the sliding of locks and the rattle of a chain, and the door opened. Grim slipped between the man’s feet.
“Carmen, honey,” he said as the girl threw herself sobbing into his arms. He carried her inside, unclasped her arms from around his neck, and put her down. Then he closed and locked the attic door while Carmen wiped her eyes.
Her pere’s workshop was a place of wonder. Sawdust covered the floor like leaf fall, soft and warm under her bare feet; it had a faintly medicinal smell that mingled with the scorched odour of the dust-coated oil lamps mounted in brackets about the room. It was the smell she associated with her pere, and she loved it because she loved him.
The room was cluttered with unfinished and abandoned wooden statuary, for Joe Carmichael was an artisan. He worked through the day and often long into the night. His carvings would go on to adorn State buildings, the halls of Parliament, the People’s Court, the offices of the Ministry of Information, of Universal Welfare, of the Media Ombudsman, and the Republican Consuls. The carvings were nearly always of labourers. They looked god-like and expressionless, and it was difficult to tell the men and the women apart. Sometimes he was commissioned to create a likeness of Vernon Dervish himself. In life The Leader was corpulent, weak-chinned, and red-nosed; in the drawings he was heroic, gazing off into the distance as if at a vision of some golden future.