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Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 150: Takano 57
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As she walked in the back, Tommy considered what was happening when she was up front. She couldn’t help thinking that Mister Beam had been flirting with her.
That was ridiculous. He was older than her father, nearly as old as her grandfather. She was sixteen. It was silly to imagine that he would be flirting with her.
Of course, she wasn’t sixteen, really. Her body, her appearance, she was still sixteen to look at, but how long had passed since she stopped aging? A few hours in Nagaworld, a few weeks in the forest, a few hours in Nagasaki, a few months staying with the Billings, a few hours in that other forest, and she’d lost track of how long she’d been traveling with Lauren here, but by now she was probably seventeen. O.K., not a big deal, but she was older than she looked.
Of course, that probably applied to him, too. From his stories he’d probably aged a couple years. But you couldn’t tell by looking. Lauren was probably not as old in appearance as Tommy’s mother, but Tommy knew she was almost two hundred years, including that century spent on the island. You couldn’t tell how old a verser was by looking, and so how old someone looked wasn’t that important. She couldn’t tell how old Mister Beam was.
That played the other way, too: he couldn’t tell how old she was. She told him she was sixteen, but she could be centuries older than that for all he knew. From what Johnny and Lauren had told her, probably eventually she would be centuries older, but still look sixteen, and would probably be telling people she was sixteen because, well, who would believe otherwise? Mister Beam might find her attractive--men generally did like young girls, or so she had heard. So maybe he was flirting with her.
But his wife was right there. Would he really be flirting with her right in front of his wife? And wouldn’t she know it? They say she’s a witch; if you were married to a witch, wouldn’t you have to watch your step, particularly around other girls? Tommy recalled times when a boyfriend had been flirting with one of her girlfriends, and what she had wished she could do to him, or to her, at the time. She did not think Sophia should be trifled with. Or maybe Sophia didn’t notice because she thought it as incredible as Tommy did. He was just being nice, right?
Lauren interrupted Tommy’s thoughts.
“So, how are you coming with the kawanaga?”
Tommy wondered whether this was a better line of thought than the other, but it was a different line of thought.
“Oh, pretty good, I guess,” she said. “I still can’t climb it, but I’ve gotten pretty good at twirling and throwing. It’s not easy to practice with the crowds around all the time, but I’m getting there.”
Lauren nodded. “Well, arm strength is going to take time. Pull-ups, chin-ups, rope climbing. Dips would probably be good, parallel bar stuff, but I don’t think I’ve seen parallel bars in centuries. Pushups, but they’re a different muscle group. What about your falls and rolls?”
“I probably haven’t been practicing those as much as I should. It’s like, the kawanaga is a new toy, and when I get a chance to practice something it’s the first thing I think of.”
“Uh-huh,” Lauren said. “Well, it’s all important, and it all takes time. Have you worked on the kicks and blocks?”
“Easier to do when I have a sparring partner.”
“True. Let me suggest you not spar with that Dawn girl. I don’t know that she understands the concept of non-lethal combat. Maybe we’ll see if we can get a bit of sparring in tonight, although I imagine that wherever we camp is going to be more crowded than anywhere we’ve been so far. It might be a few days before we have space to practice again, and unless we can find some decent tree branches we’re not likely to be able to do pull-ups or rope climbing for a while.”
Secretly Tommy was pleased with that, but she tried not to smile as she nodded.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #409: Characters Cooperate. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: