We’re a Go

31 DaysDay 12: ABSENT {the prompt follows at the end of this post}

{start}

We’re a Go

“Tell me again why we’re doing this?” Faith looked at the outside of the building that in the sliver of moonlight looked more like a fortress than a dormitory, which wasn’t too far from the truth, but the night really drove that point home to Faith.

“Come on,” Trinity said, leading the way around to the side of the building to some low-lying bushes where she knelt down and pulled out the gear they would need. She handed Faith some rope, some carabiners and a couple pairs of gloves then adjusted her own pack over her shoulder.

“What does the Force want with Chase?” Faith pressed.

“It’s complicated,” Trinity answered.

“Then simplify it,” Faith said.

“We need to be ready,” Trinity said.

The two girls moved to the backside of the building where they were less likely to be seen by the patrols that tended to stay on the paths. As she surveyed the facade, counting off the floors and the windows to mark Chase’s room in her mind’s eye, Faith flashed a signal with her penlight to Noah who should have been on the roof by this point. A few moments later, Noah lowered a length of nylon zipline down to Faith.

After retrieving the zipline, Faith turned to Trinity. “Chase is a friend of mine,” she said. “Since you don’t even know him, I want to know what’s going on.”

“We’ll talk while we hook up the line.”

Faith didn’t move. “We’ll talk, we’ll start hooking up the line, we’ll talk some more while we work. But first, you tell me why Chase.”

“I know you and Chase are involved –” Trinity started.

Faith cut her off. “Has nothing to do with it. If he’s an asset, we move,” she said, coiling up the extra zipline and moving toward the tree line that bordered the dormitory. “But I want to know what intel we’re acting on.”

“Noah’s his roommate.”

“And?”

“He has access to information we don’t,” Trinity said.

“Such as?”

“We need to secure the line,” Trinity said.

“Why not just bring in Noah?” Faith asked as she hoisted herself up into a tree with the line.

“Because Chase knows more than Noah can uncover.”

“You know this how?” Faith was breathing heavier as she threaded herself through the lower branches in search of the bough she’d marked earlier in the week.

Below her, Trinity moved into the shadows of the trees and whistled a soft, low sound, like an owl, warning Faith that the patrols were passing. The two girls stayed still and quiet for several minutes and Faith’s legs began to ache in her crouched position. Finally, Trinity gave the signal that all was clear.

“Tell me about Noah,” Faith said.

“I met him in the cafeteria three weeks ago. He approached me across the salad bar and said he had some information that he thought could help the Force. So we met a few times.”

“What makes you trust him?” Faith pressed again. She’d seen plenty of people pass through the ranks trying to pass off that they knew something they didn’t. Too many times this had led to people Faith loved getting hurt, even killed. Unlike Trinity, Faith did not trust without evidence or cause. And she trusted Chase.

“Instinct, I suppose,” Trinity said. Above her, Faith dropped the zipline and started down the tree. “What are you doing?”

“Instinct isn’t enough for me,” Faith said, dropping to the ground beside Trinity. She looked Trinity in the eyes then glanced up at the roof where Noah was waiting. “I don’t know Noah,” she said. “But I know Chase. I trust Chase.”

“Based on what?” Trinity asked, turning the tables.

“I’ve seen him cry over the deaths of people we love. Tears, Trinity, not just a sadness or a furrowed brow, but real tears. And I’ve spent hundreds of hours with him. And, truth be told,” Faith swallowed hard, “I’ve been through his things.”

“You’ve what?”

“That’s right. I’ve gone through his things. Every scrap of paper in his room, in his trash, in his journals. I’ve looked through his communications. I’ve been as thorough as if he were the Enemy,” Faith said, looking up at Chase’s window for a moment and then riffling through her pack. She pulled out several envelopes and two crumpled scraps of paper and then sank to the ground, leaning her back against the tree she’d just climbed.

“What did you find?” Trinity asked, lowering herself next to Faith.

Faith removed a folded paper from one of the envelopes and handed it to Trinity and waited, staring up at Chase’s window while Trinity read the letter:

dear Father, I wish that I knew what it was that I should do. Things here are becoming much more volatile and I fear for those I love and for those in the Force who are working desperately to shut down what little voice we have left. Oh, my Father, where are we to turn? What are we to do? I watch Faith as she works her missions; so diligent, so careful, so wanting to do the right thing. But what is the right thing? I trust her. She is good. She does not act without thought or without care. She is….different. How can I help her? Can I help her? How can I help the Force? Father, I don’t believe that the Force is evil; I believe that they are….that they are afraid. But we are all afraid. Certainly we can find 

The letter ends there and Trinity folds it carefully and hands it back to Faith, who unfolds a second letter and places it in Trinity’s hands:

oh, dear, Father….what has happened to our world, to our community…..to us? When did the divide begin? Faith speaks so eloquently of her friends in the Force that I know how deeply she cares for them, nay, how deeply she loves them. And yet, she cares also for me. I fear that Noah is becoming too afraid to last. I think that I have seen him with Trinity, Faith’s friend. The one that Faith considers a sister, having lost her own only a few months ago….

I will not accept that this is what we are meant for, Father…. I will fight for all…for all of us….those in the Force and those who oppose it. Because none are wholly right and none are wholly wrong. Why can’t we all see that?

Oh, Noah….what have you done, my friend?

Trinity took a deep, stuttering breath and folded the paper back into its small rectangle shape and handed it to Faith. When Faith attempted to hand her another paper, Trinity shook her head.

“Chase isn’t perfect, Trinity,” Faith said, “But he has never questioned my motives. He has never threatened to turn me in or tried to convince me that I was wrong for working with you and the Force. He’s strong and he’s honest, in a way that even I don’t understand.”

“I’m sorry,” Trinity said. Her voice is a whisper and she stares straight ahead and Faith can see a tear glistening on Trinity’s cheek in the sliver of moonlight above them.

“I understand,” Faith told her.

“No,” Trinity replied and shook her head. “I’m sorry because I can’t stop this.”

From the roof a light flashes five quick beams into the darkness. It’s the code for we’re a go.

{stop}

{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing.}

Writing Prompt: ABSENT – construct a character who is not present, who is offstage for the entire piece. You have many options here: People may talk about this character before meeting him, or after meeting her; you might choose to examine what this character owns, how he lives, and under what conditions; you might use indirect approaches, like letters or documents that attest to the existence but not presence of the person. How do we know of people? {Exercise 30 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. Note, this is an affiliate link}

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6 thoughts on “We’re a Go

  1. This one really had me glued to the screen. I feel like it was well thought out and very deep. I think you could tie a couple of these together for a novel. Are you really into the dystopian themes?

    • judith heaney says:

      That’s a tough question, really. I’ve read a lot of young adult dystopian novels and I guess there’s something about them that draws me in. It probably started with The Giver. I like what you can do in a dystopian story; that it can be something bigger, you know?

      Would you believe that one of the first novels I wrote was a young adult novel about a group of high school senior guys who play hockey? Nothing dystopian about it and still one of my favorites. I think I just like to write and I want to tell stories that challenge people to consider their world and how they live in it.

    • judith heaney says:

      I need to know at some point, too. I’ve collected a number of potential stories to focus on, which is part of the motivation for this challenge for me.

      The next challenge? The finishing 😉 I’m hoping to take one of these and run with it from start to finish during National Novel Writing Month next month. I may conduct a poll to see what stories folks have a strong connection to.

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