Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Four Stars Chapter Sixteen

Previous chapter: A Resolution of An Upsetting Week.

Chapter Sixteen: Hera's Day Out.

It was a Friday. Of course it had to be a Friday. Hera blinked as the sunlight peeped into her room. That meant one thing, a weekend! Hera got out of bed and strolled to the washroom to clean herself up. After she finished, she looked in the living room. There was a note on the table. It read:
Hera, we're working a bit late today. Do what you want. ~Isabel.
"I'd better not waste this chance," thought Hera. "I can sing to my heart's content today without getting scolded by Attie."
The blue-eyed woman then remembered the flowers! She would have to water them first. Hera hummed a tune by Vivaldi as she watered the bluebells, which turned into a recital of an old pop hit. "Let's twist again, like we did last summer. Yeaah, twist again, like we did last year," Hera sang, going completely out of tune. She put away the watering can and looked at the crossroads.

Hera strolled down the road, whistling the tune to Chubby Checker's Twist instead of singing it. She headed towards the large park in the middle of the housing estate.

Hera snarled for fun.
When Hera got there, there was a crowd of adults. She decided to play the violin as she walked towards the pirate playset. Heads turned towards her as she covered the Pink Panther theme. Hera then put away her violin as she finished and asked the lone little boy if he wanted a monster attack. The boy nodded, and Hera got into the role.

"Leviathan to starboard! Three o'clock! Man the guns!" the boy yelled. Hera snarled and hopped about as the boy pretended to be afraid. It went on until the boy got tired of playing. As Hera sat on a nearby bench, the boy joined her.
"What's your name?" Hera asked the boy. "I'm Hera."

"Vernon," he replied. "That's a funny name to have."

"So is yours," Hera replied. "We've both got odd names. Mine's after the queen of Olympus."

The boy nodded in agreement. "What do you like to do, Hera?" he asked.

"I like a good nap, great games, and show tunes," said Hera. "How about you?"

"I want adventures, and lots of food."

"You must have a big appetite."

"That's what my momma says. Could I have your email?"

"Sure, why not?" said Hera, as she wrote down her email in Vernon's phone, and wrote the boy's email in her phone. They continued to talk after that.

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It was hours before Hera got home, just before Isabel came back from work. It was still afternoon. Hera yawned and made some quick cheese sauce with boiled macaroni for dinner. She then had a nap after keeping the food.

Isabel came back and checked the fridge, noting Hera's cooking. "Greasy stuff," said Isabel. "Fine once in a while."

The elder Lion sat down to watch the news, and was halfway through a piece on a Christmas parade when Francesca came in. Isabel glanced at her cousin, who skulked upstairs. Isabel turned off the television and followed her.

Francesca stood at the easel and muttered to herself, "Stupid jobs, stupid everything. I mean, net is cheap, but pennies for pieces aren't going to cut it."

Isabel asked, "Did work go badly for you?"

Francesca looked up in surprise from the figure she was painting. "Work's fine, why?" she asked.

"You were muttering about penny pieces. What are you talking about, really?"

"It's the freelance jobs available now, they used to be good, now they're mostly spam save for a rare few," Francesca complained. Isabel nodded to be polite.
Francesca complains.
"Then again, my god! You should see some of the so-called requirements. Write ten articles to post in a day?! Unless you want an example of spam letters, you can't ask that of most people." Francesca shouted. "The wages? Worst I've seen. It's almost insulting," she said, putting some finishing touches on the shadowy portrait.

Isabel shrugged. "Think you'd better stick to proofreading an established magazine house's works," she said. Francesca painted a pair of frowning light blue eyes on the portrait.

"I'm considering sending my short story to a reputable sci-fi site once I finish it. Not going to give any spoilers."

"You don't have to constantly spout about your work. Spend that talking time on refining your craft," Isabel remarked. "Have you heard of the saying to put your light under a bushel?"

"I've heard the one about the tallest nail getting struck down from my Nona-oba."

"That's not what I meant," said Isabel. "I meant it's better to surprise people with an ability you don't show off often. Be humble, that sort of thing."

Francesca didn't reply. She stepped back from the painting after scribbling a red border.
A dark portrait.
"Who's that?"
Isabel took one look at the dark figure on the canvas and said, "Is that Hera?"

"No, unless Hera used to go around with her hair down. I don't recall her doing that."

"Who is it then?"

"Alice? You know, the one who fell down the rabbit hole and ended up in Wonderland?"

"I thought she was a blonde, and not as shadowy."

"The McGee version," Francesca said. "To be honest, I still prefer the Disney adaptation."

"You're an odd duck. One would think you like the macabre and morbid because you professed to be a Goth in high school."

"Not every Goth wants gloom and doom in everything. There's still room for lightheartedness in my case," said Francesca. She went downstairs and Isabel followed to join Hera for dinner.

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"Attie's still late," said Hera. "Just got that message."

Francesca looked at the macaroni and said, "Hera, why don't you try adding boiled mushrooms to the sauce next time?"

"I didn't have the time, I might next time," said Hera. She was glad things were getting back to normal.

Next chapter: Scary Saturday.

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