Thursday, October 7, 2010

Knitpicking (Friday Fiction)

Hi everyone! I am the happy host of this week's Friday Fiction. You'll find the Linky tool below. If you're new to the Friday Fiction meme, then just go ahead and jump right in. All you have to do is link to an original story you've written using the linky tool below. Don't forget to read and comment on other folks's stuff, we all love the feedback! 



Author's Note: This is another character sketch I've been working out for awhile. I wanted to see how a story would work if I didn't use a traditional "power".  I liked Donovan's character and his talent, so I figured I'd backtrack a bit into his history and see how he was before he got to where he is now. It's a short, sketchy kind of story, so please excuse the shortness of it. I wasn't writing it for detail or anything, just to get a feel of the younger Donovan and his mentor, Annie. Enjoy the read and happy weekend! 



She’d already seen the signs before the argument had begun. He wasn’t wearing his school uniform to begin with and what he was wearing at the moment wasn’t something she cared to comment on. He looked more punk than straight-A student with his chains, studs and ragged black clothing. He’d chosen the obvious way to let her know that he wasn’t feeling up to cookies and milk after school.

“You are not coming into my kitchen looking like that. Something happen you want to talk about?”

“Not with you.”


“Aha. We get to the heart of the problem, well that’s great kid, ‘cause I don’t wanna talk to you either when you start off like that. I’ve had a long day. Maybe yours was longer, I don’t care to compare, but we are not going to start off with a-”

“I’m not starting anything!”

“You are too. You’re itching for a fight because something didn’t go the way you wanted it to. I don’t want hear your excuses. You’re a mess right now and I can see it.”

“Liar!”

“Did you just call me a liar?” A flicker of fire passed through her green eyes. “Oi. That’s enough mouth out of you. I don’t wanna hear it. Get your behind in that chair and start unraveling, I don’t care what you make.”

“What?”

“Now, Donovan, before I lose my temper.”

“But Annie-!”

The short-haired woman didn’t even reach his shoulder height, but the scowl on her face was saying more than her mouth was. “Go. Now. A hat.” The words were pushed through her teeth. “I’m not even going to mess with you until it’s done, you hear me? Make it black…with a red stripe or something. I don’t care. Add a pompom or two. Don’t let me lay eyes on you until you are-”

“I’m going.” Donovan growled. His hands tried to curl into fists, but it was harder when he was trying to break in his newest pair of fingerless leather gloves. He didn’t dare look back over his shoulder as he stomped to the den and slammed the door shut.

He heard her footsteps following him and they paused directly in front of the door. He stifled the urge to groan and then headed for the armchair by the window. Rummaging through the wicker basket on the floor, he found a skein of black yarn and a tangled mass of red yarn beside it. Gathering the softness up in his hands, he grabbed at the pair of black knitting needles on the table and braced against the armchair, half-sitting on the fat handle.

The moment the clink of the needles began, the footsteps retreated and he breathed a sigh of relief. His gloves hooked in the yarn and he scowled at the mess it made. “Stupid yarn.” Yanking it free from the spikes and snaps, he threw the yarn to the ground, allowing it to form a long trail from the floor up to his waist. Satisfied that it couldn’t tangle like before, he bent his head over his work and let his hands relax into the routine he knew so well.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

When she heard the needles moving, Annie moved away from the door, her earlier scowl replaced with a smile. “That boy is going to be the one to give the last push.” She told her empty kitchen as she now stood in the doorway. “I suppose I ought to at least pretend to be considerate and make him something to eat, yes?”

There was no answer, but the little woman quickly set about to work in the kitchen, snatching a clean apron from a hook, she tugged it over her head. She found pots, pans and mixing bowls. Flour, sugar, eggs, salt, noodles and nearly everything else soon appeared on the kitchen counter.

It was a flurry of activity and a variety of smells that soon spilled out of the kitchen and wafted down the corridors of the old house. Eventually, the sullen teenager in question appeared in answer to the unspoken call.

He stood, shifting, in the kitchen doorway, a knit black hat balled up in one hand.

Her head tilted slightly to the side, her apron covered in flower and various smears of color. “Finished?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s yes, and if you’re finished then say so.”

“So?”

“Donovan!”

“I’m finished, Annie.”

She rolled her eyes dramatically. “Now wasn’t that nice? What are you finished with?”

“Annie!”

“Donovan.”

“I’m finished with the stupid hat.”

“Oh really? You did a stupid one? I just wanted a black one…with a stripe or something. Go make another one, make it right this time. No stupid inside.”

