Wind and Cake (Final Part)

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The Contest: Child’s Play

 

The rest of the kids came around 8:05. There were twenty kids including himself, ranging from ten to seventeen. All of them came and sat down on the chairs and assembled into their friend groups. (One of the groups made it a big fuss for all of them to sit down together just to end up going on their phones.) Once Peter had finished frosting a few dozen cupcakes and put them on the display case, he sat down on one of the remaining chairs. The eighth grader to the left of him gave him a sideways glanced before slipping on some headphones. Over to his right was the ninth grade girl that could pass for a senior. Her dark brown eyes slipped off her phone screen to Peter. He noticed her immaculate makeup and curled strawberry blond hair.

She noticed his bland face and thought of it as a canvas for her makeup brushes.

            Peter scanned the rest of the table for familiar faces: a handful of kids that used to be in his class, five freshmen, two juniors, and half a dozen fifth graders. Half of them looked genuinely interested. The others looked like their parents had forced them to get out of the house and do something with their lives.

“Hey,” the girl to his right leaned in, making him jump. “If we have to get into, like, partners or something, can you be mine? Cause I literally have noo idea what, like, any of this is…” She picked up the fondant roller and twirled it around her manicured fingers. “And my friends are idiots, so.”

He gave her a few blinks and nodded slowly.

She grinned, popping her shimmery pink lips. “Thanks!” She went back to her phone.

“Alright, everybody,” Emma announced in front of the table. She pointed to the kid left of Peter. “Hey, Alex, headphones! Peter, tap Alex, please. Okay, good morning everybody! Today we’re going to have a little contest.” She rubbed her brown hands together. “We will give each of you a recipe, and with your group of three—or a partner—you will have to bake the item in the given amount of time. My brother Jace and I will select four groups to continue on. The rest will be eliminated and have to work up front and sell to incoming customers. This means that we must be done by noon, when the shop opens. Any questions?”

A rising fifth grade girl named Noah shot her hand up. “What are we going to make?”

Emma smiled. “Glad you asked. You all will be given a standard white cake, fondant, and plain buttercream frosting recipe. With your equipment, you must roll and shape the fondant in order to create the theme of summer.” A few of the girls snickered—apparently one of them was named Summer.

“Everyone get into your groups and go to one of the ten stations we have set up around the kitchen. Get there in two minutes so you can have plenty enough time to bake. Let’s go, move it people!”

Nearly everyone leapt out of their chairs to assemble a team. Peter turned to his right before seeing the freshman girl walk off with two of her friends. Even the spaced-out guy Alex had found a partner and was walking over to a station. It wasn’t long until it was just Peter and a junior boy, dressed in all black, were sitting at the table.

“Hey, Miss?” The boy—who Peter now realized had feathers stuck in his hairspoke in an exhausted groan. “Yeah, um, I gotta go. My snake died.”

“Well you can’t—”

“Yeah, thanks.” With that, the feather-headed boy slumped out of his chair and groaned all the way out the bakery.

Emma put her hands on her narrow hips. “Sorry, Peter. I’m assuming you wanted to work alone anyway. You can go the last station.”

Peter stood up, pushed his chair in, and kept his arms by his side as he walked over to the tenth station. He gave his pasty hands a wash and scanned his area. Bowls were filled with spoons and spatulas, electric mixers were plugged into their outlets, and the ovens were all preheated to 400 degrees. At the speed of light, Peter went to work. He began to heat two sticks of butter in the community microwave—even though he had been the last to start, he was the furthest of the other groups.

In the thirty seconds he was by the microwave, he gave the rest of the kids a look. A group of fifth graders were trying to mash the butter in a bowl so it would mix; three older girls didn’t bother melting the things and tossed it into the mixer; Alex and his bespectacled partner were staring into space.

A smile pricked at his lips before quickly failing. Why did he ever think he would fail?

He dropped his newly softened butter into the mixer with sugar, flour, baking powder, salt—all sifted, mine you—and egg whites alongside it. Peter put the mixer on a medium speed and let the batter be until it was perfectly mixed and smooth. He then poured the batter into two pans and placed them gently in the oven.

No one else had even measured their egg whites yet.

What newbs.

        While the cakes were baking, for precisely 27 minutes, he began to make the frosting. He made that in ten minutes and began to prepare the fondant. He went back to the table to grab his fondant roller (most of the other kids had snatched them up without knowing what they were called). He dusted a small area with powdered sugar and kneaded the yellow, doughy substance with all his force. When he could no longer, he took the roller and smoothed it out till it was exactly one-eighth inch thick.

He stuck a toothpick in the cakes; he slipped on an oven mitt and placed them in the freezer. Peter would wait over an hour, till ten. And then he would frost the cooled cake with his blue buttercream and cut out suns and stars and other summer shapes he deemed fit.

And at ten o’clock, that was what Peter Johnson did.

———–

         Around the eleven hour, Peter was completely done. His cake was painted in blue, adorned with yellow shapes that most associated with summer. The others were sloppily picking at their fondants, frosting their cakes before cooling them, and (the already mentioned) some were still staring into space.

And around that eleven o’clock hour, Jace had walked in from the front door.

 

 

What’s the Use of Feeling Blue?

 

“Seriously?” Jace threw his arms up and he made his way over to the boy. “No one paired up with Peter?”

He placed his hands on Peter’s shoulders and smiled at his cake. “Well, it looks awesome, dude. I’m really proud of you.” Jace rustled his blond hair and walked away.

Peter hadn’t realized he was holding his breath till Jace was no longer gripping his shoulders. His cheeks then burned, furious that he couldn’t hate the boy that said that a life here was not enough. That a life here with the bakery and his family and his friends was something that he was all too eager to leave behind. With all the other things Jace would let go of, Peter would instantaneously become an obscure, distant memory.

He knew his existence didn’t mean much to the world or to many people in fact. But to mean nothing to the person he cared about the most—

“You’ve got thirty minutes, everyone!” Emma declared, clapping her hands. A few girls squealed at the limited time left.

Peter kept his eyes locked on his cake, now looking like a thing of utter disappointment.

 

————-

 

The rest of the cakes were average. Green frosting and pink fondant pieces, yellow frosting and crumbled fondant pieces, and in one special case, no cake at all. Naturally, Peter’s cake was rated first. Alex and his partner were eliminated along with a group of fifth graders and two sets of high school girls. Throughout the tasting and observation process, Peter was motionless.

Noon had come soon, and sure enough the first flood of customers had come rushing in. The eliminated groups reluctantly went to the front of the store to serve the oncoming clusters of hungry people. The rest of the kids had sliced up their cakes and left.

Except for Peter.

He sat on the steps outside the bakery, letting the wind blow his hair around his face and diluted eyes. Peter had been sitting on these cold, shaded steps for over thirty minutes. He didn’t have any strength in his legs to walk back to the flat or to Clementine’s lake. There seemed very little reason to live, let alone walk.

Now, I know I complained to not have a purpose.

And I originally believed Peter knew his purpose in life.

But what does a broken twelve year old know?

            The reason Jace was so important to the boy was due to the fact that, unlike his father, he genuinely seemed to care about Peter. He had been the one to teach Peter—at the mere age of eight—how to bake, how to chop, how to frost and create. Jace was the only person who had given Peter something to be passionate about. He was one being out of the tiny, tiny, tiny friend group Peter had that made him feel vaguely important.

His fondest memory of them together was when Peter was nine and Jace fourteen, just out of middle school. Jace had taught Peter had to make a Tres Leches Cake, which took forever because of the caramel-making process. Perhaps that was why Peter loved that day so much—he had spent over five hours with him, standing on his tiptoes to see beyond the counter before Jace found him a stool. The cake itself Peter didn’t really remember; that wasn’t what was important.

Suddenly, the doors behind him flung open. He whipped his head around to see bright pink shorts.

“Peter, you forgot to take your cake.” She cocked her head. “Why are just sitting here? Is something wrong?” She shut the door and sat alongside him. “Peter?”

Peter’s gaze travelled up to her eyes before subsiding back down to the ground.

Emma nodded. “You’re still upset about the whole Jace thing, huh? Peter, don’t listen to me. Jace is the most responsible and reliable person I’ve ever met. When he says he’ll visit, he will.” She gave Peter a gentle poke. “We were talking earlier, and he said that he didn’t want to move very far for college. He still wants to come back and help out this place as much as he can.”

She sighed and stood up. “I guess I was wrong. This place means a lot to him.” Emma opened the door and before stepping in said, “Peter, he cares about us, okay?  Please don’t doubt that. You mean just as much as him as he means to you. Alright?”

Then she was gone.

After a few more minutes of pondering and sitting, Peter decided to stand. As he threw one short leg in front of the other and stuffed his firsts into his pockets, a song from a cartoon Clem loved popped into his swimming head.

Why would you want to be here?

What do you ever see here?

That doesn’t make you feel worse than you do?

And tell me, what’s the use of feeling blue?

            He began to hum, an uncharacteristically thing of Peter to do. Soon, he was mumbling the words to himself, loud enough for passersby to hear. He freed his hands of his pockets and began to snap.

Yes, of course we still love her.

And we’re always thinking of her.

But now there’s nothing we can do.

So tell me, what’s the use of feeling?

What’s the use of feeling?

What’s the use of feeling blue?

            Peter repeated the song until he reached his flat, which—so brilliantly—was completely empty.

 

 

Cyan Frosting

 

The week was over much faster than Peter could ever hope. For once, the days didn’t drag on end. Friday came by and smacked him in the face before he could sing another song.

He had taken advantage of this week. He had went out and bought groceries for himself with the fifty dollars he still had, he went over to Clem’s and watched this beautiful thing called Netflix, and cooked himself a large dinner to last him at least two weeks. The sun was no longer a thing of blazing heat, but now more of a ray of hope amongst a small gathering of clouds. Not entirely happy, but nearly there.

