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The slow, rhythmic winching of the cincher cables felt like the winding of a clock. As the airship settled on the floor of the chasm where it would be protected from the pelting sand, the crew moved about the bridge: gears in a well-maintained mechanism, with the Captain as mainspring. She directed them with the easy confidence that comes with unshaken faith.
I tried to keep out of the way, which was, I realized, my usual approach. Even my decision to leave home was designed to minimize any effect it might have on the people around me. For a month I played the earnest paramour, the dedicated sister, knowing that Jonath and my brother were leaving with a trading caravan to barter tools and supplies for raw salt.
I boarded the Jade Dragon six days after they left, with a letter from the Academy and a trunk full of clockwork bagatelles. Already the four hours I had been aboard the Dragon stretched longer than the four weeks I spent planning to leave.
Outside, crewmen rushed to secure the ship at the base of the anchor station. Dim gas lamps cast eerie shadows on the walls of the chasm. Lieutenant Nioben conferred with another man, lifting his lamp high and gesticulating toward the tower where the emergency beacon ought to have been. Finally, the Lieutenant signaled the Captain.
“That’s it, then,” she said. “Let’s go find out what happened to that beacon. Marouk, let the passengers know they may disembark, but they should stay by the ship for now.”
I followed the Captain down the gangway. I had heard about anchor stations, knew they were built for just this purpose, but had never expected to see one.
The man with whom the Lieutenant had been speaking turned and smiled.
“It’s about time,” said Jonath, my erstwhile lover. “We were expecting you yesterday.” The intervening weeks and days and hours collapsed in on themselves and I found myself caught in the coils of the past.
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This post is part of the Jade Dragon series. Though I try to make these installments enjoyable as individual pieces, I highly recommend that you read the series from the beginning to really get what’s going on.
This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge weekly prompt:
You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:
1a : the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues : duration
b : a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future
c : leisure <time for reading>
2: the point or period when something occurs : occasion
3a : an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end <arrived ahead of time>
b : an opportune or suitable moment <decided it was time to retire> —often used in the phrase about time <about time for a change>
17 thoughts on “About Time”
Very nice! Good tension build-up and release in this piece. It does make me want to read the rest!
-barbara @ de rebus
Four hours longer than the four weeks – great riff on time. Does not bode well, though.
Not normally my choice of genre but the writing is first class and I have an urge to read some more…x
As always, I love all those descriptive words. Great story.
Yesss I do love your Jade Dragon bits ^____^
I was wondering when you’d do this story again 🙂 I really do love the characters in this story…I’m also excited that you have many more segments planned!
I have tons planned. It just takes a while for the words to coalesce, sometimes. Not to mention work & two little boys….
Ooo. Great job!
Oh, no! I really don’t want her to get caught, she’s just getting started with her escape. I too enjoyed that first line; great for grounding the story in the current moment.
Oh, just you wait… 🙂
The very first line worked wonderfully to draw me into the story. Nicely done!
(And every time I come here, I read that Gaiman quote again. It’s too brilliant…)
Thank you! That Gaiman quote is one of the things that keeps me writing. Just remembering that it’s not always fun and easy, but is always worth the reward, is helpful.
ACK! You are taking too long between sequences. I’m dying here. This has such a good little knife twist.
Sorry! I’ve been so swamped. I have a ton more planned out in my head – it’s a matter of putting (virtual) pen to (virtual) paper.