My Name is Minette, Chapter Fifteen: The Promise

She felt like a specimen on a biologist’s desk about to be dissected, insides revealed.

But she was being selfish.

It wasn’t all about her. It wasn’t about her hair or her clothes or what she wanted. It was about Rhys, and Irma, too, and Maw and Paw. It was about the house and the animals and the smithy and the copper awnings covering businesses all over town. It was about a legacy and a promise.

A promise Minette had been held to since the day she was born. A promise she could not break.

She blew out her candle, sinking into a collection of nightmares filled with disembodied hands touching her, pulling her taller and wider, ballrooms burning away, mirrors breaking when she passed them.

 

***

 

That morning, she awoke on time, ignoring Edric’s Tale on her nightstand. She went downstairs, kissed Maw on the cheek, and grabbed a chunk of goat cheese. She ate it while sitting in the back of the cart, watching Lumpy’s tail flick persistent flies away.

It was even hotter today than yesterday, and the whole world seemed to groan under it, Minette included. The cicadas were loud this year, and their cries sang of exhaustion. They made Minette feel like she was permanently caught between sleep and wakefulness.

They were their only cart large enough to haul from the mines, which also happened to be their shittiest cart. Minette felt straw and dirt and nails poke her in the butt, and the slightest pothole or pile of horse shit sent her flying. She held onto the cart with a white-knuckled fist, chewing at the inside of her cheek and trying valiantly to block out any and all of her thoughts.

At the mines today, she would pick a nice big lode of copper to take to the smithy and demonstrate her skills to the town in a masterpiece of some kind, probably a fancy awning. This would start her partnership with her father. And that would turn her future from molten metal, shape-changing and uncertain, into something solid, hammered down. Inescapable.

Sagas Among the Arcana: Sink

This week’s 3 card reading  (using the White Numen: Sacred Animal Tarot by AlbaBG):

8 of wands

2 of wands reversed

ace of wands reversed

 

You rush, so you step too far into the quicksand and 

                                                                                                   sink

                                                                                                               sink 

                                                                                                                           sink.

But what you expect to be grainy dirt are actually reptiles that entwine and bind you. Your hands are coiled by cool scales. Entrancing and atrocious at the same time. They tighten and tighten

You’re trapped.

How could you be so foolish?

You should have looked around more, taken a step back, and observed

But you’ve never been one to observe, have you?

Perhaps, now, you should observe. Calm your mind and pay none of it to the 

                                                                                                               rattle 

                                              rattle

rattle

                                                                                                                                              rattle

                                                                               rattle

Soon, it’s too hard to think. There are nooses around your neck and your energy drainssss

All you remember is:

Act too quick,

                                 then

                                                you 

                                                              sink.

My Name Is Minette, Chapter Fourteen: All Too Much

“Good.” Rhys patted her shoulder, an awkward little tap. “Um. Also, can I go to school when it’s your smithy? You know how Paw is, but you’re different.”

“I promise,” she said, watching him light up. She was about to explode. She needed to release her emotions, her stress, her fear, but she couldn’t do it in front of Rhys. She couldn’t let him know. She pushed him off the cot. “Now go to bed. Maw will pull your ear off if she finds you up.”

Rhys hopped up. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” he whispered in excitement, running out of the room. His footsteps faded, and another pair crept closer.

“You can come in now,” Minette said, and Irma slunk into the room.

“Morty…” Irma trailed off, hugging her arm. “Will you really look after us when–when Maw and Paw are gone?”

Minette’s throat went thick. She stood and took Irma by the shoulders. She watched Irma’s bleary eyes flit across the room in agitation. “Yes,” Minette said in a firm, steady voice, despite all that was roiling about inside her, “and you’ll be just fine. You’ll make your own way. We’ll prove them wrong. You’re a brave girl, Irma. And powerful.”

Irma gave her a lopsided smile. “Rhys was right. You’ll do great.”

Minette smiled back, flicking Irma’s nose. She needed Irma to get out of here so she could process the chopping block she was standing on in peace. Worries pounded like a headache behind her forehead: There was already a woman. Minette was already a suitor.  “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” Irma slipped out, and along with her, a choked, ragged breath pushed out of Minette. All her energy left her, and she deflated, sinking onto the bed, putting her head in her hands. She stared unseeingly at the floor.

