Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Good Reason

by Mary Ruth Pursselley -

Celeste shrugged her backpack off and set it on her bed without moving her feet an inch.

“Celia, what are you doing here?” Mom had taken enormous pains training her girls not to swear, but right now Celeste had to fight to keep from it.

Celia shrugged again, still smiling. “We get four days vacation every Founding, but I haven’t used any of mine, so I decided to use them up and come visit you.”

“You came by yourself?” Celeste demanded, slamming the door shut. “What were you thinking?”

“It’s okay, I had a really good reason!” Celia folded her hands and bounced like she could barely contain herself. “See, I met this guy—”

“Celia Harper, don’t you dare tell me this is about a guy!” Was Celia seeing someone? Sleeping with someone? Celeste thought she might scream, or be sick—or both.

“No, Celeste, listen to me! He’s an archaeologist who talked to our school about his work; he does the same thing you do only he makes way more money at it, so I told him about you. He’s coming to Adagio and said he’d stop by to talk to you. You can start making money and be famous like him!”

Celeste slumped back against the door, partly out of relief, partly out of shock. “You ran away from school—”

“No, I took a vacation.”

“—so I could be rich and famous like some archaeologist you met.”

Celia nodded, smiling. “Yeah! If you were making money like him you wouldn’t have to stay in this awful place anymore, and I wouldn’t have to be in boarding school. We could be together.”

“How did you even get into port? The watergates have been locked up with engine problems since the last tsunami.”

Celia shrugged. “They were open when the seabus came through.”

“Well regardless, do you have any idea how dangerous it is to travel alone?”

“No more dangerous than you working alone in those caves all the time.”

“That’s different.”

“How?” Celia threw her hands up. “Why are you allowed to take risks but I’m not?”

“I have to make a living to support us.”

“And I’m trying to help you! With Robin’s help you could support us without risking your life!”

“It won’t work,” Celeste said. “I’m not even a real archaeologist. I dig up junk and sell it, that’s all.”

Celia looked away, chewing her lip. “I know,” she said, “but…”

“But what?” Celeste said when she didn’t finish.

Celia looked back at her. “Does Robin have to know that?”