our house! is a very very very tiny house! [attn. charlotte, erich]
#1
They are building an addition to the tiny, tiny house. Well: expanding a part of it that already exists. That second loft, that storage area, that laundry-catching spot is being widened in towards the center of the itty-bitty living space to give Melantha a room of her own. It will be the smallest room in the micro-house, but not because she's kin and not because she's not welcome to curl up in the bed of either of the wolves she's choosing to live with. It's what she wants: a little room of her own, and not one too big. She does not have much to fill that space with, and the closeness of the space reminds her of the home she recently left.

Erich buys lumber and weatherproofing and so forth. He buys another skylight, because he likes them, and because Melantha said she's used to sleeping where she can see the moon or stars. They get materials to make Melantha some light curtains for privacy and some slider contraptions to hang them on in the angled eave. While they're in town, Charlotte and Melantha go to South Pearl Street and look at odd little shops with odd little signs and go into one where Melantha sees

a bowl.

It is made of aluminum plated with nickel. At its widest it is about twelve inches in diameter. The outside is matte, smooth, moon-like, while the interior gleams as bright and glossy as a mirror. The edges are uneven, like broken stone or a cracked egg. Melantha stops when she sees it, an ache entering her eyes, her brows tugging together. She lets go of Charlotte's hand -- of course they have been walking hand in hand -- and moves over to it, lifting it from its display and looking into it.

And that is how Melantha begins her shrine.

--

Erich does the bulk of the work of expanding the second loft. Not because he is the most crafty, not because he is a trained carpenter, but because he really, really likes doing it. Melantha helps. She knows how to wield a hammer and nail and has a surprising grasp of physics. She likes to be a part of making the thing that is for her. So they build. At night, they eat together. Melantha alternates between the fold-out cot of the 'living room' and climbing into bed with Charlotte. She stays out of Erich's loft. She wears shorts and hoodies and does not shower every day and does not shave every day and when something gets stuck in her teeth she picks at it with a fingernail and sucks at it with her tongue and when Charlotte or Erich catch small animals to eat she unzips their skin and peels it right off like she's done it a hundred or a thousand times.

On another day, they measure the loft and take the numbers to a store and measure beds and find one that will fit crosswise. They get sheets and a summer-weight comforter and a pillow and while they are buying things to make Melantha's little room cozy, they find a fuzzy black rug, probably meant for a bathroom, that will fit in the little dormer above the front porch of the tiny, tiny house.

The first thing that Melantha puts in the loft, even before it is entirely completed, even before they have tried to wedge the mattress in there, is the black rug, nestled against the window in the dormer. It fits. She knew it would fit. She puts the bowl in the center of the rug, which has the appearance of black fur, though it's synthetic. Melantha doesn't like the synthetic part of it, but, as she tells them, until she finds or is given or makes a skin from some animal this dark, it will do. It has the essence she wants, the fuzziness, the thickness, the implied warmth.

She gets a little battery-operated candle, too. It looks ridiculous. It even fake-flickers. She puts that in the bowl that night, and turns it on, and the light rebounds off the glossy interior of the bowl and illuminates the whole loft. Melantha sits up there in the half-built space for a while, knees drawn up, smiling at it.

--

The bed goes up. The linens go on. It's a snug fit but she has a little room on one side where the dormer-shrine is and a little room on the other side between her bed and the edge of the loft. She does roll around in her sleep sometimes, but the transition between several-inch-thick mattress and hard wood will be enough to wake her. She doesn't want a railing. She's not a baby, she insists. She wants to sit on the edge and dangle her legs down, she says.

Which is what she does. When the loft is finished, and her bed is up there, and her curtains are hung but pulled back to each side, Melantha climbs up, turns on her stupid little pretend-candle in that gorgeous bowl, and sits on the edge of the boards to dangle her legs down and smile at Erich and Charlotte.