There was already a woman. There was already a woman. The sentence repeated in her brain, over and over, like an alarm bell. Maw and Paw had already talked to another mother and father. Both sets of parents had had a conversation that amounted to, “yes, your child should procreate with my child. That sounds like a great idea.”

Sagas Among the Arcana: The Queen of Coins

This week’s one card reading: The Queen of Coins

 

The Queen is one to share her riches with all. She’s not a queen in the typical sense though, the people simply call her their queen because of the way she nurtures them all. 

Today, she arranges buckets, upon buckets of grape tomatoes; all of which she grew in her garden. She thought it would be nice to share them with everyone, for no other reason than that she wanted them all to have some pleasure on this bright day. 

She picks up one of the wooden barrels. It’s heavy — but still, it’s fine. The wood is rough on her arms; they’re tough enough, she says though. It’s a simple burden she’s willing to carry.

~

On the way to her first destination, The Queen sees the

 town’s princess. The town deemed her a princess because of her beauty, she’s always smiling, and always engaging. 

No one has ever complimented my appearance, The Queen thinks a bit wantingly. Wait, no  — she immediately does away at the green vines that tempt to entwine around and capture her mind. She’s a good person, that’s enough.

The Princess drops the basket she’s holding. The roses in it all spill out. People around all rush to pick them up for her. Someone dashes into The Queen; the tomatoes seem to roll and threaten to fall out into an avalanche. The Queen squeezes the heavy bucket firm against her chest; it hurts. The pressure is a bit too much.

People pick up the roses and prick themselves on thorns. The Princess flushes graciously. The attention she bestows is dazzling.

Someone help me, please. The Queen doesn’t say this aloud; her annoyance is passive and she shows no sign of weakness. The heels of her palms threaten to bleed under the jagged wood.

The Queen somehow also yearns for that dazzling attention from The Princess. She wonders what it would be like to be acknowledged by someone so charismatic.

But she’s not going to ask for it. 

~

The tomatoes are delivered and people are grateful.

Oh, you didn’t have to! They had all said. You’re too kind.

The Queen appreciates it. The words give her energy. Nex

t time, she’ll pass out the strawberries. 

As she walks back home with empty buckets, her hands still burn a bit. No one had noticed the red marks on them.

She sees a lonely red rose on the road. She picks it up, her blood smears on the petals, but no one would be able to tell.

Only she can.

My Name is Minette, Chapter Thirteen: Lucy

Minette paused in her reading that night when a hand knocked softly at her door. Rhys peeked his head in, a question on his face.

Minette smiled at him, scooting over and patting the narrow cot beside her. Rhys came and plopped himself down on her bed hard enough to make it sag to the floor.

“What’s going on? Are you alright?” Minette asked him. She peered at his face, trying to see if he was any redder, or had any pocks. “Do you feel sick?”

“I’m fine, Maw,” Rhys teased, batting her hand away. His knee jiggled, making the whole room vibrate with his barely-contained energy. “I just wanted to talk.”

It was her own face and its redness that Minette really had to worry about. “About what?” she asked.

“You,” he said, as if it were obvious. “Are you okay?”

Minette forced a smile. “I’m fine.”

“You’ll be alright with the smithy,” Rhys said, offering her a pat on the shoulder for support. He had such misplaced faith in her. “You’re just as good as Paw.”

It was the opposite of what Minette wanted to hear. “So are you, in your own way.”

“Yes, but this isn’t about me,” Rhys said, and damn it, he was a smart kid, was an arrow aiming for the heart. “Are you scared about meeting someone?”

Of course he’d dig deep and hit a vein of truth. Of course that squinty gaze of his would see right through her.

Minette swallowed down all of her feelings and threw up a nice, big wall, just like the ones circling Droz.

“The truth is, I am,” she said, an authentic wobble in her voice.

Rhys shook his head. “You’re daft,” he said. “Lucy is gonna love you.”

Minette’s heart jumped around in her chest, the blood leaving her head. She swallowed. “Lucy?”

“She’s the butcher’s daughter,” he said, completely frank, unaware of how queasy she felt just hearing about this. “Maw and Paw have been talking about her for weeks when you’re not around. It’s obvious why.”

