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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I had read it many times. Seen it, memorized the words, wrote essays about it, told over and over again. Watched the uptown preachers prophesy, listened to the Empress Manuana and her Parliament banter over it for countless hours.
“Tell me the last part one more time,” begged Sean.
“Of course,” I said, smiling. I stroked Sean's long glossy brown hair, and began to recite the last verse, his favorite part.
“Then the hero will save all, and every dark evil will wither and fall.” Sean grinned his chocolate eyes crinkling.
“What does 'wither' mean, Steffie?”
“It means you turn brown and crumple up into a little dried clump. Like an old onion.”
“Oh,” he giggled.
I stood up, lifted him from the ground, and picked up the herding stick. At the bottom, the tip was sharpened to a point to warn any foolish knaarls away. The top was curved into a hook, so when a geer stumbled down a dun and got itself buried in a sandpit, it was easy to get out. Sandpits were the most dangerous things next to a full-grown knaarl when it's angry.
Geers are white, almost pale pink at the folds of their skin, with long thin floppy ears and a fleshy tail. The inch long ebony hairs grow into a point. Bright green eyes are the most colorful things on their body. Ami said that if you look into it, you can see shapes. I looked in once, when I was in my fourth year. I didn't see anything. Their eyes are the size of peas with a dark brown vertical smudge running across their eye like a stubby needle. Geer feet are the funniest. Two spongy toes splay out and at the bottom, there is a thick leathery callus so bristles have no effect on them. The feet prevent them from sinking into sandpits, but only the little ones which don't really pose much of a threat. Geer mouths open only for food. White short-haired skin is stretched over the sides, so it looks like a tunnel from the front. As soon as those pea-sized spot a bit of food, however vile, a tongue as long as my hand will loll out and lick it up. A few stumpy teeth have often found their way over my fingers, and I have the scars to prove it.
I jostle one of my geers with the herder, to make sure she doesn't chase after a scrub brush blowing in the wind. A “she” because of the nonexistent horns and the saggy pink bag behind her tummy, where a line of soft silky hair grows. She likes it when I scratch there, on the hairline.
Sean picks up the ram, Lee, and carries the complaining animal down into our house. I gently nudge Marie with the herder, who joins him. Her kid follows euphorically, since the dusk-darkened sky signals mealtime.
I enter last, through the white door. Immediately a stair leads down, and the roofing follows. Soon we are emerged in a cool, underground burrow. The only difference is the bleached sand walls.
Using my herder, I take the geers into the pen, while Sean helps mother in the kitchen, taking the left fork. After filling the geers' feeders with grain husks, I rejoin Sean in the kitchen.
He and Ami are making rice cakes. The heavenly smell of spices and cooking fat intoxicates me.
“Would you set the table, Sean?” asks Ami. He complies and stuffs the rest of a large sample in his mouth.
“Hi, Ami,” I say, and help slice tubers for the cakes. Ami nods and dishes boiled rice into a bowl, seasoning it well and adding some chopped tubers here and there.
“Papi isn't home yet,” I add. Ami glances at me balefully. “He works into the fields late. The Empress is planning to cut our rations. Money is running low, after the famine. Many people died.” I remembered the famine. When we ate nothing but dried up tubers and whatever we could salvage from the dunes. That year, our geers grew so thin I could feel the gaps between their ribs. Half my flock died during the famine, including a female and her kid. Sean cried. My sorrow turns to shocked anger.
“If the Empress cuts our rations, more people will die,” I hiss. “Doesn't she care about us?”
“We are ruled by the Empress and her Parliament,” says Ami. “They decide everything, even our deaths. It is shameful to talk about the Empress like that.” My cheeks burn and I feel heat on my neck. I decide not to say anything, for Sean's and Ami's sake, but something feels out of place. Already our rations have been cut twice. I wondered if the Empress's rations are being cut too. I bring my knife down on a root too hard—it leaves an ugly mark. Probably not. The poor tubers channel out my anger: Ami glares at me when two more ugly marks mar the cutting board. Soon even the knife falls silent.

