Monday, March 11, 2013
1st 5 Pages March Workshop - Baird Rev 1
Name: Jeri Baird
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Title: Fly True
I am called by many names. Destiny, Fate, Fortune; however I prefer Moira, for it sounds as if I have a heart.
I do not.
This is my story, although it may appear otherwise.
I am drawn to the twins whose parents conspire to deceive and cheat me. Unseen, I watch their births. The girl child arrives first. When the midwife whispers, “There is another,” joy transforms into terror, and a few minutes later the boy child arrives.
I watch as the mother turns from the babies, wraps her arms to her chest, and weeps. For never in the history of their village had more than one twin survived the quest that all twelve year olds must complete. One always sacrifices for the other.
Swaddled together the boy and girl gaze first into the other’s eyes. The familiar heartbeats soothe each from the other. Unaware of their parents’ sorrow or the knowledge that it will be but two years before they are torn apart, the twins know only the comfort of the moment. The boy will go with his father, the girl with her mother. They will be old enough to feel the pain of separation, yet young enough to forget.
I allow their foolishness for it delights me that they think to dupe me. But I know their destiny, and I alone will see that it comes to pass, for all things happen exactly as I intend.
I am Moira, and I will not be cheated.
THE TWELFTH BIRTHDAY
Adanna woke to the yeasty smell of baking bread. For most, that scent would comfort, but for one who woke to that odor every day of her life, it symbolized everything Adanna wanted to flee. She hated her mother for working long hours and then falling into bed exhausted. She hated how the smell permeated her clothes and her hair, such that when walking in the street strangers would identify her as the baker’s daughter. And she hated that she had eleven months and four days before she could leave the bakery, never to return.
Adanna’s basket of embroidery thread lay on the woven coverlet from her bed. The yellow thread sprawled over the covers because like most nights, she’d fallen asleep stitching. She settled the basket on her nightstand and threw the covers to the side.
When she yanked off her nightcap the golden hair she’d inherited from her mother tumbled to her shoulders. Her dark eyes surely came from a father she knew nothing of, and of whom her mother would tell her nothing.
A familiar sense of loss flooded through her, and she sighed. Would her mother remember it was her birthday?
She jumped, surprised to see her mother standing at the door. Flour smudged her face, and her hair glistened from the hot ovens. Dark circles underlined her eyes reminding Adanna of the late nights she’d worked.
“I baked something for you.” She held out a bun with sugared icing. Cinnamon, a precious commodity in the bakery dusted the top.
It tickled Adanna’s nose and her mouth watered. She smiled. “Thank you, Mother.”
Her mother smoothed her apron. “Almost to your time of magic. Are you excited?”
Adanna shrugged, not wishing to reveal her true feelings.
The mother sighed. “Then you will choose, and everything will be perfect again.”
Adanna frowned. When had her life ever been perfect?
Her mother continued, “There’s much you can’t understand until you’ve completed the quest. When you return…” she paused, and Adanna noticed her slight shudder. “…and Fate has chosen the bakery as your apprenticeship, everything will be as it should.”
Adanna crossed her arms. “Mother! Are you worried I won’t return from the quest?” When her mother paled, she knew it to be true. “How could you think I would fail? Really, Mother! Do you think so little of me?”
“No, no, of course, I don’t doubt your return.” She twisted her hands. “You just need to be careful in this year to gain tokens. You mustn’t tempt Fate.”
“Fate? What does Fate care about me?” Adanna’s gut tightened. What would she do if Fate did choose the bakery for her apprenticeship?
Her mother picked at the dough under her nails, and Adanna suspected that she hid something. But then, she had her own secrets, and apprenticing anywhere except in the bakery was one of them. She took a deep breath to calm her thudding heart and nibbled at the bun. “It’s wonderful, Mother. Thank you.”
Her mother smiled and caressed Adanna’s hair. “I’ve invited Marigold to feast with us tonight. I’ve started a rabbit stew. We’ll have cake, as well.”
“Yes, Mother. Thank you.”
She turned to leave and then looked back. “Less than a year now, Adanna. I promise everything will be better.”
“Yes, Mother. It will be better.”
Adanna had her own plan that she shared with no one. Not her best friend Marigold, not her favored teacher, and not her mother, who would be shocked to know her daughter capable of such thoughts. With a small favor from the fortune teller and some magic, Adanna felt confident she could pull it off.
She would not be a baker, whatever Fate might say.
Zander woke on his birthday, restless as he often woke. He had dreamed of bread. Not eating it, as he always had plenty of bread to eat, although its source remained a mystery. Sometimes he woke to loaves on their table, as if they sprouted there in the night. That morning, a small round bun with white icing sprinkled with a golden brown powder appeared as if by magic. Zander had quit asking his father about the bread when he realized he was given a new lie each time he asked.
No, it was the yeasty aroma of bread that Zander dreamed. The dream came so often and so strong that when he was five, his father woke to find him missing. After searching the streets he’d found Zander standing in front of a bakery with tears streaming down his face. His father had carried him home, tucked in strong arms holding Zander’s head to his chest. It was the only tenderness Zander remembered from his father.
Uneasy and eager to hunt - anxious to retreat into the forest, away from his father’s unpredictable moods, Zander dressed in dark pants and a green tunic. He only knew it his birthday because the night before, in a rare mood of cheerfulness, his drunken father had given him a present of a new bow and a dozen arrows. Astonished, Zander had wanted to go then to hunt, but his father insisted he join him for the evening meal. They ate deer that Zander had poached from a Lord’s lands in the forest.
They ate meat most nights whether the church allowed it or not. After all, Zander hunted the forest illegally. They may as well eat illegally. On nights not allowed they ate it cold, so the smell of cooking wouldn't alert anyone passing who might inform the priest. They didn't attend church, and they sure didn't want to be hauled in for confession.
Not allowed to attend school or church, Zander’s father taught him what he thought important. He had learned his numbers with ease, and had been responsible for the task of bookkeeping. Because of this, Zander knew they were not poor.