Peter had walked into the bakery that Friday afternoon and let himself in to the back doors of the kitchen. He washed his hands and proceeded to make a frosting. He thought to himself, “What color?” Pink? Blue? Green? This time when a smile pricked at his lips, he let it take over his small, round face. Still smiling, he added in a drop of turquoise food coloring and two drops of sky blue. Peter stirred the buttercream mixture about and observed his creation.

Blue and green make cyan. And cyan would forever be Peter’s favorite color.

————

It was late now. Peter had greeted a surprised Emma, washed a few dishes, baked some meringue pies, and sat around until the sky was dark and the bakery was near closing hours. When the doors opened, Peter did not bother to look up. Emma had been going in and out the doors all day—

“Hey, Peter!” The voice that called him was not Emma’s. He looked up to see beautiful green eyes and curls and a dirty apron.

“Hi, Jace.” Peter nearly fell flat on his face from hearing his own voice. “How is it going?”

He laughed. “It’s going great. How about yourself?” He came and sat down by Peter.

The younger boy felt his tongue knock around in his mouth, similar to the words bouncing about in his brain. He gripped his hands together. “Good.”

“I’m glad, buddy. Hey, I’ve got something for you. Been meaning to give this to you for a while now.” He handed him a coffee-brown book, the cover a masterfully photographed chocolate thing. The book was firm, and as Peter flipped through the pages, a bit of money fell out. A couple Benjamins. He picked it up and handed it to Jace.

But the older waved it away. “No, keep it.” He smiled again—Peter loved how often he smiled.

“So…you like it?”

Peter was speechless.

Well, more speechless than usual.

            So instead of speaking, he jumped off his stool, and hugged a sitting Jace. The older boy was stunned for a second (Peter had never said more than a few sentences at a time to him, let alone hug him at of nowhere) before embracing him back. Peter felt Jace’s warmth shift over to his cold body.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” he laughed again, a lovely jingly thing.

Peter nestled his head into the groove of Jace’s shoulder, letting all his worries and sadness drift away as he held the person he loved the most.

———–

And it was always here I realized that my purpose was not to steal from the weak and the sad, but to observe their lives and see why they were the way they are. So now I breeze about, on moonlit nights and sunny mornings, letting myself fill hair and jackets and skirts and coats and anything else.

So I thank you, Peter Johnson.

For chasing your purpose.

And helping me find my own.

~

The Promise Land (Part 2)

“Lin, where are you going?” Ismus shouted while pursuing her running friend. Linnasoeta threw off her shirt and much too tiny skirt in the Creek Forests. She stripped off her socks and ripped her hair out of the bun, running free with just her undergarments. Without bothering to fold up her clothes, she abandoned them on a sharp rock, ran full speed, twirled, and landed face first into the Creek. Ismus scanned the water. It was abnormally clear and glimmered in the reflection of the Sun.

She wasn’t there.

“Lin?” She whispered. “LIN?!” Ismus leaned in before losing her footing.

Before she knew it, her body had flipped and submerged into warm water.

Linnasoeta chortled wildly, choking as she laughed. “I can’t believe you,” (choke and spit up)fell for,” (choke some more) “that!”

Ismus blinked. “Gods, why, Lin?” They exchanged small smiles and wordlessly agreed they were back on good terms.

“Look,” Linnasoeta pointed out way in the sky, “those are the Rapids of Rathian, and they cascade into the Creek, see? And its sweet water… you know? Clean water, I mean… So you can drink it, too.”

Ismus stared at the sky as she peeled off her pelt. Three rapids were tumbling down a platform of stone buildup, high into the sky, one from the left, another from the right, and another in the center. They all cascaded into the head of the Creek, as Linnasoeta had said, and some excess dripped into a small waterway that led to the forest. On the leeward side of the rapids, the flowers and lawn stayed dry and slightly shaded, an ideal spot to sleep.

“The Creek of Hazalen was made right in the center of the entire Creek Land, and because of its position, it gets the most Sunlight. See how it sparkles in the Sun? And if you look close, you can see these meaty, juicy trout and their cute little babies swimming along.” Linnasoeta spoke like a tour guide.

“And those closed parts of the Creek, you know, that small body of water that’s broken up by that strip of land? Well, that’s a hot spring. It’s heated underneath so you can get nice and warm. Over there in the far corner, where hot gas spews up, is a geyser. Don’t get too close to ‘dem!

“Also, we’re in Hazalen’s Mouth, just something you might want to know, and that’s pretty much it!” Linnasoeta straightened, turning her attention toward Ismus like an overexcited dog.

“Thank you, Miss Linnasoeta. Indeed, the Creek sparkles and glitters like pearls in the radiant Sunlight, but please, Miss, you still haven’t answered my question I asked earlier: How do you maintain all of those fruits when they have different growing seasons and have them all ripe at the same time while its winter?!”

Linnasoeta tapped her chin and grinned. “Magic.”

Ismus cocked her hip to the side, as well as she could in the water, and swam over to the waterfalls. Linnasoeta, like a fish, swam beside her.

“But really though, my mother told me a long time ago that a Goddess named Silvergrass had created this place. She made it as a protector over the people that once lived here thousands of years ago,” Lin said as she caught up to her. “She’s the Goddess of the greenery and all animals. That’s why the crops grow without tending to them.”

“A Goddess named Silvergrass?”

Lin nodded, tossing her chestnut hair around her shoulder. “Yeah, and then there’s one named Waterleaf, Goddess of all rushing water, Redtarnish, Goddess of growth, Embarion, Offspring of the Heavens, God of the Sun. And then there’s Embore and Winterbreath. Embore is the Goddess of the Moon, and Winterbreath controls snow and hail and freezing rain. Cool, huh?”

“Very,” Ismus agreed. “How did your mom know about all these?”

Lost in a memory not perceptible by Ismus, Lin grew quiet and mumbled, “I never asked,” and steered her gaze toward the falling shadow above them. Ismus left it alone.

The crash of the waterfalls filled their ears (only the left ear for Ismus) now, and the water was much cooler and deeper. Seaweed and smooth rocks coated the deep-down bottom of the Creek floor. And the navy-blue water didn’t sparkle, since the rapids blocked the Sun. Ismus rang the water out of her clothes, folded up her outfit, unlike Linnasoeta, and laid it down before she submerged under the small, centered rapid.

“Ismus, stop! You might drown!” Linnasoeta screamed, swimming after her. Her pale friend was deaf to her cries.

Ismus smiled, looking unhurt in the deep waters of the creek. She removed the hair tie from her long ponytail. Instantly, her long hair tumbled down into the darkness of the waters, a shimmery inferno of fire. Her long, pale legs drifted in the air and she laughed into the water.

Linnasoeta froze to stare at her. Ismus was so weak and troubled, and yet so strangely strong and illuminating all the same. She was a mystery to all, even to Lin. A smile crept on her lips and she swam towards her.

Ismus swam under the crashing cascade, smiling in her own partially silent world. It was quite funny, and odd, that the water was just shooting out from the sides of her head, little slides going off in all directions.

“ISMUS!” Linnasoeta screeched, waving her arms.

Unable to hear Lin’s screaming, Ismus had to look at her flailing arms to detect a problem.

“What’s wrong?” Ismus yelled back.

Lin, exasperated, gestured to the waterfall and the fact that Ismus was not drowning from its weight.

“I got a metal head, remember?” Ismus screamed over the loud falls. “I guess I never told you about it when I saw you by the Border a few months ago! Brutus had pushed me down to the cement and then –” Ismus stopped, her voice hurting, and dogpaddled over to Linnasoeta.  She tugged on her arm and pulled Linnasoeta away from the high water. “Come over here. I’m freezing, and I can’t keep screaming.” The water level started to shrink immediately once they left the bottomless part and approached the shallow hot spring. The rapids quieted.

Both girls sighed in the hot water and relaxed. The Sun was slowly sinking from the darkening sky, but the pair still had some catching up to do.

“So anyway,” Ismus continued, “my brother, Brutus, thought it would be funny to see what it was like to put a sharp rock across the dent in my forehead, which was already metal thanks to him pushing me down to the cement floor, and he thought my scalp was a good place to slit the sharp part of the rock. So, he cut it, two inches deep, as Dr. Rol had said, and then I got a metal head.” To prove it, Ismus took her fist and banged it hard on her scalp area. It made a robotic sound like, Chink, Chink.

Linnasoeta gasped in awe. “But your head looks so normal… How is that?”

Ismus frowned. “What?” She pointed to her right ear. Lin nodded in knowing and asked the question on the left side of her. Ismus tapped her chin and answered with a sarcastic, “Magic.”

Linnasoeta rolled her eyes and sighed. She gazed out beyond. Silence.

Ismus tucked her fiery hair behind her ears before the wind pushed it back into her face. “What’s the matter? You seem down all of a sudden.”

“It’s Nyoka.”

“Oh yes, I remember you telling me about him.”

“He always seems to turn my father against me and…”

Linnasoeta was quiet for a minute, frozen. Ismus could see her face harden with distress. “Don’t beat yourself up about your mother. At least she doesn’t have to suffer… anymore,” Ismus tried. Lin did not respond.

“Rather be Nyoka than her,” Ismus tried joking, “Like getting rid of him instead… at least you have a family, Lin! No matter if Nyoka is your slithering pet snake.”

Lin closed her eyes and leaned against the land near the Creek. “Do you remember the first time we met?” She asked again weakly, her mouth dry from the heat. “I can. We were both five, having no business to be on the outskirts of our countries. I saw you there, with your long red hair flowing in the wind. You waved, and I waved back.” Lin’s voice was tired and quiet, remembering something that Ismus didn’t even know existed. It boggled her mind and made her feel restless to not know what her best friend was talking about.

