Conflict of Interests

Tira glanced up from the ceramic bowl that she used to rub in dough as her fourteen-year-old son bounded into the kitchen.  Rhys usually bounded wherever he went.

“I had a dream last night about being a tracer.”  He stopped beside her and peered into the container.

Oh, knickers, not that rubbish again.  She had to look up slightly because he was already getting taller than her.  He’d just returned from morning chores and still hadn’t combed his hair, so the brown follicles were sticking in every direction.

“Where’s your tad?”

“You’re trying to change the subject.”  Rhys smirked.  “Or are you calling in reinforcements?”

“I don’t need reinforcements to keep you in line.”

His smirk deepened, much like how his father would smile when up to mischief.  “Tad wanted to scout the edge of the woods for chanterelles.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t go with him.”

“Still trying to change the subject.”  Rhys stepped to her other side and scanned the counter, probably hoping to discover a hapless ingredient he could toss into that bottomless pit masquerading as his stomach.  “You know, you can’t ultimately stop me from being a tracer.”

Tira grasped the edge of the bowl, the flour on her fingers providing extra grip, and locked her gaze on him.  “But the council can, which your tad and I are members of.  You know good and well why you can’t be a tracer, and your skills can be put to good use in other ways.”

“But I have unique skills.”  He bounced to the icebox and opened it.

A tremor rose from the pit of her own stomach.  “Which is exactly how they’ll figure out who you are.”

She could have added another statement, but the words were too sour to permit past her lips.

“I can keep the Legion from discovering whose son I am,” he said to the inside of the box.

“You just underestimated your enemy.”  Her fingers dipped back into the dough and curled into it with higher fervor.  “One good reason of many not to be a tracer.”

“You’re grasping for excuses.”

He closed the icebox and returned to her side in one long stride and a short step, half-full milk bottle clasped in one hand.  When he twisted off the lid and proceeded to drink from it, Tira didn’t scold him.  Rhys would easily finish it off.

She pulled her hands from the dough and rubbed its remnants off her fingers and into the bowl.  “Facts are not excuses.”

“There’s no fact they’ll discover who I am.  The Legion wants to kill all of us anyway, Mam, so how does my becoming a tracer really change anything?”

Ach, he’d gone and done it.  He’d practically said what she despised to utter.  Tira drew a deep breath to calm her increasing tremor because now she was going to have to speak those words.

She delivered her statement slowly and deliberately.  “If they find out who you are, they will kill you, and they will … take their time.  Never forget they nearly killed your tad years ago, and his power is greater than yours.”

“They were specifically looking for him.  One advantage of growing up in an underground society is we’re good at keeping secrets.  What if I promise that if I even suspect they’re figuring me out, I’ll withdraw from the tracer program?”

His proposal was surreal.  Rhys had mentioned interest in this vocation a handful of times over the past year, and he already knew why his parents were against it.

“Why you are trying to convince me?”  Tira picked up a hand towel on the end of the counter and wrung it as she wiped off her hands.  “Have you mentioned it to Tad this morning?”

“No, I thought I’d talk it over with you, first.”

“Trying to soften me up?  You should know that won’t work.”

He took another swig from the bottle, almost draining it, and studied her as he lowered it.  “My dream about being a tracer isn’t just some nocturnal vision.  I know I’d be good at this, and I like to travel and I like solving riddles and I like – using weapons.”

“And do you like having diabolical beings try to kill you?”

“Well,” he shrugged, and that impertinent smirk curled his lips again.  “Every job does have its drawbacks.”

“You’re refusing to take into account –”

From the mudroom that connected to the kitchen, the rattle of the back door opening interrupted her.  Rhys drained the bottle, set it on the counter, and flashed a grin at her.

“We’ll have to finish this later.  I’ll wash up for breakfast.”  And he romped across the kitchen to the stairs that he clamored up.

Tira stared after him, debating if she should call him back down and have his father settle the issue.  Settle?  Rhys knew why they were against his taking up such a dangerous occupation, especially one all the more dangerous for him.  Yet he wouldn’t let the matter drop.

To make it worse, he did have a point.  He would be good at being a tracer, tracking down and neutralizing creatures seeking the destruction of humanity.  He was, after all, his father’s son.

The fact his strength and his weakness were the same only muddled the matter … perhaps more than she’d been willing to admit earlier.  When his dream was her nightmare, was that all it took to prove she and his father were right?  Tira cast a glance toward her husband as he entered the kitchen.

No, Rhys should have to be the one to tell him about still wanting to be a tracer.


Here’s my story this month for #BlogBattle, and this time the word is Dream.  You’ll want to be sure to check out all the other contributions!

Wait Until After the Chickens Explode

Fall is a busy season around here.  Some crops in the garden are basically done, but some keep going until the first frost.  The other day we were warned such an event might happen, so I picked all the tomatoes.  Between the different varieties and levels of ripeness, the harvest turned out quite colorful:


Peanuts take the whole growing season, but frost meant it was time to harvest them, also.  Peanuts are weird.  Their tops bend to the soil so their seeds can grow underground.  This is what they look like when you pull them up:


Speaking of nuts (although peanuts are actually legumes), this is also the time of year those begin falling from the trees and bushes.  We’ve got black walnut, hickory, and hazelnuts growing around here, and trying to encourage pecans to take up residence.  You can see them here:


But summer has to end before fall advances, and one sign that we’ve reached that time of year is the chickens begin molting.  Their old feathers fall out as new feathers grow in.  And who knows, maybe that layer of feathers on the chicken coop floor helps them stay warm through the winter.  Regardless, it looks like they’ve been exploding:


So what’s the point of this ramble?  Maybe it’s a gentle reminder that sticking to a schedule helps us to accomplish things … like posting a blog … yeah, that sounds good….