We’re a little over halfway through August! How is everyone doing on meeting goals and finishing up their summer plans? I met the deadline for the Write Like You’re Alive challenge, and then life tipped sideways, so my goal is to get back to it and finish strong. The Poetry Postcard Festival, a new notebook, and reading the consequences of my body by Maged Zaher has got me writing more poetry. I’ve never encountered poems with such loud blank space. It’s given me a new perspective.
Off to the story – (for new readers, you can get the entire TOC under the Storytime header link!)
The harder they tried to separate, the more they became tangled. Sharna’s robe caught on the thief’s belt. When they paused a moment to get this released, the thief lifted her head only to find a strand of her hair wrapped around Sharna’s bracelet.
“I can’t get it loose, will you do it?” The thief held up her wrist tightly bound in linen.
“You did that jumping out the window, didn’t you?” Sharna crossed her arms, bringing the strand of hair and thus the thief, closer to her.
The thief let herself be pulled in and whispered, “Yes. And I loved those shoes.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have been stealing.”
“It’s my job. You should have been asleep.”
“I have insomnia.”
“Well, I have debts to pay.”
“You got me expelled! My mother is furious!”
“And you forced me to shatter my Jewel, and now I can’t take Ty out of this sandy shithole!”
They were both hissing like snakes, and a flock of birds the color of the surrounding stone took off in a clatter of wings. Sharna pulled hard with her wrist in anger. Instead of crying out in pain, the thief’s hair slipped off her head. It was a wig!
They looked at each other in astonished silence, and then burst into laughter. It was the kind of laughter born from stress and anguish, and once they started neither of them could stop. One of them would taper off a moment, but the guffaws from the other girl would get them going again. By the time they stopped, out of breath and tear-stained, they were sitting with their backs to the alley wall, leaning on each other’s shoulder.
“Oh, oh! My stomach!”
They chuckled for one more round before the thief stood and offered her uninjured hand to Sharna.
“I’m Jackie. We weren’t properly introduced before.”
“Sharna.” She took the proffered hand and struggled to her feet. “Nice to meet you.”
They both became aware of the detritus of the alley at the same time. That included the stench. “We should probably get farther away from the illustrious Pink Pearl, don’t you think?”
Sharna nodded in agreement as they made their way toward the glimmer of warmer light at the alley mouth. “I suppose I should thank you. Even if I could have stuffed that horse, I surely didn’t want to!”
They stepped out onto a street that bustled and burned just like the one that fronted the Pearl. Sharna would have been worried, but it’s hard to feel lost when you don’t have a destination. “Do you live around here somewhere?”
Jackie winced. “Not all of us are dirt poor, you know.”
“I…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to assume anything.” Sharna’s heart sank. She’d almost had a friend, and already she’d offended her. I fail at everything, she thought.
The thief sighed and tugged to straighten her wig. “No, I’m sorry. It’s just…right now I am dirt poor. It’s been a bad week.” She squinted at the sun beginning to set. “I’ve got eight marks, and the place that amount will buy us is going to be little better than the alley we just left.”
(See you next Saturday!)