Lifting Aluminum


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.


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.”


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