Embark

March 29, 2012
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"Nine... ten... eleven!"

Kimberly Prince turned and flashed me a grin. Her teeth were perfect and white, if not a little uneven near the center. They contrasted extravagantly with her dark, almost maroon hair – something I'd always been jealous of. Her hair reached down to her shoulders in the long, uncared-for wisps and strands that mark the presence of childhood. Kim's eyes were dark and hazel, like burned amber. I reached into my pocket and handed her two more tiny silver stars, make of paper and glitter glue, to make thirteen, our favorite number.

I guess we liked it because no one else did, and we felt sorry for it. Then again, perhaps we were a bit different, as we enjoyed feeding hornets and catching snakes. Fairies and princesses had been written about, fantasized over and had wasted enough time over the course of history to have become extremely boring.

I watched Kim drop the pair of glittering stars in the minute glass bottle, her eyes level with the pile of stars inside. When the sun hit them, they cast pretty little reflections on her face, dappling it silver. "Where's the cork?" she asked me, her eyes meeting mine. Sometimes, when she looked at me like that, I felt like I was being robbed – as if she had stolen everything I knew from my gaze.

I held up the wooden cork, nearly half the size of a thimble, and surrendered it to her. She took it daintily with the faintest hint of a smile and completed the base of our project: glinting little pieces of hope that were to be taken, one at a time, from their bottle and given only to those in desperate need. The person had to be approved of by both of us, friendly (not always in appearance) and, somehow, deemed worthy.

Kim took her bottle by the chain and hung it around her neck, her skin pale like the stars. I mimicked her, my skin rather sun burnt, and we walked quietly downstairs. If the other children in the orphanage found out about our secret door, we'd be caught in a second. Mistress Lucinda was very harsh to those who weren't "appreciative."

And so we set off, prepared to hold true to our oath: don't come back until all twenty-six stars have been given away.





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