prelude to a sting

Do you remember the girls on the slave boat, up on the lake? When I think about what I have done, I think of the plan they sculpted from whispers out on the dark water. The slavers had bought the police, of course, and the girls themselves were part of the currency; but that meant the girls could whisper to the police as they did to one another, and if the police learned something valuable enough, they might do a favor even for a slave. We listened to them so long that we grew parched and drank muddy water from the lake shore, and watched the kiss they shared, and then crept back to camp, and a few weeks later the Dwarf Island sting was all over the papers and the entire Shore Force was bathing in gold and glory.

I like to think the wit and bravery of those whispering girls bought their freedom. But, even more than that, I like to think that freedom went to the dimmer, more timid children, who could not buy it but were owed it anyway.

To me, this explains what I have done. More likely, the turns of mind that bring someone so sharply up against her trade and country are not so cleanly drawn. But I am satisfied.

(From the story in progress, tentatively titled “Continents of Summer, Firmaments of Sun”)


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