Start of darkness or whatever

“Give me more,” said the child.

The governess continued to straighten up the room from the tantrum the child had thrown not two minutes before. “More what?” After all, she couldn’t imagine it was more lecturing and she was honestly curious what else the child could have been considering right now.

“Candy!”

Did children actually still demand candy these days? The children she had taken care of before this particular job had never demanded candy. Even during their worst, it was usually for something a bit more specific, food-wise. Or to play a game. Or go outside. It was always something or another, but never just for candy.

“You think you deserve candy?” she asked, almost amused. “After this mess?”

“Candy!”

The governess covered a smile. Well, while better behaved kids were easier at times in order to make contracts with, it seemed it wouldn’t take her too long before whisking this child away as well. She could only hope that one of the family members would make a great hero.

“Well, let’s see, young master. How much do you want this candy?”

A great hero indeed.

Trade in

I am hungry.

What a thought for Kiara to have, as the realization that she couldn’t solve this dawned upon her. Last week she could have dealt with such a small thought easily. Now, it was no longer a small thought. People went hungry all the time, but that had seemed so different from anything that could happen to her.

Until it had happened to her.

“I haven’t seen you in weeks.” Mikhos sounded concerned, but he’d always sounded concerned.

Kiara swallowed. “I… um…” She looked down at the papers in her hands. She never understood how this had worked, but she’d gotten used to it, when she didn’t think about it. Mikhos ate paper. Or stories. She didn’t think he ate blank papers. She hadn’t thought too much about it. Which was why she’d spent hours filling up these pages, hoping it would be enough.

Mikhos looked at what she held. “Are those for me?”

She bit her lower lip. “I’ll sell them to you. They’re one of a kind.”

She hated saying it. She hated how it sounded. Mikhos was staring at her. Kiara could have run away.

“Come on in.”

She followed him in, hoping this would work out.

Harder than others

Oh, how to entertain oneself.

You wonder how this always happens. It’s not as if you don’t have other things to do. It’s not as though there aren’t other things other people want you to do. Getting any of that out of the way would be beneficial.

Some of those things are actions you want to start. Finish. Things you chose for yourself before, that you would choose again. Yet you can’t make yourself do any of that now.

You are bored, but doing something? That would take effort. Why would alleviating the boredom take effort? This situation is already painful. How come dragging yourself out of it is even more so?

Oh, there was something to be said for the days when you could whine about being bored and then be forced into doing something against your will. Because at least it broke the cycle.

Right now though, there is nothing to do that for you. No one, but yourself.

Oh, how you are bored.

Full of Fire

Saoirse was already soaked. The torrent coming down past them as they climbed the cliff made everything wet. It had made her more cold than this weather really should have allowed for. And a bit more distracted.

The waterfall covered their tracks, even as it made their journey vertically more and more difficult. The beast that followed them wouldn’t be able to make it the same way. If it wanted them, it would have to find another way. Saoirse had no doubt it would. However, by then they would be in control of the situation.

She heard Toiréasa swear. Saoirse couldn’t help but grin, pulling herself up with the only sort of grip that could hold onto the stones, slick with water, worn by the continuous splatter.

“What? Need a break?” she called down to her partner.

Toiréasa’s retort was full of fire. “If you slow down here, I’ll break your neck myself.”

Saoirse chuckled. Shoving the thoughts of cold aside, replacing them with Toiréasa’s fire, she kept climbing.

How does your garden grow?

Like clockwork, the woman would arrive in the orphanage to play.

There was something about her that lessened the burden on Winter’s heart. Not the physical one, always there. That burden was lessened by the terrible tasting medicine she took every day. The woman made Summer smile and suddenly it didn’t matter where all of the children had come from. It didn’t matter what they had run away from. She had that reaction on just about all of them.

There were a few who remained wary. A girl about Summer’s age, who froze whenever anyone neared her, watched the woman with a distant form of curiosity. She replied, quiet yet firm, when the woman spoke to her. She did as any of the adults asked. Summer wanted to play with her and Winter wasn’t sure, because the girl named Dahlia was guarded by an aspect that was probably created by whatever made her face slightly crooked.

Then there was the boy she had dragged to Castlehaven in the first place. He spoke to no one, glaring at all attempts at conversation or even a nice gesture. If he hadn’t been so hungry, Winter was certain he would have snubbed the food as well, for spite’s sake.

With everyone that had come, everyone who had survived up until this point… These children didn’t have anything but what the people here gave them.

And then this woman would come.

Standards

It wasn’t that she hadn’t already eaten. Leondra shouldn’t have been hungry yet. As she focused through her sights at her target, her stomach began to tell her that she was hungry again.

The doe was so alive right now. Feasting without worry. No alarm showing on any part of her form. Leondra was ready to pull the trigger when she noticed other movement.

A fawn. This wasn’t the season. For the fawn to be that young… the doe must have delivered late.

Leondra’s stomach protested, but she lowered her gun. Time to find another target.

Suspicion is as others do

Answer some questions? Very well.

I’ve known him for years. We met as children. His parents never minded my coming over. I think I lived there, actually.

Problems? He’s too kindhearted most of the time for that. She on the other hand… well, she has problems. But she has problems with everyone, not just him. However, he stopped trying after a while, with her. Trying to deal with her. He would help her, but… she didn’t really deserve it. She wasn’t trying. I don’t know what her problem is.

Me? Of course I don’t like her. She wasted his time and then keeps trying when he’s obviously had enough. But… what can you do? Other than tell people like that to stop, to go away.

…yes, I had a record. In school. I wasn’t a well adjusted child. Why do you ask?

I know she’s missing. It’s her way of trying to get attention, isn’t it? She’ll show up. He’ll worry about it, he’s my friend. If you want to know what he thinks about that, ask him, not me. I can only guess. He’ll worry, but… he’s already told her enough is enough. That’s done.

Why do you keep asking that?

Expensive

Mercedes grit her teeth. “How much did they say it was?”

James didn’t want to reply, because she already didn’t look happy, but there was no avoiding it. “The rate was pi.”

“Pi? I’m not paying pi!”

James shrugged. “We could always go-”

“I’m going to give them a piece of my mind!”

He stopped her from walking over there herself. “Come on! It’s not worth a piece of your mind. If paying pi is a problem, imagine what it would be like if you gave up a piece of your mind!”

“But it’s the last part I need!” Mercedes explained, waving at the object on display. “The entire collection!”

James tried not to sigh. “I’ll… I’ll ask them again. If they’ll take another price. Please be patient.”

The last thing either of them needed was to give a piece of their mind again.

To be fair, we’re all travelling in time

“I’m about to figure out time travel!”

“That’s nice,” he replied to his son, turning the page of his book. “Let me know when.”

He began to rethink the amount of attention he had given his son when he didn’t see him again for a week. When his son showed up again, he was ecstatic. “How about now?”

The father looked him over, considering. “Please don’t tell me it’s moving forward in real time. You washed that shirt since you last wore it, didn’t you?”

His son rolled his eyes, grabbed his father’s hand, and dragged him to the future.