Minette forced a smile. “I hope you’re right.”

“Of course I am,” Rhys said with a grin. “Don’t tell them I told you. Now, will you stop moping?”

“I’ll try my best.”

The Rise of the Band Geeks, Episode 18: Whoever Stole My Tater Tots is Going to be Very Annoyed After I Steal Them Back

Hal gaped at his cymbal bag, trying to process the horror he was beholding.  The bag was lying on the salt-strewn bag of the drum room, its gaping maw ferociously ripped open and its contents spilling from its interior.  His sheet music, sweat-stiffened cymbal sleeves, marching band baseball cap, math homework from last semester, a bag of goldfish that had been there since September, and his cymbals were scattered around the bag in a grisly minefield that resembled the dining hall tables after the dinner rush.

 

It was not the fact that his bag had been rummaged through and his stuff cast aside.  It was not the fact that he’d finally found that one homework assignment that had almost destroyed his grade in that one class.  No, it was a far worse truth that stilled him and made him simmer with rage:  someone had stolen his tater tots.

 

He’d brought some with him today to save for after practice (yes, he was actually practicing in the off-season) and stowed it in what he’d believed to be a safe place:  his cymbal bag.  He’d only left it unattended for two minutes to use the bathroom, and when he’d returned, he’d stumbled upon this.

 

He bared his teeth as his hands curled into feral fists.  All day, he’d been looking forward to his tater tots, and now he’d been robbed of the one thing that brought him joy.

 

He stormed out of the drum room in a seething mass of projectile spit and vivid expletives, his face redder than a strawberry.  The main practice hall was vacant, but that did not stop him from ravaging the racks of chairs and music stands in desperation to catch the fiend who had betrayed him.

 

Out in the hall, a pair of unfamiliar band kids sat giggling as they scrolled through their phones.  Neither of them possessed the plastic contained where his tater tots had been stored.  An interrogation of a poor bloke who just came her to find his lost water bottle yielded similar results.  He wasn’t stupid enough to go to the Fearless Leader, since even he knew the Fearless Leader had more important things to worry about, but perhaps a staff member had seen something.

 

“I’m sorry, Hal, but I haven’t seen anyone go into the drum room,” sighed a forlorn staff member.  “I’ll let you know if I see anything.”

 

“It’s fine,” he growled, swallowing his fury.  She was innocent, he reminded himself.  She wasn’t sus.

 

Another round of fruitless interrogations finally prompted him to give up.  He collapsed beside his poor, lonely cymbals and let out a baleful sob, curling in on himself as he mourned the loss of his dear most requested tater tots.  What a cruel world this was.  Someone had pilfered his precious, and he would never again behold the seven golden nuggets of shredded potato for as long as he lived.

 

Something brushed against his shoulder.  He opened his eyes and found himself peering into the jaws of his ragged cymbal bag.  Wistfully, he stuck his arm in and rummaged around in the vain hope he’d find his tater tots.

 

His hand brushed against something flimsy and plastic.  He paused, an electric shudder running through him as it slowly dawned on him what he was touching.  Shaking, he extracted the container and held it to the light, sobbing not from grief but from exultation as he counted seven glorious bundles of fried yumminess under the fluorescents.

 

He whooped in spite of himself and leapt to his feet, then executed a perfect jump-fist pump combination the likes of which the drum room had never seen.  His most requested tater tots had not been stolen; they were in his grasp, uneaten and innocent, beckoning him to open the lid and devour every last crumb.  He grinned, then yanked off the lid and seized the top tater tot, a greasy pseudo-cylinder that had long since cooled to room temperature.

 

The flavor was exquisite:  salty, savory, potato-y, it permeated throughout his tongue and illuminated his soul.  The colors in the drum room brightened, and the crud on the ground shined in a way that was eerily breathtaking.  The stale bag of goldfish did not seem so unappetizing.

 

“HEY!”

 

With a jolt, Hal whirled around.  One of the upperclassmen darkened the doorway, her hands on her hips and her ponytail dissolved into frizzy strands.  Hal hastily snapped the lid back on his container and met the livid girl’s gaze.

 

“Are you the one who stole my pączki?”