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.

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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

“Kawamoto-san.”

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.