Write about something you made by hand.
Lara twisted a multi-hued braided bracelet around her wrist. Out in the Wastes, away from the Dome and the satellites growing around them, she didn’t wear her ring, but it was the same fidgety motion she had when she was lost in thought or anxious about something. Midge was no Reader, but Lara was an open book regardless.
They had made camp for the night in the basin of a dry pond. Lara had been drawn to a water source, but it was a nearby well she had felt. They hauled up enough water for cooking and washing, but decided to set up camp in the bowl of the pond instead. She had fallen silent, watching the water boil, as she absently spun the string on her wrist.
“Where’d you get that?” he asked her, pointing to the bracelet. Midge had held the question for weeks. His curiosity finally pushed him over.
Lara straightened on her camp stool and looked at it as if just becoming aware of its existence. A fond smile pulled at her lips. “I made it,” she answered. “You could say it was my therapy.”
Midge quirked an eyebrow. “Therapy?”
Lara nodded. She pulled the sleeve of her jacket down over it and clasped her hands together in front of her. “You know how I struggle with my Reading when there are too many people around?”
“My Reader Mentors could block out the other voices for me. It was just too much for me on my own, especially in those early days after I manifested.” She shrugged. “I grew too accustomed to the crutch of another Reader Quieting them. When Collette took over my training, she was furious to discover I couldn’t even do that. Apparently it’s one of the core facets of Reading, being able to tune people out.”
Midge shifted uncomfortably. There was a lot that was different about Lara’s training from his own. The hardest thing for him had been learning to control his appetite and adjust to his body’s faster movements. “You can do it now though, can’t you?” Was she Reading him now?
She smirked at him. Whether she was Reading or not, she knew what he was thinking. “I’m pretty confident I’ve mastered one-on-one control,” she chuckled. “I still can’t tune out the whole city when we’re there, but I can get it down to a manageable din that doesn’t make me want to split my skull open.”
“That’s a pretty picture,” he groaned.
“Sorry,” she laughed. “But yeah, Collette realized that I could manage some control if I was doing something else that required concentration. The night,“ – her voice caught briefly – “the night I met her, I had attempted to Move myself to the Academy from my apartment.”
“Had you ever Moved something so heavy?” She shot him a glare and he immediately tried to take back his words. “I just meant, you hadn’t had much Mover training at that point right? I thought it was difficult to Move things heavier than like, fifty pounds.”
Lara grinned. “I knew what you meant,” she said, adding dry pasta to the boiling water and giving it a stir. “And you’re right. I’d never consciously Moved that much weight any distance. Mostly I was just holding myself upright, but I didn’t get very far before I exhausted myself. Collette was the first to reach me and she Quieted my mind long enough for me to recover.”
Her lips curled up in a sneer. “She was harsh. She only Quieted me at night so I could sleep, but the days were agony. Moving was a good way for me to ignore the voices, but it was just as mentally taxing and it wasn’t really Quieting. She sent me to the Heroes to train my body. If I was busy fighting, I wasn’t listening to the voices.
“Interestingly, it was the mindless tasks that seemed to help the most.” She lifted her left arm, the sleeve sliding down enough to reveal the colorful braid tied there. “I must have made two dozen of these. I gave some to the doctors who had helped me when I first arrived, and to the Mentors I liked.” She mixed a packet of seasoning into the pasta dish and smiled at him. “Next time we find some string, I’ll make one for you too.”
Midge laughed. “Cool. I was about to feel left out.” He handed her his bowl as she dished out their meals. He relaxed with her smile. Whatever had been on her mind, it was gone now.
Notes: I wanted a short story for Lara this week and this prompt got me thinking about the ways she might have learned to distract herself from all the voices in her head. She had already discovered she could quiet them if her mind was focused on something else, like when she was Moving. Obviously, she couldn’t be constantly Moving, so Collette came up with some constructive hobbies to occupy her. Braiding seemed like something she would enjoy.
I haven’t made braided bracelets since middle school. Most of the stuff I make with my hands can be eaten. Sometimes I like to color. I own several adult coloring books, though I haven’t done as much coloring as I anticipated when I bought them, but I don’t “make” those by hand per se. I make all these stories though. I use my fingers to type so that counts as “by hand,” right?
How about you? What’s something you’ve made by hand? Have you done any arts & craft-y things since you were a kid? How can you apply these habits to your characters? Get those ideas down! We’re almost through the week. If you’re like me and have to go back to work for the rest of the week, we’ll push through together! I’ll have one more post for you tomorrow! See you then!