Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What Would Junco Do?

I always said I'd make an excellent Clutch Mother.

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The Lion & The Wolf

Photo shared by on in Stories

My snow boots are making puddles on the tile floor of my camp room. If Maggie comes in and see the mess she might punish me, but I can’t think straight right now. I’ve been spinning since the ski trip. I look up at the clock and work out what the big and little hands mean as I study it. 9:00 and it’s dark so that means it’s PM, not AM. PM means predators out until morning. So that’s nighttime.

My winter coat is bunched up around my hips and my scarf is still wrapped tightly around my face. My breath passes through the fabric of the soft cloth, making it wet.

But I don’t care.

I swallow as my stomach rumbles again. It’s been doing that since we left the resort. Since mom was taken away. Her eyes looked a little scared, but mom never gets scared. This makes my stomach tighten so much I lean over and wait for it.

I swallow the spit that gathers under my tongue as I think about throw-up and the sweat rolls down my back and makes my waistband wet. I should just go outside. I’d be just as wet out there in the snow as I would in here wrapped up in my own heat.

I hear Gideon’s door across the hall. I get up quickly and rush over and press my palm against the biometric pad on the doorknob.

It flashes red at me.

Locked in.

I swallow again.

Gideon? I need you.

Hold on Snowbird. I’ll be in soon. Take off your snow gear and lie down.

A tear falls out of my eye and I wipe it away so my alarm won’t go off. I don’t want to see anyone. No one but Gideon tonight.

I unwrap the scarf and the cool air rushes in so I take a deep breath and enjoy it. Gid says when things feel good I should enjoy it, because there’s lots of times when things will feel bad and I can think about something good when that happens. It’s like collecting good things up and saving them for later.

I memorize the feeling of cool air rushing in on my face to take the heat away. It’s small, probably won’t help much, but maybe. You never know. Plus, maybe if I remember a bunch of little good things all at the same time, then it will take away one bigger bad thing? I’ll have to ask Gideon about that later.

I slip off my boots next and put them on the mat by my door. I grab a dirty shirt from the laundry basket and wipe the puddle they made next to my bed.

Finally I take off the coat and hang it up on the knob above the boot mat.

And I sit back on the bed, unwrapped, and swallow.

I can still hear them yelling out in the big room.

Mostly it’s my dad, but some of it is Dale and some of it is Matthew. James never yells, but that doesn’t mean he’s not mad. He’s sneaky like that.

I hear the biometrics click and Gideon walks in my room and closes it behind him. “You OK?”

”Am I OK?”

He laughs. “I asked you the question, Junco. You have to answer, not ask another one.”

“I’m OK.”

He comes to sit on my bed. He’s wearing the t-shit I made him for his birthday last week. It says, God Loves Twelve Year Olds. I wanted him to know God loves him because he never gets to go to church and hear it for himself.

He looks down on me, his eyes darting to mine, then to the side as he listens to the yelling outside my door. “Do you need to talk?”

I swallow and the tears leak out. “I did something very bad, Gideon.”

He hugs me and I feel his chest go up and down. I lean my head against it and listen for his heartbeat. “You were not bad, Junco. They aren’t yelling about what you did. That was an order, remember?”

“It doesn’t matter if it was an order, Gid. It was bad. God will never-”

“God has nothing to do with this, Junco. Nothing. You can’t live by God’s rules. You can’t. It’s impossible. If you try they will kill you. Do you want to live?”

I push away and look up at his face. “Yes.”

“Then you will follow orders until I tell you it’s safe to stop, you got it?”

I swallow down the spit that’s collecting in my mouth again.

“God knows it’s not your fault, Junco. God knows.” He pulls me against him again. “You’re not bad.” He says it more to himself than he does to me.

“I’m just like a lion, Gideon. I do what prairie lions do out on the scrub. I kill.”

“The lion has to kill, Junco. If the lion stopped killing it would die. Do you want to die?”

I shake my head as I lean into him. “I’ll be a lion if I can live.”

He sighs. “It’s OK to be the lion, Junco. It’s OK. I’m the wolf remember?”

I nod my head. “I’m the lion and you’re the wolf.”

“And we’re the same, remember? We’re in this together.”

“I remember.”

“And the lions aren’t bad, ya know. The wolves either. They’re just trying to eat when they kill. It’s natural what they do.”

“But it’s not natural for me.”

“It is too, Junco. You aren’t killing to eat, no. But you’re still killing to live. It’s the same thing. If you said no what would‘ve happened?”

“Punishment.”

“And if you said no too many times? What would happen?”

“Death.”

“So, you have to say yes. One day, Juncs, you will be big and you can say no. OK?”

“But you’re big.” I push back and look up to his face.

He laughs. “Not really, Junco. Twelve might seem big to you now, because you’re only six. But twelve is small. You’ll see. When you get to be twelve you’ll see that twelve isn’t big.”

“Do lions live to be twelve?”

“Lions and wolves live the same amount of time and we’re gonna live long lives. Away from here. We just have to wait. We just have to wait until the time is right. One day we’ll both be big and we’ll be all finished with training and we can leave.”

“Do you promise?”

We hear the loud thud of boots as they approach my door, then watch the biometrics light up on the doorknob. I feel Gideon’s heart pound and mine follows along, helpless to make it stop.

My alarm goes off and I jump up and start crying.

