Friday, February 8, 2019

Microstory 1035: Ezra

My family has been in this town since it was first founded. Blast City, and all of Mineral County, is best known for its mining roots, but we have a long history of more—dare I say—honorable pursuits. We are also in a land of farmers and ranchers. Gold sure is pretty, but its only value comes from whatever arbitrary number of monies the people who have it are able to convince their customers to give up. Diamonds are the same. Coal actually serves a purpose, but it’s not exactly the resource of the future. And salt? Well, I guess salt is fairly important too, so I won’t say anything negative about Salzville. We Kinder are famous for our fruit, which we harvest from acres and acres of orchards, producing everything from apples, to oranges, to peaches. Yes, I did pronounce my own name right. Most people assume it should be kine-der, but no; it’s German. Anyway, it’s been a couple generations since it’s been necessary for any of us to actually work the orchards, but I’ve always really enjoyed it. I can spend ours out there, picking and sorting, while listening to music on my headphones. A picker of ours hypothesized I would feel a whole lot different about it if I worked ten hours a day, made minimum wage, and had no choice. He certainly had a point there, but I also don’t get paid for it, so life is kind of a give and take, isn’t it? But you didn’t come here for my worldview, did you? You want to hear about how I know Viola. I don’t have any stories from recent years, but something did happen when we were in elementary school. Well, I guess we weren’t in school at the time, because this happened in the summer, but you get what I mean. Here goes.

A big news story broke that a little girl a few years younger than us got lost somewhere in Silver Shade. For reference, since you’re not from around here, that’s over an hour away, due East. It’s basically a ghost town now, because its founders hoped they would find silver near where our predecessors found gold, but there was nothing. Their descendants have been struggling and dwindling ever since. Blast Citians didn’t pay much attention to this story, because the girl was said to be on foot, but Viola somehow knew this to be inaccurate. She called me through my older sister’s cell phone (I don’t know why she had her number) and told me to go straight to Plupple Lane. Again, I don’t know how she knew anything about it, because Plupple Lane isn’t a street; it’s the boundary between our plum trees and apple trees, and a term we only use internally. It’s also the near the farthest reaches of our property, because we don’t grow many plums. I asked Viola why I would do that, but it sounded really urgent, and she said she was out of town, so she couldn’t go herself. I figured, hey, when a pretty girl who’s never talked to you before asks you to do something, you better just do it. I was, like, eleven, by the way. I got on my bike, and rode all the way out there, where I found the missing girl, crying by the irrigation regulator. She was covered in mud, and wearing raggedy clothes. I was too young to be told this at the time, but I learned years later that her stepbrother had sexually assaulted her. Until now, I haven’t told anyone how I really found her, out of respect for Viola’s privacy. It was easy to lie about it, because everyone knew that I liked spending time alone with the trees. But I think it’s time people know that Viola was the one who truly saved this little girl’s life, and didn’t take any credit for it. I asked her how she knew after she came back from vacation, but she completely denied it, claiming she didn’t make a single phone call while she was in Greece. My sister didn’t tell anyone about the call either, and she and I have never discussed it. I heard the girl moved to the other side of the country, but she might like to know the truth too. I’m gonna go look her up on social media.

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