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Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane.

Picture by James.Stringer: Chancery Lane

“Are you absolutely sure,” Dilly says, “this isn’t personal vengeance?”

Karina pulls on her leggings. She’s dressed in dusky rose because come on, who wears black in summer? “Yes,” she says. “I promise, okay? This isn’t personal vengeance.”

In further deference to the heat, the mask leaves her nose and mouth uncovered. A plait juts from the slit in the back of her skintight hood. “Hey,” she says, “profile pic?” and she tosses her phone across, stands against her turquoise wall and poses.

Dilly photographs dutifully, and passes the phone back. “You’ve got it on silent, right?”

Karina smiles. “Better than that,” she says. “Here, call me.”

Dilly does; birdsong erupts.

“I’m pretty sure,” Dilly says, “that’s a bad idea.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s an awesome idea. Like Robin Hood in the forest.”

“You do know we’re not actually in a forest, right? I think people are going to notice birdsong at one in the morning.”

Karina rolls her eyes. “They’re barristers,” she says. “They’ve got no souls, why would they pay attention to a singing bird?”

“A singing bird inside?”

“Well, obviously I’ll turn it off once I’m in. I’m not stupid.”

She isn’t; she just has this thing about barristers. She was engaged to three of them once—unfortunately simultaneously rather than concurrently, which is part of why the weddings never happened. To be cast over by not one nor even two but three dismayed barristers, all in the course of a single evening: surely a cause for anyone to resort to vengeful acts of small crime?

“It wouldn’t bother me,” Dilly says as they stand against a wall in Chancery Lane, waiting for a cloud to block off the moon, “it we still made money off it! But we had a perfectly lucrative business model, the one where you steal gold and jewels and I sell them, and now we have a less lucrative business model in which you mostly steal wigs. It seems like a poorly-considered change of business tactics, and I can’t think of a reason that isn’t just vengeance and spite.”

“That’s because you have no imagination,” Karina says, drumming against the stonework with her fingertips. “I like… I like the sense of breaking the law in the stronghold of those who enforce it.”

“Then maybe you should break into a police station.”

“They have guns,” Karina says. “And the buildings are all made of, you know, red brick and cement blocks. New Scotland Yard is just windows, there’s nothing to get a grip on.” She looks up at ledges and pillars and ornate windowsills.

“I don’t think they even do criminal law in there, just broken contracts and ginger beer snails,” Dilly says, but the cloud cover’s arrived at last, and Karina’s climbing.

They get home just before dawn, and overturn the loot sack onto the centre of the living room floor. A few pens, none of them worth selling. A watch. A text book, a family photo. Five wigs.

“If it’s not petty vengeance,” Dilly says, “then why did it start when the barristers broke up with you?”

Karina sets the wigs on top of the others in the corner, then sits down gently. “Why would I need to steal wigs when I could just use theirs?” she says, and nestles into the pile, content.

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