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“Leave me alone!” Priflia yelled. “You get away with everything just because you’re the oldest and mother likes you more!”

Miduvit backed her up. “The golden child.”

Frell huffed. They were ganging up on her. It was unfair but she wasn’t ready to sink down to their level. She said nothing, glaring past them. She picked up her bag with her instrument in it. They could hash this out later; or, more likely, she would do what they didn’t instead.

She hated how cramped this boat could be when people argued. They always acted like this when their mother, Rose, was gone.

They continued badgering her. “Where are you going?”

“She’s too stuck up to talk to us now. We’re just losers.”

She couldn’t discipline them or correct them or de-escalate. All that would take time and Frell hated being late. They knew that already, which was why they were being so snotty.

“I have a lesson to get to. You’re in charge. Mind the kids.”

“Isn’t that your job?” Priflia sneered.

They already knew the answer to that. It was a shared responsibility of all the older children.

Mammals are so lucky to only have a few progeny at a time, she thought. She’d get even later.

Frell crossed the river and walked through town to her destination. It wasn’t far and she knew a shortcut or two by hopping a fence, casually trespassing through somebody’s yard and gone again next hop.

She was there in what felt like no time at all, before her teacher had arrived yet. She took her instrument out of her bag spent time practicing her flute. Frell wasn’t very good yet, but she knew she would never get better unless she applied time to develop the skill properly.

There was a stool set up for her to sit on, an empty musical stand, and another chair where her teacher would sit.

It meant a lot to her because it was her own interest, not one selected for her. In the winter months, crime went way down and her line of work became scarce. 

She filled up her extra hours walking leashed pets for owners. It didn’t pay a lot, but it added up. She then spent her earnings and careful savings on the flute and the lessons to play it properly.

The place she went to was a semi-private garden with a glass roof and a charming little hand placed cobblestone path running through it. An artificial stream had been shaped to run through and around the greenhouse, hugging around decorative shrubs and flowers and then rejoined a larger canal outside. A few canoes were left there, turned upside down to keep out the rain.

She took the mouthguard off, and adjusted her grip and posture.

Frell listened to herself play with a critical ear. Some of her notes sounded breathy or raspy. She took a deep breath, adjusted the pads of her fingers to cover the holes more fully, and blew again. A little better this time.

Her instructor hustled into the garden, carrying her own flute. The tall alligator looked out of breath.

“Sorry I am late! Good to see you tonight. Have things been good?”

“They’ll be better once we get started.”

Her teacher, Lexy, apologized again. She lifted her flute and played a simple scale. Frell repeated the same notes in the series like it was a path she took everyday. Regular, familiar. It was a safe time for her here.

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Published by Watercolorheart

Artist, animator, painter, writer, aspiring musician. Working on short stories for an animated series called Sparse. Pen name Lyn Mitre.

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