Lifting Aluminum

benha

Charming watched the lights of her river home recede while the flames spread through it. Another propane tank exploded lifting aluminum roof panels into the night sky. Flitting away from Song over the Benhá felt selfish. She would live when others would die, and that made her guilty. But Gane hadn’t given her any choice. He’d shaken her awake in her own bed and shoved clothes at her as told her she needed to come with him if she wanted to live.

leaf

She did want to live, but she hadn’t had time to understand the concussions Outward or the shuddering of the gangway beneath her feet as she ran to the Leaf. She hadn’t realized all of Song was under attack and not just her. Gane just pulled her behind him as they darted through empty passages lit by dim and sporadic fluorescent lamps. She could still feel his unwavering grip in her hand. She flexed her fingers and tried to rub out the memory of his certainty.

Charming decided no one would take choices from her again, then she turned away from the sight of her burning home and looked to the land. The cold river air disappeared as they crossed over the shore.

First photo courtesy of Carrie Kellenberger

Second photo courtesy of Xavi

xxx words on day 990

Selling Coral Sugar

“I can really make my own coral sugar with this?”

“Just the juice. Not the crystals,” Charming said. “Well, you could make some crystals, but not enough at a time from a bulb this size, and it would probably kill the coral.”

“Probably?”

None of this touri man’s questions were unfamiliar to Charming—she’d been asked all of them each day, every day, she put up her stall in Song’s pier market—but his insistence was so focused, so penetrating, she thought of her school exit interview. And not fondly.

“These bulbs are designed for decorating your kitchen and making enough juice for your coffee or tea or whatever. If you’re looking for the crystals I’d recommend ordering from Jack Ree’s here on Song or Phanee’s Sugar Works on the shore. They’re both on the net.” Charming gestured to the back table where her pad lay. “Now, I don’t know what Phanee’s charges for shipping, but Jack reminds me every day to tell people he doesn’t charge extra to send it to shore.”

The man continued to listen and smile at her like she was still speaking. Maybe he was considering what she’d just said. Maybe he was waiting for an answer to his question.

“And, yes. It would definitely kill the coral.”

“I don’t want that.”

Charming laughed lightly. “And I don’t either. That’s part of why we’re so accurate to infuse these bulbs with the right indicator colors.”

“When the rim turns clear, rinse and fill to the mark with distilled water. When it turns dark again, add five grams of sea salt?”

“Yes. Exactly.” The salesperson in her wanted to add a compliment on how quickly he’d learned the instructions to keep the coral alive and producing sugar, but she didn’t want to insult him.

“You said, ‘We.’ Do you make the glass bulbs too?”

“I can and I have, but my Daddy’s much better and faster than I am. I’m still no good at syncing them.”

“Your father’s had lots of practice,” he said. Then added quickly: “I imagine.”

Charming opened her mouth to respond, but didn’t.

“Do you have a synced set in green or maybe dark green?”

“I have this green here.” She laid her hand over a bulb of coral to the left of where they were speaking. “And I have a darker one back at my place I could get after lunch.”

“Excellent. No rush. I assume you can hold both for me? It will be a couple days before I leave.”

“Really? A couple days?”

“Why? Is that odd?” It was odd. Touris rarely spent more than a night on Song since the shore had better accommodations.

“Since you haven’t paid yet, I’ll just say it’s unusual to hear.”

He chuckled and handed her 16 bright yellow bills. “And now?”

Charming took the payment and set the two green-rimmed coral bulbs on the back table. “Thanks. Yeah, it’s odd.”

“Well, Miss Venda, I’ll keep that in mind for next time I visit Song.” It wasn’t until after he’d gone that Charming began wondering if she’d introduced herself by name to the man.

519 words on day 776

Better Than Nothing

So I thought I’d do a bit of plotting. I can’t get the Benhá thing out of my head and I’ve not plotted that ever. Too scared I suppose. Maybe I should plot it several ways. Pick one that seems best.

Setup: perfectly happy island girl discovers she’s got dermatographia.

Hook: the man who owes her money turns up dead in her normally peaceful village and she’s suspect número uno.

PP1: rather than stay to face mislead justice she decides to flee with a man she’s just met, a Solex monk.

Pinch 1: Roundmartin’s goons burn her home town to the ground looking for her.

MPT: Charming discovers she’s Roundmartin’s niece and that she has the same prophetic powers he did.

Pinch 2: Roundmartin’s thugs attack the monastery she’s staying at.

PP2: Charming discovers where Roundmartin is and goes to confront him and give him back his power.

Conclusion: having given him back his power she some how defeats him at the last minute.

164 words on day 729

More of An Arresting Sunset

“Hoy, Johnny. What’s up?”

Two Outies she didn’t recognize ascended the stairway behind him. Charming raised her hand to shade her eyes to see them better. The first was a slender woman with a blonde ponytail, an earlink, and a bloodless complexion. The second was a man she couldn’t—

—”Miss Venda? Miss Charming Abigail Venda?” the Outie woman asked.

Feeling both crowded and alone on her small rooftop, Charming turned her attention back to Young Johnny. A thought came to mind: all of Song called him Young Johnny because of his dad of course, but his official epithet was Deputy John Boonliang.

Charming folded her arms across her chest and took small step back. Thinking it might give everyone space, dispel her unease and start the whole thing over, she meekly repeated her original greeting, “Hoy, Johnny. What’s up?”

“Charm—”

“—Miss Venda, can you tell us where your parents are?”

“What’s going on, Charma?” Nadia called out from her spot on the roof reminding Charming of the expansive rippling tin and aluminum rooftops behind her. She wanted to run; she wanted to dash away from Young Johnny, the man, and especially that woman. Charming swung her free hand palm back to Nadia to halt her question.

“Why’re you asking ’bout my parents, Johnny. You know they went Out past week.” They hadn’t pinged her in two or three days, but gaps like that weren’t odd until the constable’s man showed up on your roof deck with two strange Outies. Charming stepped forward and used the same crisp voice she used with unruly children. “What happened, Johnny? What happened to my parents?”

Johnny raised his arms outward like he was casting a net. Charming realized she’d rocked back. She felt like a fish about to take a hook. “Nothing. I don’t know. They’re fine I suppose.” Johnny grimaced at his stumbling. “The point is they aren’t here.”

Charming thought he might be asking a question or might be leading her. “They’re not here.” If not for the Outie’s she may have told him she expected them back later tonight. “I don’t expect them back for several.”

“Several days? Several weeks?” The white-faced woman lilted her tone and raised her eyebrows, “Months maybe?”

“Days. Several days, Ma’am. We don’t really do weeks here. Months don’t much matter either.”

“It seems not much—” She slapped the handrail, “—matters on this rag-tag barge.”

“Charming, these Outies want to arrest you. But they—”

“Arrest me? What?”

“What did you say, Young Johnny?”

“Nadia! Please?” Young Johnny called out before she could interupt more. “Charming, these Outies want to arrest you.” He enunciated each word like it was it’s own single word sentence. “But,” His eyes jerked the line to set the hook, “since you’re still seventeen they can’t do that without your parents’ consent.”

“But I’m—”

“—not getting arrested. Since. You’re. Just. Seventeen. We can only detain you. Here on Song. Till your parents return. Until they get back,” Young Johnny gestured to the Outies, “these nice folks can’t take you off Song.”

Charming nodded understanding.

“But why?”

The white woman spoke again. “Mr. Tanjun Peeters is dead.”

Charming turned to Young Johnny. Peeters was an Outie name, but it sounded very familiar. Charming turned to Young Johnny for help.

“Yes, that Peeters. Tanjun Peeters it seems is Jun-Kata’s real name. Was his real name.”

560 words on day 721

This Seemed Longer at the Time

I thought I’d finish this later on Friday, but I didn’t. I even forgot to post it at all. I’m not going to bother to clean it up since I’ll just get caught up needlessly.

Skip the below and read this edit and extend instead: http://1000days.douglasblaine.com/20110327/more-of-an-arresting-sunset/

Thought I’d run with the portrait monitor scheme today as a fun change of pace. How does it look to you? I thought so.

“Hoy, Johnny. What’s up?”

Two Outies she didn’t recognize ascended the stairway behind him. The first was a slender woman with blonde hair, an earlink, and a bloodless complexion. The second was a man she didn’t—

—”Miss Venda? Miss Charming Abigail Venda?” the Outie woman asked.

