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Story Time: Bittersweet

First story about one of the Lowlifes from their perspective! This story is for people who have already listened to 5.6, so if you haven’t done that, go on over and do that. See if you can connect the dots. Enjoy!

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Idzy Rukes’ mind was made up. And it was honestly…really exciting.

They could feel the tremor of energy at the table like the beginnings of an earthquake, as their family chattered about travel plans and preparations.

“Oh, you can’t forget your nice set of quills,” Mom told them.

Idzy suppressed a smile. “They have quills and ink at the temple, Mom.”

“But these are your nice ones,” Mom urged, and Mother laughed.

“Leave the kid alone,” Mother said, scooping some squash onto little Opal’s plate. “They’re prepared. Right, Idzy?”

“I’m prepared,” Idzy said confidently, maybe a little more confidently than they felt.

“What are you gonna do when they find out you’re too ugly for the goddess of love?” asked Briar, self-importantly enough that anyone else would think he was serious.

Idzy took a long drink of tea before saying sweetly, “What are you gonna do when I fill your bed with mud and snakes?”

Briar looked shocked. “Mom!”

“I’m afraid you walked into that one, sweetheart,” Mom said. “Opal, eat your squash.”

“Yuck,” Opal said vehemently.

“For real, why Sune?” Briar went on. “You don’t care about how you look, or how anyone looks. Why the goddess of beauty?”

“She’s goddess of love and beauty,” Idzy said, taking a bite of fish and rice and taking their time chewing so they could think about it. “Mm. Like…it’s not just about how you look. It’s about…being complete. Being a part of something else. Not being alone, even when you’re alone.”

“Sounds like all that time you’re spending at the shrine is working,” Mother commented, a little teasingly.

Idzy knew the teasing was in good fun, but they had in fact been working hard, so that the first things they said while they were at the seminary wasn’t heresy or something. “I guess.”

“How long will you be gone?” Opal asked.

“Uh…” Idzy rubbed the back of their head sheepishly. “This is…this is kind of it, Opal. I’ll be living somewhere else. But I’ll come back and visit.”

Opal looked perplexed. “Why are you living somewhere else without us? We love you.”

That was like a stab to the heart. Idzy honestly hadn’t thought too hard about the fact that embracing this meant leaving the people who meant more than almost anything to them.

The thing was…they meant more than almost anything. Idzy’s destiny, their purpose, their goddess—-that calling was all-consuming, and the pain of leaving their family must be borne to meet the challenge.

“It’s…something I have to do,” Idzy explained lamely.

Opal looked dissatisfied with this explanation, poking at her squash.

And now, Idzy realized, everyone was looking at them. Both Mom and Mother had the same intense look in their eyes.

“I can’t say I understand,” Mother said carefully, “but I’ve never been called by a goddess. I trust you.”

“We will miss you terribly,” Mom added.

Idzy swallowed back some tears. “I’ll miss you too.”

Briar crossed his arms. “What are you gonna do without us?”

Idzy’s little brother was annoying, but he wasn’t made of stone. They wondered how upset he actually was. He’d never admit to it.

“I won’t be alone,” Idzy said. “Sune is with me. And I’m not going to forget about you.”

Briar didn’t meet their eye, just stared petulantly ahead. “What are we supposed to do without you?”

Ah. He really was upset.

“Well, if Sune is with me, she’s with you too,” Idzy said. “She’s going to look after the people I love. That’s like…a thing.”

“Is it?” Mother asked, interested.

No one had ever said as much to Idzy, but nevertheless, they believed it with their whole heart. “Yes.”

Opal pointed a pudgy little finger at Idzy and said in a mocking sing-song, “You love us.”

Idzy stood up and hooked an arm around Opal for the optimal hair-mussing angle. “Yeah, idiot, what are you going to do about it?”

“Noo!” Opal giggled, squirming in their grasp.

Mom leaned over to kiss Briar’s head, who was looking a little less upset and a little more sad. “We’ll be all right.” She then leaned over to swat Idzy gently on the shoulder. “Okay, that’s enough, let her go. No dessert for anyone until Opal eats some squash.”

Idzy released their sister, who sank into a laughing lump in her chair, and took their seat again, very nearly smiling. And a bit sad. Tomorrow it would be hard to leave, even though they wanted to go, but today, there was nowhere else they’d rather be.

Published inStory Time