Another day, another fight. Then comes a night. Where it’s quiet and both parents are asleep. It has become quite a routine. Picking up beer bottles and discarding them.
Cleaning up whiskey and wine spills one by one. Putting away dishes away safely so they dont break in the presence of another fight. For it happens every day, so she does this all night.
Phoebe doesn’t mind it. Phoebe Yonderly doesn’t mind it at all. She has grown used to the routine. When she was a toddler, she watched. When she began going to school, she learned.
When she was ten, she cleaned. Took responsibility. Already having tough skin from watching and learning and realizing that crying wasn’t a good option when it was an option at all.
That’s why she doesn’t mind. She also doesn’t mind if they miss her birthdays and there’s no presents or even a small card to acknowledge how she has grown.
It was a nice thought, but Phoebe supposed they shouldn’t spend more money just because she was growing. Everyone grew.
The blue-eyed girl was ironing her long light brown hair straight. She wore a simple spaghetti strap blue dress with a semi-circle skirt and a white shirt beneath.
She braided her hair to the side, adding dried forget-me-nots and orange chrysanthemums Gia gave to her the day before. Phoebe shyly requested it of her friend and Gia was happy to oblige.
Phoebe looked in the body-length mirror to clearly see herself. She had short stature for her age, but that she didn’t mind among many things.
The girl was pleased to see her chosen color scheme went with her bronze skin. Blue and orange decorated her hair as flowers and wrists as bracelets.
Then white accented the scheme as a side-purse, flats, and shirt. Not too shabby for a Lacuna, she thought with a smile.
What exactly was the occasion? No one wanted to look drab for the ceremony. The Rite to Companionship is important to the sixteen-year olds from every year.
It is the pairing of a Lacuna and Whisperer. Both sworn to protect each other for life with a vow and chosen charm to give each other as token for simply being their partner.
A small favor to start a friendship for the rest of your lives. It is up to the Council of Agora to pair up the sixteen year olds.
There has been no such thing as a Lacuna or Whisperer left out from companionship. Even if it takes making some trios. Sometimes the people the Council of Agora pairs doesn’t exactly get along.
That’s why only the wise and brave shall ever be in the Council of Agora.
This made Phoebe nervous. Her mother and father, after all, were partners. They fell in love as young, hated each other as they aged. They ended up fighting all the time.
Leaving the house a mess for Phoebe to clean up. If she ever ended up with her partner, she wouldn’t stand that her partner would end up hating her.
Phoebe refuses to be as spiteful as her mother and cursing the Agora for the mistake. Even if that mistake had Phoebe exist in the first place.
There was doorbell at her front door. This lit up the girl’s face as she scurried down the stairs, nearly slipping on the newly mopped marble tiles as she answered the door.
It made her grin even more so as she two friendly faces. Gia and Alice.
Gia Akrasia (A Lacuna) is an awkwardly tall girl with emerald eyes framed by wide black glasses and dark brown hair cut short in more recent times.
Fresh daturas seemed to be woven into a halo for her head. It went well with her flowing white dress and very light lavender belt and flats.
Alice Zemberly (A Whisperer) is a average-height girl with brown eyes and short black hair that reached her chin. She also had neatly trimmed bangs.
It was clear that she lost a fight against Gia since there was glitter in her hair that she’s never put there by herself. She wore a black dress that had lace long-sleeves and puffed-up skirt.
Then black combat boots with silver-like laces tied neatly.
Gia and Alice are close. They known each other since Jet and George found Alice abandoned at ten-years old, left for dead by whoever decided to leave her in the dangerous woods.
Gia acted like a big sister to Alice, even if they were close to the same age. Alice is just a few months older than Gia. Then Phoebe added in when she started school later than everyone else.
She’s glad for their presence in her life.
“Aren’t you excited, Phoebe?!” Gia exclaimed with much vigor and enthusiasm the blue-eyes girl couldn’t help but smile at the energy that greeted her doorway.
