Aster: Lost Chance

I held the locket in the palm of my hand, looking at the intricate designs. The locket clasp had refused to move, I assumed that a combination type lock was hidden in the designs, but the highly engineered piece of jewelry eluded all of my attempts to open it. I stood at the aft end of the ship, looking out over the city. The docking tower to my left, open sky to my right. I raised my hand, ready to throw the locket out over the city, to be lost forever to everyone on this ship, ruining my chances at ever finding out about my family. I couldn’t do it. Carefully, I set the locket down on the deck. Gathering up my skirts, taking a deep breath to steady myself, I ran. 

I followed the marketplace crowd winding through the streets. The air was heavy with humidity and foreign scents. Thick wafts of steam came from the inside of tents carrying spicy, smokey aromas. Merchants called out their wares in a language I didn’t understand, I felt immensely out of place in my fashionable English dress. My corset felt tighter and tighter the further I moved away from the airship. I had been so close, to making friends, to learning the truth, but instead I’d stolen the locket. I knew Eddy kept the key to her secret trunk inside it, with a photo of her parents. I wasn’t planning on keeping it, I just needed for a moment, but with Eddy’s quick recovery I had run out of time. I knew Eddy would suspect me immediately. She never trusted me, only used me as an assistant, as part of her cover so she could go off and be the hero, be the reckless one while I stayed on as her maid, cleaning up after her guests. I would go on. I would be alright without her. These thoughts spurred me on, pushing through the crowd. I kept moving forward, just thinking of getting as far away from my companions as I could. Once I passed the marketplace I looked back at the tower, the break in the crowd giving me opportunity. It shone in the sunlight, the large balloon gleaming, the gold and brass catching the light and reflecting it back. Strangely, as I looked at it, the image blurred, becoming difficult to make out. I blinked away the tears that had sprung to my eyes at the sight of the airship, shaking my head and turning away. I didn’t need them. I didn’t need her. 

I looked around at my new surroundings. Short mud-brick buildings stood around the small courtyard. Their doorways and windows dark and uninviting. I needed to come up with a plan, I had only a few coins, not enough to barter passage back to England, or anywhere else. I couldn’t speak the language, nor was I familiar with the local customs. Nevertheless, Eddy was able to carve a name for herself out of a strange city all those years ago, I would do the same now. With my newfound resolve came a wave of confidence and bravery I had only felt once in recent years. I was in control, I knew what I could do. I began to walk on, looking for an inn, someplace where I could set up and stay for a little while. Once Eddy was gone, and the rest with her, I would go back to the docks, and find passage home.

I paused in front of a likely building, the setting sun casting long shadows along the street. I reached for my purse, to count out the meager amount of money I had. 

“One, two…” I counted them out into the palm of my hand. As I looked at the gold in my hand a foul smelling gauntlet wrapped around my face, covering my mouth. I dropped the coins as I was dragged backward into a shadowy alleyway, my cry for help silenced by the firm grip around my jaw. I thrashed, trying to reach my kidnapper, trying to hit him with my hands or my feet. I lunged my head backward, trying to connect with anything, but I was overpowered. I felt a sharp pain on the back of my skull and I went still as the world went dark.

The End

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