July 19, 2014 by Lyn Thorne-Alder
“Now, remember, Enrie, you’ve got to get good grades at the Academy, and you can’t goof off the way you did at the provincial schools.” Enerenarie’s mother fussed with Enrie’s braids, the lay of her vest, the way her shirt sleeves sat, and, finally, with the triple poof of her skirt. Enrie held still for it, because there was only so much you could do when Diplomat Arezhlyiarezha decided she was going to do something.
“Be respectful to your teachers, keep the pranks to a minimum and, by all that the Three oversee, do not light anyone on fire. We had to finesse more than a few things to get you into this school, and you need top marks at Edally to see you through into a Diplomat position.”
“But what if I don’t want to be a Diplomat? What if I want to be a sailor, or an Engineer, or a courtesan?”
She watched her mother’s mouth pinch, her father’s chest rise as he drew in air, the way her mother reached for the long dangles of her sleeves as if getting ready to do something strenuous. She waited until they’d built up a head of steam, and until she could tell they were just about to blow… and then she laughed.
“Relax, relax. I understand my situation; I know I have to do well here and not set anyone on fire.” She imitated her mother’s tone with the ease of practice – and a large number of hearings of that particular phrase to boot. “And I certainly, absolutely, with no doubt know that the choice ahead of me is to be a Diplomat, or some very rich man’s very attractive way to add a vowel to the beginning of his children’s names.” Which did not sound that fun to her – even less fun than the other options. “After all, what else do surplus royal cousins do?”
“There’s no use sugar-coating it, Arezha.” Enrie’s father was so much more practical about these things. “Enrie knows what the score is.” Instead of more lectures, he hugged her. “Do well, daughter. I know you can.”
And that struck home more than any lecture. Enrie coughed to hide a sniffle. “Yes, yes, of course.”