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!

15 thoughts on “Conflict of Interests

  1. The underplot of why they are an underground society in fear of their lives or discovery of what they are usurped by teenager railing against mum’s wishes. How often do parents encounter this one. “I can do it and you can’t stop me!” Old head on new shoulders must be learnt by experience. Teenagers think nobody is wiser than them kind of thing. This aspect threads right through this piece Abe. Even have mum gripping the bowl as he catches her with the truth that all patients skip round at some point. “You can’t do that.” “Why?” Best defence, “Because.” Teenager leaves with a smirk.

    I found that discourse rich in memory recall of my own parenting years ago haha.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Very true! I remember the first time the treat McD’s ended with “Can we use the drive through?” The year growing up suddenly found parent an embarrassment to be seen in public with 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

      • Reminds me of the joke about the guy who, as a child, thought his father was wise, and in adolescence figured out what an imbecile his dad really was. Once he became an adult, however, he was amazed at how much the old man had learned in a few years!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The mix of eras adds to the interest in this story. Initially a reader could believe this might be set in the pre-Renaissance era of many Fantasy narratives, however Rhys’ style of conversation and Tira’s internal dialogue can be placed in our time, and overall theme taking place in Anytime. This allows the imagination of the reader to roam free in picturing the setting, always a refreshing take.
    Both Rhys and Tira come alive through their conversations, being the age old struggle of parent and uppity teenager, also giving enough information for ‘Tad’ to be a three-dimensional figure as well.
    We can see there is a deadly struggle in place between these two groups, however we don’t really truly know if these are actually two the authorities would have wiped out locked into their own private war, another layer of speculation, and I do like speculation in a story.
    Most certainly begs a longer story Aeb.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “bottomless pit masquerading as his stomach” made me chuckle. The entire thing was so relatable – we’ve all been the kid who wants to do something the parents don’t necessarily endorse and some of us have been don’t the other end, too.

    This chapter definitely made us want more. Is there anything that can make the kid rethink his dream? What are the factions at play? Where will this all go?

    Liked by 1 person

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