Is this real life, or is it just fanta-sea?
We’ve moved on to our fiction segment in my creative writing class. This was our first project, a flash-fiction story (around 750 words.) The requirement for our project was that we would, in small groups, come up with three laws which our worlds would live by, and then include those somehow in the story. Mine doesn’t have a title… Still working on it.
Tanner was 11 when his sister Naomi turned 13. His parents, Emile and Yan, spent hours in their room, the week before. Naomi wandered around the house, touching the chairs, the table, the dishes on their shelves. When they all sat around the table at dinner, everyone would pretend that things were normal, but Tanner knew that Emile was struggling to hold back tears. She never cried, no matter how close she got. Naomi’s birthday, a Friday, was as bright as any autumn day. Quietly the family gathered in the kitchen.
“Happy birthday, Naomi.” Yan awkwardly put his arm around his daughter.”This is an important year.”
Naomi nodded, pale faced.
“We love you, Naomi.” Plates of steaming food in hand, Emile bent over to kiss her on the head.
“Just tell us.” Naomi pushed her plate away. “I won’t be able to eat anything.”
Yan folded his arms and sat down. Emile stood behind him, gently rubbing his shoulders. He glanced up at her and she nodded, barely. “We love you both very much. You know that.”
Their father spread his hands. “Tanner, we… we’ll miss you. I’m sorry.” His face set. “I’m sorry, son. Emile will prepare a bag for you.”
Naomi burst into tears and ran from the room. Tanner stared at his father.
A few hours later, Tanner stood outside the door of their home. The trees of the surrounding forest towered over him. His family gathered around the doorway, stone-faced. His mother stepped forward. “Here, Tanner. This is yours.” Her face crumbled.
Tanner’s father stiffened. “Please, Emile.” He nudged his wife back into the house, out of site. “Goodbye, son.” They shook hands.
Naomi threw her arms around her brother. “I’m sorry. Please be careful. Good… good luck.”
Tanner looked around at his family. “See you.”
“Tanner, wait.” His mother reached out past her husband towards her son.
“No, Emile. Go in the house. He doesn’t need your tears. Tanner…”
“Goodbye.” Tanner slung the bag over his shoulder, walking into the forest. The trees that grew in the woods around their house (his old house) were leafless most of the way up the trunk, but covered in the leaves at the top. Tanner thought about trying to climb up one and rest at night. He noticed the leaves fluttering down like a yellow rain. He shifted his bag to the other shoulder and picked up a stick.
As he walked, he cut out a path for himself with his stick. “Going somewhere. Going… somewhere.” He rubbed the back of his neck. Lately it ached and burned. Yan had told him it was part of his body changing. “The village. Two hours walk? Maybe I can stay the night there.” He stopped. “Where am I going?”
He walked further, staring at the sky. As he drew closer to the village, houses began to wink their lights on. Finally, he overcame his pride and went up to one of the houses.
“Hello!” The door creaked open. “Hello, ma’am. I was wondering if maybe you have a place for me to stay tonight?”
The grey-haired woman eyed him.
“It’s my sister’s thirteenth birthday.”
She opened the door. “Come in, son.”
“Thank you. My name’s Tanner.” He pressed against the back of his neck. “I have food. I just need a place to sleep for the night.”
“Where are you going, young man?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t have a plan.”
The woman steered him towards a seat at the table. “Have you received your gift?”
“No. No one in my family has a gift. I don’t think I will.”
The woman set a plate down in front of Tanner. “Nothing is certain. Now, eat. You may sleep in front of the fire tonight.” She sighed. “I lost my son when he turned thirteen.”
“My husband died ten years ago and now I have no one. I make do.” She opened the door. “Come and we will get firewood.”
The next day, after wishing the old lady well, Tanner headed into the village, with no clearer idea of where he was going. Stick in hand, he wandered down the streets, looking in windows and store fronts.
“Hey, boy.” A tall, blowsy girl jerked her hand at him. Her red hair swirled around her head. “What are you doing here? You gonna break something?” She looked at his stick, interested.
“No, sorry.” Tanner stared up at the girl. “I’m just… passing through.”
“Sure. I’ve seen you. I been following you. You’re wandering this town. Looking for trouble. I like trouble.” She grinned down at him, teeth shockingly white.
“Well…” Tanner thought a moment. “Yeah, I guess I was looking for trouble.” He stuck his chest out. “But not here. Somewhere else.” He rolled his eyes. “This place is small beans.”
“Where were you gonna go?” Her ragged eyebrows shot up.
“Out of the village.” Tanner switched his bag again and pressed his cool hand to the back of his neck. “Wanna come?”
“Whats your name?”
Tanner propped his hands on his hips and stared up at the girl. “Tor. You gonna come?”
“Yeah, Tor. I’ll come.”