“Yes,” Ismus lied. “I remember it too. You were wearing a sparkling dress with your hair in curls. You looked very beautiful.”

“Stop it,” Lin barked. Her eyes snapped open, and she shot an angry finger. “You know that’s not how it went. Why can’t you remember?”

Ismus shrugged and decided to swim around in the water a bit. An angry trout treaded beside her.

“I don’t know. I can only remember when you actually came to Serabi. My memories are too clouded, just gone…”

“But I remember you saying something like: ‘Oh, you look familiar. Wait! Are you that Lin girl?’ when I walked behind that terrible, ugly, nasty, rocky, smelly, putrid castle—”

“—Alright, alright! I get your point and I couldn’t agree more! And yes, I did say that, but I don’t remember our first encounter.”

“… Well, if you remember when I came back behind the castle when we were seven, how do you not recall us talking two years before then?”

“Dunno. I think you’re a little—” Ismus took her index finger and started making a little circle right by her ear, “KOO-KOO.”

Taking that as an excuse to attack, Linnasoeta splashed the hot water straight into her friend’s eyes.

Ismus breathed in, happy to play along. “How dare you treat a princess this way?” She spoke melodramatically.  “I will kill you, you damned peasant!” Ismus dunked herself under the water. Linnasoeta followed after her. They wrestled beneath the water and tried to hold their ground. Bubbles flew to the surface as they laughed.

Grabbing her by the ankles, Ismus emerged from the water and flipped Linnasoeta around. “Who’s laughing now?” Ismus said between Linnasoeta’s screams.

The girls went back and forth, battling with water for several, quickly-passing hours, until the Sun vanished like smoke into the starry night sky.  The two girls finally felt safe and wanted.

Yet, as the warmth of the hot spring decreased, the Creek felt hollow and cold, like the insides of a haunted grave. The trees cracked and moaned like zombies. A pack of wolves howled viciously and sounded much too close.

Just as Ismus was about to hurl another spray of water in Linnasoeta’s face, she stopped her. They were alone in a pool of deep darkness. And it was silent. Ismus thought Lin could hear the beat of her heart. They both swam, trying not to move the water around, listening to the sounds.

“Damn it, my dad is gonna be pissed,” Linnasoeta swore into a whisper. She swam over to the far side of the Creek and hoisted herself up to land. She disappeared into the dark to find her clothes. Ismus did the same, and swam over to the deep end with the rapids. Linnasoeta came back running, fully dressed in under a minute (she hated the dark). Ismus pulled her friend into a tight hug, squeezing so hard that Ismus feared for a second that she might pop her. She kissed the top of Lin’s head.

“I love you, Linnasoeta, and I’ll be back soon.” Ismus promised, as she broke away and swung on her satchel. “Meet me here in a week, on Saturday, alright?” Ismus placed a hand on Lin’s cheek, placing her thumb underneath her chin.

“Alright,” Linnasoeta sighed, grabbing the pale hand that rested on her face. “Saturday, then.”

Without another word, Linnasoeta smiled toothily, before vanishing again into the invisible realm of darkness, this time not coming back.

She would not see Lin again for a long time.

Ismus slowly turned away from the opening to face a pitch blackness that consumed all objects of any color.

How long did Lin say the journey through the forest was?

Chapter Three: The Promise Land

Everything around her swirled, hypnotically. Ismus felt her mind soar, visions of dragons and confetti streaming throughout her brain. Lion heads sang and danced. Acorns with beards smiled and laughed. Babies chuckled and soiled their diapers. Things went black, then in color. Kaleidoscope views and phantasmagorias made Ismus think she had passed out on a bed of mellifluous pineapples and inhaled coconut. Then things darkened again, the imagined coconut breeze turning smoky, poisonous, and abrasive.

Had she gone mad?

Black.

Color.

Black.

Color.

Black.

Vibrant colors morphed into objects till her nightmare settled still in a dark world… a shadowy realm.

Ismus was hung in the uppermost corner of the suffocating dungeon before she heard the door creak open and slam shut. Inhuman footsteps stomped with an angry purpose, bolting down the narrow hall. The chains on her wrists wrangled their way down into her flesh, then her bone, burning her. The fire that roared in the dark-red, fireplace on the other side of the room grew higher until it gained the size of a giant building.

Wherever she was, it was murky and cold, like deadly shadows were hiding behind the walls. Water dripped onto her head. When it cascaded down her nose and into her mouth and she tasted its red, iron bite, Ismus then knew it was not water.

Gargoyles frowned from above, perched on platforms. Hideous statues (or things she hoped were statues) stared at her from below. As she looked down, Ismus was startled to find the pale beast stare up at her. It was slender and almost faceless and nearly bald… and it was one of the ghastliest creations in existence.

Calloused fingers found their way ten feet up, where Ismus hung, and slapped her filthy cheeks.

“You try to run, purple imp,” Aloes rasped.

Her voice was the scrape of a sword, of nails against a board.

“You try to hide from me.”

The fire was growing wider now, filling up the entire dungeon. Ismus bent her head down as her immobile body heated from the fire’s approach.

“Do you think this could be forgiven? This life of damnation because of you? Turning me ugly? Ruining my perfect life? Forcing me to kill and execute the innocent and the weak?”

The fire was burning her now, charring her feet.

     “But know this—if I have to kill you myself, even if that means killing my Ismus—

“Then I will ensure that you will return to your own Underworld.”

A second after Aloes spoke these words, a wrathful ocean of flames grew into a horrendous size and engulfed Ismus in its evil. Ismus did not even scream. There was little point; this was what she craved. As the pallor of her skin turned to red then black then ash, Ismus felt herself retreat to the state of numbness she had always known.

Hidden by the fire’s flames, Aloes ripped from her horrid green dress and morphed into a winged, skinless beast. She flew up to the burning girl and bared her sharp jaws. She growled, sucking Ismus into her mouth, exploding from the fire. The bricks of the basement started to fall off piece by piece, until the entire room was crumbling into havoc.

“I will ensure it now!”

Everything was happening so rapidly until—

At that moment, Ismus had been awakened from her nightmare and startled by a squawking figure.

“Ismus? Ismus?!” Linnasoeta shrieked as she clutched Ismus by her satchel straps and shook her violently.

“What? What?!” A startled Ismus panicked, her neck bobbing up and down from Linnasoeta’s great arm strength. “Hi, Lin. Stop shaking me—please!”

Linnasoeta parted her lips and stuck out a hand.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Ismus staggered to her feet, clutching her head, and brushed herself off, ignoring Linnasoeta’s outstretched hand.

“Apparently to get shaken.”

Lin squinted and cocked her head. “Is you ear still messed up?”

Ismus didn’t respond. She was fading out, staring blankly at the ground.

“Gods,” Lin sighed exasperatedly. “I really was hoping that had gone away—”

Ismus wrapped her arms around Lin’s back and about her shoulders and pulled herself into her. She buried her weighing head into her neck, and Lin could feel her fluttering lashes against her skin. Lin locked her arms about her waist as she concealed her face within red hair. For a few moments, they stayed this way, letting their chests rise and fall with every slow breath. It was not until Lin felt tears down her neck that she realized why.

“It must be awful,” Lin faltered.

Ismus drew in a breath. “The worst.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. You’re the only one that keeps me sane.”

When Ismus pulled away, Lin felt as though a great burden had been released from her body. That alarmed her.

“So I’m guessing you’re here to get away from all those…”

Ismus interjected swiftly. “I needed to leave Serabi. They won’t care.” She pursed her lips as the nightmare flashed through her mind. She ignored it and took Lin’s hand.

“I need you to show me around the Creek. I need peace and freedom, Lin. I have been feeling so contained and aching these last couple days and…” Her knees buckled.

“I think I hit my head on the…” she weakly gestured to the tree enwrapped in vine.

Linnasoeta nodded. “That’s the tree that signals when an outsider has crossed the border,” Lin explained as she hoisted Ismus up onto her shoulders with one arm and walked toward the entrance.

“I’m just spit balling here, but I think you used the Liana. It can cut the length of travel, almost magically, some say. It would have been, if you walked on foot, maybe four days to get across. But with that sharp vine, just a few minutes. I should know. Remember the first time we met, like face-to-face, Ismus?”

Ismus tried shaking her head as best as she could while holding on to Lin’s strong back. “I can’t remember the good. Only dark things, only sad things.”

Lin then switched the conversation, not exactly wanting to talk about the dark things they both had once seen. “Shen, my father, and all the other clansmen went back to the Wither House. I guess he thinks I can handle stuff on my own. Stuff like you. I can’t tell if he cares about me or not. It seems like he gives me too many chances to prove my worth, and it’s like he’s expecting disappointment if I screw something up. I just don’t get him sometimes…” She came to a stop. Lin breathed in.

“Well,” Linnasoeta announced after laying Ismus down onto a bed of mulch, “I present to you the Creek of Hazalen.” A grumbling Ismus took Linnasoeta’s hand this time before gazing at the most glorious, overwhelming, and complex scene ever made. Ismus stood with her jaw hung, awestruck.

For a moment, she couldn’t see. Tears began to well in her eyes, and soon, one cold splash of happiness was chased by another, running down her ashen cheeks. All this time she had been kept away from the beauty and peace; her tears were a mixture of emotions that consisted of cheerfulness, anger, and melancholy. But now Ismus was here, freed.

Linnasoeta peeked at her awestruck friend. “Beautiful, right?” She asked with trademark complacency.

