The water fizzled in tiny amber bubbles as the worker placed his ginger ale back on the window sill. It would be warmed by the mid-July sun in a few minutes, but he was no longer thirsty now he could work in the shade.
He and the other workers had been building this tower of Babble for at least three months, though he couldn’t ask anyone else to make sure. Language ran from one floor to the next, just as she had patroled the foundation structures, screaming every time a worker attempted to talk another.
Language was an empress, complicated and beautiful but unforgiving, ready to ridicule and mock. None of the workers liked her. Yet as she approached the worker, she said softly:
“Aren’t you going to drink that?”
“No,” said the worker, “you can have it if you wish.”
So Language took the ginger ale and thanked the worker, before going on her way. The worker continued to set stones and bang nails with hammers until the sun had set. Bleeding from one finger, he went home and bandaged it, before falling into a deep undisturbed sleep. The next day, the worker brought two cans of ginger ale into work. When Language did her usual patrol, he motioned her over, and gave her the can in silence. Language nodded her appreciation and went upstairs.
Later that day, as she passed by him, Language stopped to open up her can of ginger ale.
“What happened to your finger? And your thumb?” she asked.
The worker looked down at his mangled hands, the burns on his arms, and then back up at Language’s clean, inquiring face.
“Come with me this evening, I know someone who can help.”
So, just before sunset, Language appeared and the worker followed her into the forest, towards the hut of an old man and woman. Language spoke to the couple, who nodded and ran back inside the house.
“How long have they been living here?” the worker asked, “I’ve never seen them before.”
“That’s because only with me is the world of people a possibility for you,” Language smiled.
The old woman came back, and with wrinkled hands smoothed cool colour onto the man’s bare skin. She cleaned his arms and hands, and let the ointments sting before she bandaged them again.
“She says the cuts will be healed tomorrow,” Language told him.
“How ever can I repay you?” the worker said as they walked home.
“Continue to look at me the way you do,” Language smiled.
The next evening, when he turned around, Language stood, waiting shyly. He asked about the other workers as they walked along the beach. She told him, some had come as babies, others as fathers and grandfathers. She told about their cultures, the books they loved, the plays they went to watch, the dreams they had.
“I would love to be able to talk to them,” he told her.
“Perhaps I can organise a meal with all of the workers, where each must bring foods from the places they come from, and I can help you all talk to one another,” Language said, coyly.
The worker looked at the full moon, shining bright above the sea, where a mirror world trembled. Then he looked back at Language, and thought he had never seen anything more beautiful.
“Will you dance with me?” he asked her.
“Forever,” she answered, as she placed her palms in his.