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Title: New Beginnings
Author: Bigsciencybrain
Fandom: Original.
Series: Possibly.
Character(s): The Moss family – Joanna and her two children, twins Quentin and Casio.
Prompt: #246 – Monarch
Rating: PG-13 (mild language)
Word Count: 1,121
Disclaimer: For once, these are all mine. This is part of a particularly disturbing sandbox that I keep locked up tight in my head and occasionally play in. Fearfully and with serious reservations. I may post more from this sandbox, I may not.

Summary: Joanna Moss has a new job in Boston and a chance for a new, better life for her family. They just have to endure the road trip from California to Massachusetts.

“We should pull over,” Casio said softly, his gaze locked on the horizon far beyond the car window. His voice was quiet enough that only his twin sister, Quentin, could have heard him. She was lost in her own world, however, with her eyes fallen closed and earbuds pressed firmly into her ears.

“Did you say something, Cass?” his mother, Joanna, asked from the driver’s seat, her voice thick with fatigue.

He stirred, almost as if to pull his eyes from the window and look toward his mother. But after that brief moment, he stilled again and sunk back into his slouch against the car door. “You’re going to kill the butterfly.” He knew she hadn’t heard him. She wasn’t listening.

“Just a couple hundred miles to Salt Lake City. We’ll stop there for the night.”

Casio merely blinked and resumed his stare down with the Nevada horizon. It was flat and brown with only dusty patches of sage and the stretched out black of Interstate 80 to add color. There were mountains in the distance; the hulking, desiccated remains of long forgotten desert beasts. High up in the air, he could make out the wide, easy circles of a Golden Eagle. It’s stocky body, broad and solid like a tank, and powerful wings stood out against painfully blue sky.

Even the clouds died here. They dwindled from mounds of white fluff to sketchy barren patches of white and then to nothing, not even rain left behind.

He watched the eagle until its slow circles took it beyond his line of sight. There was a sign for a rest area up ahead. Beowawe. He tested the word out in his head, rolling the syllables around as he wondered how to put them into sound. Names were important. Names gave a thing life and soul and purpose. He would know; he’d been named after a watch. His mother never told him why, other than she’d been wearing one when she’d gone into labor. It could’ve been worse; the doctor had been wearing a Rolex. His sister hadn’t gotten done any better; their mother had found her name in a book. She couldn’t remember the title of the book or the author, only the name. Quentin liked to tell people she was named after Tarantino.

He already knew his mother wouldn’t stop at Beowawe. Her mind was on their destination and their future. She had a new job and a chance at a new life. They had a new school waiting and she was hoping they’d make new friends. Everything was going to be new. That’s all that mattered. Shiny and new like they car they’d bought with the extra money she’d gotten as a signing bonus. A car with working seat belts and no cracks in the floor that let in the rain from the puddles in the street.

Beowawe passed by in a blur of desert.

Casio drew circles in the armrest, imagining the slow spinning of the eagle as it sought higher and higher so that it could see further and further. Navigating air currents with the grace of a dancer and seeking out which draft of air would carry it toward food. He thought about the sound of the air rushing by and the heft of the great wings as they pushed against it.


His mother screamed and jerked the car sharply to the right. She overcorrected left and tires squealed sharply. The car began to slow and move toward the side of the road.

Once they were stopped, he looked at his mother. Her hands were clenched so tightly on the steering wheel that her knuckles were white. She was taking slow, shaky breaths; sitting so still and frozen in her seat that she could’ve been a statue. After a few heavy breaths, she peeled her hands from the steering wheel, put the car in park, and buried her face in her hands. Her shoulders, high and tense against her neck, shook slightly.

Quentin finally stirred and pulled the ear buds from her ears. “What happened?”

“Everything’s fine,” their mother answered, her voice muffled. She took a very deep breath, pulling her hands away and wiping at her eyes. She didn’t want them to see. “I just hit a bug, that’s all.”

“You nearly killed us over a bug? You’ll be mom of the year for sure.” Quentin rolled her eyes and jammed her earbuds back in.

“Can I get you guys anything?” Her tone was bright and forcibly cheerful. “While we’re pulled over, I might as well get something from the trunk. Water? How about some crackers. Cass?”

“Are there any juice boxes left?” he asked to give her something to do. He disengaged his own seatbelt and opened the car door. The heat of Nevada hit him and stopped his breath in his throat.

“Shut the door, dumbass,” Quentin barked. She reached out and slammed the door shut behind him.

Casio went around to the front of the car and brushed at the windshield. There wasn’t much left of the poor butterfly but a few bits and pieces. He used his pocket handkerchief to clean as much of the gooey residue off of the glass as he could. Absently, he began to pick at the pieces of the wings that had lodged in the windshield wiper. Black and orange. A Monarch.

“You wouldn’t think those things could live out here.” His mother held out a juice box, still cold from the cooler in the trunk. Her eyes were lined with dark circles and the lines of fatigue made her look older than her years. There was an energy drink in her hand.

He knew she’d almost fallen asleep at the wheel. The butterfly striking the windshield had startled her and kept her awake. “Thanks, mom. I just wanted to stretch my legs a bit.”

“That’s a good idea.” She glanced into the backseat, as though weighing the idea of trying to convince Quentin to do the same. It was only a glance, she knew as well as he did that it was pointless to try to get Quentin to do anything she didn’t want to do.

“Everything will be better when we get to Boston,” he offered. There wasn’t much else he could do. He didn’t have his driver’s license yet and she wouldn’t let him drive on the interstate until he did. It wouldn’t do any good to tell her that nothing was going to get better when they got to Boston.

She smiled gratefully and put her arm around his shoulders in a quick hug. “How did I get such a wonderful son?”

“Just lucky, I guess.” He smiled. But he knew that wasn’t true either.

Date: 2011-06-06 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just to let you know, your award is up and waiting for you at Taming the Muse.


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March 2012

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