“Yes,” Ismus said in a voice barely above a whisper, “Yes, Gods, it’s… Heaven.” The Creek of Hazalen was forceful and elegant at the same time; it made one not want to speak, but rather stay quiet and watch, smell, and listen. And that is precisely what Ismus did.

A vast, dark-green forest encircled the pair of fifteen-year-old girls, working its way around all sides of the Creek Land, except for a huge opening—an entrance—where the two stood. There in front of them was a garden; bushes of honeysuckle, wild berries, and strawberries cultivated around the mulch fields. Inside the shrubbery was a green lawn eradicated of any weed or the slightest imperfection. Grass specks trapped the Sunlight from their silver shine. Linnasoeta slowly walked to the crops and Ismus trailed behind; orange carrots, red, succulent tomatoes, sweet corn, onion, and vibrant bell peppers were among the various vegetables that they saw, glistening in the sparkling Sun.

“This part right here is Hazalen’s Garden. Best crops to find in our country.” Linnasoeta tried to state quietly, which was wholly difficult for her. (If one stayed quiet, one could hear the creek’s gentle movements and the rapids’ far away crash.)

Going along both ends of the Creek Land were two trails of channeled, reddish-brown brick, winding along ample beds of wild flowers that were assembled precisely in the colors of the rainbow, grown out of the thick, brown mulch. Some bees, butterflies, and blue jays had ventured through the exuberant flowers, feasting through the florae. The bubbly burble of the blue jays and the buzzing of the busy animals were all so overwhelming in their serenity.

Ismus dillydallied through the field before looking aloft.

“Lin, look!” Ismus half shouted, half whispered.

She felt, in this garden, a lost sense of youth, the lovely parts of youth she could no longer remember. Numbness was replaced with childish precociousness and she let out a delighted scream.

Exploding with this newfound joy, Ismus said again, “Lin, look!”

“I know! Fruit looks delicious, right?” Linnasoeta said. Curved trees planted deep into the soil detained ripe fruits and the rare Heartful Harvest Flower (a red, heart-shaped flower made by honey bees and cocoa ants, half of the flower being honey and the other half chocolate powder, with sweet water droplets on top).

“Can I take it?” Ismus asked, thinking twice. “I didn’t eat breakfast this morning, except for one cold biscuit, so…”

Linnasoeta was already clawing her way up the fruit trees and pulling down bananas, citrus fruits, green apples, mangoes, plums, and, her personal favorite, The Heartful Harvest Flower. “You’ll love this one!” Linnasoeta called from above. She pulled down a few coconuts and an unattended bee hive that trickled down gold-amber honey before coming down to feast.

“Will you hurry up with that, Linny dear?” Ismus said in a stiff accent before the two started to break out in laughs. Linnasoeta toppled down the tree, snorting, and the whole feast of fruits tumbled down from her callused hands.

“Ow!” Linnasoeta screamed. Ismus chortled, grabbing a piece of Heartful Harvest. She bit into it, and a mouthful of juice dribbled down her chin. They ate for a few minutes, stopping every so often to exchange gossip.

Then Ismus made a mistake.

“Hey, I was wondering, I know your country is… awesome and everything, but how do you have all these fruits and have them all be ripe at the same time? I mean, this is a little better than the castle garden back home and you come from a…” Ismus came to an abrupt stop and hoped Lin would not fill in that blank.

     Why would I say something like that?

Linnasoeta grimaced and raised an eyebrow. “Not a castle?”

There was a pause before they resumed speaking.

“Sorry. I… forget sometimes.” Ismus’s voice couldn’t have been less audible. The girls sat in a tense silence for less than a minute…

     It felt longer than a minute.

Linnasoeta sighed and then scoffed. “Well, if that’s how you see me then I don’t care, but now I’m going to eat, since I didn’t have breakfast either, Miss Princess.” Ismus could not see one sign of hurt in Lin now. She watched as her friend took a huge bite out of her mango and stuck her hand in the hive before shoving her honey-coated hand in her mouth.

The girls ate in silence, not with anger, but with a deep hunger. Soon the food was gone.

Meetings and Memories (Pt. 2)

Silence hushed them. The only sounds heard were the bird’s awkward chirp; the slow movement of the river; the crash of the Titan Waterfall; the loud smack of Lin’s jaws as she chewed on her Creamer Bread. Sickness swelled in her stomach.

What do you mean, mother?!” Lin cried out, “What path do you speak of?!”

“Lin!” Her mother said sternly as she reached for her little hand. “Lin… I know this is quite complex for you to understand, but—”

“No! It’s quite complex for you to understand because you know nothing about Ismus! Nothing! She isn’t taking me on any path! There is no path!” She snapped her neck back to drink her tepid cider and stuffed her mouth with antelope.

“You must—!”

“And I’m never gonna stop talking to her!” She growled with a mouth full of meat. “I love her!”

“Lin.” Her mother gave her an upset stare, the dark, penetrating force of her eyes silencing Linnasoeta’s throat at once.

“One border divides each of you… ” her mother had rasped. Then, raising her voice to a terrifyingly loud tone that Linnasoeta recognized as the “Beast”, she said, “Stay within the borders of your own kin, Linnasoeta, and there you shall stay out of trouble. Those people are much too different for our bearing… and safety. Not with that history of theirs. I think it is time for me to tell you this story… this pressing matter.” Kima hesitated, as if she were thinking of what not to say.

“Listen to my words, child; eleven thousand years ago, there was a land which people were sent to. They were exiled people from a dimension unseen to our very eyes. Our people came from crossing into unknown lands, and settled in Jainu—do you know where that is, Lin? Many decades later they traveled across the Gallatin Ocean and came upon our current continent. They explored and called this land home, naming it Rodemina. We fished and ate and built homes and lived happy lives, and it stayed peaceful for ten thousand and nine-hundred years only because our allies – rather, our founders—were strong and cunning enough to keep others from finding out about our voyage—the people of Jainu. And it was a secret voyage, mind you, which is also why no one came for so long.

“But, as things go, nothing can stay secret forever; soon, the Chidaria Royals of Grudale came, and they fancied these lands just as much as our people. In fact, they loved it so much that they took it as their own. Since they had royal rulers, anything could come and go with a flicker of a royal’s wrist, and we loathed them very much.

“Yet our people were strong, knowing that the enemy could not just take their beloved land on a whim, and fought against them to keep the land. But—alas!—the reign of the country in which the settlers had come were too powerful for our people to tolerate. We battled bravely in the Night War, but our numbers were too few, and our soldiers too ill-equipped.”

Her mother laughed, but bitterly, and bore a face that would have rotted the Creamer Bread Lin was finishing.

“We were not ready for war, and the enemy wiped us out quickly, forcing populaces to flee for their lives. By daybreak, our population had suffered… and was decreased by ten thousand.”

Lin gawked, her mouth wide open in horror. “T-ten thousand?” She asked weakly, almost about to vomit her now tasteless bread. Her mother had nodded. Her gaze hardened as she looked far into the distance, toward the castle. Her eyes welled with angry tears and her cheeks faltered, but she stayed strong in front of her young daughter. She continued on in a hollow voice.

“They took control of everything: the land, the homes, the people. And it stayed that way for years. For years, our people suffered even greater losses, and not just their families were taken away, mind you. Everything our people ever cared about was deprived from Sorthon’s—Borthor’s Grandfather—command: their homes, food, money, farms, rights… Everything, Linnasoeta. EVERYTHING. They took over entirely and dominated the people with total power— brutal tyrants they were. Power was their fuel, and death was something they merely laughed about. They fed on our torture. As we slowly died from disease or starvation, they would merely watch, just watch us rot away… and they loved it. They loved seeing us die, Linnasoeta. They enslaved us.

“Few of us remained to see the effects of the Fire Revolutionary War. The militia under the command of Sorthon was defeated, forced into Émigré, and soon killed by the beasts of Wither Hollow. That was when the country, the country in which we live now, was split in two: Rodem and Serabi. And that was when the Border of Thangos was put into place. Just think of it Lin, dear: a deep trench splitting it in half like Mailberry pie.”

Lin’s mother laughed again, but this time it was more of a scoff.

She continued, “So the king of his time, Sorthon, signed the First Armistice of “Cease-Fire”, as those who did not serve in the war had called it, and soon split Rodem in half, all the way from the Sea of Condo to the Marsh Styx.

“Of course the Serabians did not split it evenly, for the border was no more than an immense line with jagged crossings. The giant, miles-long canyon in the land, the Thangos Trench, is mysterious. If they as much as saw the Rodem people cross the border, they would torture them to death. And that is when they found the vine… The Liana. They found it impossible to chop it down: it would always grow back, holding onto the bark tighter than the last time.

“And so you see, Linnasoeta, the Royals of Serabi are dangerous people. And I must not let you fall into the Queen’s grasp. ‘An apple never dwindles too far from the tree’ people say. And that is quite true for the Royals of Serabi.”

Lin nodded. She was not sure what she was nodding to. Her mother fell under a spell of momentary silence.

“Now, with that said and done, I need you to promise me something.”

Lin snapped back into the present; she had been dreaming of butterflies. Kima’s deep iridescent eyes startled her since they were wide with seriousness.

“I never want to see you near that border ever again in your life.” Her voice was low and raspy. “If you do, He Above please help me, I will not be there to save you. I know what the Queen can do—.” Kima touched her back and sharply drew her breath, touching something sore. Lin gasped as her mother’s white dress revealed a sliver of her opened skin; long, red cuts sliced into her flesh.

“She can hurt you Lin. Aloes can kill you.” Kima was looking Linnasoeta right in the eye. “Ismus is foul. I normally would not put that kind of negativity on youths, but she is rotten. Your friend is a curse to our people. She brings malice into the lands; she tips the scale of balance…that’s enough.” She sighed and clutched her forehead.