There was a moment of silence and then Donovan yanked off his black and gray bandana before pulling on the knit hat. As he turned the ends up, a bright band of red circled around his head.

“Nice red.” She tugged the apron off and tossed it to a corner of the kitchen counter. “Sweet or salt?”

“Both.” He hesitated.

“Hmm? Oh, come in.” She waved him into the kitchen and he took a seat at a stool near the island. Within minutes a steaming plate of fried and baked goodness was spun in front of him. “Is that enough of a bribe?” She asked, her voice soft.

He took a bite of fried green tomato and his head dropped as he propped his elbows up on the island counter. “More than enough.”

“Then talk, wise guy.” She dropped onto the stool nearest to him and swiped a fried sweet bean bun. “And you’d better make sure your school uniform isn’t crammed in the bottom of your locker again, because I am not ironing another-”

“I keep missing them!” Donovan slammed his fist on the counter.

Annie smacked him over the head. “Yeah. I can tell. Either eat or go knit another hat. I can’t stand to talk to-”

“It’s been almost two months, Annie.” He stuffed the tomato slice in his mouth and leaned to the side.

She sighed and reached over to drape an arm along his shoulders. They sat together in silence for awhile. “Two months? How’s the student council taking it?”

“I’m the VP. I’m supposed to be handling the situation.”

“And how’s that workin’ out for ya?”

“It’s not working at all. Either someone wants my head or-”

“Or you’ve just been playing light.”

“It’s not that!”

“Are you calling me a liar again?”

“I-I…do you have any idea how embarrassing it is?”

“It’s embarrassing to do that or to let them get away? You’ve got to outgrow this you know. I don’t see what
your problem is, you’re good at it and it’s your natural talent.”

Donovan pulled away, his face turned to the side to hide the first inking of a blush. “Both.” He said, at last. “It’s bad either way.”

“And which is the lesser of two-”

“I get it okay? I’m going.” He stood up, abruptly and started for the hallway before returning to swipe the plate before disappearing again.

His footsteps stopped in the hallway. He was waiting.

She sighed. “Want company?”

The footsteps began again. “…yeah.”

She smirked.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

They arrived at the school within a smattering of minutes.

The afternoon was closing in and the faintest stirrings of wind blew a few stray pieces of trash across the open courtyard.

“Got your ID?” Annie jammed her hands into the pockets of her fringed leather jacket. “It’s freezing out here. Why didn’t you tell me it was freezing?”

“Of course I have it and it’s usually through the back not the front.”

“Change things up, surprise Mr. I-can-get-away-with-it.” Annie wrinkled her nose. “And hurry up and kick his butt before I freeze to death.”

“We just got here.” Donovan snapped. “And why didn’t you wear a sweater or something?”

“You were the one in a hurry.” Annie yawned. “C’mon, where are we supposed to stakeout?”

“The equipment shed. This way.” He started across the concrete concourse and they circled around towards the sports fields in the back.

“Rival school?” Annie suggested, breaking into a light trot to keep up with his long strides. He was finally starting to focus.

“Don’t know. Maybe. It’d make sense, though it’s stupid.”

“Poor sportsmanship.” Annie agreed. “What you going to do about it?”

He stared at her for a moment and his cheeks flared pink. “Smother them.” He muttered, quickening the pace. “Hurry up.”

“I’m hurrying, I’m hurrying.” She chuckled to herself. “Any of your buddies coming along for the fun?”

“No.”

“Ah. I see.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing.”

“I have you, don’t I?”

“Your confidence in me brings a round of warm fuzzies.”

He snorted. “Yeah. If you don’t freeze to death first.”

“Point taken. Are we there yet?”

“Almost.”

“Almost?”

“If you stop moving you’ll freeze faster.”

“Since when did your mouth actually speak to your brain?”

“If that’s an insult, you should probably-”

She thwacked his ear. “Mind your manners.”

The equipment shed wasn’t hard to find and after choosing a suitable vantage point, they settled down to wait for the vandals who blatantly destroyed school property. He eventually gave her his hat and sat, knitting another while they waited.

Time took its own time in passing.

When the shadows began to appear along the corners and edges everywhere, Annie began to play with her new hat, having tired of keeping quiet.

“Nice job.” She commented, folding up the edges so she could see out. “And it’s warm.”

“It was on my head. Of course it’s warm.”

She snickered. “I mean, nice job. You’re actually improving.” She sniffed. “And you need to improve your focus. You just dropped a stitch.”


"Shut up."

The sound of nearby rustling drew their attention and they were on their feet at once.

