November 19 – Lachlan and Tara’s Baby

NaNoWriMo: Posted November 19@11:14pm

Nom and Lachlan (500 words)

Lachlan stepped through the side door that led from the kitchen to Nom’s garden of growing tubes. He no longer wore his dirty commoner shirt. Costume or not, he hated that thing. He preferred the leather vest he wore now. It felt more natural, more like home. Chand – his aunt’s friend who never aged – bought him the best. They didn’t want him fit into some hand-me-down. Destovl said that Javed’ wouldn’t have given him an ill-fitting armor piece, but Lachlan didn’t trial to become a Lynthian Soldier. Destovl scooted him into a Palace Guard position. Lachlan was overqualified, which meant he needed to be careful. Zef would see to Lachlan’s demise if he considered him a threat. The last thing Destovl said to him was a warning. Leave the weapon at home when his duty at the Palace started. Lachlan was a master in many weapons, but he didn’t mind dirtying his hands. They were the first weapon he truly trained in.

“It’s done,” he said to Nom, announcing his presence. His aunt worked on the far side of the garden with her choice fruits. Her tomatoes looked brilliantly red.

Between his salary as a Palace Guard and Nom’s stipend his family would live well in this new land. Lachlan stepped off the wooded platform walking a bit cockier than he should have been. He’d have to work on humbling it. He needed to present an air of confidence that didn’t overstep into Lynthian Soldier arrogance. If he slipped up, a lot of people could get into trouble including Prince Destovl.

Of course, part of his training back in Loches involved not screwing up and how to avoid interrogation if he did.

Nom stopped fussing with her tomatoes as Lachlan stepped into place next to her. She tucked a curl behind her ear and looked up at him. Her hair was as blonde as his was. His entire family looked like an oddity in Lynthia as it mixed with their dark brown hues. At least Lachlan wasn’t as short as his aunt. She stood barely to his shoulder where his new blue leather strap rested.

The first thing his aunt saw was where the leather had improperly twisted when they promoted him into the position. She instantly reached for it and adjusted the small coil.

“Congrats,” she told him as she finished with a slap to the backside of his bicep.

“You sound like you doubted me!” he joked, rubbing his arm.

“If I doubted you would I be preparing a celebratory dinner?”

“I didn’t know you were.”

“Indeed. I already talked to your wife. I’ll be making your favorite, herdsman tart.”

Lachlan’s mouth watered just hearing the name. He’d celebrate by eating more then his fair share of the meal. Tomorrow he’d need to worry about building a layer of trust between himself, the Palace Guards and the Lynthian Soldiers. He wasn’t worried. Nom’s plan would fall into place. Destovl and Chand would help, but they’d never get knowledge like Lachlan could if this plan went well.

Nom’s underground work to save the woman of Lynthia would continue.

Tara’s Baby (500 words)

Big events in our life define who we are.

Tara’s death defined Sita.

Losing Tara hurt. It was agony…a pain she couldn’t even describe to Bankim as he held her against him in her bed. She couldn’t describe it, but she felt it.

It was like…

It was too much.

Like a knife cutting across her flesh, cutting her flesh out from her body.

Losing her sister really hurt.

Bankim’s arm felt thick and heavy around her torso. It felt protective and like everything she ever wanted – just not like this. Sita stared at her room’s far wall, thankful she didn’t have windows to see the moon or the night’s stars, grateful everything was shadowy dark. For whatever reason, Sita didn’t cry when she looked at the black. She just stared. The only light that came into her room slipped under her closed door. A door she never closed until recently. When she actually noticed it, the tears came.

“How am I supposed to continue after such a failure?” She asked Bankim, seriously hoping he had a philosophical answer to help her. I should have recognized the signs. I’m an herbalist. I should have been prepared. She never should have died right in front of me. “I held her, and I lost her.”

How does anyone continue?

“I had the same question after Jaith’s death,” he confessed, “I never wanted to tell you that, tell anyone that, but I think that maybe you don’t continue, maybe you begin a different path.”

