Happy Fourth of July!
After properly scaring (or should that be scarring?) our neighbors and chickens with lovely fireworks from across the border, most of which flew so high they lit up the sky and disappeared, I’ve finally settled down to my post. But first, a flaming M&M dude. Because apparently this is what happens when you stuff a firework inside a leftover candy decoration from Christmas and light the fuse.
Can you see his little feet sticking out, under all that flame? Who knew M&M dudes liked to live so dangerously! But, he volunteered for the job. Apparently, fire is nothing to facing down hungry kids on Christmas morning. If you can keep your smile firmly fixed through that, nothing can faze you.
We also enjoyed s’mores made with lemonade flavored peeps, and found them to be delish! I’ll have to scramble up the recipe for you sometime, but just now I’m still perfecting the dosage of ash required. 😉
And now for today’s flash piece, in honor of Independence Day!
Ari rolled the last memory stick up in her third spare jumpsuit and stuffed it into her carry sack. She’d packed too much–she knew that. Yet, how could it be too much when she was leaving home and would most likely never return?
She took a deep breath, and turned her thoughts firmly from the future. She must focus on the present. Her secret depended on it. Crossing to the escape hatch, she stuffed the carry sack and other two packs into the pod, then closed the hatch and prepared it to launch once it registered her body’s presence. For a giddy moment she wondered what would happen if her plan failed, and she didn’t get away tonight. Would the bags sit waiting, for years, perhaps all through her one-day reign and several other queen’s as well? Would they be discovered generations from now, when the escape pod was finally called on for an emergency?
She smiled, but shook those thoughts aside as well. The present–her preparations for tonight’s ceremony. That was where she had to focus.
Kneeling before her mirror, she touched up the three red dots to the sides of her eyes. She didn’t like the color of the dots, or the black lines slanting up from her eyes, either. Against her amber-brown cat eyes the makeup made her look almost feral, not at all the calm and distant Watcher’s face she preferred to present. And her hair. She left it down, sometimes, but the attendants had teased it out from her face so it spread like a mane of orange, black, cream and brown around her shoulders. Was this who she was to be, as a princess?
A quick knock sounded at her door, then Mothlee stepped in. “Oh, good. You’re ready.”
“Mostly,” Ari answered, with a wave at the banded shawl on her bed. “Do these red dots have to be so dark? And I’m not sure the lines are quite right. Isn’t the left one crooked?”
Mothlee smiled, and stepped forward to place her hands on Ari’s shoulder. “They’re fine. You look beautiful. Like a true princess.” He smile faded. “This will be the last time I can address you with such familiarity, or touch you without permission.”
Ari nodded, and a lump rose in her throat. If only her old friend knew how true that was.
“Ari,” Mothlee went on, her voice sober and eyes firm. “You understand what an honor this is, don’t you? I know how you always wanted to be a Watcher–but becoming the princess-in-waiting is of course a much more important role. You understand that, right? And what this could mean for you?”
The unspoken question which hung under her words was, would Ari behave herself? Would she embarrass herself or those who loved her?
Once again, Ari felt a lump in her throat, but she pushed it aside and stood to face her beloved mentor. How she would love to pour out her plans, but instead, she must carefully focus on those truths she could utter. Mothlee was quite skilled at sensing lies.
Ari met her friends eyes, and spoke gently but with ringing truth. “I know where my honor lies, and I’m grateful to all of you, for all you’ve done for me. I understand the significance and lasting impact of tonight.” There–every word an absolute truth.
Mothless smiled, and nodded. “Good.” She glanced over at the shawl, and picked it up. “Shall we go, then?”
Ari took the shawl, but stepped to the mirror rather than stooping so Mothlee could drape it around her shoulders. “Give me another moment, please. I’ll–” She started to say she wouldn’t be late, but caught herself, since she planned on being very late. “I’ll be quick.”
Mothlee had started toward the door, and her brow furrowed as she looked back at Ari. But, she just nodded, and opened the door. “We’ll wait for you.”
Ari nodded, and held her face in a composed look until a count to ten after the door was shut. Then she collapsed on the floor in a ball of nervous shakes, but immediately bounced back up. No time for that.
Going to her consel, she quickly keyed in the instructions needed to activate the program she’d prepared, and slipped the memory stick into the slot. She waited the long seconds while the program wormed its way past the computer’s safeguards and into the main frame, giving up a simultaneous prayer for thanks and forgiveness to her techy cousin who’d taught her how to hack–because no one ever would have thought she’d turn those skills on her own people.
When the program flashed her a thumbs up code, she shut down her consel, than crossed the room and opened the escape hatch. This was it. The moment at which she left her old life behind and chose one of self-induced exile…and adventure. Her best friend, Ronin, had already shipped out and would be waiting for her. Together, they would earn his freedom, and take the galaxy by storm.
She opened the hatch, and slid into the escape pod. No regrets, and no lies. This was where she was meant to be.
And that, my friends, is a bit of back story/prequel to the new middle grade I’m working on! Of course, not in the pov I’ll be using, but still, a sample. Thanks for your patience while I got up today’s post, and I hope you’re having a great Fourth!