However readers may judge the writing, I’m learning a lot about my characters and their worlds. Thanks for reading along, everyone.
On the last night of the Five Moon Festival, Kiminoki made her first truly serious mistake. She could blame staying up for days or too many distractions, but whatever the reason, the damage was done. Luckily none of the injured died.
She was sweeping up the broken glass, working around the dozen sopping wet towels on the floor when her husband appeared at the door. “Everything’s been fine for years, Ahbi,” she said before he could speak. “I can be forgiven one mistake. One. And no one died.”
“Kiki,” Abeo began.
“You’re the governor! You could—”
He held up a hand. “They caught the thing.”
Kiminoki stopped sweeping. “Did they? Good. Its cage is in the front yard. They can put it in there.” She wiped sweat from her brow. “I think all the festival noise just made it anxious and you know how animals are when frightened. You can’t—”
“They cut off its head,” he told her. “And burned the body.”
“What?” The broom hit the floor with a thwack. “That was a year of work!”
“Lady Paulo will be fortunate if she can use her arm again. A number of children are bound to have nightmares for the rest of their lives. And Joset’s fruit stand will have to be totally rebuilt. All of which we’ll pay for.”
The pops of the fireworks echoed. The festival continued regardless of whatever trouble visited its various corners. If the two of them hadn’t been so focused on their argument, they might have heard the music and cheers.
“I’m sorry. I really am,” Kiminoki said. “I thought I’d removed its aggression.”
“You know what I think of that,” Abeo replied. They had argued over and over again about what aspects of nature could be removed. ‘Something isn’t bad because it doesn’t suit you,’ he’d said. ‘And not everything you’re born with will help you survive,’ she’d replied.
They fell into silence, surveying the damage of the lab. A table had been knocked over, vials, tubes, and burners shattered on the floor. A stool had been reduced to sticks. She bent to retrieve the broom.
“You should rest,” he said. “I’m all for you cleaning up your own mess, but under the circumstances, you shouldn’t try to do it all at once.”
She leaned with one hand on the broom and rested her other hand on her belly. “The baby’s fine, Ahbi.”
“I know.” Abeo came fully into the lab. “This incident is going to attract attention you don’t want. There’ve been rumors enough, but now there’s eyewitness testimony, and I’m not asking them to be quiet on your behalf.”
“I’m not asking you to,” she replied. “There’s no need. Who’s paying attention to us? We’re a tiny dot among countless tiny dots in the universe. This won’t matter to anyone beyond our town limits.”
He came over to her and wrapped his arms around her. “You have a tremendous imagination, Kiki, but it fails sometimes. It really does.”
Kiminoki rested her head on his shoulder and said nothing in reply. Her husband worried too much. She had everything under control. One mistake wasn’t an omen. There was no reason to believe it was a sign of things to come.