Deep under the sounds of the parking lot, I hear a voice echoing to me. "[I will hold your package. But you must help me in return.]"
"[Of course, I will help you! Anyway that I can! Thank you so much!]" I exhale all in one breath. I didn't realize I had been holding it. I keep my eyes clenched shut.
"[I have these young spirits. They are driving me crazy. They need to set off on their own. They need to have their own lives. So that I can have mine back.]"
I open my eyes and see 3 leaves fall from the tree, each one glowing bright yellow. I snatch them out of the air and look at them in my palm.
"[I will find them new homes where they will flourish. I promise.]"
"[It is a deal! Thank you!]" The tree spirt booms. Are they as relieved as I am?
"[It is our deal! Thank you!]" I reply, and place the plastic-wrapped books next to the white candles. I close my fingers over the small leaves and stand up and turn around. I try my best to appear surprised to see the police officers. "AAHK! Oh! Hello! You really snuck up on me there!" I yelped.
"My name is Officer Alex and this is Officer Warren."
"Hello," I say, staring into the camera orb glowing on Officer Alex's chest.
"May I see your ID?" he asks.
"Sure!" I say with a smile, and reach into my back pocket for my wallet and produce my registered ID. "I'm a Spirit Worker..." I start to explain. "This is a very powerful spirit spot. The spirit who lives here is very wise and powerful and so it's important to take care of it."
"A spirit?" Officer Warren asks.
There are 3 types of people in this city- magic workers, magic murderers, and future magic workers. I can tell within seconds of mentioning my registered job what type a person is. I am a magic worker- I know there is magic in the world and I act with it. Most people are magic workers. If you use a good luck charm or depend on an alarm to wake you up in the morning- you are already working with magic. Officer Warren is a future magic worker. It's easy to spot a future magic worker because upon encountering the unknown, they have a sincere emotional response. And if you look, you'll see it clearly. They may be confused or curious or excited or even afraid, but it is their direct experience of that emotion that gives them the chance to understand magic and start to work with it. But maybe that is just the proselytizer in me getting drawn out by the official title of "Religion Worker."
From the incredulous look on Officer Alex's face, I can tell he's a magic murderer- or someone whose blind skepticism will slay any bit of magic they encounter. You can recognize these folks because they cover any sincere emotional response they may have had with denial. They often prop up this denial with a belief that they rely on to prevent encountering the unknown. It's a sad psychological pathology, and I'm sure they could be treated, but it's not my job to fix humans, it's my job to help spirits.
"Yes a tree spirit!" I exclaim, pointing up at the leaves, far away from the plastic bag sitting in the dirt. "And what a precious thing in our concrete city! Can't you feel the power it holds?" I close my eyes and wrap my arms around myself. I kind of hate acting like this but doing little weird behaviors will help get officials away faster. My eyes are closed but I can hear Officer Alex running my ID as he scrolls through my name, address, income and credit balance, arrest history, employment info... I open my eyes and see Officer Warren looking at the tree. I let him look for a moment before I exclaim, "Are those your Motors!?" and dash over across the street to their expandable single person transport units.
"Hey! Don't touch those!" Officer Alex shouts as they dash over to me.
"I'm not! I just wanted to see! They are a marvel of modern engineering! So small and still perfectly safe even at top speed on the highway! I've never seen one up close! I hear you can stretch them to fit 10 people! Must have an amazing engine! And they smell so clean! I thought for sure they would get stinky in there! Not because you are stinky, but because it's just such a small space! But the air is probably perfectly controlled, I suppose!" I try my best to keep rambling over Officer Alex's protests and moving around the motors as he follows.
"MAM! YOUR ID!" He barks.
"Oh! Thank you!" I reply and snatch it out of his hand. "Nice to meet you two! I'm off to my next shrine! Gotta keep the spirits happy, they help keep the city safe after all. Oh! Like you guys! Wow! You guys have a lot in common with the spirits actually!" I open my hand and pick one of the yellow leaves out and hand it to Officer Warren. "Maybe you should take this one. It may help protect you while you are out there protecting everyone else!" Warren takes the leaf and looks at it. A small bubble of yellow light grows out of the end of the leaf and slides down it onto Warren's finger. Warren's eyes turn into a smile and he gives a small puff of sound at it.
Officer Alex barks, "Warren!" and pulls him out of his reverie. Warren stuffs the leaf into his pocket.
"Ha-Have a nice day, mam!" he stutters, and steps over to his motor. I smile and wave at them as I skate around the corner. As soon as I am out of sight, I bolt as fast as I can down the street and around another corner. I guess I could have waited in the store for them to leave and pick back up the books right away, but who knows what they are going to find under that tree. They might find an empty bag, or the bag is just too heavy to lift, or the stack of books will just be invisible, or look like something else. Did they even see me put them in there? It was dark under those leaves. Maybe they couldn't see me place it there. There is no guarantee that they will assume they were mine. Except I was the only person they saw there, and they have my ID info and could easily arrest me for it. If they do get to the books somehow, they might be waiting for me to return for them. It'll be best to wait a day. And if the books disappear then whatever; Daicy will get what she paid for.
I can feel the leaves pulsing in my hand through my glove. "[Don't worry, little ones. I will find all of you a new home,]" I whisper into my hand as I begin to slow to a more sustainable pace. It's still a long trip home.