Chapter 1:

First Memory

Galaktika Gamble: Stolen Light

For most of my life, I've realized my life doesn't revolve around me. Maybe it sounds selfish to think that way, but isn't it normal for people to think of themselves before others? It is our lives after all. No one likes feeling like they don't matter and no one likes feeling like they only exist to be a small pawn in someone else's big chess game. Everyone wants to be of importance, the kings and queens. They want to be the star. Someone once told me, "We are all main characters in the big stories known as our lives". I guess they didn't think about me though...because my life has always and will always revolve around one person, whether I like it or not. There was a time when life was simpler though. Back when we were kids things weren't the way they are now. I want to remember some of those times for now, because that was the happiest time of my life that I'll never get back. Let me tell you about my life.

Our mothers were best friends, so our families often spent a lot of time together. My mother said they were best friends before we were born. I can't remember a time when we didn't hang out together for over a week. We usually spent every other day together, if not every single day. They even got houses close to each other in Pinetop-Lakeside so we could easily walk to each other’s houses to save gas money. They wanted us to grow up together and be best friends like they were. They wanted the best for us, and for a while there, our lives really did seem like the best they could possibly be. We never had to be lonely and every day seemed like a fun adventure, starting with my very first memory at Woodland Lake. We were sitting in the bed of a truck as it was slowly backing up into a parking space.

Sally: Why are we here?

Kyna: Today is the Father's Day fishing tournament! Now that you guys are 4 years old, you're old enough to participate in the tournament and win prizes! Doesn't that sound like so much fun!

Sally: Yeah!

Neil: What is Father's Day?

Kyna: It's a holiday like Mother's Day, but instead of celebrating moms, it's to celebrate dads.

Neil: Oh.

Neil looked over the side of the truck bed silently as the truck came to a stop. Even before our lives took a turn for the worst, he was usually the quiet one in our group. Sally turned to me after jumping out of the bed of the truck enthusiastically. Looking at the ground below, I was nervous to jump. It looked so far down.

Sally: Come on Ivan! Jump! Jump!

Ivan: I'm scared..

Neil: You're always scared.

Sally: It'll be okay! I can catch you!

My mom walked around the side of the truck, holding out a hand for me.

Jessica: Jumping off the truck isn't a good idea, let's not risk any accidents today, okay?

I smiled as she helped me get down. My mom was always there to help me out of anything I wasn't completely comfortable with. Sally was a bit of a risk taker. It made her fun and exciting to be around, but I didn't like getting pressured to do similar things.

Kyna: Jessi is right! You kids seem to be quite accident prone, so let's avoid any possible injuries okay?

Kyna hopped down from the bed of the truck and helped Neil to the ground, setting him next to me.

Sally: What is "accident pown"?

Kyna: Accident prone. It means you get hurt a lot. Lots and lots of owies, and you don't like owies, right?

Sally: Right!

Kyna: Good! Don't jump from the truck again, okay? Let mommy help you next time so I can make sure you don't get owies!

Sally: Okay!

My father grabbed the tackle box and kiddie fishing poles from the back of the truck.

Mikhail: It looks like we made it on time.

He handed us each a fishing pole. Once Sally got hers, she started to run towards the lake, only to be stopped by Kyna.

Kyna: Patience! Hold my hand.

Kyna: We have to register first!

Sally pouted but held her mother's hand as she was told. As we walked to the registration table, Neil spoke up.

Neil: I can't fish.

Kyna looked down at Neil, confused as to why he would say that.

Kyna: What do you mean? Of course you can fish! See all these kids out here fishing? It'll be fun!

Neil: I don't have a dad.

My mother and Kyna exchanged an awkward glance before Kyna laughed nervously.

Kyna: You don't have to have a dad to fish! The tournament is for all kids, dad or no dad. Let's go have some fun!

Neil: Really?

Kyna: Of course!

We spent the whole morning fishing. It was fun at first, but I became bored with it pretty fast because I wasn't getting any bites. Instead of fishing, I ended up setting my pole down and played with worms in the cup. I felt bad for them every time my dad would help put a worm on one of our hooks. As the end of the hook would pierce through them they would squirm around frantically to get away. It looked so painful. As I poked at a worm in the cup, Sally shouted in excitement.

Sally: I think I got one!

She bit her lip as she reeled in her line quickly, showing an average size rainbow trout. Of course at the time it seemed huge though, since we were so small. Sally dropped her pole and started to giggle as she tried to catch the fish flopping around on the ground. I rushed over to her and tried to help, but the fish wouldn't stay still.

Mikhail: It's easier to grab the fish like this.

My father picked up Sally's fishing pole and pulled the line up off the ground. Holding the fish out in front of him, he grabbed it gently and removed the hook before taking it to be weighed. Sally skipped as she followed him, singing happily about the fish she caught. Since Sally was occupied with her fish, Kyna picked another worm out of the cup and put it on her pole. Looking at the cup of worms, I grabbed a worm and snuck it in my pocket when no one was looking. Yes, I know. That sounds gross, doesn't it? But I was a 4 year old that thought I was doing that worm a favor by saving it from the fate of being pierced with hooks and eaten. Though I enjoyed seeing all the fish, I also felt bad for the worms.

