Valleman

United States

Message to Readers

If you are willing to give feedback, I would appreciate knowing how smoothly the piece flows. Are there are any rough bits, and what makes them rough? Are there bits or words that don't make sense or go too fast? Any other thoughts on what works or what doesn't are greatly appreciated.

The Dragon Festival

October 9, 2017

FREE WRITING

1
    “Oy! You there... STOP.” Saga had known to keep her eyes on the boy since he had stepped through the door. His face was stained black by soot and mud. His clothes were so worn they seemed to consist of patches sewn over patches. It was clear that he belonged on the streets. Not here, between the aisles in Mr. Schultz’s convenience store. Sure enough, Saga had spotted the boy sneaking a chocolate bar into his pocket.
    “Please, Missus, only one!”
    “Mr. Schultz!” Saga yelled.
    “You’ve no idea how hard the streets are…” the boy continued. It was no use.
    “Mr. Schultz!” Saga yelled again. She wasn’t listening. He turned to dash out, but before he could escape the girl was on top of him.
    “Let go!” He wriggled to get out of her stone hard grip. “Please. You’ve no idea how far a piece of chocolate…” He wasn’t finished, but interrupted by a deep authoritative voice.
    “What’s goin’ on here?” Mr. Schultz asked.
    “Sir. Sir. This boy was stealin’ from our shop.”
    “Please, Sir…” Mr. Schultz held up a hand.
    “What exactly did he take?”
    “A chocolate bar,” the girl answered.
    “Thank you, Saga. Now, will you let this poor boy stand up? I would like to have a word.”
    Reluctantly, Saga released her grip. The boy had managed to burst through the door of the shop and out onto the cobblestone street before Saga tackled him. Now he stood up and brushed off his knees.
    “Thank you, Sir...” Mr. Schultz waved a hand, signaling the boy to stop.
    “What’s your name?”
    “Jamie, sir.”
    “What were you doing in my shop?”
    “I only wanted to look around, Sir.”
    “Why would you want to do that?”
    “Well, I needed chocolate.”
    “For what?”
    “You see, er, my sister’s sick, sir, and…”
    “Chocolate is quite a rarity these days, sir, if you don’t mind me bringing it to your attention. And it doesn’t have any known effect on illnesses.”
    “I didn’t say it would heal her–”
    “Thank you, Saga. You have done well, but I believe it is time for you to return to your duties.”
    The girl felt she had to oblige, with two sets of deadly serious eyes upon her.
    “Don’t take take what you have for granted. It will come for you soon. There’s no getting out of it. You will be like me.” Jamie couldn’t resist the urge to tell her. He didn’t say it in a nice way at all. He was jealous of her, and he didn’t like the way she looked at him, as if he were a flea on a rat. Oh, she would see. She would.
    Saga flipped back round. She was ready to pounce. She was not like this poor street beggar. Mr. Schultz grabbed her forearm just in time. Saga stood there for a moment and stared daggers at Jamie. Then she whipped back round and was gone. Mr. Schultz knew she was a proud girl. Even though she was poor, she held herself with dignity.
    She wore a man’s shirt, which hung loose around her petite frame. Her black skirt reached a little further than her knees. Her hair was tied back, falling loose of the midnight blue cap, the only item of clothing she had that truly fit her. The shopkeeper’s apron fell further than the rim of her skirt, and was tied high around her waist to prevent it from dragging along the ground. The top bulged out from her chest, as there was no better place for the extra cloth to go. She rummaged around the shop, moving things, and frequently glancing out the window.
    Mr. Schultz talked with the boy for a while. Finally, the boy handed back the bar. Mr. Schultz tore the wrapping, broke off a piece, and gave it to Jamie. The boy muttered something. He gave a slight bow, then he skittered off down Primrose Ave. Mr Schultz stepped in, the door jingling as he trod over the threshold. Saga hesitated a moment.
    “Why did you let him go?” Mr. Schultz didn’t answer. Saga regretted the question. It wasn’t what she was really wondering.
    “There wasn’t any need to have him locked up. He has a hard enough time as it is. Mind you, he’s only one rung lower on the spectrum than you.” Mr. Schultz knew how much she hated to admit it, but they were words she needed to hear.
    “But why did you give him chocolate?”  she asked, her intense blue eyes alight. Mr. Schultz drew a deep breath and picked his words carefully.
    “There is a lot of darkness in this world. That boy lives in some of the worst of it. Hopefully his experiences today will have lifted his burden a bit.”
    Saga still didn’t quite understand. She turned to continue unpacking cans of tomato sauce from the cart onto the green shelves. Mr. Schultz returned behind the cash register. He opened the cash drawer.
    “Why don’t you take the rest of the day off,” Mr. Schultz suggested. Saga stopped abruptly with a can in her hand and looked up.
    “Mr. Schultz, sir, I could–”
    “You’ve been doing more than your fair share, and the festival is tomorrow anyway. You should spend some time with you family. Enjoy the holiday.”
    “Sir, I couldn’t.” Saga had managed to collect herself.
    “I’ll give you the week’s pay early. You need to rest. You can’t provide for your whole family, you know.” Mr. Schultz closed the cash register and walked over to her. Such a young girl, he thought, with such a heavy burden. He slipped the money into her palm. She looked down to count the brass coins. “And here, take this too.” He pulled the rest of the chocolate bar out of the pocket on his practical apron. Saga opened her mouth, then closed it. She did this a few times. It almost reminded Mr. Schultz of the glistening orange fish that fishermen put in the fountains during the festival. Goldfish, they called them.
    “Thank you,” she managed at last. “But, why?”
    “A token of my appreciation. It would’ve been no good to sell it now, anyways.” Saga took the chocolate. She planned to share it with her sister later. Satisfied, she whisked the goods into the pocket hidden by the seam of her shirt. She reached back and untied the knot of her apron and hung it on the hooks by the door before starting on the street.
    At first she felt only relief. It felt good to be on the way home after a hard day’s work. Then she thought of the boy. He seemed vaguely familiar, though she couldn’t put her finger on it. Something wasn’t right. There was a prickling on the back of her neck, as if someone were staring at her. She looked over her shoulder, but the alley was empty. At least it wasn’t a long way home. She only had to cross Petunia Ave. and locate the danky alley which held the main entrance. Still, something wasn’t right. Saga continued, but something rattled up among the grids high above. A loud crashing came from behind and traveled over her. She stood still until the echoes died away. Then she ran. She didn’t stop until she was safe inside her doorstep.
    “Saga?” a voice came from behind her. Saga knew who it belonged to without looking around.
    “Linnéa.” She turned and grasped her sister tightly. Her sister was ten, two years younger than her. Then Saga remembered who Jamie was.
    Despite the age difference Linnéa was nearly as tall as Saga. She had her hair tied back in two pigtails with dulled green ribbons. Her hair was light, but her eyes were just as blue as Saga’s. They had actually managed to find a ragged blouse in Linnéa’s size. Her skirt was dark green, and getting small. It fell slightly above her knees. The younger girl did not hug her sister back. Saga missed the moment her sister’s irises lost their cornflower blue, fading to a pearl white, except for her slitted pupils.
    “Who are you?” Linnéa asked in a monotone tone. Saga had just been about to tell Linnéa about Jamie.
    “I’m your sister!” Saga announced. But she was taken aback. Linnéa wasn’t the type who played jokes.
    “No you’re not. Mom!”
    Saga took a step back. Something in Linnéa’s manner scared her.
    “Mom! Some stranger just came in!” Linnéa yelled. Then Saga saw her eyes. But how could that be?
Saga’s mom came around the corner. She did not look one bit happy when she spotted Saga. In fact, quite the opposite.
    “Get out of the house, rugbug!” she shouted. Rugbug. A common nickname for those that lived on the streets. “Out. Out!” The door opened, and Saga felt a hand tugging her back out into the alley by her shirt. “And don’t come back!” her mother shrieked before the door slammed shut, her whitened eyes glowing in disgust. White. Not brown.

