She held the small blue green sphere in the open palm of her hand. It didn’t quite rest on her palm, but floated above it, revolving slowly.
‘What is it?’ I bent to peer down at it.
‘It is the world… this world.’
I looked up, around at her bedroom. ‘Seriously? Come on.’
Shenta looked deep into my eyes.
‘I am serious,’ she said.
‘But how…?’ I shrugged, glancing around. I could see that same blue sky with its wispy clouds through the open balcony doors. I looked back down at the sphere, moving closer I could see the shapes of the continents, looking like the maps I’d seen before travelling here to the Summer Islands. ‘Is it a model… a toy?’
‘You think I have time for toys?’
‘You did last night.’ I smiled.
She laughed. ‘You are more than a toy.’
It hadn’t felt like it at the time. I was more exhausted this morning than by a week at the Thieves’ Guild training grounds.
‘Look,’ she said. She raised her other hand, drawing her hands apart. The sphere grew in her palms. Parts of it disappeared from view as it grew larger.
‘Where has it gone?’ I tried t look around behind her arms.
‘There are dimensions,’ she said.
‘There are worlds beyond this world. Places that exists alongside this one… like rooms next to each other. Sometimes, if you know how you can slip through those walls as if they were like those curtains.’ Shenta nodded towards the thin diaphanous curtains, pulled back from the balcony doors, fluttering in the breeze. She smiled again. ‘Or like this thin sheet. She sat up straighter and the thin bed sheet fell from her breasts. ‘You can find whole new worlds under these sheets.’
I knew what she meant, about the bedsheets anyway. I’d found a whole new world under there last night. A whole new world eager for me to explore every inch of it.
And I had.
I was ready to return now, explore some more. But she held our world in her hand and I knew she had other matters on her mind.
‘Look.’ She opened her palms wider. I saw the Summer Islands, then the city, then this building, then the balcony with the fluttering curtains. Then I saw us on the bed together, she holding the world on the palm of her hand, me sitting staring.
I turned to look out of the window, expecting to see my giant eye staring back at me.
Shenta laughed. ‘That’s not the way it works.’
‘How does it work then?’
‘I used to know, back in my other life. But I have forgotten too much.’
‘Your other life?’
‘I have not always lived in the Summer Islands. I have not always been Shenta.’ She hesitated. ‘I have not always been human.’
I scrambled back across the bed. ‘A demon?’
‘No. Don’t be silly.’
‘I was once a god… the goddess. This world,’ she held the globe I her hand again, ‘once belonged to me.’
‘The gods… the other gods stole it from me.’
‘Oh?’ I didn’t understand.
She turned to me, letting the sheet fall from the rest of her body. ‘And I want you, my thief, to steal it back for me.’