A moment’s silence filled the air. Tension sliced the atmosphere in two.

“Don’t cross the border.”

Her memory faded and she came back from the darkness. Linnasoeta’s mind stopped abruptly, and she forgot for a minute where she was and what she needed to do. She then continued forward, still strolling (for she was quite bemused).

The roads started to come back again once Lin had finished the trail. Lin increased her pace and dashed for the Grounds, which was now in her sight.  Horse-drawn carriages and carts littered the rocky streets she sprinted down.

Even while she was several feet away, Linnasoeta could tell something was wrong. Once she neared the roads, she saw the entire village had gathered in a circle on the dusty, earthen floor around the old House of Gods—the Meeting Grounds.

Sea Serpent and Snake Biter (the confounded twin brothers) were having a discussion among themselves. The two men argued, both heated and angry, with their voices loud and fists in the air. Whatever they were arguing about, it must have been for a while because people were starting to yawn and suddenly catch eye of Lin.

But, as Lin came up close to the circle, breathing heavy and a little too loud, a thousand pairs of eyes turned toward her. She stopped in her tracks and there was a dead, awkward silence. And it was a dead silence. Her eyes darted about the circle. The birds coughed.

A shameful glance was cast from her father near the center of the circle, without question, just as embarrassed as his daughter. Linnasoeta pursed her lips, and she cleared her throat.

“Hey, guys,” she laughed as she snapped her fingers and winked. They responded with blinks and a few eye-rolls before reinstituting conversation about themselves. The Workclan had become well accustomed to Lin’s brashness and thought nothing of it.

Linnasoeta sighed and made an attempt to walk as effortlessly as she could toward her father. She hoped her attempts at confidence were not mistaken with arrogance; she was nearly certain they were.

Dragging herself along the dusty, red dirt, she reluctantly trudged to her father. Lin nestled right in-between her father and the rotten weasel Nyoka. Her father’s Workclan sat nearby him. Lin didn’t see it, but Nyoka was staring at her, a satisfied smirk resting on his lips. He placed his hand on her neck to feel her heartbeat. Lin swatted it away and scowled at him.

If only Lin’s mother were here now…

————–

The tedious meeting lacked refinement. That was a fact for certain. It lagged on and on until the ends of the earth, and half of everything the men were talking of Linnasoeta ignored.

Not only was the meeting as bland as a watery bowl of the petrifying oatmeal the Workclan called food, but it was just as sordid as one.

While Alto Jack, for example, was giving one of his death-worthy lectures about a bunch of nonsense, Linnasoeta heard many disgusting noises: someone on the far side of the circle hacked up saliva; the loud, putrid, and the occasional sound of a burp every now and then; and, this may just have been Linnasoeta’s imagination, but she thought she heard someone… it was someone close to her who did it. She could say that because a foul odor had crept in the crevice of her nose, strong and repugnant. She twisted her face as if she were sucking on a lemon.

Alto Jack babbled on. Linnasoeta tensed once more. The smell intensified. Alto’s words ran into one as Linnasoeta’s perplexed heart beat faster. It was pungent, filling her nose and mouth with its horrid, squalid stench, suffocating her as it turned the air toxic. All sound muted around her. She leaned back behind her father to breathe out of the stench. What the demon is that?  Linnasoeta exclaimed in her mind. Disgusting pigs! She came up from behind her father and waited for the profuse smell. She hummed. A scary, pudgy woman turned her way with a demented grimace. Linnasoeta faltered and stopped.

“And dats why we need so-mo sword work.”

Alto Jack smiled proudly—giving his toothless grin—after he had finished his speech, impressed with himself. He surveyed the crowd before the entire circle broke out in hisses and plenty of “BOOS!” to go around.

“You lump of baloney! Grow some sense!” someone shouted.

“Shut your face, you idiot!” Sea Snake and Snake Biter cried in harmony.

“Sit your ass down, Jack. Waste of time,” the obese woman seethed.

(Linnasoeta was relieved that people were yelling at Alto instead of her, and she found this part of the meeting quite entertaining. Normally they would discuss if the country was running smoothly, or if the Queen was planning another horror on Rodem. The yelling was a nice variation.)

“You are men, are you not?” Shen bellowed at them all. Lin jumped.

“The fate of our people rests in Serabi’s hands, and here you are laughingat our loyal Alto Jack! Disgusting, the lot of you are who chortle along with this, and I am not in the mood to handle idiotic complications when there are larger, more fatal matters to attend to. If you are not men, then leave this meeting. Only those who intend to mend our nation’s problems without a lark on their lips shall stay.”

All hushed.

“Now on with the importance of this meeting: What I came to address is concerning our Demon—Serabi’s Queen. A week ago, Aloes saw a gathering of innocent villagers, right on the Banks of Soreyth. They were on their way to the Huntington Village, just crossing Olde Taylor Farm. Aloes saw this as an opportunity to kill more of our people. She crossed the border yet again and captured them. I learned of this only four days ago, since I was extremely busy dealing with” He gave Linnasoeta a sideways glance. “—Some issues.”

Linnasoeta frowned. She didn’t mean to light the cavern on fire. Shen should have never hired her. Worse, rehire her. She could feel Nyoka’s smile press into her back once more. She whipped her head around before he could touch her neck again.

“I believe if this happens again we will be forced to call upon War’s aid. And that aid is not a certain, believable one.”

One workman answered this. “War is not the answer, Shen Lein of the Wither House. Her soldiers’ numbers dominate and multiply over ours. Swords must be forged, and the country has no money to be spent on a war.

“And if we did somehow defeat her army, what then? Will we take over Serabi and throttle the other poor villagers as Serabi did long before the country was split in two? What then, Shen?” The woman glared.

Lin’s father returned the look, only calmer and deeper. “It seems as though you know not of my plan.” He pulled a tattered scroll out from his crimson kimono, unrolled it, and held it out for the clan to see. He talked in a low voice rich with importance.

“This is ancient text that I found after, well… whenever it had been. It was… blowing in the winds,” (some people laughed at this) “so I took it and examined it. The text informs that there is something right under Serabi’s castle that may just help us win this… quickly.  If this information is right, it will lead us straight to the Guardian of Fire.

“I have not spoken of this before because I had lost this one day eight years ago, and only now have I found it.”

A woman from the circle raised her hand. “And what exactly is the Guardian of Fire? And what use is it to us?” Shen’s voice sounded like thunder when he answered.

“It is the only the most destructive power below the earth. It is the—”

Just then, the belfry, directly above the circle, was hit, and rang with a loud purpose.

Filling their ears with an unswerving metal clank, a different man from the tower cried, “The border signal has been triggered! The girl has entered!”

Shen threw a look behind his shoulder, eyes and neck positioned like an eagle’s. Chatter among the circle grew into shouts and yells. Complete confusion and worry excited and startled everyone. Shen instructed them to make haste to their homes, for it was her.

     The Queen’s daughter.

“Linnasoeta,” Shen grasped for his daughter as he submerged from the crowd, “See if it is her.” His dark eyes were pleading, yet influential. “Keep her from us.”

Without another word, Linnasoeta ran off south toward the border and weaved her way through the Golden Savanna. Like a cat, she climbed up a Maple Tree, clawing her chipped nails into the eroding bark, and perched herself up on the top branch. Linnasoeta looked out past the tree leaves, having no need to squint due to her astonishing eyesight. She gasped and felt time slow for a moment.

     Ismus.

     After twenty seconds of staring at her unconscious friend in the meadow, Linnasoeta jumped from the Maple Tree and dashed to the Creek of Hazalen, waiting to join her best friend. Before she stepped in, she looked behind her to see if her father was still there. Lin’s face fell.

He too had left.

Wind and Cake (Part Two)

Part Two

lucks and losses

featuring:

cold yet caring—not enough—the contest: child’s play—what’s the use of feeling blue?and cyan frosting

 

 

 

Cold yet Caring

 

Peter had slipped out of Clementine’s house around five in the morning. He had walked back to his flat in dark, pensive silence. The world around him was dimly lit by old streetlights and nothing else. To walk about in a familiar place—usually blinding with heat and chatter—that was now so empty and black was beautiful to him.

If it weren’t for the constant fear of being jumped.

He ended up at his house a little past six. When he walked up the stairs and past two other doors, he found the door to his flat wide open.

Peter stood for a moment. Vomit began to rise up his throat; he swallowed it down. He walked into the pitch-black hallway, closing the door behind him. He flicked on the lights, holding his breath as he walked about. He was safe, he was alone—

“And where have you been, young man?” An old figure with a tired voice emerged from his room. The clack of her heels made him look straight into her black eyes.

“Hello, Ms. Simian. Why are you here?”

She folded her arms, stepping into the light enough for Peter to notice her burgundy turtleneck. “I know you’ve been alone here the whole week, Peter. You left this morning. I got worried.” She crossed one of her stick-thin legs. “Where did you go?”

He bunched his jacket into his hands. “A friend’s house.”

Ms. Simian sighed and walked to him, heels sharp and violent. “And your father?”

Peter shrugged.

She huffed. “I figured as much.” Ms. Simian now loomed above him. “I know your mother left on some blasted yoga expedition or something rather. Completely ridiculous. I’m surprised you don’t have any damned bruises on your face again.”

No reply.

She sighed once more.

Not only was Peter’s entire existence a sigh, all reactions to his doings constituted one.

Especially to Ms. Simian.

            “I hope you know that if you ever feel scared or unsafe, you can always knock on my door. I’m just across your flat, Peter. Do you understand?” She pursed her crimson, lipstick-lined mouth.

“I suppose.”

