December 20th, 2018

faraji + rosa

Fic: When the Stars Were Young and So Was I

Written for the 2012 reverse round of originalbigbang, for trishkafibble's lovely and inspiring picture here. Go and give kudos! I think I managed to fit everything from the picture into the story, except for the roller coaster.

Sometimes when Plen woke before the sun, he lay in bed the way he never could at sea, listening to the sounds made by everything still waiting for the dawn, watching the slow creep of light through the bedroom window and across the wall. Even after almost a year ashore, this still seemed the height of indulgence.

This morning, though, he rolled out of bed even as he opened his eyes, and padded across the hallway to Joy’s room, with its small myriad of toy animals and brightly-colored paper birds. “Joy,” he said, shaking her shoulder. “Joy, wake up.”

She moaned at this, batting at Plen’s insistent hand, face still pressed hard against her pillow. “Sun’s not up.” ‘Go away’ was unsaid but strongly implied.

“Faraji and I are taking you fishing, remember?”

“Oh,” she groaned, or perhaps ‘No,’ face already sliding back into the slack lines of sleep, eyes almost closed. It took yanking the pillow out from under her had to get them open properly. She really did say “No!” then, but Plen had her chivvied halfway off the bed even as she said it.

“Happy Christmas,” he added while handing her a clean dress. “If you’re not downstairs in five minutes, I’ll come up and carry you down, regardless of what you’re wearing.” She moaned at him again, but managed not to drop the dress on the (desperately needing to be swept) floor. “And try to remember that you wanted to do this—begged to, in fact.”

That got him a nod instead of an unhappy sound, so he counted it as acquiescence and went downstairs to see if Faraji was up yet.

Not only was Faraji up, he’d laid out the supplies for the morning’s expedition and produced bread and milk from somewhere. “I thought we were all out,” Plen commented as he finished sopping up the last bit of milk in his bowl.

“No, I just said we were so no one would have a midnight snack and leave the rest of us hungry in the morning.” Faraji took the empty bowl from him as Plen debated protesting this admittedly wise precaution. “Should one of us fetch Joy down? If we don’t leave soon, the sun will beat us to the beach.”

“I’ll go get her if you’ll load Baby.”

“Fair enough,” Faraji agreed, and began gathering poles and net and baskets off the table. The things would make an almost laughably light loan for their Fliek’s dragon, but it would be much more pleasant than having to carry everything by hand, especially if they managed to catch anything.

Plen went back upstairs and found Joy sitting on her bed, dressed, hair still a mess. She had her brush in hand, but was staring vacantly at the wall across from her. “Want some help with that?” Plen asked from the doorway.

Wordless, and not looking away from the wall, she held out the hairbrush—more in the direction of the window than toward him. It might have been an act, but she appeared to have put her dress on backwards, so likely not. Plen bit his lip in an attempt to keep from laughing (or sighing), and began brushing her hair more carefully than the time really allowed.

By the time he finished, Joy had fallen asleep again, still sitting up.

She woke up again on her own about halfway down the mountain to the beach, in the middle of a somewhat heated discussion of whether to get a cow or two goats. Faraji was mostly winning because goats really were more practical, but Plen liked cows better because you didn’t have to worry about them eating laundry off the line.

“Cows’ milk tastes nicer,” Joy commented in the middle of Faraji’s defense of stakes-and-chains over fences. “Also, they have very pretty eyes and lovely pulpy noses and goats kind of scare me.”

Well. That more or less settled the matter.

“Could someone get me down from here? I like Baby very much but she’s rather uncomfortable to ride.”

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And thus endeth the gentle_edgar era of my writing career, which spanned [4] years and a shift in my approach to writing: fewer random bursts of whimsical creativity, more focus on writing things with your basic beginning, middle, and end. A move away from the bonsai-like drabble and toward longer, more involved stories.