“Harleyquinne Cathors, are you paying attention to me?”

Harley looked up from the grass braid she was tying between her fingertips and blushed. “I’m sorry, Daddy.”

The man smiled at her and enveloped one of her tiny hands in his big ones. She loved it when he did that, because it reminded her that she was safe with her father, and that he would protect her. She threw the grass creation on the ground and turned to face him. “Okay, all yours!”

He chuckled but turned back to the double set of sticks in his hand. Harley looked at them carefully. Her father stripped the bark off both ends so she could see the green wick peeking through.

“The secret of every fire juggler, Harley, is not to overheat. You need to drink a lot of water, or you’ll catch fire, too.” He scratched a small piece of bark he had missed from the end of the sticks. “How much water have you drunken today?”

Harleyquinne moaned. Water. Six times she had been sent down to the river to fill her small canteen and merely the thought of water made her need to urinate. She squirmed with discomfort, and her father laughed. She didn’t need to answer the question, as it seemed as though he could already tell the answer.

“Very good!” her father said in his great booming voice that made her beam. Her father was pleased with her and she liked to be in his good grace. He offered her one of the sticks and she took it from his hand, the rough bark gripping between her fingers as though it wanted to be there. If only Riley could see her, learning all their father’s tricks! But her twin brother had gone to market with their mother, and was not supposed to know their father was teaching her so young. He said that Harley had a special gift, and she was very lucky to be leaning how to fire juggle at only five years old.

She jumped off the steps of their brightly coloured caravan wagon and let her toes kiss the soft earth. The last ashes in the fireplace were starting to turn a lonely grey and she wanted to start her own little fire before she didn’t have a chance. Her father laughed again and grabbed on to her upper arm.

“Whoa, there, tiger!” he said, and Harley turned around and cocked her head sideway. This was the part where she actually juggled fire, right?

Her father knelt down in front of her. “You remember you are a big girl now, right?”

Harleyquinne nodded her head enthusiastically, her red pigtails bobbing up and down. “Right!”

“If the fie bites you, are you going to cry?”

“No sir!”

Her father nodded and stood. He waved his hand to the dying embers. “Only one side,” he reminded her, and she jumped in the air and dashed to the fireplace. The wind blew over the ashes and she swallowed some smoke, but even coughing she dug her stick into the red hot embers until a steady flame sat on it. She spun around to show her father and he nodded approvingly. She grinned, boasting her missing front teeth.

Someday, Harleyquinne thought, I’m going to be the greatest fire juggler of all!

.

Word: Wick. || Time: 15 minutes. || Character: Harleyquinne Cathors.

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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