The ride was nice enough, but it was slower than normal: we had to avoid the smoke layer over us. It had really bogged down yesterday, so everyone was hoping it would clear up tonight when some of the storm’s headwinds blew through. The air was very still at the time; nevertheless, I had to check my hair every now and then to make sure it wasn’t exploding out of its bun. When it was, I just told it to fix itself and it did. But I fussed with my hands to hide that. Sometimes I wonder if I’d gotten too good at hiding things. Even from myself.
We heard the music in the air long before we landed. Far beneath us, in the open field on the island splitting the river and housing Skyglass, lights twinkled in the growing dimness. Tents had been set up all over for food and drink and games and crop contests. Kids could go on bunny rides and race through mazes. There was vegetable carving, and carnival games, and even miniature roller coasters. But the big prize was the dance floor, lined with spiderweb trellises and illuminated by fireflies.
That was for everyone else, though. The teen party was in a small, stout tree within earshot of the main Festival. The path leading the way was traced out with colored lanterns, and shadows danced around the entrance from the disco lights inside. Of course, the final touch for the outside of the tree was a huge balcony for couples who didn’t want to weird anybody out by kissing while inside.
But, there weren’t a lot of those kinds of couples. Way too awkward.
We had a smooth landing, and we wandered as a family a bit through the festivities. Ashlee and Umala liked the jugglers and the candy apples and candy corn and cotton candy and all manner of sweets and the stands with brightly colored toys. Animal rides, the Hall of Mirrors, and a few small roller coasters provided more entertainment, stuff I’d enjoyed for years. For adults, there was the Hammer Smash, the arm-wrestling competition, and pie-eating contests. Giant carts displayed food and crops, especially squash, including a pumpkin that had to be the size of four carriages put together. It was all good fun, of course, but I’d seen the likes of it every year. Now that I was fifteen, I wanted to go have a “big kid” party with kids my age.
Finally, the hour came when the dances would start. I could sense a growing tension in the atmosphere, something I couldn’t see. But I got permission to head off to the teen party, which I readily looked forward to, but not for the music. Most of the stuff my peers loved was pretty awful, but some of it was decent. Besides, music with bad language or ideas was banned from being played publicly under any circumstances a few years earlier. Worst-case scenario: I’d hate everything, not find anybody nice to be with, and leave early.
And face the next big crisis of busting into a high-tech jail and getting out of the night alive.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish