We frequent a coffee shop that uses a goat emblem. I always call it goat coffee. In honor of my students from this week and my Dad, I’m going to write a short story for you every time I end up at the goat coffee place.
I’ll try, anyway.
North Wall Vines
Brighton nestled deeper into the prickly vines. Thorns and sticks scratched her face and hands. Gloves. Next time she would remember her rough gloves.
Right. Next time she had to randomly jump into the vines on the North wall to avoid The Boys she would definitely remember gloves. Maybe carrying gloves should’ve been her go-to action all along, since avoiding groups of people seemed to be her lot in life.
“Come on,” Samuel called out. “She doesn’t want to talk to us.”
Brighton listened to the six retreating footsteps. There should really be seven, Brighton observed. Someone was hiding. Probably Marius. He was always working harder than the others for her affections.
Give up now, she thought, while you still have half a day left to explore the world.
Brighton’s breath caught in her throat. She bit her lip to keep her mouth closed. Don’t cough, don’t cough.
The cough broke free, throwing her head forward into thorns, her hands back against the rock wall to steady her. Coughing and coughing and more coughing. Air seemed in very short supply suddenly.
Hands reached through the vines, parting them like curtains. The hands gently settled on Brighton’s shoulders and pulled her out of the green chaos into the golden hour of twilight. She couldn’t think but coughing, her body shaking, her eyes closed. A flask of water pressed to her lips. She gulped.
Heat surrounded her. She sighed. She opened her eyes to The Boys. All smiles. All aglow. All offering shy pats of encouragement and care, all ready with another flask of water, all focused on her comfort.
She took a deep, free breath. Closed her eyes.
They only want your good, she told herself. And that’s the problem, isn’t it?
“Are you alright?” Samuel asked, the chosen leader. He stood beside Marius, whose hand was still softly gripping Brighton’s shoulder. Samuel might be the speaking leader of The Boys, but Marius was definitely the bravest when it came to winning Brighton’s affections.
Brighton sighed again. She offered a smile. Smiles in return. The group relaxed again, happy to be released from any guilt. They only wanted her attention and her comfort, after all.
The slimmest boy, Peregrin, stepped forward to offer a handkerchief for Brighton’s bleeding face. The thorns had caught her harshly and left an angry stain of red across her cheeks. It isn’t queen-like, she thought, to hide from my own subjects. Especially when they simply want my company. Selfish.
“Samuel,” Brighton said. “Must you always follow me?”
“Only when you lead us on such good adventures.”
Brighton had to smile at this. The rest of her life would be leading them on adventures, as dictated by her tribal leaders. Queen. Warrior. Adventurer.
“Well, let’s be off,” she said, knowing that every boy would follow her. Knowing that every single one of them longed to be chosen. Knowing that no matter who she chose, she would have their loyalty until her last breath. Knowing that no matter how many vines she hid behind, none could stop the future of a Wandering Queen, even if that queen was only thirteen years old.
She accepted the offered handkerchief for her face and strode away from the wall, Her Boys falling into step behind and around her.