Crisp, clear, and cold the wind calls.
It tugs, taunts, torments, and tears
At capes and cloaks. At hats and hands.
Mauling masks and wrenching wigs.
Plucking, pulling, and pleading for its share.
It steals the shouts of “Trick or treat!”
As one by one they parade with sweets
The longer it watches without a pick –
The more it blows with its threatened trick.
Monthly Archives: October 2015
Crisp, clear, and cold the wind calls.
Dutifully, he handed her the pages, and she read as she walked to a chair. Seeing the cup of steaming tea in her hand, Matt glanced uneasily at the stove. The fire was out now, and it was probably a silly superstition. He shifted in his chair and glanced at his mom again. She was occupied with reading. Sarah was watching Mom. Matt turned his head back to the stove and mouthed, “Thank you for heating the water.”
Of course nothing happened. Matt chided himself for being silly. After all, if he thanked the fire, shouldn’t he thank the water? What about the ground? Suddenly, his skin was crawling again.
“This is wrong.”
Matt jumped and spun back around. Mom was reaching for his eraser and going to work on one of the pages. Then, she grabbed the pencil. He couldn’t see what detail she was erasing, but he hoped it was one that Sarah had told him. Judging by Sarah’s nervous glances, it was.
“All right,” Mom set the pencil down and raised her eyebrows at him. “What made you think of taking notes?” Matt sat up straighter, shifted uncomfortably, and finally shrugged.
“I couldn’t remember it all?” His voice raised uncertainly as he finished. “It’s what we do at school.” He had a sudden horrible certainty that she was going to tell him that he needed to memorize it all, not write it down.
“Good idea.” She turned to Sarah. “You better get yours, too.”
“What are you doing?” Sarah whispered, glancing toward the kitchen where Mom had gone. She looked like she didn’t know whether she should tattle or not. Typical.
“What does it look like?” Matt sneered impatiently. “I’m taking notes.” He’d already reached the limit of plants he remembered, so he went back further, writing down everything their mother had told them that morning. The more he tried to write, the more he got a sinking feeling that he didn’t remember enough. He felt a presence next to him and hunched down as Sarah tried to peer around him.
“The feathers were in Europe.”
“Wha?” he glanced back at her. She pointed to the spot where he’d been writing.
“The group who used feathers to make it happy. They were in Europe,” she insisted.
Matt frowned at the paper. He didn’t remember that. But he hadn’t been sure about the other either. He admitted that Sarah had probably been paying better attention. Giving in, he reached for the eraser and fixed it like she’d said.
Then it was like he’d primed the pump, and she was spouting more and more bits of information and pointing at the paper. How did she remember all that? Matt wrote as fast as he could, and in a few minutes, he was on his third page. He blew out a breath when she paused for air. The only sound was the frantic scrape of lead.
It made both of them jump. Recognizing the voice, Matt didn’t turn. Instead, he focused on finishing the note he was writing.
“Matt’s taking notes,” Sarah answered for him, like he knew she would.
Something in the air warned him that someone was leaning over him again, and the scent of sweet perfume told him it was his mom. He wrote the last word and set his pencil down. A warm hand came to rest on his shoulder.
“Notes, huh?” she said. “Let me see.”
A monumental task (sizeable at least),
Requiring effort and planning in
A display of dedication, an exhibition of ability
(Perhaps even an invitation for admiration):
Fully prepped and anticipated – then suddenly redirected,
A worthy mission made manageable: effortless.
The plan remained, neglected, dusted thickly
By a vague (possibly unreasonable) disappointment.
I considered him in silence. His scales were a darker gray than the captain’s, and his throat had a bright iridescence that stood out like jewelry against the faded blue of his shirt. His round black eyes weighed me as he leaned against the doorway. I waited for him to comment on the argument with the captain.
“The captain assked me to sshow you to your place,” he said instead. His tone was neutrally polite, and my eyebrows raised. I wondered whether he’d intended the double-meaning or had simply missed the nuance of a strange language.
I nodded and gestured him to lead the way. There was an instant flicker of what might have been amusement on his face, and I figured my first guess was right. Then, all I could see was his back as he headed through the opening. Wondering again what I’d gotten myself into, I followed. Immediately, I came face-to-face with another door as the hallway took a sharp turn to the left.
I considered the door for an instant before following the crewmate. From the weight of it, I would’ve assumed the engine room was inside. Or at least a way to it. But I’d never come across an engine room that felt like a graveyard. It made my fingers itch.
I pushed the urge aside and followed the Caldling. Even if I’d had the energy, I wasn’t about to barge into an unknown situation on a semi-hostile ship. Well, not anymore than I already had.
The hallway curved to the right, and we began to pass more doors on the inside wall. He paused at a broader door and opened it to show me a hallway heading toward the ship’s center.
“Sshared areass are through here. Facilitiess, laundry, and kitchen. Follow the guideliness possted.” The last held a warning note.
Then, he was walking on. We passed several more doors without comment. From the layout and door types, they were probably passenger quarters. Crew quarters would be on the opposite side. It was a pretty common arrangement, especially with mixed crews: with shared space in the center, the captain could keep the crew and passengers separated for the most part to avoid trouble.
What interested me most was that we continued to walk by them without a word. For some reason, I doubted they were all occupied. It wasn’t the largest ship I’d been in, but it was decent-sized. And we’d walked far enough to make my bag weight down on my shoulder. But he didn’t stop until we got to the end of the hallway.
“Your place iss here.” He gestured to the final door.
“What did he mean thiss time?”
The sound of the captain’s voice still set my nerves on end, but I must’ve been getting a better handle on it because this time I didn’t miss the doubting, disdainful edge to the question. Instead of answering immediately, I blinked as if adjusting to the harsh light of what I assumed was the cargo bay and took a moment to recap everything he’d said so far. Every single word had come out with a sneer.
My eyes narrowed.
“You know Ter Dryst, Captain,” I said in a saccharine tone through teeth gritted in a poor facsimile of a smile, “such a practical jokester.”
With that, I turned and headed casually across the cargo bay as if having a pissed-off Caldling behind me didn’t make my skin crawl. When I got to the point where I would have to choose which doorway to head for, I glanced back over my shoulder.
“Which way to my quarters?”
“You-” the word was half hiss and half snarl.
“Am taking up your time, Captain, I know.” I said with that same insincere smile. “If you’ll direct me to my quarters, I’ll get out of your way.”
The captain approached me with rage in his eyes and far too many teeth showing. I kept my stance casual but made sure my weight was over the balls of my feet. I wasn’t 10 anymore.
A hissing sentence shot out of the doorway to my right. I knew just enough Caldese to know that the crewmember had asked if the pilot could take off. For an instant, the captain seemed torn between answering and tearing me apart; then, he stalked past me and through the doorway. Another pithy hiss made me the crewmember’s problem.
I relaxed slightly. Then, he stepped through the door. Another Caldling. This day kept getting better and better.