Still with Ami! She’s about to make a startling discovery. ..
After a long, long moment she heard shuffling footsteps inside. A meow shrieked loudly, followed by the curses of a cat, and the lady apologizing for stepping on its tail.
Then the door creaked open.
“Well?” snapped the old lady impatiently.
“My grandfather,” she stuttered. “He’s ill. I thought maybe–“
“Yes, yes,” she said. “Let me grab me medicine bag.”
The old woman hobbled back inside and soon rejoined her, cane in one hand and a bag in the other.
“Now then,” she said, as Ami readjusted her stride to match the slower pace of the old woman. “What be his problems?”
“The Indigo Flu, I fear,” she said.
“Oh dear,” muttered the old lady in an impatient manner. “It’s been making the rounds. But at least you won’t be catching it.”
Ami gave her a puzzled look. “What do you mean? I mean I’ve been exposed.”
“My dear,” the old lady. “You’re obviously immune. Same as me. I’m from the Orange Land. I won’t be catching no blue disease.”
Ami shook her head. “I still don’t understand. I’m from here.”
The old lady stopped and looked at her. “Have you looked in a mirror lately child?”
The girl glanced down at her hands. Hr skin was a deep bluish purpley color. The color of most people from the Blue Land.
“I am,” she said. “Just look at me!”
The woman sniffed. “I think I know blueberry stain when I see it. I scrub it off me all the time. Anyone that goes picking blueberries all day long and swimming in blueberry rivers is gonna come out blue. But underneath–why child, you’re as Ivory as I am Orange!”
The Ivory Isle sat in the center of Malila, in the middle of the Central Lake. Folks claimed the people there were sugar white. Skin like a piece of paper.
Ami laughed. “Don’t be silly! Why…Grandfather is Blue! I’m Blue! I’ve always been Blue!”
“Eh. Whatever.” she sniffed. “But come along child.”
The Orange Lady doctored Grandfather and pronounced him in no danger. “I came just in time though,” she said, as if coming had been her own idea. “A day later it wouldve been the Newmony. Keep him in bed, girl. I’ll come check on him tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” Ami said as she held the door open for the Orange Lady. “You’ve been–”
“Yes, yes,” the old lady interrupted. “I know I have. One more thing. Try this.”
She slapped a heavy chunk of something into Amis hand. She studied it.
“Soap?” She said. “Why does Grandfather need–”
“Not for him!” Snapped the Orange Lady. “It’s special soap. Takes out blueberry stain. Use your head girl!”
She turned to go a, throwing one last sentence over her shoulder. “Of course it won’t do you much good if you bathe in that Blueberry Well Water…”
Ami closed the door and leaned her head against it. Surely the old woman was crazy.
She held up hand and looked against the soap. Studied her bluish-purple hands. They trembled.
At least she had one thing right. Ami spent so much time in the blueberry water that one couldn’t really tell the stain from the skin.
What might she find if she just tried getting that stain off?
Don’t be silly, she told herself. I’ll just find perfectly normal blue skin. Like everyone else.
But the thought wouldn’t leave her mind.
How could she though? The only clear water lay along the border between the Purple Land and the Blue. Half a days journey from here.
Maybe, she thought. Maybe when Grandfather was well…
But deep down she knew there was no maybe about it.
She had to find out.