You don't have to, but constructive criticism would be fantastic. I don't have a too-good feeling about this, but I want to continue it. Pleez help!


message 2: by T.O.L.I. (new)

T.O.L.I. (Taleoflostink) | 1367 comments welcome sara!!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you.


message 4: by T.O.L.I. (new)

T.O.L.I. (Taleoflostink) | 1367 comments it made me want to read more...I enjoyed it.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm trying to think of some more to add on...i'll post some more.

Frying the cakes time-consuming and forbids me to think. I dodge gobs of hissing and popping oil while flattening lumps of rice, tubers, and chunks of meat into patties. The rice helps it stick, the tubers give it substance, and the meat flavors it. Soon a warm pile of fragrant patties sits on the table.
Then Papi bursts through the kitchen.
Sean and I embrace him until he carries us to the kitchen. Dirt is smeared on his face and sand streaks smear his clothes. He smells strongly of sweat.
"How was the fields, Papi?" I ask. Papi forks a rice cake and shovels in his mouth. After a few chews, a quick swallow, and a swig of water he looks at me carefully.
"The Empress has cut the rations."
An awkward silence dominates the table. I stare at my plate, wishing I could save the crunchy cakes for another time, savor the salty flavor. I wanted to keep this forever. Rice was expensive, and meat a rare delicacy. Would the famine repeat itself all over again?
But Papi is not finished. "She cannot afford to pay all the field workers. Twenty have been let go, and--I am one of them."
Ami's face fills with tears. "How will we live?" she sobs. "We will slowly starve to death. By the time you are admitted back into the field, everything we have worked for will be gone," she sobbed, and buried her face into his shoulder. "We are going to die."
Papi patted her back. "Don't worry. We'll figure something out." My fingers trace the wrinkles on the tablecloth. "I'll find a job," I murmured.
"What?" Ami's sorrow-ridden voice trembles.
I repeat myself. "I said, I'll find a job. Nento works. I can find a job too."
Papi shook his head. "Nento delivers rations to the village, Steffi. Besides, you wouldn't make enough if you worked nights too. I don't want you to do that to yourself."
"Please," I pleaded. "Sean knows how to herd the geers. He can stay close to the house. Please, Papi?"
Papi sighed. "All right, Steffi. You can go uptown tomorrow and look for something. Just--just be careful."
I nodded, euphoric, and gave him a hug. "Thank you."


message 6: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments Very good... a unique idea.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks, Tink.


message 8: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments No prob, just being truthful. :D


message 9: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
Welcome to the group Sarah :)


message 10: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments Welcome, Welcome, Welcome,
From all of us to you
Welcome Welcome Welcome
To this awesome group!

(in a weird mood...sorry. :/)


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

To me, that's a pretty good mood. And thank you!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

I think that writers will always be in a weird mood!


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

True...it's the only way to be. How would we come up with writing without weirdness?


message 14: by T.O.L.I. (new)

T.O.L.I. (Taleoflostink) | 1367 comments hi sarah....:D


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

It is true. People just have to accept it.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes! My theory is correct. But... *gasp! What about all the other poor people who aren't weird?


message 17: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
There are people that are not weird? Where?


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmm. Let's see. I'll have to think about this...well, my Dad. He's just smart. Perhaps my mom. My brothers are definitely weird. And all my friends are weird. Okay, fine. I take that back. But there ARE a lot of people in the world...


message 19: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
And I would wager that most of them fall under the weird catagory :]


message 20: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
Oh, by the way, there is a party over in Paul's cubical, http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

NO ONE is normal!


message 23: by Mimi (new)

Mimi (mimibird) normal....? whats that?


