Lights: Nine...4

“They’re children,” Joseph said bitterly, “what kind of man are you, Mr. Shkein, to hold children as slaves?”

“How dare you,” shrieked Loretta, “talk to Mr. Shkein like that!”

“Silence Loretta,” shouted Shkein. He paced the length of the room before them and said, “sometimes those slave children turn out to be really useful, like Loretta here. If they really want to succeed, they have to earn it by working hard and obey me unconditionally.” Loretta blushed when Shkein mentioned her; however it wasn’t pride she felt, but embarrassment. “I don’t pretend to be the bad guy of the story. The family should’ve taken better care of them.” He paused and looked at them, “I have plenty of slaves now. To show you my kindness, I will sell them both to you, Mr. Wilker. It would be a good deed to start my role as a mayor.” He chuckled, and when nobody was laughing with him, he cleared his throat and looked solemnly at the Wilkers. “I feel we’re going to be seeing each other quite a lot from now on.”

“Thank you Mr. Shkein,” said Joseph. “Unfortunately, I feel the same. I will be prompt to deliver the five chests of Dust; the children are in my house now. I promise to look after them much better than you have.” He bowed his head and said, “have a good day, sir.”

Daniel and Aimee imitated their father, before exiting after him. They walked briskly out of the eerie and uncomfortable building, out to the roads. Daniel and Joseph packed the chests of Dust while Aimee went shopping for food. She had to have a good dinner ready for tonight, to celebrate the freedom of their guests.

Once their agenda in the trade was finished, they set sail in the sky. The wind was chilly, biting at their skin. Aimee wrapped her shawl tighter and watched the worried expression of her father. He was suffering quietly because of these drastic changes, and there was nothing she could do to ease the pain. There was something else bothering Joseph, however he wouldn’t answer when she ask him about it. She hadn’t talk to Daniel about it, afraid that she was just imagining things. She tilted her head up and felt the drizzle that was starting to fall. How she longed to be in the sky again and disappear between the soft layers of lights.

The Chaser was safely locked in the hangar. Aimee walked hurriedly back to the house to announce the good news and start preparing dinner. When she opened the door, she saw Pablo in the living room playing with wooden airplanes Joseph had carved for them. He was so happy it warmed Aimee’s heart.

“Hi Pablo,” she said. “Are you having fun?”

Pablo nodded joyfully and said, “these airplanes are very pretty. Can you teach me how to make one?”

“Of course,” answered Aimee. “But let me get dinner first. Where is your sister? I have the greatest news ever.”

Adela rushed out of the kitchen; she had a butcher knife at hand. “Oh, Aimee, it’s you. I thought it was a robber or one of Shkein’s sentinels. How did it go?” She sounded very nervous, and hopeful.

“Don’t you ever worry about Shkein,” said Aimee. “You and Pablo are free.”

Adela crumbled in tears and flung her arms around Aimee’s neck. Aimee froze at the touch of the knife in her back. Adela quickly withdrew, embarrassed and repentant of her rash actions. “Thank you very much!”

“And to celebrate,” said Aimee, shaking her shopping bags. “I will prepare a big dinner!”

“Oh Miss Aimee,” said Adela, “to show my deepest gratitude to you and your family, I went ahead and prepared dinner. It should be ready soon. I hope you don’t mind me taking some vegetables from your garden and doing some soup. Have you got meat? It would go nicely with what I’m cooking.”

Aimee was surprised. A sweet aroma, that made her mouth water, came from the kitchen. “Of course there is meat.”

Adela took the bag, “thank you. Please sit while I make dinner.” Then she headed to the kitchen.

Aimee stood there amazed, her lips parted ever so slightly.

“You will like Adela’s cooking, Miss Aimee,” said Pablo. “She is the best cook that ever existed, that was what everybody in our village told her.” He smiled satisfactorily at her.

“It sure smells good!” Daniel exclaimed when he entered the house followed by Joseph. “You started cooking already, Aimee!”

“Not I,” Aimee grinned. “Adela. She is the best cook of her village.” Pablo agreed.

“Who knew,” laughed Joseph, “we are going to eat very well tonight.”

The End

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