Corpe and Bloor

On the rural islands of Corpe and Bloor the annual Fight Week is about to begin in which champions are chosen and lives changed forever. The Fight is between a champion from Corpe and a champion from Bloor. Girls are chosen as prizes for the man who is crowned the winner of the Fight. Faith Rathbone is the unwilling prize of Corpe and the life she had always known is tipped upside down in the form of Alec McFadden, the champion of Bloor. She must decide if she can begin to hope for a life on Bloor but leave her family behind. But her fate is not her own.

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20. Eighteen - Faith

          Well, here I am, alone in The Traveller, one of the three public houses on this island, with Alec McFadden. Whatever I thought of him before, every assumption and every false speculation I had against Alec had blown away when he freed me. I don’t even know him, and still he treated me better than my own people had. I don’t really know what to say to him, for he is to be such a big part in my life for the next few weeks. It is Alec’s fate whether I will remain on Corpe or be transported to Bloor. I don’t know what I want, for if events were to reoccur at some point in the future, what will happen then? Will I be humiliated and shunned as I have been just now? And what if the life on Bloor is better, calmer? I shake my head to bring me back to the present situation.
          I smile, just a little one, and for some reason, I’m feeling shy towards this kind stranger. Alec also smiles, and I can see that it’s genuine. Being here with him feels good, normal. For the first time in my life for a long time, I’m happy to be here, to look forward to the future. St Xavier, what’s wrong with me, I have hardly known him all of ten minutes and he’s your new best bud! My own feelings are sometimes so foreign to me that I wonder if I actually feel them at all. Billy Bones is working behind the counter in the other room and I don’t fancy striking up a conversation with the grumpiest man on the island. If my time here is limited, then I don’t want to be wasting time doing things that did not need doing. And talking to Billy Bones is nowhere near a priority.
          Alec is continually giving the betting board quizzical looks, like he can’t read the bets. I frown at him, for I assumed that because we spoke the same language with different accents, we would also have the same words. I walk over to the board, and I look back at him, raising an eyebrow.
          “Can you read it?”
          He squints at the chalk once more before shaking his head and smiling a little again. “It’s all straight lines and angles. I can’t make out any of it.”
          I look back, pointing to the board, “What, even your name?”
          His frown deepens. “That’s how you spell my name?”
          I laugh a little and think how honestly different we are. There is something nice and intriguing about it – the way I’m feeling compelled to continue to find out more about Alec McFadden. His light brown floppy hair, those mysterious eyes, that pale skin, it made me wonder what traits of my mother I had in me. I know I have her hair and the pale, freckly skin, but I don’t have her eyes. She had clear grey eyes, the mist that clung to the sea and it was only Daniel out of all my brothers to inherit them. I wanted to ask him about my mother, but I thought it was too soon and was probably just a stab in the dark anyway. Who knew if she was just another name forgotten all those years ago?
          Since it seems that we’re stuck in here until someone calls to escort Alec, we might as well kill time. I pick up a piece of chalk.
          Alec raises an eyebrow, “What are you doing?”
          I ignore his question, “Write your name.”
          He slowly crosses the room to me, uncertainty written all over his face. He takes the chalk slowly and scans the board for somewhere to write. He has my full attention, for he is teaching me something that no one else on my island will know about. That in its self is a gift that I feel very privileged to be receiving. He wrote his name in tiny cursive shapes that looked nothing like the scrawls of Billy Bones’. It was delicate, and when he wrote his name, it’s nicer to look at than out jaggy letters. I take the chalk and write my name. He stares at it for a moment. I think how curious a situation this is – for me to be standing here with the boy who my fate depends on, spelling out our native tongue in chalk. It seems like there should’ve been some law against it, but it felt like a safe thing to do, a private look into each other’s lives. What a strange boy he is.
          The sound of the island’s pulse brings me back to the very daunting future. The Champion’s Feast will last long into the night, with all the hoity-totties of Corpe dining. We are to be paraded through the mountains to the Champion Quarters, which was to be my home for a little while. Come to think of it, it may be the last place I stay on Corpe. The drums outside were calling my people to watch and enjoy as the sun was dipping into the sea and pulling up the stars. There were so many drummers that we were surrounded with no means of escape in The Traveller, waiting to see what the fates had in store.
          I held out my hand to Alec McFadden and with a rueful smile, he took it.

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