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

All of a sudden, I don't really know...


message 25: by T.O.L.I. (new)

T.O.L.I. (Taleoflostink) | 1367 comments heehee


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Maybe it means weird weird people. Like weird people who aren't...*gasp! WEIRD...


message 27: by T.O.L.I. (new)

T.O.L.I. (Taleoflostink) | 1367 comments LOL


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll post more writing in a sec, if you don't mind.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

When I woke up that morning, Sean was still asleep. Feeling sympathetic, I left him in our room and helped mom make breakfast: A tall glass of geer milk with a pinch of cinnamon. I inhale the fragrant spice and take little sips at a time. Cinnamon is hard to make: after Mother buys the expensive chunks of bark, she has to grind it into dust and make sure it is kept dry.
Father's boots are gone, as well as his coat. He leaves early every morning, because the field is far from our house. We leave on the edge of Viskant, in the Lower Lands. Our house is farthest from the other houses, even though we have the most geers. The more geers you have the richer you are. The richer you are, the closer you get to Uptown. The Empress lives in the center of Uptown, in a huge house above ground.
I heard it has a garden and its own kitchen! I wondered how much cinnamon they have there...boxes and boxes of it, maybe.
Then there is a knock on the door. Nento, with the rations! I race down the hall and up the stairs.
I'm right.
"Nento!" I say, smiling. He grins back and clumsily rights the cloth wound about his head and shoulders. He's paid so well, his mother buys him clothes.
Clothes in the dunes are large and brown, because the least expensive cloth is, well, brown. The shirts are made long and loose, then tied in the middle with a thick strip of leather. Pants are tight and usually a darker color, made of stretchier material. Shoes are leather boots, and people who can afford zippers and are lucky enough to get wear those.
Nento's skin is dark, dark from riding in the sun all day delivering rations to the Lower Lands. He always rides Turg. Turg is rather plump, but with long back and bristly fur. She has more toes than a geer's, and tufts of fur between the toes keep out debris.
Nento tosses me the bag, and rights his cloth again, so that only a thin ring of yellow hair peeks out. I feel the weight of the bag and sigh, remembering: rations have halved. Nento apologizes. "I don't know how long we'll keep up. My ma says that if Empress continues, she'll go straight up to the Big House and demand to be let out.
I swallowed a lump in my throat. No one ever went in Viskant except the yearly merchants and traders. Besides them, no one ever came out either.
Sean interrupted my shock by bursting through the door and wrapping his arms around Turg.
"Nento! Turg!" he cried, and Turg licked the mustache of cinnamon milk around Sean's lips.
"Hey, Sean," said Nento. "I'll see you next week." He nudged Turg forward and waved. Sean and waved back, but Nento and Turg had already been swallowed up by the dust.


message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul It's a nice world you have begun here!

Keep it going a while and then I'll start reviewing it.




message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Hooray! I'm running out of name ideas tho...Help would be nice. Names are the most difficult aspects of a character.


message 32: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
boy names or girl names?


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

hmm. Right now I'm looking for a name of the shopkeeper...and I need to think about what Steffi's job will be.


message 34: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
Where was the shopkeeper born? Is it a male or female?


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Male. He was born on Viskant(my made up world!!) and he should be the old bristly type of guy (not too frail) with the brownish bray stubble. That's one version. He should have a potbelly. I can't think of a name with that kind of connotation.


message 36: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
Ashford
Baririck
Barton
Dabney
Farley
Garbutt
Garman
Lowden
Terrence
Urvine
Whalley


message 37: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments Sarah wrote: "To me, that's a pretty good mood. And thank you!"

*giggles* Any time.

*looks over Dee's list*

Garbutt? *falls over laughing*


message 38: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
Garbutt is a REAL name :)


message 39: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments I believe you...


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

WHAT?


message 41: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments lol


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Ashford seems to suit him....I like Terrence, but I'll use it for a different character. thanks!
And, where'd you get "Garbutt"? it's very odd...
GRR-butt!


message 43: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments lolz


message 44: by Dee, Fan of the "Young Prose Society" (new)

Dee Marie (dee_marie) | 3382 comments Mod
I goggle...there for I am ...

No wait that was not what you asked, sorry :)

Found the name in a listing of baby boy names.


message 45: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments Oh.


message 46: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow. Smart.


message 47: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments Yeah, I look at those lists and my eyes glaze over.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

I can imaginew someone saying, "His name is Uriven Dubney Walley the Third."


message 49: by Paige (new)

Paige Miller | 4362 comments LOL that would be funny


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Dubbey for short. And he'd have chubby cheeks...WHOA something's coming through.... blue eyes. and that kind of hair that babies have, in little ringlets....oooh


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