Silver lining

Harvest time had arrived.

It was unknown when it would come, until it did. None knew for how long it would remain. The window was sometimes so slim and others so wide. It caused for a rush of workers within the first few hours, then the gradual slow which brought them back to a regulated schedule.

This was the time he enjoyed, when that wasn’t added to the rush. No enjoyment to be lost. The rush was good for keeping warm, but he didn’t need to keep warm all of the time. Up and up and up he went, into the cloud fields. The netting of finely woven mesh drifted behind him as he reached out and carefully plucked the silver lining from the condensation.

It fell from the clouds in shimmering strings, trying to fall apart until he caught it in the net. He worked quickly, knowing what would happen if he took too long. The lining would fall apart and then no netting, no carrying container, could keep the silver at all.

Harvest as much as possible and then descend quickly down below.

It looked to be a good harvest.

Nostalgia of newspapers

One of the things I will always remember fondly from my childhood is the crossword in the newspaper.

I never did it myself. I can think of a handful of instances when I did. I never knew the answers. I’m not much better now. They ask about people I don’t know and events I can never say anything specific about. Different ways of saying things I’d never dreamed of. If it helped me remember more things I might drag myself through more of them, but even the interesting facts the crossword would teach me vanished from my mind.

That’s not why I remember them fondly. Before the computer making puzzles easily accessible, the newspaper crossword puzzle was the easily defeated nemesis of my mother. Probably not always easy, to be honest. But every day I would see the day prior’s newspaper, always open to that crossword, completely filled out in pen. I remember the ink most often in blue, though if that was her usual pen of choice… I could be wrong.

My mother’s recollection for words has always astounded me. It’s one that her family seems to thrive in and one I strive to achieve as well. I often think that if I can be half as knowledgeable about words as any of them, it will still hold me far above many. I don’t want to think of that as a sad statement of people’s usage of English as much as a compliment for their prolific vocabulary. I still drag out a thesaurus for every other word I feel as though I’ve used too often and I know I’m still an amateur at that.

But a crossword in pen! I wonder if the reality is as fascinating as my mind has fabricated.

I will always think upon the crossword puzzles of my youth as my mother’s mental workout. Despite her protests, I feel as though they have done her extraordinarily well to this day.

The real gamble


Manami paused, turning toward her. The woman held out a card, which she couldn’t help but take. On the dark card with fancy print stood the name Sheena Wright.

“Um…” Miss Wright wasn’t able to meet her eyes. Then again, she hadn’t done so at the table either. “Call me, if you’d like.”

Before Manami could say anything, Miss Wright disappeared into the chaos of the casino. Manami had to return dealer’s room, otherwise she might have followed after. The business card in hand, she returned to the back.

She let her manager confiscate the card (too risky to keep it if the security cameras decided it was something else). However, the digits of the number were seared in her mind, much like the dark braids against the white of Miss Wright’s blouse.

A number she might call.

The goal in question

Finding game wasn’t the hard part. Not with everything becoming more aggressive. It was surviving. Taking it down. Dragging the meat back.

The wind made bows useless most of the time. Her cousin had to come up with a new method of hunting. Saoirse readied her sword. The creature looked like it had once been a bear. It’s eyes glowed black and its coat moved independently from the wind. If she took out enough of these… how many households could she feed? Keep safe?

In her mind, she kept the picture of the creag. That disapproving look down at her. And then, very occasionally, those long tresses of Toiréasa’s, spinning out in the new winds.

Oh, Saoirse would make it to that house.

Take Toiréasa from it and find a stake of land less likely to crumble out from underneath them. Saoirse smiled, a feral expression.

All she had to do was prove herself.

And then their lives changed

Summer wouldn’t stop crying.

Winter didn’t know what to do. She could only imagine what ailed her sister, but imagination didn’t help. She was probably scared. Tired. Hungry. That would be enough. The squeeze in Winter’s chest when she considered their options was not caused by any of those things. It was caused by whatever had happened to her at birth.

Their parents had taken care of these things. Winter’s chest. Summer’s crying. Winter didn’t know how to deal with it, but to force Summer to keep walking.

If Summer would only demand to go home, to eat, to sleep, to something… Then at least Winter could tell her no. They couldn’t stop, or they’d freeze. They couldn’t go home, there was nothing there. They couldn’t eat, because they had nothing. Hunger clawed at her insides too. It made her forget about the three year old who wailed beside her.

