Authors Note: This is a short story, set in the same ficverse
as Missing in Action, and takes place about two years prior to the events
of MIA. Ive included as many characters as I could that have endeared
themselves to myself and my fellow Suikofans. Some I managed to work in,
others I was forced to give a name cameo only, since I couldnt feasibly
think of a way to get them to Iksay for the Harvest Festival.
Also, Im honored to borrow Strayas Ardeth and Jael, and MercWanderers Rachel.
It is going to be a beautiful day tomorrow. I can tell by the sunset. The sky is red, and when its red it is clear. Sadie will bless us with good weather. Thats what the old women in town say. They told me that theyve never had rain on Harvest Days. They said that Sadie likes her festival more than we do. I dont know about that. I never asked her. But I will take their word for it.
The party tomorrow will be exciting and Im just happy to see it all put together. Im sitting on the front step to my house and watching some of the men tend the meat on the pit fire. They are laughing and drinking. I think that boar has been roasting for a day now. By tomorrow it will be fully cooked. Mother said if they cook it that slow it would taste better. I dont really understand that, but I trust her.
The people working in the sunset are fun to watch. But they are not the reason Im out here tonight. I picked up a packed dirt ball and threw it, just to see it explode into a cloud. Then Charlotte walked by and I tossed a big one right at her feet. Shes the girl who lives a few doors down. Shes always coming by and wanting to play. I dont want to play with her. Not because shes a girl, but because shes annoying.
Ryan! She screamed. Its not nice to throw dirt at a lady!
I laughed and then stuck my tongue out her. She hates that more than I hate her screaming.
You are disgusting! She yelled.
I didnt care if she thought I was disgusting. I thought she was a bother. So I started to chase her. I think she likes being chased, so I picked up some more dirt bombs and threw them at her as she ran in circles from me. Oh, and she was still screaming.
And then I heard it. My mother called me in and she sounded mad. She was standing on the steps scowling at me. I stopped in my tracks and Charlotte laughed. I wanted to throw another dirt bomb and hit her right in the back. After curtseying to my mother, she ran off. I know she was happy that I got in trouble.
I half-listened as my mother fussed at me about the way I treat Charlotte. Its all been said before and theres no use in arguing. Shes right. I should be nicer to girls. Father says that someday Ill appreciate them. I doubt that, if theyre anything like Charlotte.
When my mother was done blessing me out, she went inside and got some ears of corn. I knew what was coming next. I was going to have to shuck them. I hate doing that. Its the worst job ever. Id rather muck stalls than do this, because its so boring and because knights have to care for horses but they dont shuck corn. Im going to be a knight so I have to learn those things, but she knows that I hate this so Im sure thats why she makes me do it.
I heard the door close behind me as I was left with the corn. I grabbed an ear and started to peel back the rough green layers. Even though I was mad, I was happy that I got to stay outside. I wanted to be the first to greet Father when he came home. He always came home for the Festival, even with the war going on.
Three ears of corn later, and the little blond hairs from the ears all over my shirt, I was still hopefully looking towards the town gate. The sun was leaving us, and I knew my father wouldnt travel at night if he didnt have to, so I was getting nervous.
Mother opened the door and let me back in. She took two ears of the corn and put them in a pot. I guess Father wasnt coming home after all. Maybe she knew? I dont think so, because she always tells us.
Come on, Ryan, she said, as I gave one last glimpse towards the east. Its getting late and we still have to eat dinner.
And then the door clicked closed.
We ate in silence. I knew Mother was nervous now, because every time a horse would pass the house, shed sit up a little straighter in the hopes it would stop. But each time it happened, they never stopped.
She put Geoffrey to bed right after dinner, but let me stay up a little later. I went to my room and picked up the small gifts I had made for Mother and Father for Harvest. They werent much. Just little cards I made. I made one for Geoff, too, but he cant read so I didnt write anything in it.
I decided to wait and give her the card in the morning, even though we usually gave presents the night before Harvest. Maybe Father is late because he is busy buying her a really special present? Yes. I bet thats what happened. He probably had to go all the way to Vinay del Zexay to get it. Last year he gave her a new pair of earrings. They must have been very expensive.
I went back downstairs and saw her looking out the window. I guess another horse had passed. I asked her to tell me a story about when she was the Captain of the Knights. She gave me a smile and told me it was too late and that I needed to go to bed. She never likes to talk about that, I guess. She always has an excuse. I have to get all the stories from Father and Uncle Borus.