Matthew comes in and grabs me. “Make it stop! Now, you stupid brat!”

Gideon gets off the bed and I can hear his heart thumping in his chest, but when he puts his hand on my shoulder he sends me nothing but calm.

I watch him breathe and match my own breaths to him as Matthew’s grip on my shirt shakes me.

My father appears in the room and he punches Matthew in the face without saying a word. Matthew goes down on the floor as I lose all my self-control. My father leans down, “Make it stop, Junco. Gideon, help her.”

I follow Gideon’s breathing again but my eyes lose track and watch as Matthew gets to his feet and he and my father begin fighting again. They slam against the wall and Gid ushers me out of the way and into the hallway, then I’m in his room, breathing hard and trying to ignore the adrenal alarm going off in my health tracker.

Gid’s face is down in mine. “Breathe, Junco, or you will die.”

I snap out of it and breathe until the alarm goes away.

We sit there and wait for the violence in the hallway to degenerate back to yelling. I look up at Gideon. “I hate Matthew.”

He smiles at me, then looks over at the door, listening to the shouts of the two men out in the hallway for a few more seconds. “One day, Junco. We’ll kill that motherfucker. So, whenever he’s mean to you, you add it to a list in your head of all the reasons why you should take his life when I tell you it’s safe. OK?”

“He’s big, Gideon.”

“But he’s not a lion, Junco. You are.”

I smile this time. “And he’s not a wolf, either.”

Gideon lets out a deep breath. “No, he’s nothing but a man. And men are very easy to kill.”

I slip my SEAR knife out of my dock and power it up. The yellow loop of plasma is dialed up to a small dagger length and the light it emits flashes against Gideon’s skin and makes his eyes dance.

Gideon slips his out and powers it on, then dials it down to a small blue loop and touches my knife to his. They sputter for a second and he removes it.

“Why can’t we just go cut everyone right now, Gideon? It would be so easy.”

“Our SEARs are coded for them, Junco. I told you this. They won’t work on them, just like they won’t work on us. We just have to wait because no one is coming to help us.”

“We’re the only ones, right?”

He smiles at me. “The only ones left, Junco. They killed the rest. But if we’re smart, they won’t kill us. We’ll kill them.”

“And we’re smart?”

“Very smart, Snowbird. That’s why you learn everything they show you, the very first time, right?”

I nod.

“You learn it, everything. Even if you think it’s dumb. You put it in your head and never get rid of it. And never tell anyone that you do this. Right?”

“Right.”

“Because we’re the only ones left. The only Sevens left.”

I power down my SEAR and put it back, my thoughts momentarily drifting back to the woman’s neck I cut with it yesterday. “Why do they make Sevens if they just want to kill them?”

“They need us. They need Sevens. But Sevens are too smart so they kill them and try again. But we’re more than smart, Junco. We’re brilliant. We know they want to kill us, and we pretend to do what they say. Sun Tzu, remember him?

“War means you have to lie.”

He laughs. “Yeah, good enough. War means you have to lie.”

We listen to the men outside Gid’s door and he takes a deep breath and points to me.

I take one as well and when the biometrics flash and my father walks in, I am calm.

He smiles at us. “Thank you, Gideon. I won’t forget your help. Come on Junco, we’re going home now.”

I lean into Gideon and choke back a sob. He pats me on the back and squeezes. “See you soon, OK? It’s almost time for winter camp.”

I nod. “OK.”

“And thank you very much for the wonderful shirt, Junco. I know God loves me, but it’s nice to be reminded once in a while.”

I beam up at him.

“And congratulations on your second place trophy at the competition. We all watched you on the screens in the big room. Everyone clapped for you.”

My whole body feels warm as he reminds me of my forgotten aerial acrobatics contest. Second place is good. A red ribbon and a trophy. Plus I got free ice cream at the concession stand when I showed them my prizes and even though I couldn’t eat it, I gave it away to some kid and made her happy. “I love you, Gideon.”

“Ditto, Snowbird.”

 

This is a scene from FLIGHT - the third book in the I Am Just Junco series.

 

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I grew up in the Rural Republic...that's about all I can say about that.

Comments

  • Gideon
    Gideon Saturday, 07 July 2012

    Holy Fuck! You better redact this now!

    And remove all mention of me!

  • Snowbird
    Snowbird Saturday, 07 July 2012

    Happy Now?

    :)

  • Gideon
    Gideon Saturday, 07 July 2012

    You can see through the redactions, Junco.

    Now who's the stupid one? :o :p ;) :D

  • Snowbird
    Snowbird Saturday, 07 July 2012

    OMG! you are such a baby.

    You can see through the redactions, Junco


    Happy now? This is the last time I'll do that for you. People want to see the names, what good is a story without the names?

  • Gideon
    Gideon Saturday, 07 July 2012

    Read the fucking book.

    People want to see the names, what good is a story without the names?

    Reply Cancel
  • Snowbird
    Snowbird Saturday, 07 July 2012

    Hahahahahahahaha!

    Holy Fuck! You better redact this now!


    It's just a story, Gideon. A S-T-O-R-Y.

  • LittleSister
    LittleSister Monday, 09 July 2012

    When is Isten gonna blog?

    ;););););););)

  • Snowbird
    Snowbird Monday, 09 July 2012

    Soon!

    :)

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