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I was standing in my apartment between the sharpest and most incisive person I know, and the person with the sharpest incisors I know.


This needed to go – very carefully.


Harm looked at Py a moment longer, then went and straddled the window sill to smoke outside and stay inside.

The first incision came as she lit up:

“So our new history teacher, Mr Harbinger…”
(oh for fuck’s sake, Py – what were you thinking?)

“…is actually your old friend Py?”
(dunno why I even mentioned him to you, Harm…)


I itched my left temple.   Py shifted his weight – very delicately.
(Her voice had carved neat clean lines across the room.)

I answered simply:

“It’s a nickname.”

And Py cut in:

“Lost touch with Johnny for a couple of months – never dreamed he’d move, and I’d end up teaching at his school.”

(There was a bright sharp sound to his voice…)


“How bizarre,” said Harmony, nicely.
(Cut it out, Harm…)

“Isn’t it?” agreed Py smoothly.

(The Cat leapt daintily down onto the fire escape outside the window, resisted Harm’s offered hand, looked daggers at Py, and left as silently as it came…)


I thought about moving, and didn’t.
(Why hadn’t Py twisted the conversational knife?)

…and Harm smoked calmly…
(Why had she chosen a window seat?)

…and Py smiled.   A very little bit.

(Blades were poised…)



“Cigarette?” asked Harm.

“Cheers,” said Py.

She lit it for him, and he climbed out to lean on the rail while she swung gracefully over the sill to join him.

(And Jonathon may have let out a small unnecessary breath from dancing on the edges of knives.)




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