Crown’s Plank (twenty-two) The Night the House Burned
The moment had come, as she knew it would. Finally, her turn below the Nephormed. The scene was set, surreal and thick. Time was cool Molasses sliding, trapping her inside this reality. She had no choice. She had to speak. The girls had grown quiet after taking their places. Miss Antonina eyed her expectantly from her perch atop her monstrous goat. As she drew a breath to speak, a glimmering green speck caught her eye causing her throat to instantly restrict. It was a simple little fly, nothing more; however, it wasn’t the fly that had stopped Tobi’s breath, it was where it had come from. It hadn’t appeared to dart onto the boulder where she sat as flies do, it hadn’t crawled from under the rock from the dirt or some foliage. It had dropped straight from the sky and fallen in front of her at a velocity that felt as natural as touching fire.
Tobi couldn’t tell if anyone else had noticed. How could they really? It had been just one fly and had fallen directly in front of her, but… from the sky? Her mind raced and she quickly decided to collect herself and to continue. The ache in her stomach was now a stabbing pain. She grew more weary with exhaustion with each passing moment and the air was just chilly enough to be uncomfortable. She would have to start if she ever hoped to finish.
“My name is Tobi Sella. I’m fifteen years old and I’m an orphan. My dad is dead… I never knew my mom. I used to ask him about her, but I stopped. Every time I did he would cry really hard and stop talking for a couple of days. I hated to see him that way so I quit. I don’t really know how I got here or what exactly happened. After my dad died, I don’t remember much… a dirty mattress and my arms bleeding. I know that I talked to the Umlakka, but it kinda feels like maybe I dreamed it. Before my dad died, me and him lived in a shantytown with a bunch of other people who refused to Give Over. It was pretty horrible because we were always dirty and hungry and sick. A lot of old people and babies died there all the time and we just tried to take care of each other as best we could. I don’t remember the Giving Over because I was just a baby, but since my dad wouldn’t let them have us, we had to live in the shantytown. He told me once about the night we had to leave our house. He said that he had me in one arm wrapped in as many blankets as he could get on me with as much food for me as he could carry in the other arm. He said that the Umlakka made him stand in front of our house and watch as they burned it down and that they told him that they had a divine right. He never believed that. He used to say that was just their way of doing what they wanted and feeling okay about it.”
To be continued…