Sean hated working by moonlight. The stench in the air at night reminded him of graveyards; cold and forbidden. In the flickering candlelight, he mixed different soils together, careful not to spill a drop of the precious material. Nearby, his master worked, trimming a bonsai tree. Sean stole a side glance at the man. His wrinkled fingers moved delicately against the minute leaves. Through smudged spectacles, he looked up at his apprentice.

“Stop distracting yourself, young master Maluene,” the old man advised, then returned to the clippers in his hand.

Sean set the bag of soil down and picked up a small packet of geranium seeds. He tore the corner off and sprinkled them into the fresh pot of soil, carefully spreading bits of the soil over them until the seeds were covered. He wiped dirt off his hands and picked up the ceramic pot and began to walk towards the cooler, where all the young plants were kept.

“Show me,” his master ordered.

With a moment of hesitation, Sean turned around. He set the pot on his masters walked oak desk and the man looked down into the soil, pressing his fingers into the potted earth.

“Not enough sea sand, Sean,” the man scolded and sat straight back in his chair. He looked at Sean carefully and in his eyes, Sean could see fifty years of his life settled behind his irises like a secret. Is master waved a gnarled hand at a wooden chair at opposite is desk and Sean sat.

“I know you have a difficult time with this state of neocolonialism, master Maluene,” he said after a moment, “but you mustn’t let it affect your work.”

Sean ran a hand through his hair and small dirt particles rained down on his forehead. “With all due respect, sir, it’s bloody hard to concentrate when there’s always a Kyrii guard ready to bang down the door.

The old man sighed and folded his hands on his desk. “We mustn’t worry about them,” he insisted, and he waved his hand at the bonsai. “This plant is very old,” he explained, “but the life in it is teeming. Such is the state of Laere. Eventually, the Kyrii guards will be thrown out, or else the King will tire of us and conquer another country. Such is the way of politics.” The old man smiled. “Ease your mind, Sean.”

Sean nodded, but knew that it was easier said than done. His master picked up the small clock on his desk and smiled sadly.
“It’s late, Master Maluene. Go rest your eyes. Tomorrow will be another long day.”

He nodded and stood, but he felt tension in the air so he turned back to his master. The old man was watching him with concern behind his gold-rimmed spectacles. “Promise me you will stop thinking of the invasion?”

Sean felt a smile creep over his lips. “I promise, sir.”

The old man smiled and nodded. “Goodnight, then.”


Word: Neocolonialism. || Time: 15 minutes. || Character: Sean Maluene.


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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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