The City (Chapter One *New*)
Posted July 26th, 2012 by LizzieS
in a world of my own
Note: Let me explain. I hate stories where they give completely no background and just jump into the action, so I tried to add a little more background for Linnea before all the epic stuff happens. This is a NEW CHAPTER, but instead of following Chapter 4 (now 5) it PRECEDES CHAPTER 1 (now 2). This chapter is kind of slow, but whatever. I think it's good. What do you think? Should I keep it, or just go with the original first chapter (which is now chapter two)?
And I'll take all the CC I can get. :)
“Why do you live here?”
I looked up from the bowl, startled. Alida tilted her head from her position at the other corner of the kitchen, leaning against the counter. I shrugged and turned back to the wooden spoon in my hand, and pulled it in a circle, mixing the batter into a sticky muck.
“No, seriously. Why?”
I groaned and turned back to her, leaving the spoon in the bowl. “What do you mean?”
“Why do you live here? Your parents aren’t farmers.”
She was right. I had lived on a farm all my life, and in all of those thirteen years, I had never worked in the fields or with a farm animal. I’d only pulled out weeds once or twice, and the sheep and pigs probably didn’t know who I was.
Alida knew all about life on a farm. She helped her dad in the fields all the time, and she loved to work with animals. Her mom had sheep. I’d only seen them once or twice, but they smelled bad and I didn’t like the feel of their wool. Hedy loved them. Every time she came over here to see Mariah, she talked on and on about her beautiful sheep.
Alida and Hedy’s family were farmers to the bone. When they grew up, both of them were going to be farmers, and their children would be, too. Mariah and I were a different story.
I shrugged. “I dunno. Mom and Dad like it here. Why?”
Alida frowned and turned back to the bowl where she was making the icing. I turned back to my own bowl. The batter looked like it had been mixed enough. I reached down into the cupboard below the counter and pulled out a shining pan. I plopped it up on the counter and steadied the bowl with two hands as I poured the batter into the mold.
I heard Alida slink up behind me as I did it, so when she poked me in the sides, I merely flinched.
“What the heck, Alida! You almost made me spill this!”
Alida flashed a grin and pushed her dark hair out of her eyes. “Exactly my point.” Giggling, she pulled herself up to sit on the countertop, her bare feet swinging in the air. “So,” she announced suddenly, changing the subject, “you never answered my question.”
“Why we live here?” I clarified, lifting the pan of batter off of the counter and carrying it carefully across the kitchen to the oven.
“Yeah. You could live anywhere in this whole world, and your family lives here, in Claiton. And you’re not even farmers.”
I hugged the pan to my chest, balancing it with one hand as the other reached out and pulled the oven door open. I shoved the cake in and slammed the door quick, wiping my brow as I did so. “I heard that in the cities, people don’t even have to make their own food anymore,” I said as I turned the timer on and turned the knob, adjusting the temperature.
All I heard from Alida was her heels thumping against the counter, so I continued.
“I think we live here because Mom likes everything more… I dunno, old-fashioned. More like how it was when she and Dad were growing up. In some farming towns, like here, we still have to do most things manually. You know.”
“And out there, in the cities,” I continued, crossing to the window over the sink, “they have all the robots and machines and stuff. They have their hovers and seeglasses and automated closets and a lot more stuff that we don’t even know about but are normal to them.”
“Imagine your dad in a hover.”
I snickered but kept going. Outside Mom was setting up the table for the party tomorrow, spreading the plastic tablecloth over the folding table we had gotten out of Dad’s truck that morning. Mariah was out there, too, playing tag with Hedy and a few other kids from houses down the road. “Anyway, I guess Mom didn’t want me and Mariah to live in a world where we don’t have to do anything. And Claiton was the only place where that was possible.”
I leaned over and rested my elbows on the windowsill, letting the fresh summer air blow in on my face. My hair blew around my neck, and the sleeves of my t-shirt shivered. For a moment I forgot about Mariah’s cake, and that Alida was still there, with a whole bowl of chocolate icing.
Taking a deep breath of fresh air, I slowly turned around, only to find Alida standing behind me with the bowl of icing in one hand, a spoon in the other, and a demonic grin on her face.
“You like icing, right?”
I started to respond when Alida pulled the spoon full of chocolate icing back and flung the goo at me. I screamed and lunged at her, pulling the bowl out of her hands. I took a step and she laughed, pushing the bowl into my face. I pulled my head out and stumbled for a moment, licking the chocolate off my mouth as Alida laughed a few feet away.
“You should’ve seen your face!” she squealed, doubling over with laughter.
I took that as an opportunity to dump the bowl on her own head.
It only made Alida laugh harder. She grabbed the edges of the bowl and began to run in circles around the kitchen, bumping into countertop after countertop. I felt my sides ache from laughter, and I ran at her as she stumbled near the oven. I pulled the bowl off her head to find all her dark brown hair covered in milky brown chocolate. Laughing, I reached into what was left of the icing in the bowl and got some on my finger. I traced the chocolate in a line under Alida’s nose. She laughed and did the same to me. Sooner or later we collapsed onto the kitchen floor in a fit of giggles. I’m not sure how long we sat there, laughing at our chocolate moustaches and our icing-covered heads.
I just know that the fun ended the second my mom walked in.
We stopped laughing at once and looked at each over. Whoops.
“What are you doing?”
Alida looked up at the snarling figure standing over us and smiled angelically. She pointed to the nearly empty bowl in her lap. “We’re baking a cake, Mrs. Merlo.”
I could feel Mom’s frustration pulsing off of her as the gazed about her kitchen, taking in the chocolate staining the floor and the timer on the oven still innocently ticking away. Her gaze finally landed on me and Alida, sprawled out on the floor, icing all over our faces and hair.
Mom sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, closing her eyes. Alida and I glanced at each other before glancing back at her, waiting for the final decision.
Back in the house, I heard the screen door slam open and shut again as someone raced inside. I tried to hide my grin as Mariah skidded into the kitchen in her socks, her curly hair sticking out everywhere. “Mom-my,” she called as she slid in, but then she became distracted as she saw us. The four-year-old’s eyes grew wide at the sight of the mess before her, and a grin spread on her face.
“Mariah–” Mom warned, but it was useless. Mariah was already snatching the bowl from Alida’s lap. She dumped it on her head and danced about the kitchen, her black curls sticking out from under the bowl. She giggled and, as she passed Alida and me, suddenly changed direction and plopped down into my lap, flinging the bowl from her head. It landed with a bonk and rolled in circle for a moment before resting over near the far wall.
Alida laughed and Mariah joined in. It was hard for me not to join in, as well. Stifling my giggles, I looked up at Mom. She still stood there, her arms crossed, her legs sticking out from under her shorts. She stood silently for a moment, glaring down at the three of us, before sighing and breaking out in a smile. She dropped her arms and stepped over to where the bowl lay on the floor.
“Well,” she laughed, picking the bowl up and setting it on the counter, “if there’s any way to bake a cake for Mari, this is the way to do it.”
Alida and I laughed then, and Mariah joined in, kissing my cheek with chocolate lips.
Word Count: 1,444
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