“Annie?” He dared to whisper.

“Shadows. Left side.” She breathed. “Move quick. There’s more than one.”

His head gave a funny jerk and he melted into the new darkness. There was the sound of scuffling and shouts a moment later.

“Hey! What’s going on here?” Annie dodged into the front of the pathway to block them off. It was five teen boys, who immediately came to a halt upon seeing her. “The school is closed.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “What are you doing here?”

“We uh, we forgot something.” The tallest one stepped forward. “Who are you?”

“That’s not our school uniform.” Donovan spoke from behind them. “I would know our school uniform anywhere. You’re from Gambalt High, not Irrica. You’re trespassing on school property.”

“Hey, look man, we don’t want any trouble!” A short, spiky-haired teen flashed a white smile. “I guess we kinda got turned around. We’ll get going.”

“You picked the lock on the equipment shed for the tennis club.” Donovan cracked his neck. “And you slammed the door into my face.” He wrinkled his nose. “That hurt.”

The group began to shift nervously.

And then they made a break for it.

“Cut them off!” Donovan yelled, dashing after them. “Go around the side.” He streaked after them, the knitting needles still clenched tight in his hands.

She did.

Annie hurried around the corner of the shed and stopped short in her tracks. A smile came to her face and she hid it in her hands, watching her ward work his magic.

In fine form, Donovan stood several feet away from the suspects in question, figures that were now helplessly cocooned in giant wads of yarn. He stood tall, a knitting needle in each hand and a trace of silver energy crackling at the tips.

The yarn was simply pulled into existence as he walked forward and continued to craft a new creation. The suspects were immediately hoisted up to a lamp pole and tightly bound together. The thin strands of yarn moved freely through the air, aided by the guidance of Donovan’s needles, who directed them from afar. His eyes burned silver and his mouth was set in a scowl to match the glare he was working up to.

“Dude, we’re caught!”

“What is this?”

“It smells like-”

“You can’t smell, shut up! This is crazy!”

“Hey! Let us go! You can’t do this!”

“Actually,” Annie stepped into the glow of light as the lamp pole sputtered to life. “He just did.” She stood, hands on hips, studying them in the new light. “That wasn’t so bad now, was it?”

“No.” He tied off a last strand and then moved forward to investigate. “They couldn’t see me. They didn't.”

“You mean they couldn’t see what you were doing.” She smirked, poking him with a knitting needle of her own. “Are you all through?”

“What do you need those for?” He looked in confusion from his needles to her own. “Hey!”

“Your knots need some work and your stitches are still a bit rough when you cast them in a hurry. You need to work on it and we don’t want them to get away, now do we?” Annie held a needle in each hand and then lightly tapped her jacket over her heart. There was a faint golden glow and from the glow, she reached in with the needle and threw out a spool of smooth gold. Her expertise began to show as she swirled it in the air and began to knit.

When she finished, the boys in question were quite comfortably immobile and unable to speak, now that their mouths were otherwise occupied. 

“What stitch was that?” Donovan stared at her. “How come you never taught me that one?”

“You aren’t ready for it yet.” Annie rolled her shoulders. “So, what are you going to do now? Leave them?”

“It’s freezing.” He answered, automatically. “They’d die…wouldn’t they?”

“We could always give them hoodies.” Annie said, cheerfully, she moved to stand closer in front of them and in a flash, a hood, with a pair of floppy bunny ears adorned the head of the short teen.

“Bunny ears?” He scoffed. “Cat ears are nicer.” He stepped in beside her and his needles flashed in the overhead light.

They knitted hoods on each of the vandals and mufflers to keep them quiet and warm.

“Cops?” Annie suggested.

“Yeah. I’ll call ‘em when we’re home.”

“If you stick the needles back in your boots, they won’t see them.”

“It’s not them I’m worried about.”

Annie sighed. “You know, even if people see them, they don’t always know what they are or what they can be used for.”

“Can we just go home?”

“I’m only saying.” She shrugged, starting off in the direction they had come. “Using black yarn and black needles at night doesn’t mean that-”

He mumbled something.

“What? Can’t hear ya, peach.”

“I said, it’s still embarrassing!”

© Sara Harricharan

3 comments:

Yvonne Blake said...

Ha Ha... what a great "power" !

BethL said...

smile... I was so caught up in the back and forth verbal exchange between Annie and Donovan. She is one tough lady. :)

BethL said...

smile... I was so caught up in the verbal exchange between Donovan and Annie. She is one tough lady! I enjoyed this Sara!