Blogging from A to Z, Fire

U: Ubiquitous

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Today I’m posting the first page and a half from my Camp NaNo WIP, FIRE. Bear in mind it’s still a bit rough 🙂

The day of my mother’s execution is the first sunny day in months. I listen to the birds sing outside my bedroom window while I stare at myself in the mirror, wondering if this is the Council’s idea of irony. But, of course, it can’t be. It’s not like they knew there would finally be a break between the seemingly endless storms that plague us five or six months of the year. They’re not a pack of mages.

They’re not like my mother.

I finish braiding my stick-straight red hair and twist the braid up into a loop at the back of my head. As I strategically insert pins and wish my hair did something more exciting than lie there, I remember the whispers that still follow my sister and me around every time we leave the house. Sometimes they’re pitying, but more often than not they’re suspicious. Did you hear what happened to the Byrnes? Just watch those girls turn out like their mother…

“We should probably get going soon,” my sister, Erin, says. She leans against the doorframe with her arms crossed, a position that makes her resemblance to our father – reddish-brown hair, long limbs, strong nose – even more striking.

My stomach flip flops. We’re orphans, almost.

“Just another minute,” I say. I open a cosmetics jar. My face is so pale since I haven’t slept through the night since Mother was arrested three months ago – at the solstice celebration, in front of the entire city – but I don’t need to advertise that to everyone. I brush some of the powder on my face before spinning around. “Ready.”

It isn’t far to the square; we live just off of the city center, our neighbors all upper-caste like us. We barely make it a block before we hit the crowd, all of the people who showed up too late to make it into the square proper. Everyone moves aside for us as soon as they recognize us, though; notoriety works in our favor in this instance, at least.

A scaffold has been set up in the center of the square, a wooden stake with tinder surrounding it. The area is roped off to keep people from getting too close. Off to the side in another roped-off zone are two rows of chairs set up on a makeshift dais where the Council will sit, along with their invited guests – Erin and me.

“I can’t believe everyone is acting like this is some sort of holiday,” Erin mutters as we walk around the edge of the crowd. Everyone is dressed in their best, talking and laughing and joking. I hear bets being placed – whether my mother will scream and cry, how long it will take her to die. I’ve heard rumors there are feasts planned for later this afternoon.

I’m glad I didn’t eat breakfast this morning. Otherwise it would be all over the cobblestones.

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16 thoughts on “U: Ubiquitous”

  1. Your first line’s great!
    And though this is an unsolicited critique, I’d say why not skip the part of staring into the mirror? You can begin with her in the execution ground, and she can still give the backstory of her life,

    All the same, this really got me and I’m itching to know more… good luck 🙂

    1. I’m always happy for critiques, solicited or otherwise 🙂

      Thank you! This is the first time in awhile I’ve worked on something new so I was really worried it would totally flop!

  2. Ominous and horrifying beginning! I agree with Ifeoma about the mirror part – only because it’s so over-used. I would read on to find out what happens.

  3. I would definitely read more! This was really good, Stephanie. 🙂 You’ve managed to convey a decent amount of information about your MC’s world without bogging the story down in any way, and what you haven’t told us just makes me want to know more. 🙂

  4. Love this. Present tense is a strong decision, and I like how smoothly you use it (for instance you avoided the pitfall of using too many “A is [Verb]ing” statements). Excellent work.
    I agree about the mirror thing– it’s not poorly written, it just doesn’t need to be there.
    The first line is amazing, and I find myself wondering if it would be even stronger if you didn’t go on to point out what you did there with the juxtaposition. The best way to use symbolic elements is to write like you are unaware of them.
    I do really love the image of the sun coming out: it’s another kind of fire, and it’s actually super disturbing in that way.
    I hope you keep working on this story!

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