Today's flash fiction takes us into the town of Little Pearlington in the Icarus Universe a couple of days after the beginning of The Icarus Project.
You don't have to have read any of the other stories for this one to make sense, but those of you who have read the flash fictions set on the surface might recognize Evie and Naddie.
An Awkward Tea Party
“I don’t do well with hints,” Asa said. A tired sigh escaped her as she set the tray on the table. She looked past Huxley and Evie to focus on her student.
“You’re an adult.” Asa set a steaming cup in front of Nadine, making sure to meet her gaze before focusing on passing out the cups. “Speak your mind.”
Naddie studied the drink sat before her, fiddling with the handle. The cup scraped over the table’s worn surface as she muttered, “I think you should consider it.”
The quiet statement hit Asa like a kick to the chest, making it difficult to breathe. She sat in the only open chair and took the last cup, setting it carefully in front of herself before daring to look toward Naddie. “Your reasoning?”
“It buys us time,” Naddie answered. “And you can keep an eye on him.”
Asa nearly choked on her tea. She coughed a couple times before clearing her throat. “You want me to babysit Jacob Pound?”
Evie shook her head, drawing Asa’s attention away from Naddie. “Not babysit,” Evie said. “Monitor.”
“Spy on, you mean.” Asa regarded the mother and daughter, women she often called friends, with a knot twisting in her gut. Had she been wrong again?
“You know how useful I’d be at something like that the same as you know what kind of man he is.” She turned to Huxley. “That’s why you took the risk of sneaking me out of his territory when you found me, isn’t it?”
“Times have changed, Asa,” Huxley said. “Pound holds the power in these parts nowadays. We can’t no more live without trading with East Woods than we can survive fighting ‘em, and they’ve taken a powerful interest in you.”
His shoulders sagged, and he settled back into his chair with a tired sigh. “I know we don’t always get on so well, but I think you know how much I value you. Half the town’d be long dead without you, and we know it. But we’ll be just as dead if we lose the treaty with East Woods.”
A chill raced down Asa’s spine, making her shiver. “He’s threatened to break the treaty?”
“Not in so many words,” Evie said. “If you want to be literal about it, he merely threatened to cut next month’s trade shipment by a bit more than half. But with all of the raids lately.” Her voice trailed off as she ended her statement with a twist to her expression. Evie lifted her cup and took a long sip.
The knot in Asa’s stomach sat there like a stone, and the usually soothing tea did nothing to ease it. She looked around the table, searching for some sign the voice in her head crowing they were finally telling her the truth of how they felt about her was wrong. Huxley frowned, eyes glazed over as he stared into the distance. Evie shifted in her chair, carefully avoiding eye contact as she took another sip of her tea, and Naddie had yet to stop fidgeting with her cup. The thought they were hiding something nagged at the back of her mind. What it was, she couldn’t guess.
Asa’s chest felt heavy again, and her heart couldn’t seem to find its rhythm. She lifted her cup with trembling hands and drained the last of her tea as she tried to order her thoughts.
“Can you manage making the medicines alone?” she asked Naddie. “And tending the patches?”
“I don’t know.”
“If I do this, the town’s going to look to you to keep them well,” Asa said. “Can you do it or not?”
“It’s what you’ve been training me for, isn’t it?” Naddie grumbled, finally looking up from her cup. “I’ve done all the jobs before, just,” she frowned, “not alone.”
Asa bit the inside of her cheek, using the pain to focus as she tried to hold off the meltdown she could feel building until these people left her kitchen. “How long?” she asked once her heart had found its rhythm once again.
“Til next trade day,” Huxley answered.
Asa let out a breathe she’d been holding and nodded.
Each story in this series is 700 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first prompt like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me" and "Culture Shock." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below or tweet it at me. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
77384 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Series Book 2
Sketched w/ Some Drafting
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
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Yekara Series Book 4