Arthur’s Fire - first chapter
290 days ago
As I run down the streets of Shelo, I do not care that it is dark because there is somewhere important I must be and sleep is the last thing on my mind. My aluminum lamp squeaks as it tussles in the wind behind me. It flies behind me like a kite catching air or like a balloon because it is so light. The flames’ light guides me and helps me see where I am going.
When the sun gods sleep, they leave us with no light what so ever. The Night is the darkest dark. Fortunately, I am from a family of Fire Magicians and we have a unique ability to create fire. It is in our blood and passed down from a long line of Magicians. Only my Great Aunt Roo was the only one who a common Air Magician. The sun gods have cursed everyone with long cold nights because they hate fire magic. Honestly, it is not fair that everyone has to suffer even the normal creatures. I think they were offended and did not think we love them anymore. That is not true, we love them but we wish they would forgive us by now.
My family is ostracized for being Fire Magicians and banished us for the invention of fire that led the gods down the path of spite. However, we keep telling them that we are not responsible for the creation of fire. We keep telling them that it is a completely natural element. They are all much too ignorant to trust us and thus my family has been banished to the outskirts of the city. My family is only allowed to enter the city when I am gathering supplies and to get medical help. We cannot get jobs and we cannot sell anything to the city. Not even out lamps that would probably be useful to them. Other than that, my family is banned. This means I spend most of my time at home. I rarely see kids my age. If I do, their parents shoo them away to “safety”. They are afraid I may brainwash their kids.
Being apart of a long line of Fire Magicians is quite cool. I am still learning how to use fire magic but it is not easy. My father says to take baby steps because if fire magic is done incorrectly it can be dangerous to other and me. Dad met my mother during a grocery visit to the city. She apparently fell for him instantly. She gave up her family, her life, her home to be with him. Now that she is married to my father, she is banned too. I am lucky to have her in my life and she loves me very much. She is one of the more influential people in my life. Now she is about to have a baby and I am sort of hoping for it to be a girl so I can have a little sister. A baby brother would be cool too.
My hands and pockets are filled with clattering pills inside plastic bottles and tin boxes, medicine for my mother. Running alone in the city at night is not something I normally do and it is quite scary and very dark, even with my light. I am fortunate for my lantern to help me see the ground at least. Quite a bit of my running has relied on my exquisite memory. I have yet to trip but the cold snow air is harsh and the winds are violent and wild like an untamed horse. As I run, my naked feet slap against the icy ground and the barely visible stones of the path. I prefer to run in dirt or grass not cold slippery rock. My family is much too poor to afford to buy me shoes but I am happy with what I have.
As I continue forward, I see the distant light of my home. It is always a beautiful site to see no matter how light or dark it is outside. It warms me up on the inside just for seeing and smelling it. It makes me feel happy and safe. As I approach my house, I look up at the giant guard snake. She fans out her elegant hood that is a vibrant red and yellow. She hisses sharply at me and gives me a few good smells. Her long purple and black tongue flicks out quite a few times but she eventually calms down and lets me pass her. Normally she is sweet and she would even let me pet her but I think she smells the city off my clothing. She hates the city. She is very loyal and she makes for a better guard than a dog or cat. She probably could swallow 80 dogs or more, I think it would just be a snack for her. The snake only likes to be petted by me. She only has to eat once or twice a week. She normally hunts alone but will stop whatever she is doing if anyone in my family is in danger. She can tell if we are faking. When my grandpa died, she was at the door hours before.
I make my way inside with a gentle kick of the door. “I am home, with the pain relief stuff.” My father quickly gets up from beside my mother and helps me put the plastic bottles and tin boxes down. He proceeds to read them in order to pick through them. “Great work getting these Arthur! This is just was we need. I may have blew our budget for the rest of the month but this is worth it.” I grin to my father with equal enthusiasm as I tie my lantern with the others. Our house is quite small. There are two main rooms. There is a tiny one-person kitchen and a tiny two-person bedroom. The three of us used to share the full sized bed, but with the baby on the way mom gets priority. Dad and I have been sleeping on the floor of the kitchen. The bathroom is outside and is only big enough for one person. The toilet is a massive hole in the ground and the shower and bath is outside with a bucket.
Grandma has her own house with all the amenities. She is the one who built this place so she gets the bigger house. Not that she is greedy it is just because she deserves the best for a woman of her age. She has been living for a little over 130 years. Despite her age, she says she is fit as a fiddle. She often goes into the city to look for a new “Man” or whatever.
I find myself gazing at mom’s big bell. “I hope it is a girl.” My father and mother laugh. “Does it really matter? A long as the baby is healthy we are golden.” I nod in agreement. In reality, it makes me a little worried. If it is a boy, it could be my replacement. The house is not big enough for four of us, let alone a boy that could end up looking like me. He could and probably will be mother and father’s first priority! I will then be left in the dust, out in the cold cruel world to fend for myself. I could be long forgotten, as this could be the end of me. Maybe I am being selfish here. It is true that one day I will go on my own, but I am not ready yet. I am only six! Yeah, I am being selfish and paranoid. The baby deserves the best and the love from mom and dad. It may even need all the love there is to give and I don’t want to be the jerky older brother that would deny him of love.
“Was I that big mom?”
She laughs. “Actually, I think you were a little smaller, but it is hard to tell or compare.” I feel my heart drop a little. Great, the baby is huge. I do not know if I can deal with a giant baby! A giant space hogging brother or sister sounds scary! I soon shake the dramatic idea out of my head. A giant baby would be impossible.
Suddenly my mother’s face contorts in pain and shock. I back away at her reaction. My dad looks at me with a serious smile. “You know the drill little man. Go to grandmas. Tell her the baby is on its way and stay there until tomorrow.” I nod. Then I give mom a kiss and her tummy then I run out the door. I give the snake a goodbye pat then I soon realize I forgot to grab my lantern. I go to open the door but then I hear a scream from my mother and I quickly reject the idea and run. Okay, I will find Grandma’s house without my lantern. Slowly and nervously, I make my way into the dark.