As the day continued, Neil and I became bored with fishing and asked if we could play on the playground that was near the lake. Though my mom tried to convince us to keep trying, eventually she agreed to let us play since Kyna said she would keep an eye on us. Once we got to the playground, Neil ran over to the swings and tried to climb onto the seat. The swing was a bit too high, leaving his stomach on the seat with his arms and legs dangling from both sides.

Neil: Mommy! I can't sit! I want to sit!

Kyna laughed and picked him up off the swing.

Kyna: What do you say?

Neil looked around for a second as if in thought before answering.

Neil: Peas?

Kyna: Please...Haha..

Turning him around, she set him on the swing. She looked at me and smiled.

Kyna: Ivan, would you like to swing too?

Ivan: One minute!

I grabbed the worm out of my pocket and set it in the dirt as she watched me curiously. Once I finished kicking some dirt over the worm to cover it, I ran to her and politely asked for help on the swing. After helping me get on the swing, she started to push us gently.

Neil: Higher!

Kyna: Hold on tight!

Neil squealed happily as his mother pushed us harder, making the swing go higher with each push. Though he seemed to enjoy it a lot, I felt nervous the higher I went. Something about that moment didn't seem right. I could sense something was wrong.

Ivan: I'm scared! I don't want to swing anymore!

The exact moment I screamed my feelings of fear, the chain to Neil's swing broke, sending him flying a few feet in the air. He started crying as he tumbled into the wood chips. Kyna slowed down my swing carefully before running over to Neil.

Kyna: Are you okay? Can you show me what hurts?

After checking Neil over and confirming that he was okay, Kyna picked up Neil and hugged him close to comfort him. As she tried to calm him down, she walked over to me while staring at the swing. I'm not sure what was on her mind at that moment, but I could tell she was deep in thought. When Neil stopped crying she set him down and helped me get down from my swing. She got a closer look at the swing, picking up the chain to examine it.

Ivan: Are you okay?

Neil sniffled and wiped his nose with his arm.

Neil: Yeah..

Looking to the left, I felt relief as I saw my mom walking towards us. I ran over to her and jumped into her arms.

Jessica: The tournament is over, Sally got third place for the 4 year old age category! Isn't that cool?

Ivan: She got a prize? I wanna see!

My mom's face looked concerned as she noticed Kyna still looking at the broken swing.

Jessica: What happened?

Kyna: The swing broke when I was pushing Neil.

Jessica: Ouch! Is he okay?

My mom looked over at Neil, who currently was sitting still with a pouty face and snot dripping out his nose.

Kyna: I checked him over. He has a few scrapes but otherwise, he seems okay. Doesn't this seem strange though? It's no secret that they seem accident prone..but this is the first time something has happened without them being reckless in some way. Maybe I'm overthinking..maybe it's a coincidence? Something just seemed odd about the way that it happened. Look at these chains.

My mom set me down and stepped closer to get a better look.

Jessica: They almost look brand new and it broke in the middle of the chain. Did it catch on something?

Kyna: No, it broke while he was in the air.

Jessica: How strange..

Kyna turned to Neil and grabbed his hand gently.

Kyna: Let's go get some lunch. Would a snowcone with your lunch make you feel a little better?

Suddenly Neil's eyes lit up with excitement. Looking back on it, it's kind of funny how easily kids’ moods can change and be influenced by small things like that. I wish problems could be fixed by such simple solutions. It was almost as if he didn't get hurt at all. They continued to talk about snowcones on the way to the truck.

Neil: I want a red snowcone.

Kyna: Strawberry or cherry?

Neil: Red.

Kyna laughed as she picked up Neil and lifted him into the bed of the truck. Sally bounced around happily with a small fish trophy in her hand.

Sally: Look, mommy! I got a shiny fish!

Kyna: Wow! Good job sweetie! What flavor snowcone would you like?

Sally: Pineapple!

Kyna: Pineapple it is!

Kyna lifted Sally into the truck and turned to me.

Kyna: And what about you? What would you like?

Ivan: Uh.....I want pineapple too!

Kyna glanced at my mom for a moment as they both cracked a smile, looking as if they were trying to keep themselves from laughing.

Jessica: Sounds like someone wants to impress his crush!~

I felt my face grow red as I stumbled with my words.

Ivan: Nuh-uh! I don't have a crush! Girls have cooties!

I hid my face in my hands as Kyna helped me into the back of the truck. My mom was a very intuitive person when it came to stuff like this, and she was completely right. Growing up together, Sally was the person I always wished I could be. Strong and brave, ready to explore the world in her own adventure without the fear of what others thought. It's true, I had a crush on Sally, and that crush stuck with me till the day she died. That day changed our lives forever.

Leanne Ormus
Polaris Archon