    Saga sat flat on the street for a minute. The tall buildings closed in around her. She couldn’t get what had just happened. She looked up, and the buildings started to spin around her. Even though the air was thick and the buildings black with soot and exhaust, she didn’t mind. This was her home.
    “Come on, get up. Are you (okay)…” Saga heard a faint voice. It was an oddly familiar voice, she thought, as the world turned black.
    
    The first thing Saga sensed was something sweet. Sweet, warm, creamy, and slightly bitter. It was chocolate.
    “Hey!” A sharp voice jerked her eyes open. “What do you think you’re doing?”
    Jamie was glaring at another boy.
    “She’s awake,” the other boy stated simply. He was relatively tall, maybe a couple years older than Saga. He had thin blonde hair and pale green eyes.
    “You aren’t taking this seriously, are you?”
    “Don’t tell me you didn’t want to know,” he teased. Jamie glanced down, but wasn’t giving up. He was starting to say something more when Saga noticed her chocolate in the blond boy’s hand. She reached out and grabbed it. That was when the boys finally turned their attention to her.
    “You told me she was…” the blond boy started angrily.
    “I was certain of it,” Jamie responded. He squinted at Saga, as if he were observing her as the subject of an experiment. “Yes, look. It’s there, though it isn’t obvious. Not yet.”
    “What is? What’s going on?” Saga finally managed to ask. Suddenly, the memories hit hard. Her sister. Mom. Jamie’s identity. She sat up. “What happened?” she asked unthinkingly. “Where am I?” She hadn’t even taken the chance to look around. She was in a small room. There was a rectangular open air window, letting the evening sun directly in. The white plaster walls were chipped and paint peeling around the cracks. A pair of stairs went up on the opposite side of the room.
    “Slow down, slow down,” Jamie cautioned. “Lex, go and fetch Tira, will ya.”
    “Sure thing.” The blond scampered to a rectangular opening in one corner, and raced down the stairs. A gray tabby that Saga hadn’t noticed before followed him. Jamie turned back to Saga.
    “You recognize me, don’t you?” Saga was too stunned to say a word. “The boy who disappeared. Not that it mattered. I was one out of tenfold. The police focused on finding the children of the rich. It gave better profit.” Saga didn’t understand. Not one word.
    “But, didn’t you go back?” she stammered.
    “Of course I went back, but my family didn’t recognize me. They kicked me out.”
    “That isn’t right.”
    “Isn’t it what happened to you?”
    “It didn’t make any sense. It was – It was like they didn’t know me. Like I had never existed.”
    “Oh, they remember you, all right. It’s more like our faces are erased from their memories.”
    “No,” a new voice came from the stairway. “It’s as if their recognition is being… diverted.” A dark head popped through the opening, rising a foot with each step overcome.
    “What trouble have you brought this time?” The girl had gray eyes and dark skin. She wore a gray wool dress that fit her well, and thick leggings underneath. Her hair was tied back. It looked like it had been braided three times over. She strode quietly across the room in her soft slippers. Lex trailed in behind her.
 

Print

See History
  • October 9, 2017 - 8:44pm (Now Viewing)

Login or Signup to provide a comment.

1 Comment
  • AbigailSauble

    Intriguing! Will you write more? I'd love to find out what's really going on. :)
    Keep writing!
    God bless!


    over 3 years ago