A New Job

Chewing the furniture. Wandering in circles with wild hair and wicked untrimmed toenails. That’s a first draft, man. It is what it is, and if you can write a cleaner one, I dare you to do it. This one’s about done, and it’s been fun. I think I might be able to see the end, even if it isn’t written yet!

A New Job

Emotions flitted across Sharna’s face at Jackie’s question. She settled on sorrow. “I suppose it is, in a way.” Sharna looked over at Edgard sitting on the last stair of the basement steps, away from the green and life, and Sharna’s sorrow seemed to lift with a smile. “I’m needed here. Just like you’re needed back in Medlare.”

Jackie thought about her life back home. She would be returning full of secrets, but with empty pockets. Maybe she could blackmail the Mothers? Risky business, if what Sharna said was true about them seeing everything.

“I don’t understand why the Mothers left here, do you?”

“Edgard says they wanted greater control, and he wasn’t willing to give it.”

“Do you believe him?”

Sharna sighed. “I think so. He believes it, anyway. My bigger question is why are they gathering Mothers, and where are they getting all the seed they scatter around the country?” She put her hands on Jackie’s shoulders. “You could find out for us.”

Jackie answered with a small laugh. “Sure. I could spy on the All-Seeing. Great plan, shall I count the ways it won’t work?”

“I’m serious, Jackie. You’ve seen what chaos and suffering are caused by a world out of balance. What if the Mothers are setting up our world for something disastrous?”

“What if they are? I can’t take that on. I’m a shattered thief without a mark to my name. You ask too much, Sharna. I hate that you’re making me say no and goodbye in the same breath.”

Edgard cleared his throat from across the room. “Excuse me. I know eavesdropping is frowned upon in polite society, but —” he held open his hands and shrugged, “we all know I can hear everything you’re saying.” He stood and flicked his hair back with a toss of his head. “What if we paid you in seeds? Any quantity, any breed? You name it, we’ll supply it.”

Jackie scrunched up her nose. “Ewww. Don’t. I do not want to think about that.”

Sharna bit her lip to keep from laughing, but it spilled out around the edges, and that got Jackie started.

“What?” asked Edgard. His baffled and innocent expression only made them laugh harder.

They giggled at each other until Sharna draped an arm around Jackie’s shoulders. “I’m going to miss you.”

“Yeah.” Jackie gave Sharna a full-body hug, and whispered into her ear, “I would take payment in seeds, but I need to think about the job. It’s risky.”

As they drew apart, Sharna kissed her on the cheek. “Could you think about it while you help us feed the Cloud Realm? Distributing the food is going to be a big job and an extra pair of hands would be useful.”

Jackie turned to look at the growing vegetable garden. “You’re going to need to pass out seeds, but in a way that doesn’t set up hoarding or encourage theft.” She looked at Edgard, her good mood suddenly serious, “And you’re going to need to make reparations for the deaths and the Culling. You are hated, Father. Not tolerated, not understood, but mythologized into a monster. Undoing that is going to take time and establishment of trust. I hate to say this out loud, but you might have to rewrite history to make it stick. I don’t mean erasure of what you did, but a reframing of why you did it and how Sharna saved you from the curse of it. She’s the hero, and you’re the victim.”

Edgard put the back of his hand on his forehead and struck a distressed pose. “I can do that.”

Jackie turned to Sharna, “I still hate him, Sharna.”

“I know,” her friend nodded. “I know.”

(See you next Saturday!)

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