Anyway, I bring this up because this morning I got to write a fun little short story with a few of them as they celebrated Bastille day! Since a lot of my retelling focuses on super sad things, it was fun to write something that actually had my characters enjoying themselves and being stress-free.
It takes place about a year before my actual story, back when everyone was happy! It was a lot of fun to write, and it was a cool challenge for me, since usually these characters don't get the chance to pause and celebrate things!
I've posted it here, in case anyone wants to read it :D And, if you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend trying to put your characters in situations outside of their norm! I'm definitely going to try this again with more of my characters soon.
Notes: This is told from my MC, Pon's, perspective. Oh, and a "star chart," is kind of like this high-tech parchment thing that is mostly used for fortune telling purposes...
“It’s a secret holiday,” Jorl said to her, so many years ago.
“A secret holiday?” She responded. “What’s the use in that?”
“The same thing that we get out of regular secrets.” He winked. “The chance to share them with someone.”
“Right.” She laughed, hitting him lightly on the shoulder. “And what exactly is this secret holiday?”
He held out a hand, and she took it. “You’ll see.”
“Where’re you taking me?” Roche asked as they climbed their fifth flight of stairs. “And why’d you blindfold me?”
“You’ll see,” was her only response.
“Last time I let you talk me into anything,” he mumbled.
She laughed. “Have a little faith in me. It’ll all work out in the end, I promise.”
“You’re not trying to feed me to the Glorbs or anything, are you?”
“Of course not. Though, if I were, do you really think I’d tell you?”
“I know.” They made it to the last landing, and she guided him to the door. “Don’t make a sound,” she whispered. She knocked three times, and waited.
“WHO DARES ENTER THE LAIR OF THE GLORB?” A voice boomed from the other side. Roche jumped back, almost falling down the stairs. Pon caught him, laughing, as the door flew open.
“Next time you might want to be a bit less terrifying,” she said as she tore Roche’s blindfold off. “You almost killed my brother.”
Jorl laughed as Roche ran up to him, nearly tackling him to the ground. “Apologies,” Jorl said as he ruffled her brother’s hair. “I heard your conversation and couldn’t resist.”
Rius leaned in the doorway. Pon’s heart soared, but she quickly put an end to it. Tonight wasn’t the time for whatever strange things she had started to feel for him.
Tonight, they had a secret holiday to celebrate.
“Is everything ready?” She asked.
Rius nodded. “See for yourself.”
The small room had been decorated in the Third Republic’s colors: blue, white, and red. Streamers were flung haphazardly around the wall, and Pon was quite certain Jorl was responsible for that part of the decorating. She could almost see him jumping around the small room, excitedly flinging the paper ribbon around.
A small table with four chairs sat at the center. Instead of a centerpiece, a basket of food sat in the middle of it. Pon’s mouth watered as she took in the four baguettes, various pieces of meat, strawberries, blueberries, and…
“Wine?” She raised an eyebrow, looking at Jorl. None of them drank, and Roche was only eleven.
“Ah, it only looks like wine,” Jorl said, picking the bottle up. “It’s actually sparkling cider. Non-alcoholic. Perfect for celebrating.”
“But what’re we celebrating?” Roche asked.
Pon thought it would be impossible for Jorl’s smile to widen, but it did. “Have a seat the table, and I’ll tell you,” he said.
Roche ran over to the table, sitting on his hands. Pon held back a smile. She’d taught him that trick, to make sure he didn’t take food when it wasn’t his to take.
Rius sat across from her brother, watching Jorl as he raced around the room. Finally, he stopped in front of Pon, taking her hands. “You brought it, right?”
“Jorl,” she gave him a long look. “If you’ll let go of my hands, I can get it.”
He pulled her into a hug, and nearly skipped to the table. He sat next to Rius, who was clearly doing his best to hold back his laughter. They’d seen their friend passionate before, but this was something else, entirely.
Jorl was giddy.
Pon placed her bag on the floor, finding the old star chart quickly. She sat down next to her brother, laying it out on the table. Roche winced, but Pon laid a hand on his shoulder. “It’s not quite what you think. I, um, made a few modifications to this one.”
Roche relaxed slightly. “Like what?”
