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The day began like any other. He signed in at the gate, and made his way across the field towards the building site. They hadn’t started landscaping it yet, but even without seeing the plans he knew that what was currently wild grasses and the occasional tree would eventually be some kind of organised garden. They were already growing flowers for it in the big boxy greenhouse, a squat glassy blob that sat off to the side of the site.

He always looked towards it as he passed, even though he could never see anything inside but colours and rough shapes. The glass was wobbly, like glass bricks or bathroom windows. Maybe it was just to keep the finished garden more of a surprise.

He stopped. He could see something through the glass now – or rather somebody – a woman with longish blonde hair and glasses. He’d seen her around before, just to nod and smile at, but now she was waving. He raised his hand and walked on.

Around the corner, chaos had taken over the building site. Some of the teams were working, but they didn’t seem to be following the plans, and they all seemed to be at odds with each other, trying to put up floors where the supporting walls weren’t all finished, knocking down walls built only yesterday, bricking up spaces where a carpenter was trying to build a door frame. High up on one of the half-completed floors some of them were waving blueprints at each other, pointing at them and then stabbing their fingers at each other’s chests as if violently arguing over them.

There was a gaggle of workers right in front of him, surrounding the supervisor. They were all shouting and waving, so many talking at once he couldn’t make out a single word.

He caught the supervisor’s eye and she turned to look at him, pushing her bright red hair back from a face fraught with worry.

“Hey,” he called, “What’s the problem?”

“Jikevbol, patke hiathi lajeiwu,” she yelled.

He frowned and looked at one of the nearest workers, a man he regularly chatted with over coffee breaks.

“What’d she say?”

“Likisti! Mitga qualopu rewisto,” the other man said. “Rewisto!”

More turned to speak to him, waving their hands in frustration at his blank, confused face.

“I can’t – I don’t understand, what are you saying? Speak English, man!”

Others grabbed at him, bellowed gibberish in his face as if shouting louder would make them understood. He couldn’t understand any of them. It felt like he was going mad. He turned his back on the few completed floors of the tower, even as a crash heralded the demolition of another part of it, and ran away from the brawl of shouting workers into the quiet, speechless green of the fields.

© Kari Fay