Summer wouldn’t stop crying and Winter didn’t know what to do.

This was what their life had become.

Step by step

Her instructor didn’t look the part. Farhana obviously couldn’t see very well, though she took off her glasses for practice.

“Whatever you do, know what it is you point at. Know what lies beyond it.”

Leondra knew the one thing she wasn’t going to learn from Farhana was to see. Her hearing and sense of smell wouldn’t be able to match the older woman with close cropped hair and keratin scaling showing down her neck, so she had to focus with her sight.

“You hold too tight. Firm is good. Stiff is bad.”

Leondra practiced until she tired.

“No more concentration? We are done for now.”

With a sigh, Leondra knew this was going to take her a long, long time. Farhana was no nonsense, but patient. She knew what her sister would say. Everything worth doing was worth doing well. Anything worth doing well was worth spending time on.

Leondra took lessons from Farhana for eight years.


Manami dealt the cards.

The man on her right had won back everything he had lost. Neither the winning or the losing had changed his pleased attitude. The man sitting next to him had made a small profit. That wasn’t enough for him, he obviously wanted to make more. The woman in the center just joined, but Manami was certain she had come from another table, another game. She hadn’t fared well there and wanted another shot. The man next to her was also new. He’d just bought his chips, fresh in his night. The woman all the way on the left was on a roll. She’d declared this to be her last hand, win or lose. She was also smart enough not to want to throw the maximum in on this last one, win or lose.

The numbers made their way up fast and slow. Three, ten, eighteen. Five, fifteen, bust. Five, seven, ten, nineteen. Ten, twenty. Eight, seventeen, bust.

Eleven, twelve, sixteen. Manami didn’t hesitate. Twenty one.

She knew the chances, generally, though when it favored her there was a part of her mind that was still surprised. The varied reactions of the table assaulted her eyes and ears. However, she took in the dealer’s win and wished some of this would be her paycheck. The only one to bow out was the woman on the left.

“Hey, Kawamoto. Joe coming in.”

Manami introduced the new dealer, wished them all luck, leaving at the same time as the woman.

Maybe he’s thinking too hard

No one had told him that building a treehouse would be so hard.

No one had said it would be easy, either. He hadn’t expected it to be. However, he was not the constructing type. When his niece said she wanted one though, well, she was going to get one. He let his brother know that. When his brother looked at him with confusion, he knew he would have to do it himself. She was away at camp. A week to get this right.

It was easy enough to put the wood together in a straight line. But then there was the tree in the way. And how did people attach it? He spent hours on the Internet, looking this up. The words entered his eyes and fell out somewhere in the back. Maybe where he’d fallen out of a tree when he was younger and had to get stitches. In any case, they weren’t in his head. Where they belonged. Where they would have helped him.

This would only be worth it if he could honestly claim it was sturdy enough for an eight year old to play on. If he was the cause of her injuring herself, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself.

Occasionally he knew he was being watched. His brother, out on the back porch, drinking either a soda or a beer. As no one else was home, it was probably the later.

“Going to help?” he called out, irritated.

His brother’s eyebrows shot up his forehead. “I’m allowed to help now?”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Sounded like you had it in the bag.” Before he could yell back at his brother, the man chuckled. Placing down his beer, he made his way over to the base of the tree and looked up. “Yeesh.”

“Spare me.”

“I’m gonna spare my daughter instead. Okay, here’s my advice.”

His brother was lazy, but it didn’t mean he didn’t know how to explain something in a way that meant his niece would have her treehouse when she returned.

A moment away from work

Tell me you aren’t obsessing today.

Technically, she should have left it be until lunch, because she was working. I’m not obsessing today.

You’re just saying that.

You told me to tell you that, she furiously thumbed back before sticking the phone in front of her mouth again. “Toilets are dual-flush. Acceptable.”

Calm down, you’ll get it all in. It’ll be fine.

Easy enough for her to say. Nalia still had to document all of the lies and truths. At the very least she was going to be paid for the convention center. The hotel had been simply something she noticed.

It will be fine. Fixing a loose strand of hair that had managed to escape her dastaar, Nalia got back to work.