It’s been 364 days since my older brother, Jasper, left for the war. We receive a check for his “good deeds″ every week from the royal bank. I’ve waited for these past 364 long and dreadful days, praying he will return home safely. The New Class, sinister men and women trying to take control over the kingdom, have joined forces and arised. My best friend, Penny, has already lost her dad in this terrible war against The New Class. I beg this won’t happen to my family. I used to be such a sweet young girl, the pride and joy and the blossoming flower of my moms life. Now everything has changed. Bombs explode nearby villages. The New Class army men make us cower in fear as their jets fly by. The streets have become fearful, dangerous, and chaotic. I must be fierce to not be killed. I must protect myself, my mother, and my younger sister, Lily. But most of all, I must hope my spirits are not crushed like a dry autumn leaf under a heavy boot.
“Daisy,” my sister runs up to me cheerfully as the sun rises and the birds chirp around us, “Daisy, look what I did!” Lily grasps a small canvas in her hands, facing the back towards me. She looks very eager to show me what I assume is a painting that she painted herself. I turn my full attention towards her, as I lean forward on the garden chair. “It’s for you,” she says, turning the painting. It’s a wonderful picture of a small pond and a patch of grass, a daisy sprouting at one end of the painting, and a lily pad floating on the other end.
“Lily, this is wonderful!” I say, truly admiring her talented style of painting. It’s so symbolic, showing a bond between us and our names. “You are so creative and smart and sweet and I love you so much.” I hug her before she gets the chance to skip away, with the biggest smile on her face. The sun always seems to shine brighter when she’s around. I look out into the shining lake behind our house, pondering the thought of Lily ever having to face war. I could handle it, I can handle all of this chaos now, but imagining that fragile sweet child ever changing makes me want to yell and scream and cry. She could be a fantastic artist someday. She could live a great life, if only things would change.
I see and smell my mother baking something through the open kitchen window. As I walk towards our bright green back door to go inside, I think of the bond between me Jasper, similar to me and Lilys, and sigh. Oh, how today is already feeling long. The kitchen distracts my mind with the fresh scent of biscuits and cinnamon rolls.
“Daisy, could you set the table please?” My mother asks me after the creaky back door shuts.
“Sure mom,” I reply. The plates are delicate, and I place them on the table, admiring the handiwork. I set the flower-lined table cloths down, the glass cups, and the silver utensils. We’re lucky to be fortunate enough to even own fine dining.
“Daisyyy,” My sister calls out to me from somewhere in the house. Confused, I look towards where I heard her, but she isn’t there. “Boo!” she screams from behind me, “tag, you’re it!”
“Ha! We’ll see about that.” I run towards her, and she turns a corner into the hallway. I tag her, she tags me, and we go about the next few minutes playing around. When she’s the tagger again, I tiptoe around the dining room, wondering where she has snuck away to. I know she’s somewhere waiting attack. I try to hear for her footsteps, but her tiny nine year old feet probably don’t make the floor creak like my sisxteen year old ones do.
The next thing I know, I’m being tackled by Lily. She gets on my back as I stumble forward, but manages to jump off before I accidentally slip onto the table top. A few plates and cups slide off with me and crash to the floor.
“Daisy, are you alright?” Both my mom and my sister question as they run towards me.
“I’m fine." A wave of shock runs through me. "Just a few shards in my hand I think. Nothing Hospital worthy,” I reply, wincing. My mother sighs as she looks at the broken plates and cups that she and my older brother had worked and suffered for so long to pay for. The war really hasen't helped our economic status.
“I-I’m sorry. It’s my fault,” Lily says, looking down at her feet.
“Lily, no, I should have been more careful, It wasn’t your fault. Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ll get cleaned up and we can go down to Main Square and buy more. Together!” I look at Lily and smile as she nods. Her beautiful blue eyes twinkle in the windows sunlight. My mom, on the other hand, is not so happy.
“Daisy, she’s only nine!” My mom argues. “It’s dangerous by the palace.” Me and my mom fuss for a bit, but I finally get my way. Later, after the painful process of using tweezers to get the glass out of my hand, me and Lily head out.
We silently walk along the cobblestone path, following the signs pointing in the direction of the royal part of the kingdom. The trees in the forest around us sway in the wind while the birds chirp a melody.
“I miss Jasper,” Lily whispers, “I never really saw him because of his work in the mines, but… He was a good brother.”
“I miss him too,” I sigh, looking away. Lily is so young and doesn’t have many memories with him. The two years before Jasper left, he worked in the mines from sunrise to sunset to get money for our family. Now he's far away on a battle feild somewhere. Shooting, gunning men down, getting shot at...
As we arive at Main Square, I whisper for Lily to stay close, which she already seems to be doing. I try to avoid the rich folk, pickpocketters, beer drinkers, and other sketchy people. We round the corner and head to the ice cream store, as promised. Lily picks out the cotton candy flavor, marveling over the bright colors that we rarely see in foods nowadays. Later, we go to the market and pick up some utensils, plates, and other goods.
Lastly, we head to the post office, as mom instructed, to pick up any letters or mail. The door rings a bell as me and Lily walk in and we wait in line for the other townsfolk to pick up their mail.
"ID, please," The lady at the front desk asks. I show her my citizenship card and she goes into the backroom to pick up anything we might be receiving. She comes back with a few magazines that mostly look like ads and a letter. I dump the ads into the trashcan on the way out as Lily holds the letter in her hands.
“Daisy…” Lily whispers softly.
“Yeah?” I respond.
“This says it’s from the army.”
“What? Is it from Jasper? Is it…” I try not to finish my sentence, knowing it would hurt Lily’s heart so much to even think for a second that Jasper might have been killed in battle. I can’t even break the hard truth to myself, that he might be dead right now, bleeding and rotting on a battlefield. I hold back by tears and toughen up. “I’m sure he’s okay. Let’s open it with mom.” Lily nods, and I sigh with relief as her face turn from sad and scared to happy and non-worrying.
The walk back is long, and we’re both silent. Lily skips along the path, smelling flowers and playing with the stray cats along the way. Her favorites are the black cats, as she believes they bring good luck. Of course she feels the need to smell each and every flower, pet each and every cat, and study each and every interesting thing. All I can think about is the letter. I feel so pressured to open it right then and there, but I know it’s best for mom to do it. Besides, it’s addressed to her, and it’s probably just an award or achievement. Probably.
I insert my key and turn the doorknob as we arive home. Mom is reading the newspaper on a living room couch with a cup of coffee in her hand. I can tell she’s reading the section about the war as she has her worrying face on.
“Oh good, you brought what I asked for! Thank you. Is that a letter you have?” My mom asks as me and Lily both take off our shoes. I nod and smile as Lily goes to get a snack to eat. I give the letter to my mom and she gasps. Carefully, she opens it, and I pretend I’m not as impatient and scared as I am to see what it says. As my mom reads the letter, her eyes widen and a single tear forms.
“It isn’t… It couldn’t…” I whisper, knowing exactly what the letter says in my mind.
“It is,” my mother confirms, speechless and heartbroken. She gets up to hug me and stumbles a bit. Both of our legs are shaky. Jasper is dead. My only brother, my hero, my idol as a child is dead.
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