“Good.” She click-clacked past him and walked right out of the door. There was a small sense of safety when it came to the seven decades (and some) old woman, like her turtlenecks and knee-length skirts and her unnaturally black bushel of hair. It was the kind of safety that made one feel as if they were staying at their strict grandmother’s house—a grandmother they knew loved them but wasn’t fond of showing it. That was how Peter felt about Ms. Simian.

He didn’t hesitate to throw himself into the shower. Of course, the place was cheap and the only settings the water had was rust-filled or freezing cold.

Peter chose the latter.

He dressed, swallowed a bit of toothpaste, and eyed his hair.

It was ugly, he thought, just like his XXXL shirt he had fished through his father’s closet to find. Ugly like his scrawny arms and legs.

Alas, there was little time for self-hatred as Peter peeked at the clock that read half past six. He would have to leave his house soon in order to make it to the bakery before any of the other kids. It would give him plenty enough time to pick a spot in the room, in the corner, preferably by himself, but he wasn’t picky. He would block out everyone else.

Except for the older hybrid.

Peter slumped down on the toilet. He hated that boy Jace with a passion. Isn’t it obvious? The way he judged his every facial feature, the amount of times he flinched whenever Jace made eye contact with him, let alone putting a hand on his hair?

Or maybe I’m bad at understanding his poorly expressed emotions.

            Whatever the feeling is called, he hated it. With a deep, red, burning passion. It was distracting, honestly. It derailed him of his purpose. It went against everything he stood for. He was not supposed to care about anyone. But he did care about people, and no matter how much it would take for him to accept it, he knew that people cared about him too.

He hopped off the toilet and started out the door, closing it firmly behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

Not Enough

 

When Peter entered the bakery, he could hear the rustle of footsteps and the clatter of dishes behind the storage room door. He would make an attempt to call out, but his voice could barely project above a mumble. His eyes floated up the dark wood of the walls until they met a brightly blinking digital clock reading:

7:35 A.M.

He took a seat at one of the tables and began to observe the place he considered home. The walls and the floor were the same calming shade of dark chestnut, and the chairs were silver and tall. Each of the fifteen tables were adorned with a small, glowing candle in the center; surrounding them were black boxes filled with napkins and cream and sugar packets. The ceiling was high and held five fans.

The Sweetwater’s bakery gave off the bold, profuse smell of coffee, and at random Peter could smell the baking of cakes and chocolate things. It was his favorite scent. His eyes drifted to the clock again; five minutes had passed.

Peter sighed and laid his head down on the table. He wasn’t tired, but he didn’t have any large amount of energy. He was about to shut his eyes before a voice made him poke his head back up.

“Why are you here so early, Pete?” A buck-toothed Emma Sweetwater, with pink braces and one long, raven braid, swung the storage room door wide open. “Hello?”

Peter gave her a long glance up and down. He realized she was wearing all pink except for her classic green shoes, the ones she had worn since third grade.

“I… I…”

She rolled her eyes. “You just wanted to talk to my brother, didn’t you?”

Peter didn’t bother to respond.

“Yeah, okay, I thought so.” Emma wiped a bit of sweat off her upper lip. “C’mon, you can help us set up for the class today.”

He stood up and followed the girl into the other room. Once inside, he saw a long, rectangular table with at least twenty wooden chairs. Each chair had a small fondant roller in front of it. To the left of the table was a large kitchen already filled with dirty dishes, bowls of frosting that needed to be colored, and half-baked sweets.

“Wash off the dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Once you’re done with that, frost those cakes. You might need to add some food coloring to the cream cheese frosting. Got it?”

Silently, he walked over to the sink and began to scrub plates.

“Sooo, Pete,” Emma sing-songed whilst sweeping the floors. “How’s your summer been?”

More scrubbing.

“Mine’s been okay. Kinda boring. I’ve mostly been here.”

Now he was stacking dishes upon dishes in the washer.

“My brother’s been applying to some colleges.” She gave him a side look to see if this topic had sparked his interest. She was correct: he had gone completely still. “He’s only got one more year till he’s done with high school. Can you believe how old he is? He’s going to be gone soon.” She swept the crumbs into the dustpan. “And we’re not even in middle school yet. I don’t know, just something I think about.”

Peter slowly closed the dishwasher. “What…colleges?”

“Who knows? One week he says he’s staying in Florida, next week he wants to go all the way to New York to go to Cornell. Hopefully he chooses a middle ground and goes somewhere in North Carolina or something.”

He swallowed and grunted a bit as a reply. Peter slowly walked over to the bowls and looked in. He added a bit of blue dye to the creamed cheese frosting and gave it a stir.

Peter couldn’t see it, but an ugly grimace spread across her face. “But yesterday he got a letter back from Cornell that said he was on a waiting list. I’m not sure what that exactly means, and I don’t think he really knows either. Still, it… scares me. I’m going to miss him. I really take him for granted, Pete. Once he’s gone, it’ll just be me and my mom and this place.” She gestured to the air about her.

“He says he’s going to visit us a lot. He says that he’ll miss us, but I can tell deep down he’s excited to go. He’s been excited to get out of here for a long time. A long time. I’ve always known that this town, that this bakery, that this life… it’s never been enough for him. And his poor girlfriend—”

“Stop,” Peter spoke. Emma shot him a narrowed eyed look before noticing his glistening cheeks and the rivulets of tears streaming down them. She rushed over to him.

“Oh my God, Peter! I’m… sorry. I didn’t know—” She began to hug him.

Peter couldn’t hear it, and he couldn’t feel her embrace.

Not enough, not enough, not enough…

Wind and Cake

A Hybrid

 

Beads of sweat were gathering about his neck by time Peter had reached the bakery. The sun was at its biggest, brightest, and most violent at the scalding hour of noon. The sign of “Emma Sweetwater’s Bakery” had not yet dimmed to black, meaning that whatever happened to the strict closing time on Sundays at noon had not been enforced today.

Upon seeing that, Peter slowed his pace down to a walk, inhaled, and went through the doors.

            I laughed at his face; I thought this drippy boy was about to drop dead.

Emma and her older brother Jace were hybrids to Peter. With a father sporting ebony skin and long, dark curls along with a porcelain-skinned mother with waist-length blond hair and green eyes, they truly were a fascinating sight. Whilst Emma got the milky skin and straight, raven hair, Jace had received a different set of genes.

“Here’s the little guy I was waiting for. How ya doin’, buddy?” Peter did not know what Jace was saying. His golden skin and emerald eyes had him lost. Instead of speaking, he dropped the money onto the counter, eyes locked and jaw rocking side-to-side in waiting. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see the darkened ambiance of the bakery, completely empty apart from the seventeen year-old hybrid and the sad thing.

Jace flipped a dark curl from his eye. “What’s this for?”

“Summer program. Costs… fifty. Right?” His blue eyes began to waver.

“W-well, it is, but, Peter, can you even afford this? What did your mom say?”

Peter shook his head and began to mumble even quieter. “She’s gone. Won’t come back until September. She’s in India, on a yoga trip.”

“What about your dad?”

“He’s gone too. Maybe at the bar. Maybe with the police. I don’t like him.”

Jace sighed and looked the twelve (who could pass for eight) year-old boy right in the eyes. “I’m sorry, Peter. I can’t even… imagine going through—you know—any of the stuff you are.”

Peter stayed silent.

The older boy ran a hand through Peter’s jagged blond hair, in turn making him flinch. “You’re cool, Peter. You don’t have to pay for this.”

Peter was still quiet.

“Well, I’m sure you already know, but the classes start tomorrow till Thursday at eight, sharp.”

Still nothing.

“It’s not required to bring equipment, so don’t think you have to. It’s all provided here—”

“Jace,” Peter said hardly above a whisper.

“What’s wrong, Peter?”

He reached across the counter and grabbed one of Jace’s finger. “Thank you.”

For a moment, he was lost. Then he laughed, a delicate sort of thing. “No problem, little guy. Hey, are you excited for middle school?”

Peter frowned and returned his hands down to his side. “No. I cried when I started elementary school. I’ll cry harder when I start middle school.”

“Nah, it’s not that bad,” Jace began to say as he untied his black apron. “You stay with your own friends, the classrooms are big, and the teachers give you a little bit more space. Not a lot, but, you know, it’s cool. Trust me.” Jace gave the younger boy a wink before turning his back to him to face a stack of dirty dishes.

Peter’s faint brows pinched together. “Don’t do that.”

Jace turned. “Do what?”

“Nothing.” Peter cast his gaze down to his dilapidated shoes.

He left Jace to close the bakery.

 

Burnt Cookies

 

Little Peter Johnson is quite the bore, isn’t he? A yawn in a universe of infinite possibilities. Another depressing sight that makes his way upon the world, silent and bumbling.

Oh, do you think you’re so much better?

            It’s later in the day, I growing stronger as the sun begins to set. Peter had been gazing at the lake in Clementine’s backyard, dipping his naked toes into the water. She had sat alongside him and decided not to speak for a few minutes, then a few hours. It would have been a failed attempt if she had, anyway; it’s not like Peter would have said anything back to her. The most the boy had talked all that week was with the hybrid baker; truth be told, he actually had not spoken at all that week until he saw Clem earlier that day.

He had been entrapped in the lonely chamber that was his flat for nearly the entire week. Peter had asked his father for fifty dollars the following Sunday.

He was struck across the face with a belt for asking.

Later on in the night, Peter awoke to a few loud swears and the slam of the front door. A couple hours later—around three in the morning—his father came into his room and slapped the money across his face. He called him a few awful, awful names before leaving Peter to feel absolutely shaken.

I know I’m no saint, but the things he says and does to that boy is truly despicable.

