Prompt: Write a brief scene illustrating an important moment in your character’s past (before you started playing them).
Define “brief”. Three parts? Well ok…
“Stand up straighter!”
Her mother’s accented voice was hard to miss, even with all of the commotion of rehearsal. Her mother was always around somewhere, even when she couldn’t be seen. She told fortunes and read palms and tea leaves for the little traveling company they belonged to, and seemed to have a sixth sense about her.
With a groan she complied, pressing her shoulders down to lengthen her neck. Knife practice was unnerving, mostly because she was usually the target. She stood up against a round, flat piece of wood, secured at her wrists, but it was mostly just to keep her hands still rather than true restraint. Though she’d never so much as had a scratch, there had been a few close calls, one involving a length of her dark hair falling to the floor.
At least it hadn’t been her ear.
The practice was arduous, but for good reason. If any variable was different; if she was standing an inch to the left, if her head was tilted, if her posture not absolutely straight, it could mean disaster. She fully trusted her partner, a bald man named Renaldo who wore a waxed mustache and had crooked teeth. He had been in the business nearly all his life and had honed his craft so that he could do it blindfolded.
That one always had people on the edge of their seats.
The day was hot and stagnant. She longed to be free of practice to run about and do what most girls of late teen years would do: watch the hands unload their gear from the caravan. She saw her sister over Renaldo’s shoulder. Daedess was nearly as tall as her, but with fewer curves. She was not her sister by blood, but she was her oldest and closest friend and thus, they were as close as siblings might be, or what she imagined they might be. Daedess was doing a nearly spot-on impression of Renaldo, but Lily did not so much as snicker, keeping her focus on the tip of Renaldo’s ear. She felt the wind of it as the knife embedded itself about three inches past her left cheek. Only then did she crack a grin, but soon wiped it from her expression to focus. The next two hit their mark just over her head and next to her torso.
It was on the next throw that her attention was pulled away from Renaldo, and Daedess, and knife practice to the tall, muscular body which had come to stand behind all of them. A pair of blue eyes studied her from afar and she met his gaze and held it for a moment before dipping her eyes a bit with a slight smirk. Her left arm flinched as she did, and instead of hitting the board behind her, the knife stuck fast in her sleeve, causing her to gasp. She blinked and looked first to Renaldo who was already approaching to check on her, but it was her mother’s voice that rang out above them, having appeared seemingly from thin air.
This time she was bustling over to make sure she wasn’t injured. She began chittering in a foreign language as she looked her over, standing her up straight and causing Lily to roll her eyes.
“I am fine, mum, honestly.”
The woman scoffed at that, chiding her daughter as she helped free her from where she was bound. “Chai don’t know when she is fine. Only her daia can see she is fine. Avree with you! Be back in an hour to prepare for tonight.” She tutted and shook her head and went back to where she had appeared from.
Renaldo shook his head with an exasperated sigh as he drew a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the sweat from his bald head. “Enough practice for today.”
Daedess approached as the commotion died down and stood at her shoulder, facing the same direction. Her eyes found what had caught Lily’s attention. “He’s a looker.” , she muttered, glancing at Lily sidelong.
Lily glanced back with the same look, and a soft chuckles as she replied, “What?”
Daedess rounded to face her, wearing a wide grin as she teased, “He was the distraction.”.
Lily rolled her eyes and pushed past her, but didn’t exactly deny it. “I haven’t seen him before. That’s all.”
Daedess chortled in response, and met Lily with a mischievous expression and a bit of sing-song in her reply, “Want me to introduce you? I bet he is…fun.” Her eyebrows waggled to punctuate the insinuation.
Lily replied, attempting to sound nonchalant, “I think I can manage that if I want, thanks.”
After a last gaze over her shoulder, the object of their attention smirked and turned the opposite direction. They made their way out past the tents to the grass beyond to stretch out on the grass and soak up the last of the day’s sun.
An hour or so later, Lily returned to her caravan to find her mother preparing for the evening performance. She had donned her own costume, which featured a belt made up of hundreds of metal loops chained together that made a pleasant sound when she moved, and a silk scarf that covered much of her long, dark hair.
“Chavi!” She said sharply as she brushed out her hair, “You are late. Come, sit or you will be later!”
Lily rolled her eyes and sighed as her mother fussed over her, plaiting her hair, lining her eyes with kohl, and fitting her costume. There was no use arguing about it. She gazed into the mirror she had sat herself in front of, and her mother’s reflection met her own. She had her mother’s olive skin and dark hair, but her eyes, as her mother always told her, were the eyes of her father, whoever he was. He was a secret her mother didn’t like to talk about, a fact which intrigued Lily to no end, but her mother was a stubborn woman and would always change the subject.
Once she was prepared, they both made their way to the main tent, where the other performers had gathered to get ready for the show. Lily made her way to Daedess, who was leaning casually up against a wall of hay bales.
“There he is,” she said, with a coy smile turned toward where the drivers and hands stood, watching them.
Lily took only a peek, but Daedess was already in motion, sauntering slowly over in their direction with a hand on her hip. Lily took issue with the way she was so bold and vulgar. Caravan girls were raised very chaste, and taught just enough about flirting to keep a man’s interest without throwing themselves at them. How did she ever expect to find a husband if she flirted so shamelessly? She could see Daedess looking her way and she gave a sigh, rolling her eyes at her, but eventually she wanders over to pull Daedess aside.
“What are you doing? You’re going to give them…”
“Give them what? The wrong idea? Lighten up, Lil. It’s just a bit of fun. Besides, that one likes you.”,
Daedess pointed off in the direction of the same she had come from. The men had started to disperse, except for the familiar pair of blue eyes that met Lily’s when she looked in that direction. She immediately looked away, chancing a glance back with a soft smirk as she finally disappeared inside the tent, with Daedess tugging at her hand.
The show went as it usually did, and the girls stood outside, after getting out of their costumes, packing things up into trunks. They were nearly finished when Lily felt a tap at her shoulder and turned around to see the same young man she had seen before standing over her.
“What-…oh.”, she felt a bit of warmth in her cheeks as she turned to look at him, with his charming smile.
“Th’ name’s Rihnn.”, he offered, extending his hand lightly. She took it, but her hand offered little in the handshake.
“Rihnn.”, she repeated, dumbly. A moment of silence followed before she cleared her throat and remembered her manners.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Li-” , she smiled and bowed her head slightly.
“Lily.”, the same charming smile widened, “I was thinkin’ I might go for a walk, and wanted t’know if you’d like t’come along.”
He had found out her name! Her heart skipped a beat when he said it.
“Oh…I…I’m not…”, she felt a sharp nudge at her ribs where Daedess discreetly poked her side, causing her to jump. “I mean, I can’t be gone long.”
“Good. Follow me, then.” , he gestured toward the expanse of pasture just beyond the tents, and a small hill which overlooked it all.
Lily nodded and found herself reluctantly following him, but she didn’t know that they were being watched. Her mother stood outside their little caravan, shaking her head as she watched the couple move off on their own. She would wait until Lily returned to lecture her about it.