Happily.
my whole life is thunder.
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#2
There was a Discussion, initially, about how to expand the tinyhouse. Erich wanted to push the loft out over the porch so that it matched his own in size and scope. He didn't like that Melantha had the smallest room in the house, that she would have to sleep sideways over a six and a half foot drop, that she wouldn't have as much room to tuck and store things near her bed. But Melantha wouldn't allow the airiness of the porch, tiny as it is, to be disrupted; she didn't want the claustrophobia of a big heavy ceiling overhead, or the clunkiness of a room looming over the front of the tinyhouse. Even so, it took several back-and-forths before Erich was finally convinced that,

yes, this is what she wants,
no, she's not just being polite,
no, she doesn't want a big room (big being relative),
yes, this just fine. it is perfect.

And so: work begins. Erich does most of it. Melantha helps. Charlotte helps too -- really helps this time, because when Erich was building the tinyhouse most of her help, poor sheltered thing, consisted of holding not-too-heavy things in place and holding plans open and occasionally standing a long way away and telling Erich is something was straight or not. This time, though: this time Erich gets a hammer in her hand, gets a screwdriver in her hand, even gets a power drill in her hand a few times. Well, maybe not the last. Charlotte doesn't seem to like powered anythings.

Nevertheless, the work is done, the trips are made, the loft is expanded. After a lot of heaving and pulling, a small mattress goes up. Sheets, comforters. Melantha builds a shrine, which Erich, standing on the ladder with his forearms folded atop the loft floor, looks at curiously. He does not ask about the bowl. He understands the bowl, even if he doesn't quite understand the rug, or the candle, or the shrine as a whole.

They hang curtains. They saw a hole in the ceiling and they put a skylight in. No: two skylights, for symmetry and for light, though they also put sunreflecting, lightblocking shades in so the tinyhouse doesn't bake in the summer. They finish everything, and Erich frets, fret because there's no railing, what if she falls. Melantha dangles her legs. Erich

secretly

plans to sleep in lupus under her bed that night. Just in case. But: it is hard not to smile back from where he stands below her, arms folded, a toolbelt slung low around his hips.

"Now we've got a three-bedroom," he quips. "Pretty posh."
BECAUSE OF LIGHT AND DUTY AND REASONS.
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#3
Dear Erich:

Silly Ahroun there is no such thing as Sleeping Secretly in Lupus in a tinyhouse. You are a wolf and wolves smell rather distinctly different than men even to human noses and then there are claws on the floor and the sounds you make in your sleep, running

with the memory of a pack. chasing
down small prey animals. tearing
your enemies apart, limb
from limb from remembered limb.

Charlotte says nothing, though, that first night after the second sleeping loft is completed. Maybe she rolls her eyes but it is dark and she's curled up in her own bunk and she's reading something written into her skin in the light of the moon and no one sees.

--

Charlotte does help with the construction and does not touch any of the powertools especially the ones with cords that plug into the grid that lights the sky on the otherside, even out here, that constant, droning hum of energy corridors tended faithfully by an every-moving army of creepy-ass glowing spiders. She would rather use the screwdriver, try to get those screws in as far as she can by hand but she's not strong and oh, there is a reason humans use powertools.

--

When the loft is finished and the shrine is finished Charlotte studies it and approves. Approves because a shrine like anything else is a vessel for intention: we put into them and take what we need, and is also a thing itself, located and loculated and localized. And it is also something right here: something to touch and know and remember.

After that, whenever she and Erich go hunting she will veer off after the darkest-furred little varmints until they bring down something large enough, with black enough fur, to satisfy Melantha. And then Charlotte will scrape and prepare the hide and dry it and take it and if it is not large enough save it to stitch it together with the next one and the next one after that until she has something that is not made of Oil and Chemicals and Illness to offer the Fury.

--

Charlotte likes the odd little shops with odd little signs on South Pearl Street. They go back sometimes, after that too, hand in hand. Charlotte explores and sniffs and asks odd questions and gets strange looks and But they don't buy much, just that silver bowl Melantha needed. After all, no matter how posh the three-bedroom house, it is still

so very tiny.
But my heart is wild and my bones are steel
And I could kill you with my bare hands if I was free.

- Phosphorescent, Song for Zula
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