Three days before my brother died I kissed a girl for the first time. It was our turn to serve our country by staying after a Redarian Youth Meeting to clean the tables and trashed pamphlets. I was seventeen and it was the last time I would have to clean that damned place. Marina was still sixteen and did not have to worry about making the choice between family or army for a couple of years. After we had finished with our chore, we waited outside for her servant to escort her home. I had offered to walk her back, but she said the servant probably had already left to pick her up, and she would not have wanted to get him worried if he arrived here and she were gone. So, we sat there waiting while I tried to think of something to ask her as she stared across the newly paved stone road. Distantly we could hear the clangs of commotion from the Sernian Undercity.
“So, um, where are you from?” I finally was able to ask.
“I live in Northside, like I said.” Her voice was quiet. I was more accustomed to seeing her lively and animated and this more melancholy disposition was slightly unnerving.
“No, no, I mean where were you born?” I hastily clarified.
“Oh. I was born in Redaria City, can’t remember much of it though. I moved out here pretty young, after Dad had said the city was safe. Funny enough, he was dead within the year.” She added the last bit in a dead tone. I mumbled an apology, half expecting her to say something witty about how I shouldn’t be sorry because I didn’t kill him, or she hated the bastard anyway. “Yeah, thanks.” Against there was a silence which I interrupted only with scuffling my feet.
“I heard you were Halfs,” She said after a while.
“Yeah, my mom is Sernian. High class merger is what my brother used to joke around with about their marriage, but I think they do like each other.”
“You can tell,” she oddly said, and I confused this for a question.
“You can tell you are Halfs, you have nice skin.”
“Oh, thanks,” then I added, “so do you.”
She laughed, and then said “I suppose leathery red is your favourite colour then? No, my skin is miserable in this heat.” My face flushed red, but thankfully neither of us were looking at each other.
“I think it’s nice.” I said meekly.
“Well, thank you Cinder. I appreciate it.” As soon as she said that a massive explosion shook our bench. The Lower City of Serna had a lot of activity at night, and these heavy noises had become common as of late, however that specific one was quite momentous, and I assumed that there would be arrests tomorrow. Town criers made the news of the state heard anywhere in Upper Serna and they also proved to be competent in waking all of us earlier than anyone would want. Because of this, I understood Upper Serna to be so quiet at night because people needed their sleep and the Lower City did not have these boisterous town criers, the worst Redarian invention.