Happy Turn-Day Evangeline (Vignette)

Xanadu Weyr - Candidate Barracks
// A long, low ceilinged room opens off the entrance hall to the arena. One wall is slightly curved, set against the outer wall of the arena itself. Cots are set in two rows along the length of the room, each with its own small press at the foot for personal belongings. Wide windows are spaced along the outside wall, letting sunlight in, while other lights are available for the night time hours. It's always warm here when there are eggs on the sands, and candidates seldom need more than a light blanket.//

Laying in bed, warmed by the three hairless space heaters that are her beloved cats and head locked into stillness by three firelizards, one brown juvenile, a blue and green nearly still wet from the shell. This is where we find our girl, in the Candidate barracks, surrounded by a cacophony of snoring egg-waiting hopefuls Evangeline watches the clock on the wall. The second hand slowly creeping over the 12 so that the hour and minute hands line up directly on it. Bam. 16. Stretching her toes out, she attempts to measure herself, has she grown? Rolling her head back on her pillow, trying to feel if it's any closer to the top while avoiding upsetting any of her small hidebound children. Nothing. No outward signs that she is any different at all.

Sighing, disappointed at the lack of instant clarity, even on this, the most crucial turn-day in the life of Evangeline. The one that had always promised her a brand new life, a fresh new beginning somewhere exotic, someplace where she would be treated as a Lady, head of household, the BIG KAHUNA. What was she thinking? Seriously.

Evangeline knew when she agreed to be a Candidate, she would be on a ticking clock, there was no way her Mother would stop looking for suitors when the family needed marks and land more than ever. Her 16th turn day creeping closer every second, that being the acceptable age in their minds to find her a husband. That was before the earthquake, everything had changed.

Before the collapse of life, as she knew it, her life lined up in neat rows; nothing was worth questioning because there was no surprise or mystery left, turn 16, get married, cook, sew, have babies and continue until one day, death would come. Simple. Straight.

The marriage would ensure prosperity upon her siblings, and since the disaster and forced holdlessness, it was more important NOW than ever that she does what she must for her family. Memories flash past her mind, of her Mother braiding her hair while discussing the beautiful dress she would wear at the wedding. Grandma talking up what an amazing wife she would make with every baked good produced, skirt sewn, or baby burped. "Oh Evangeline, someday you will make the most beautiful bride. Some man is fortunate right this moment and does not have a clue."

6 short months earlier, there's no doubt she would have married anyone with glee, excitedly sewing her gown and printing out elaborate invitations. Ever since she was able to listen and understand, her wedding had been all she planned.

Now the thought of marrying seemed, farther fetched eyes opened to the freedom that could come from being a dragonrider. Even though the idea of impressing felt farcical on the best of days, it was possible. The infinitesimal chance those eggs presented was overwhelming, surely impression would be the biggest thing to ever happen to her.

Impression may also doom her family to starvation. The siblings raised by her more than half the time may come to ruin because of her selfishness. How dare she do this to them. The overwhelming weight of responsibility washes over her body, such intense emotions of fear, guilt, self-loathing that the flizzards next to her face begin to stir. Inhaling deeply and blowing out so that her body relaxes watching for her small charges to settle back in. Don't panic. Don't survive, thrive. Is chanted loudly in her mind. Don't wish, Don't start, wishing only wounds the heart.

With one last look at the clock, it's now 12:10 of her 16th turnday and whether she likes it or not change is coming for her. Change is chasing her down ruthlessly, preparing to sink its teeth deep inside the flesh of her world to rend it apart in front of her. No matter what the outcome of the hatching, there's going to be a mess.

Tick, tock, tick, tock Evi dear. Change is almost here.

(Happy turn-day Evi-muse, you are so loved. Buckle up my tiny butter cup, mama got plans.)

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