Stars

Have ta keep working while we talk, ‘k?  My sister’s comin’ around from the other direction.  We race and I don’t want her to beat me again this time.  My Mom and the twins are prepping for us; she kneads together the ingredients and the twins polish.  Don’t know how she watches those two and gets anything done.  She’s amazing, ya know; she’s the school lunch lady during the week and takes in ironing on the weekend.  Sis and I cut grass and do odd jobs.  Whatever we’re doing, though, we all meet here as soon as real dark sets in.  We’re a family; we pull together. We get by, but it isn’t easy, you know.  What’s that? Why doesn’t my dad help? He was conscripted.  He was a good, hard-worker until they drafted him to fight the Galactic Empire.  He’s home now; sent him home early on account of his injuries.  He got hit by mentality-agents on his first campaign.  All he does is sit with his eyes rolled up toward the sky like he’s countin’ stars.

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Photographer/designer unknown.  I’ve only been able to trace it to various Pinterest sites.  I wrote this based on this image when it was used as a writer’s prompt by writerslife.org  – Vera

Holy Prince

It’s an honor. I can’t believe how lucky I was. They choose 32 others before they even thought of me. Not even 32 – they picked the 33 Sacrifices but somebody refused; I wasn’t told who, but technically that makes me 34. I can’t imagine why anyone would refuse, but they did, and now here I am; talk about being blessed. The old ritual hanged the Chosen by wrists and ankles, but lower is easier for the Sacrifices. Our legs are strong, especially the back two, but they aren’t very long. Between that and dipping our heads to aim, we often missed and ended up gouging off a leg, sometimes both legs, and the Chosen bled-out during the ceremony.  After that happened enough times, they started sitting them directly on the ground. Most of them scream. Some cry. A few fight and run. Not the prince. He crossed his legs and steeled his back as if having 33 horns ran through him was the most natural thing in the world. His face was like stone except once when 17’s horn caught on something inside and wouldn’t go through. The prince’s face paled; blood pulsed from the wound in long spurts as 17 pulled the tusk back out. Warriors grabbed the prince’s arms and held him immobile while 17 impaled him a second time. What an incompetent buffoon — 17 didn’t even make it to the sacred circle before dying. That won’t happened to me. I’m not embarrassing myself like that; uh-uh; no-way. My parents are here somewhere; they promised they would be, but my vision is too blurry to pick out anybody in this crowd. It’s such a huge turnout. Wait, wait, I’m next. Okay. Deep breath. Deep breath. Here goes. For God, the Empire, and Eternity within the Holy Prince!

#FlashFiction
Based on the National Geographic photo that goes with this article: http://bit.ly/2yKnQ8A (Admittedly a flight of fancy)