He twisted the arm he had his head on and drew strands of Sita’s hair through his fingers. He barely touched her, and she imagined it was awkward to do. It felt nice though.

“Some life changes happen in an instant,” Bankim started, squeezing Sita reassuringly.

“Yeah, you blink, and your sister dies in front of you.”

She wished she didn’t sound so sour for him, but she couldn’t help herself…not then…not yet.

He understood and continued to speak as if he’d never stopped.

“Other changes take time to cultivate and allow it to grow. In the end, you’ll always be different now that your sister died, but you need to figure out what your new normal is.”

Sita closed her eyes, wrapped her hand over Bankim’s and pulled it up to her neck to rest her cheek on. He stopped playing with her hair. She didn’t care. She wanted to sleep. Tomorrow, she could start over. Tomorrow, Mitra’s sun would allow her a fresh outlook. Tonight, she wasn’t ready to figure out her “new normal.”

Bankim kissed the back of her head.

Sita reminded herself that he lost Jaith. Jaith’s death and Tara’s death weren’t exactly the same but, for some things, that was close enough. As much as he tried to keep the crew together, Bankim was fraying. The crew was falling apart. Knowing that wasn’t very encouraging.

“What do you suppose will happen to your niece?”

She didn’t know. Plans might have already been made without her since Nom was at her family home helping her mother care for her newborn niece. She knew that Kalle went out to find a nursing mother to help feed the child. She’d love him for that forever. It probably wasn’t a comfortable job. He had four names to inquire with, all people Nom suggested. At least he could go without needing anyone to escort him.

Sita shrugged at him, just enough so Bankim knew that she couldn’t answer him without choking up. She just wanted to hold the baby – it was the thought that weighed heaviest on Sita’s mind – but Nom was right in sending her home, Sita needed to pull herself back together.

Part of her was grateful for the order. Sita didn’t feel like she was capable of touching the sister’s flesh and blood right yet, she didn’t know that though until she laid in bed with Bankim. Sita didn’t want the baby picking up on her emotional state. She was determined to join them tomorrow, determined to hold the baby for the first time.

“What if we took her in,” Bankim asked Sita, his voice sounding sleepy.

Sita answered him without evening first considering his suggestion. “You have the crew.”

He didn’t. He was moving on. He needed to secure homes or work for Toivo and Kalle, but he was moving on. He wanted a home quieter than Chand’s in the hills but still within a city. Sita didn’t know that he’d found it.

She could embrace her sister’s memory there.

Ghost Hole

“I’m scared.” Sita fingers tightened around Bankim’s hand. “But I’m super excited. I just want my niece, but reality’s setting in.”

Reality really wasn’t setting in. Everything was still surreal to Sita until she saw the handsome design of her family home. Its round roof shaded on the side she approached from, the tall entry tower with its stucco ornamental over raw brick gave the impression of luxury without the added expense. Everything her family had, that her father gave to them came from decisions of compromise.

Sita walked through the entry into the transitional space. Here the house redirected them from the Lynthian streets and orientated them to the true natural of the living space. The home’s thick massive walls kept the heat of Mitra’s sun out, and the wind chaser chased the coolness of the night around as if it was lost in a confusing maze.

Sita released Bankim’s hand in the transitional hall and called out to her mother.

“We’re in the garden,” she returned.

Birth is a brutal miracle. It’s brutal to watch but it’s amazing.

Life is powerful, more powerful than death.

I didn’t think it was possible to love something so much in an instant.

Zingle (500 words)

How fast can you change the world? In twenty-four hours, Zingle has changed a single act of kindness into a snowball of giving that continues to grow. As the season of marketing, sales and spending heats up, Zingle is preparing to give back to families in the communities of Oak Creek, Racine and Kenosha.


At a time when people are hoping for the miracle of Christmas, Zingle is pulling it off.



Copyright ©2010-2014 by Kristine A. Strauss, Amara SuraShakta. All rights reserved.

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