Feeling a both crowded and alone on her small rooftop, Charming turned her attention to Young Johnny. All of Song called him Young Johnny because of his dad of course, but his official epithet was Deputy John Boonliang. It worried her she remembered that now.

Charming folded her arms across her chest and took small step back. Thinking it might dispell her unease and start the whole thing over, she meakly repeated her original greeting, “Hoy, Johnny. What’s up?”

“Charm—”

“—Miss Venda, can you tell us where your parents are?”

“What’s going on, Charma?” Nadia called out from her spot on the roof reminding Charming of the expansive rippling tin and aluminum rooftops behind her. She wanted to run; she wanted to dash away from Young Johnny, the man, and especially that woman.

had become a steep slope she might fall into. Though she wanted to back up, that ledge must be close.

“Yeah, Johnny. What’s going on?”

“Miss Venda, are your parents available?”

“My parents? No?” Charming

238 words on day 719

An Arresting Sunset

Charming loaded everything she’d need into her arm, stuck a banana into her skirt pocket, grabbed her smoothie with her free hand, and climbed to the roof. Once she’d arranged her things and unstrapped and unfolded her chair she stayed standing and waved outward to Old Johnny.

“Where’s Young Johnny…and New Johnny?” she yelled.

“NJ’s with his momma,” Old Johnny answered back. Young Johnny and Rancy hadn’t worked out well together, but they got along fine apart. “Don’t know what a holding up Johnny though. He a missing a beaut though.”

Charming turned to the west to admire the pink and orange confetti clouds peppering a line of high white thunder clouds not yet turned to rain in the distance. Luminous yellow rays blossomed outward showing where the sun hid behind the clouds for a little bit longer.

“That he is.”

“Eh?”

“I said, ‘That he is!'” Old Johnny nodded back over the distance. He returned to his pad.

“Charma!” Charming turned upward to the sound of her name. Nadia was working her way across rooftops to the closest she could reach to Charming’s roof. Charming did the same back to her. They got within a couple redi-mades of each other.

“I’d get closer, but I don’t want to cross Phûn’s,” called Nadia. She pointed off to her left.

“I know. I heard,” said Charming. “Have you seen him yet? Is he adorable?”

“I popped in long enough yesterday to drop off a bit of food and see that he had her black hair and his blue eyes.”

“Uh, oh. That’s not gonna be good around here.” They both laughed.

“We’ve got a few years before that’s a problem. Hey, I wanted to thank you for sending that touri by my place today. You working tomorrow?”

“Sunday. I’m in the Pit all day.” Charming made her best theatrical frown, and Nadia smiled back.

“I want to give you part of the tip she left.”

Charming threw up her hands like a wall. “No-no. I’m fine. You’ve sent folks my way too. It’s what we do.”

“Charma, I know that, but I also know that she tipped well.” Nadia’s voice sunk into a deeper register on the last word like she might describe how her latest boyfriend was hung. “I’m serious. I’m coming by.”

Charming shrugged. “Come by. We’ll talk.”

“Looks like we found Young Johnny.” Nadia chinned back over Charming’s shoulder. Charming noted an odd feeling about the direction since it wasn’t over to Old Johnny’s place it was back to hers. That odd feeling would linger then turn sour soon.

431 words on day 718

Fugitive Pigment

It’s mirrored windows reflecting downtown [city name] City, the monastery rose skyward. An office building. Charming had expected to feel more comfortable inside than out, but the lobby ceiling lofted above her stretching everything in the space upward with it. Charming expected the furniture, the potted plants, and she would soon catch free of her mooring to the floor and tumble upward. She dropped Brother Gane’s hand once she realized she had it.

A floral but masculine scent she’d attributed to some cologne of Gane’s permeated the lobby. “Is that incense?”

“Hmmm?”

“That smell. Like a spicy melon or a maybe some sort of tree I’ve not seen.”

Gane ducked his head into his badge’s strap and paused a moment to smile. He slicked a finger lightly along his rust-stained grey braids and tested the smell with his own nose before offering his finger tip to Charming. “This?”

Her face must have contorted with obvious reluctance, because Gane withdrew his offer and tested the smell again. “It’s not that strong.”

“Give it.” Charming reached out for his hand. “Ack. That’s it all right. Gah! I think I can taste it now.”

“Alizarin Crimson. You’ll get used to it. You’ll have to if you’re staying here.”

204 words on day 716