“Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend
his whole life answering.” Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
So! Happy Wednesday Guys! Woo! I always like to think of Wednesday as basically practically the weekend. We’ve passed halfway, it’s all good!
To celebrate Wednesday (maybe) and also just because! Writing is being posted! Ahhhh! I found the A Picture Paints 1000 Words Blogfest at Unicorn Bell and then I forgot to sign up when really I should have. Annnnnd then I wrote something but it was kind of too late to hop on in! Ahhh. Woe is me! And yet I am posting this anyway, with the accompanying picture, because it is a thing and it will just sit on my desktop forever being lonely if I do not. Plus. IT’S WEDNESDAY. WE MUST CELEBRATE. So this is not a Blogfest but something very similar. Haha.
Thusly! Uhm. Enjoy. You guys up to anything super this fine midweek day? This is of little consequence, I realise, but here in Scotland it is MAJORLY SUNNY right now. I can’t even. It is. It should be snowing but I am wearing shorts instead of ski boots this week. Super! How is your March going?
The second act nearly always involves fire, that’s what Biscuit said to me this morning as he adjusted my sash. THEY’LL TRY TO BURN YOU, he said. He began brushing soot across my cheek bones, his fingertips tracing the patterns of our ancestors as he continued, BUT YOU MUST REMEMBER WE WERE BORN IN FIRE. IT CANNOT TOUCH YOU.
I knew that. I wanted to tell him the Makers probably knew that too, but Biscuit was so sure I’d be fine. And I didn’t want to see him crumble like before, like when he earned his name among the People. I did not want to remind him that at most only half the flock will return from the seven acts alive.
The ship creaks, the wind flicking the sails forward and dragging us with it, as I am rocked into the present. Spray spits salt in my eyes, blinding me as I try not to breathe. I was born from fire, not water, and it seems like the swell knows that as it sizes me up. Earth, earth seems to like me. It recognises the spark that coils around my centre. But I feel like the ocean and I are natural enemies, swirling around one another as the moment beckons.
The act is close, I can feel the light burn of static as it dances across my cheeks and my knuckles whiten on the ropes.
“You think we’ll lose as many this time?” A warm breath flutters across my neck, and my wrist is caught by a strong hand as I release my hold. Half turning, I want to tell Nineteen that this is no time to be smirking, flicking those eyes, or placing bets on the flock but all that comes out is something like, WATER. DEEP. I DON’T EVEN. ANGELS CAN’T SWIM.
I’d love to say this response was mostly caused by the fact we are basically a few rotting planks, some twine, and a ripped sail away from drowning but I’d be lying if I did. I met Nineteen two days ago at the flock camp, and ever since then I can’t seem to simply be around him without messing something up. Originally, when they called out my number and then his and we turned to glance at one another, I think it was the way he reminded me of Trip. He had the same way of smiling, the same half shrug, and it provoked the same sudden flurry of panic in my rib cage. Dying in the acts, not joining the people, never finding my name, they’re not all I fear anymore.
“All hands starboard,” a voice drifts against the wind.
It is panicked, and slightly inflected like it doesn’t know whether it is instructing or asking a question. I’d recognised Twelve’s uncertainty anywhere. The only time I’ve ever heard a command from her is in the Forges. Like her voice now, her confidence has always been fleeting.
Nineteen seems to forget to let go of me as we rush across the deck, skidding to a halt as we lean against the handrail. I squeeze in beside Twelve, shaking my head as her hair whips at me, and try to forget the way Nineteen’s thumb is currently resting against my pulse. CONCENTRATE, I whisper into the silver and blue horizon.
When I ask what exactly we’re looking at Twelve hushes me, taking my free hand and pointing it to the space where the sea meets the stars. For a while I feel like I am stuck at home playing spot the difference on Biscuit’s desk again. For a while I feel stupid. But that is before the signalling of the second act. That is before we lurch forward and the white spray on the horizon comes into focus.
Fine clouds drift up, speckled blue and white by the starshine. I’m no expert, a Fire-born rarely has the chance to sail, but even I can recognise the Falls. I’ve seen pictures after all. I’ve heard the soundtracks of the lost souls. I know where we must be going.
“Hold on?” Somebody down the line suggests as the ship judders, already feeling the pull of the Falls as it picks up speed.
“Don’t just hold on,” Nineteen calls, his grip tightening on my wrist, “get the ROPES.”
The ropes. They are only six of them and fifteen of us, but the Makers knew what they were doing when they rationed them. They don’t just want living Flock, they want the best Flock. They want the strongest. They want people who can probably swim, I realise as Nineteen insists on tying us together. I don’t tell him, I think he knows, I am not strong enough to become one of the People. I cannot swim. I cannot run fast enough. I cannot fly. The only thing I can do is fight, and even then with little result.
I still try to fight the water, though, as we roll over the edge and it rushes to meet us like an overeager puppy. I still get angry. I still cry war and lash out.
Sometimes I think I was born half idiot, always tripping over my words, but I’ll die angry. And the last thing I hear as the waves take my body away will be the crackling of the speakers and the booming of the Makers’ voices as they name me FURY.