She winked at him. “You’ll see.” She opened it, and the stars inside grouped together to form a tall tower that grew thinner the higher it went. It capered off to a point, and seemed to be made entirely of metal bars.
“Today is a very special day,” Jorl’s voice was reverent. “Because not a lot of people know about it.” He nodded, and Pon disrupted the tower, shifting the stars to form a palace. “A long time ago, somewhere far, far away, there was a government much like our own. The people were ruled not by someone they’d chosen, but by someone who thought they were entitled to power.”
She moved the stars again, and her best interpretation of a Royal Court filled the space above the table.
Jorl leaned closer to the image. “The Royals thought they could do as they wished, and ignore the people’s calls for help. It worked, for a time. And then something wonderful happened.”
Pon changed the images again, and both Roche and Rius gasped. She smiled. Rius had seen this before, but every year he had the same reaction. The people in the Royal Court all merged together to form the outside of the palace. The stars that had remained in the sky fell to the ground, becoming people. Those people, in turn, stormed the palace.
Jorl shot out of his chair, pacing behind Rius. “The people united, bound together under a common cause. They removed the monarchy, and fought for their chance to be free.”
Once the last person had run into the palace, the image changed again into that odd metal tower. She waited for Jorl to finish the story before setting off the last effect.
“So, my friends,” Jorl moved around the table, squeezing their shoulders. “Tonight, we gather to celebrate the will of the people. The oppressed will always rise to fight for what is right.”
Roche’s eyes widened as pieces fell off of the tower, flying into the air and exploding like fireworks. “That,” her brother said, “was the coolest story ever.”
Jorl’s eyes blazed as he watched the fireworks. “I know.”
“And the effects were also quite spectacular,” Rius added. “As they are every year.”
“Thanks.” Pon’s face warmed. She’d have to figure out a better reaction to compliments.
“Yeah,” Roche said, hitting her on the shoulder. “How’d you learn to re-program a Star Chart?”
She shrugged. “All those years fixing broken ones paid off.” She didn’t add that they weren’t broken at all. Her mother made her rig them, more often than not to reveal some tragedy to an unsuspecting Mark.
“Well, that was really cool.” Roche said.
“Thanks.” Her face grew hotter again. “Uh, anyway, should we eat? I don’t want all this wonderful food to get cold.”
Jorl nodded. “Tonight, we celebrate what is right. Tonight, we’ll remember that the people always win.”
They all cheered, and dug into the food. Roche, Rius, and Jorl all talked about the story that happened so long ago. Pon ripped off a piece of baguette, chewing on it as she listened. Jorl described the King and Queen that lived in excess while their people starved. Rius described the ancient architecture, making the buildings come alive with his words. Roche asked a million questions, which they answered with enthusiasm.
Pon sat there, smiling, while a silent war raged within her. The people in Jorl’s story did manage to defeat the monarchy, but it was replaced with another one not long after. If victory was followed by defeat, could it still count as such?
But the most troubling part was Jorl’s belief that the same thing would happen in their Galaxy. He was so sure about the Rebellion, he’d joined with it as soon as word had floated through the Café of a resistance. He was willing to risk his life for the chance at freedom. And maybe he had the right idea. The Empire wasn’t exactly just, and definitely didn’t treat its people fairly.
Still, all wars came at a price. So what would they end up paying to be free?
“Pon,” Rius smiled at her. “You haven’t eaten much.”
“Oh, I know. I’m starving, I swear. I was just thinking…well, it doesn’t matter what I was thinking.” She poured some sparkling cider into a glass and waited for the others to do the same. “I’d like to make a toast,” she said, holding up her glass. “To all of us, as we are right now.”
“And to the people, for wanting change,” Jorl added.
“To friends,” Rius laughed.
“And family,” Roche said.
Their glasses clinked together in perfect harmony. As she emptied her glass, it didn’t matter what the cost of freedom was going to be. All that mattered was that moment.
And in that moment, surrounded by everyone she loved, she couldn’t have been happier.
“Happy secret holiday,” she nodded to Jorl.
He laughed. “And to you.”
“Can you pass me some more bread?” Rius asked.
Pon threw it at his head, and he ducked out of the way. They all laughed and, for the first time in her life, she allowed her worries to slip away.