            Nonetheless, Peter had his money, and his father had left the house for a whopping six days. Six days! This had left him plenty of time to procrastinate going to the bakery and isolate himself from the rest of society. He would stare out the cream-colored blinds, peeking between the gaps at the bright sunlight. He would be brave and take his father’s shirt, which hung down by his ankles, and then run his hands up and down the broken radio. Then he would eat a bit of mustard and (if he was lucky) a few stale saltine crackers. By the time the day had ended, he had lost another pound. If he kept his diet conditions up, 100 pounds would soon shrivel down to double digits.

“Peter,” Clementine mumbled, watching the orange reflection of the sun bounce off the water. “I… I know he’s probably going to be back soon. You can sleep over here if you want. My parents don’t care.”

He nodded. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” She splashed her toes about in the water and waited till the sky was a deep black. “We should head inside. I don’t feel like scratching off anymore mosquito bites. C’mon.”

~

“Well,” the girl announced much too loudly in the deep of night. “You’ve got that class tomorrow. You should practice.”

Clementine began to rifle through her cabinets and scour through her fridge. “We’ve got some flour, eggs, sugar, and a couple chocolate chips. Can we make cookies?”

Peter hopped off the toddler stool. “Do you have any baking soda? Powder? Salt? Vanilla? Is the butter softened or will we have to microwave it for thirty seconds?”

The left side of her mouth curled upward. “Is this the only way you’re gonna talk to me?”

He nodded. “Can you answer my questions?”

She began to tie her hair back into a tight bun. “Nope, nope, double nope, and I don’t know what that means.”

Without another glance, he began to preheat the oven to 325 degrees, find bowls and spoons and sifters, and began to slowly and precisely measure ingredients into a large pink bowl.

“So… am I gonna help you, or…”

“Crack two eggs in a different bowl. Pick out the shells.”

Clementine snorted. “Yeah, like I still get shells in the batter.”

“You do. You did it last time.”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine.”

As she cracked the eggs, with Peter’s back facing her, she shot him a long glance.

Not a thing of lust, but of worry, mind you.

            She dumped the cracked eggs into the bowl and watched Peter stir it exactly fifty-three times. They placed them on a tray, put them in the preheated oven, and waited for a few minutes.

Whilst they waited, they sat down on her living room couch and stared at the flashing screen above them. Peter had never watched T.V. before he befriended Clementine, so it confused and captivated him greatly. They said nothing throughout a full episode of Voltron.

“Clementine,” his hoarse voice croaked.

“Yeah?” She turned the T.V. down a few notches.

“I’m scared.”

“Why?”

“I’m scared to fail.”

“You won’t.”

“In front of people. In front of…other people.”

“You’ll be fine, Peter.”

“Clementine?”

“Yes?”

“How long are these episodes?”

“Twenty minutes.”

He slumped into the couch. “I failed already.”

The two shared a burnt cookie before dumping out the rest of the batch. They fell asleep to Lance, one of the paladins of Voltron, talking about how much he missed his family back on Earth.

Peter, before he fell asleep, thought to himself that there were very few people on Earth he would miss if he had the opportunity to leave it.

Wind and Cake

(Inspired by The Book Thief )

Has a child ever walked past you on a particularly bland day and say how much of a waste of air you are? Or perhaps you have said such a thing to another person who you believed was entitled to this label?

Well, I’ve got a bit of news for you.

You’re not a waste of air.

And neither is the obese man breathing through his mouth like his nostrils are always clogged.

            See, I am one of the rare resources provided by this atmospherically differentiated Earth that you humans can never deplete of. Can I be polluted, filled with toxins set off by factories and automobile emissions?

Yes.

But that’s neither here nor there.

            Truthfully, I do not know my purpose here on this planet. I am a burden in places of ice and snow, but as I travel in the scorching, humid areas I am a praised delicacy, if I may be so vain. These mixed climates—these mixed reactions—have led me to be somewhat of a nuisance.

My breezes may fill up your shirts and travel through the gaps of your six-layers-thick winter gear; gusts of me may ruin your freshly curled mane or make your skirt fly up at the most unexpected (and downright most inappropriate) of times.

Yet none of the aforementioned things is as bad as when I snatch something away from you, high, high, high, waaay into the air, to the point where you would look foolish trying to retrieve it.

What can I say?

I’m a thief.

(Also, it’s not my fault if your skirt flies up on a day I’m feeling rather…interactive.

I’m sure many can’t complain—I one of them, to be frank.)

            The incident with the snatching has become a common trope used to signify human error or lack of good luck. But you see, it’s not that at all. If I come and take something out of your hands, or I push it away so you are no longer in grabbing range of the item, it means it has a purpose. Something I want. Something I need. Do the things I take ever have a purpose? I’ll give you a hint:

N-o.

            However, when I take the items I can—meaning they’re not too heavy and I can carry it away with ease—the look on the devastated humans faces give me something to smile about. Whether it be a flimsy paperback book that I drop ever so gracefully into a stinking mud puddle, or a little boy’s green Kroger balloon that floats up into the infinite firmament, or an essay that a teenage girl didn’t even want to write in which *magically* floats into a nearby trash can, I have to be honest, the feeling is always the same: pure joy.

They jump, they scream, fly about, run to it as fast as they can, knowing the entire time it’s too late. And I give a small smile, then I dash about and I’m on my way to cool down those sunburnt dudes down by the pool.

See? I redeem myself.

            For hundreds of thousands of years, I had thought this was my purpose. To torment and (later on) help humankind.

Until the day I met Peter.

 

 

Part One

the baker’s cookbook

featuring:

sad blue eyes—a loud girl—a hybrid—and burnt cookies

 

Sad Blue Eyes

The boy was a depressing sight.

Even before I had swiped the green bills from his hands.

I could sit here and say that the saddest thing about him was his oversized jacket he was sporting in mid-July (which in turn filled his forehead with a thick sweat.) I could lie and say it was his pale, soft cheeks, burning from the scorching Florida heat. Heck, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say it was his poorly cropped, sandy blond hair that shaded his eyebrows.

All could say that the most depressing thing about this child—only accounting for his appearance and nothing else—were his soggy, blood-shot, blue eyes. When fifty dollars blew out of the boy’s hands, the onlookers did not stop to help him. Instead they cast him sad, pitiful looks. And said things like:

“Look at him! He’s so little! Are you lost little boy?”

“Where’s his mom?”

“Oh, it’s that first grader that wanders. Lucky kid, his parents don’t even care. Wish my parents were like that.”

He ignored them all.

Peter threw his small stubs of legs in front of him, keeping his arms still by his side. He kept his eyes locked on the money twirling about the air—he had to, he needed to.

This was his purpose.

These few dollar bills were all the baby-faced Peter had. If he wanted to fulfill this dreary life he had lived thus far, he would have to get it back.

But his stride was too short, and his 5 foot one stature was one foot too small to reach it. Tears began to form in his eyes, and I nearly returned the thing to him at the sight of his sad blues looking even sadder.

I hold onto it for just a second longer before my snatchings are snatched away from me by a boisterous figure.

 

A Loud Girl

“Hey, Peter!” I wave her hair about and nearly take the cap off her head, but she’s got a tight grip on it.

Clementine is the prepared kind.

                She started to weave through the crowd of people to get to Peter. A thing to note about Clementine: she’s everything that Peter isn’t. Her coffee-colored skin, sharp hazel eyes, dark hair that stopped right under her ears, and solid build complimented the lacking features of Peter Johnson.

“Here,” she said as she placed the money in Peter’s hands, holding them a bit as she did. “Keep better grip of your stuff, silly.”

Peter failed to smile. “Thanks, Clem,” he murmured.

Clementine crooked her head to the side. “You’re going to be late. I’m pretty sure that place is shutting down for today in ten minutes. I told that buck-toothed Emma to keep it open for a bit longer, but you know she doesn’t listen to anything I say.”

He repeated before running off: “Thanks, Clem.”

When he scuttled away toward the direction of the bakery, Clementine couldn’t help but grin.

“Idiot.”

With that, she stole a bike from a rack and cycled back home.

As you can tell, I like Clem.

 

(I’ll be posting the next few parts later. Let me know if you like it!)

 

Chapter Two: Meetings and Memories

(Part one)

 

Linnasoeta Choi woke, startled by the blazing toll of the iron bell. Lin sat up straight in her bed and surveyed her room with a sudden epidemic of surprise.  “All workers rise!” A loud voice boomed over by the belfry, his voice seeming to have the potential power of waking the entire mountainside. The metallic vibration of the iron bell and the old man’s cry hissed into the air and rang in the ears of any villager near or far. Lin sat alarmed in her cot-sized bed and itched at her face. Groaning, she shoved her pillow over her head before someone pulled the rope that started the warning bell again. The sound barely muffled under Linnasoeta’s abrasive, cactus-like pillow.

The door screeched open. “Time to get up, girly,” Nyoka snarled, his lethargic yellow eyes encircled with dark, prominent bags. “Don’t want to upset Daddy again, now would you?”

Lin, after groaning by his presence, threw off her hairy, bearskin blanket, rising only to the dreadful thought of upsetting her father and peeked out her window.

“Yeah, I’m coming,” Lin said. She turned her attention from Nyoka quickly. It was best to avoid all unnecessary conversation with the thing.

The early chill of morning wind blew through the open, two-story high window of her bedroom, the Sun rising slowly. It cast shades of light pink across the land, accompanied by a soft red glow. Linnasoeta peered down the window to get a better glance at the world below her.

Loads of sleepy-eyed villagers lined along the rocky, unpaved paths, stumbling and grumbling, angered by the working call that had come much too early, especially on a week’s end. The bell continued to ring on, the sheer scrape of metal caught in the villagers’ ears.

“Lin!” Nyoka snapped, still standing by her bedroom door. She pivoted on one foot and blinked lazily at him.

“What…” a groggy protest escaped from her before she faked a deep yawn.

“Get away from the window and get dressed, now. Or Daddy will fire you, again!” Pointing to the old rusted blocktimer hung on her dirty-white wall, he barked, “In three minutes, you better be dressed!”

Slamming her door hard with a sharp, guttural screech, he hissed almost inaudibly outside her room door, “Don’t keep us waiting again, Linnasoeta. For I will not wait. Not this time… nor ever again.”

When Lin heard Nyoka’s bare footsteps retreat down to the first floor of the pavilion, she threw herself onto her bed (following multiple swears, of course). Maybe I can get a few more minutes of sleep, she thought, then I’ll be ready.

However, Linnasoeta, who lived somewhat near the iron bell, heard the sound as clearly as if she was standing right next to it. Her chances of more sleep were spent, and her father would not be keen on consecutive tardiness. Throwing off her cover again, an agitated, half-asleep Lin trudged to her bedroom closet and fetched her baby-blue work clothes.

A draft of cool air formed goosebumps on Linnasoeta’s arms. A fresh morning breeze had found its way through the open wicker windows of her room, and a faint fragrance of mid-winter drifted in. Lin dressed with fumbling fingers and tied a dark belt firmly around her waist.  She untied her braids that hung by her face and pulled her thick brunette hair in a bun at the nape of her neck.

As Linnasoeta started out her door, fully dressed in her baby blue uniform and hair in a messy bun, she noticed that the bell had not stopped ringing. Fear paralyzed her—from the top of her head down to her toes—as the bell clonked on. The bell seemed to ring inside her.  How many times did it ring? she thought to herself. 10? 20? 30? Linnasoeta saw the black smoke spew from the chimney of the Meeting Grounds through the stain-glassed building. That was an iconic sign. The sign seemed to shriek, “Hurry Up!!!”

Lin rushed out her door and down the stairs, running too fast for her brain to process. Nearing the last few steps of the dirty carpet, she tripped over her own feet, did a half flip, and landed hard on the solid wood floor.

Linnasoeta jumped up, despite the fact that her head felt near exploding. The bells raged on whilst Lin hurried to the Meeting Grounds. Surely she wasn’t late. Not for the second time. Lin’s breath grew heavy as blood pounded through her ears. Where was everyone? Had they left without her… again? Nyoka usually was true to his word, the bastard.

Many months ago, Lin had made the mistake of saying such a word in front of her father when speaking of Nyoka.

“Be wise enough to hold your tongue, Lin! You have no right to talk behind the backs of people who have done no harm to you, especially our good Nyoka. Do not swear either, do you understand? Now go, Lin, and leave me to the stack of work in which I must do!”

Yes, good Nyoka, Lin thought as she rushed down the main hall of the House. The weasel of a man who purposely left his Master’s daughter late in her bedroom and lied and said that she was ready to  purposely prove a false point that she could not handle the responsibilities of Workclan Life. Yes, good Nyoka, indeed, Father!

Once Lin was outside, the noise of the bell grew louder and more violent, while the man’s call grew angrier and more disturbing. “All workers rise!” he called for the one hundredth time. “All workers rise!”

Yet the slow development of morning seemed to be untouched and perfect. The winds were gentle. Dew-dropped grasses shimmered in the scintillating Sunlight. Cherry blossom trees formed a semi-circle about the lawn, their dark trunks looking, oddly, ever so delicate. Their pink fallen petals, crushed by the rain, brought the sweet fragrances of roses and fruit.

Linnasoeta ran out barefoot onto the lawn in the back of the House –the place she considered her home—where the thick earthy smell of rain and mulch greeted her nose. Moist dirt wiggled between her toes as she ran in the direction of the belfry.

Wedging through the opening between the cherry blossom trees, Lin saw a stampede of villagers bustling around on the streets, all of them in their blue work clothes. She could tell that they were angry; who wouldn’t be on such an early morning, trying to get to the Grounds? Weary workers trudged across the unpaved roads with furious dispositions fixated on their bitterness, all the while holding onto the little ones that repeatedly tried to squirm away.

Lin dashed across the rocky streets where she greeted the villagers with a too loud “Good morning” as they half-heartedly grumbled the phrase back and then cut across the North Pasture to save time. She was alone on the grassy trail. There were no roads, houses or huts, villages, or people back here.

Alone was rather nice, for a limited amount of time, to be honest. Linnasoeta heard the gentle crash of the North Rapids fall onto a bed of smooth stone. The trees hung firmly in the wind, towering over her like an earthy veil. She drew in a long, sweet breath and then exhaled, smiling a bit, getting a whiff of the flowers.

It was quiet and serene on the back pasture behind the streets; nature was at its greenest here, where velvety bushes and scratchy undergrowth snaked along the whole way of the pasture. Cherry blossom trees and rose bushes danced with grace in the wind. Little animals slept in their dark, cozy caves. Soon, they would awaken.

Living in the Pavilion—or the Wither House, which was its official name—was something very hard to do. It was passed down from generation to generation, a symbol of strength, an entity that represented the honor of the country.

But also a hellish place for a girl like Lin.

For one thing, the bedrooms were small, and the House was noisy. Secondly, about fifty people lived in that one building; some people even had to share a room with strangers. (Perhaps that was why it was nice to be left alone.) Thirdly, Shen was Lin’s father, and her father was the controller of the House and all the Workclan who lived in it. He led the people of Rodem, but not in a tyrannical manner. He was the commander (accompanied by a fleet of consultants) and the man who received and delivered news first.

But with all his work, he had little time for his daughter.

The gentle crashes of rushing water by the riverside, the quiet chirp of the birds in the distant shrubbery, and the warming Sun that had risen up to the horizon line were the only things that made Linnasoeta continue forward to make it to the Meeting Grounds. Also the thought of disappointing her father, which she may have already done, made her run even faster.

All tension and worry began to fade upon her entrance into the Soreyth Woods, however. In fact, Linnasoeta’s speedy jog slowed to an unhurried stroll, as if she had forgotten everything. As if she had forgotten that she was doomed to be late.

Something stirred in her brain.

A sudden memory came to Lin when she was promenading through these peaceful woods. It was random, how the memory just came and went as it pleased, and it was rather strange that she remembered such a great deal of it, from the last detail of her mother’s distinctive face to the taste of the air from the salt river nearby. The memory came at unexpected times, times where Linnasoeta was alone, especially by the Banks of Soreyth (or the North Pasture, as those who couldn’t remember the name called it).

The memory forced her to walk. In fact, it made her not walk at all, and Linnasoeta soon forgot where she was going, for she was so engrossed in the rolling film in her brain. Linnasoeta thought for a moment and pictured her mother, Kima Choi, with every description she could find possible. It was not hard to do.

The rapids crashed, and she was back at the age of seven.

Kima— the rebellious, confident woman—had held her hand and led her through this sundrenched passage eight years ago. She was indescribably unique; and she was indescribably beautiful. Kima’s body was one of great strength: powerful back and arms, wide hips, and firm, bountiful legs. Her smooth, caramel skin shone with youth. Her thick, dark-blue tresses swept down to her lower-back. Though she had a strong connection to her brown-eyed lineage in Jainu, her eyes were a penetrating, iridescent blue. Intimidating? Most definitely, but that woman was too astounding. To Linnasoeta, she looked like the Almighty Goddess of the Sun: strong, gorgeous, radiant.

Linnasoeta then tried to picture the day with her mother itself, the day after the glorious spring festival party, the day before the Demon Queen had… Stop! Linnasoeta shook her head at the thought and instead remembered the good day.

It was indeed a good day; light from the Sun cast a sleepy golden afterglow upon Lin’s skin and shone on the slightly damp, deep green hills and grass; the shallow, cream-colored river bank was quietly humming in its flow; and her mother had packed a delicious picnic for them to share.

The picnic lunch consisted of many delicious items, all of them Lin’s favorites; Mailberry Fool; the juiciest and meatiest part of the antelope; Romona Chicken sautéed in a bed of spices and herbs and cheese crust; Hot Rolls drizzled with golden syrup and sprinkled with pecans and powdered sugar; Creamer Bread, which was vertically cooked dough with butter and sweet-berry honey; Sherry Wine – for Kima; and Strawberry Cider for Lin.

“Linnasoeta,” her mother said when she had finished a small portion of the picnic lunch, “These moments I shall savor forever with you, and I must not trouble your young mind with the Demon Queen. However, I must ask of you something. Your friend, Isthmus, is that her name?”

“Ismus,” Lin nodded, wagging her tongue as she did. “I-S-M-U-S. Ismus.”

“I see, Ismus. From what you have said of her, it sounds as though she is very sweet. Your loud exchanges across the border must be exciting.”

“Yes, Ismus is my friend,” Lin explained with a smile as she recalled their constant shouting. It was hard to hear when they were miles apart; usually they would shriek nonsense and laugh and wave stupidly.

“She is my friend because, um, we are nice to each other.”

Her mother responded with a distressed nod. “Yes, but will Ismus always be your friend, Linnasoeta? She is a one-way system to that Demon Queen–Lin, stop looking at that bird and listen—and I must not let you be directed into that path. Linnasoeta, do you hear me?” Lin stayed quiet in confusion, her mother’s eyes full of anxiety.

One way system? She thought.

 

 

 

 

~Sammicakes

Big Epic Intro

Salutations, my nugs.

I finally have a blog! I’ll be posting excerpts of my novel Accursed Red on here, along with short stories and little posts about my inner thoughts and opinions.

(Since I’m better at expressing how I feel through writing rather than speaking.)

I’ll be posting both on here and on my YouTube channel, each about once a week.

That’s it. That’s the epic intro.

Adios, mis amigos.

~Sammicakes