Story starts, story fails…

Some people are destined for greatness. Others? Are not.

I’m one of the nots. And that’s just fine by me.

I wasn’t around before the End of Days, so I don’t know what the world was like back then, not from personal experience, but I’ve heard the stories. People worked in boxes. The boxes had this thing called air-conditioning that kept the temperature always the same. And the people sat behind desks in chairs that were soft with padding and did things with paper and pencil. Reading and writing and drawing, I guess, maybe some figuring. I don’t know what all they did, but they were called paper shovers.

Doesn’t that sound nice? I wish I could be a paper shover. I bet I’d be good at it. I like drawing and I like quiet places. Working inside a box would be just fine with me.

At night, after the people finished moving the paper around, they’d go to stores. I guess they called them that because they stored the food there. It was in rows, like crops growing in a field, except the rows had everything—not just corn or wheat, but everything you could think of. Meat and apples and honey and all sorts of stuff. Lots of things you’ve never heard of, too. My gramma used to tell me about the things her gramma had told her about, but some of them just sound silly. Like maybe she was making up stories, not telling real. But the stores, they were real.

And so were the paper shovers.

No one gets to be a paper shover anymore. Those days are long gone.

*****

Some people are destined for greatness. Others, not so much.

I’m one of the others and that’s just fine by me.

My classmates are all busy planning

***

Some people are destined for greatness. Others, not so much.

Cici Fremontaine was one of the others and that was fine by her. While her classmates were busy plotting and planning, fighting to reach the tops of the ranking charts, she kept her head down and her pencil busy.

If pressed, she would have admitted that she didn’t care about the honor of being a pupil at Gramacery Academy, the most prestigious school for potential magic-users in the Five Counties. She might even have admitted that she didn’t care about magic. Probably she wouldn’t have, though, because magic was important to everyone in the Five Counties. Magic was essential. It was everything.

After the End of Days, when the world was effectively destroyed, only magic had kept the remnants of humanity alive. Magic and …

Nope. 

*****

Some people are destined for greatness. Others, not so much.

Cici Featherstone considered herself one of the latter. She knew that her parents had high hopes for her, but privately, she thought they were being fooled by the superficial. Sure, anyone looking at her elegant cheekbones—already striking on a girl of thirteen—her deep-blue eyes and her even features might assume that she was going to be a person of power, but Cici would rather read a book.

“Cici, you’re late again,” the plaintive call barely penetrated Cici’s immersion in a tale of a world where she would much rather be. Medieval France.

No, no, more no. 

******

Some people are destined for greatness. Others, not so much.

I’m one of the latter and that’s fine by me. Most people look at the crowds that line the roads, eagerly waving at the hunters returning from their hunts and screaming with joy when a hunter deigns to notice them, and want nothing more than to be a hunter, to be the recipient of all that acclaim and adoration.

Me, I look at the hunters. They look tired. Exhausted, even. Numb, sometimes. In pain, almost as often. Sure, they’re returning triumphant, but they’re dirty and sweaty, covered in mud and blood and the guts of the monsters they’ve killed. I’m happy to scream with the rest of the citizens, but more than grateful not to have to go out into the badlands to defend our fair city myself.

I’m more of a domestic type. I figure I’ll go for a cook as soon as I’m old enough. I know I’ll probably have to put in my time as a scullery maid, but I pay attention in our kitchen and I’ve learned a lot. If I get lucky and find a position with room to rise, I think I can probably be an undercook before my twentieth birthday. From there, head cook by thirty.

And after that, of course, it’s all about the place where you cook. My ambitions aren’t grand. I don’t want the duke’s household or any of the truly higher-ups. Sure, the pay might be better, but the pressure is probably on as well. No, I’d like to work in a merchant household, one with money and comforts but not too much of either. I’ll cook a solid breakfast for the household, a light lunch, take an afternoon nap, and then four courses for dinner.

I’m already thinking about what my specialities should be. Biscuits, perhaps. Everyone loves a good biscuit and I think I could develop a light hand with them.

I should admit, I have no idea what a light hand with a biscuit is. But my pa used to say that about our cook, back in the day when we had one, before he died and our house became just ma and me. I don’t think ma has a light hand with a biscuit. Hers tend to taste more like rocks. But I’ve got plenty of time to learn.

First, though, I have to make it through the trials.

Well, not through. That makes it sound as if I’m like every other tweener in the city, hoping to pass the hunter initiation. Actually, I’m hoping to get booted out quickly. Not so quickly that it’s embarrassing — I’d just as soon not be the first person they send home. But maybe the third or fourth? Yeah, that’d work for me.

*****

One thousand words. I wasn’t going to post this (these?), but then I thought, eh, the point isn’t at all to have polished and perfect words that make sense. The point is to write a thousand words of fiction. And if those thousand words are completely flailing fails, sharing them shows the process, so why not? 

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