“The thought of the ceremony is both frightening and exciting. Scary and brightening. Warm, but burning to the touch for me.” Phoebe admitted with much thought.
Alice bowed her head slightly at Phoebe’s words. Her special way of saying ‘I understand’.
“I, for one, agree with the both of you. As much as I’d love to stay and talk about how exciting it is that the ceremony is today, let’s actually get to the ceremony.” Alice pointed out.
Phoebe smiled at this. Alice was always straight to the point.
Phoebe shut the white oak door behind her and proceeded to walk down the blue brick path of her home.
The color of the bricks faded until it met the main walkways of their small town that lead to the Greenhouse.
In the Greenhouse is where everyone is scheduled to meet in the afternoon of the last day of the last month. The set-up is always the same, just with a different theme.
This year’s theme for the ceremony is simply ‘Secret Garden’. Alice argued that her outfit was of a mourning gardener and Gia judged this greatly.
She just made up a story of how the glitter in Alice’s dark hair are the many seeds of a nearly extinct glitter plant.
Again, Phoebe is amazed of how they still remain friends despite their many disagreements.
The arrangement in the Greenhouse was quite adorable. There was rope swings at the back of the Greenhouse for children to play and rows of tables covered with circular light pink covers.
All the white plastic chairs had a hot pink cushion in every seat. The tables themselves had teapots, steaming water, tea leaves, and sugar.
Gia waved and hugged Phoebe a goodbye. This saddened the girl deeply. Getting a partner could affect the rest of the relationships she had currently.
It can mean living in a different house. Having a cage to lock her down. Someone there all the time to the point that they now the secrets held within.
She watched Gia and Alice sit down at the Akrasia family table as Phoebe sat down alone in the Yonderly table.
The girl did her best to not put her head down while waiting for the main event to start. Then her cousin, Owen, sat next to her.
“Owen, you should be sitting with Jet. Your partner.” She pointed out with raised eyebrows. Any trace of sadness gone in an instant. “I’ll have a partner soon enough anyways.
Isolation isn’t forever.”
“Well observed, dear cousin. Yet, I believe that you shouldn’t be alone right now.
It’s your Rite if Companionship today and I’ll be your companion until you have your partner at the end of the day. Fair?” Owen reasoned with a smile on his face.
He has two dimples, light blue eyes, and messy light brown hair. His tall stature with a grey suit and red tie to compliment Jet’s ruby and obsidian dress scheme.
“Fair enough” Phoebe answered, glad to not be alone at the table. Each table was for a family name.
Alice sat with Gia only because she was adopted to the family, even if she didn’t agree to sharing the last name.
A sharp whine cut across the mumbling exterior of the Greenhouse. A baby started crying, kids yelled, and grown ups disturbed from how hurtful the sound was to the ears.
On the podium stood the graceful Deysha Tamlor, leader of the Council of Agora.
Her icy blue eyes scanned the crowds with motherly warmth, her long black hair swept over her shoulder in a messy braid. She wore the ceremonial dress of red along with the rest of the Council.
“Citizens of the Agora. Lacunas and Whisperers. May I have your undivided attention?” Deysha questioned with a grin. The crowd of people sitting down were hushed in awe.
From far away, all her scars glittered like silver on her skin. Some new, some old, but all contained memories of battle. “Thank you.
I am happy to announce that I, Deysha Tamlor, welcome to the Rite of Companionship!”
The crowds roared, jeered, cheered, chattered, yelled, and screamed in excitement. The Rite of Companionship was always a big deal. It means a partner for life.
To a lot of people, it’s a wonderful though. And for some people like Phoebe, it scares her.
“Will the following sixteen-year olds please come on to the stage? Joan Arc, Gia Akrasia, Beverly Jones, Ash Kimberly, Alice Zemberly, Kirsten Ayala. . .
” Deysha continues naming them until there was seventeen of them on stage. Gia mouthed out ‘Oh my Agora’ to Phoebe before skipping to the stage and catching up with Alice.