Arianna smothered another yawn as her chemistry teacher explained the experiment which…in her mind was pointless. She wasn’t going to join a pharmaceutical company, she wasn’t going to become a scientist with Monsanto and she had no desire to figure out why a gas turns into gas versus a solid. Wait, was that biology? Didn’t matter, she thought as she vaguely listened to the teacher drone on and on.
If she’d had her way, she would never have stepped into a chemistry class. Her father loved chemistry and had signed her up for the class over her protests. What a waste, she thought. She could be in a math class right now instead of listening to this drivel.
She twisted her copper colored braid around a fist, tugging and trying to blink to the rhythm of the ticking clock on the wall. Like most red-heads, her skin was extremely pale, tending to freckle if she was out in the sunshine for too long. And burn! Which is why she rarely went out in the sun without heavy sunscreen. Thankfully, the brutally copper color of her hair was slowly softening, turning a bit more blonde than copper. She’d been teased about her copper hair as a kid, but it didn’t seem too harsh now.
“And then you pour everything into the test tube for exactly…”
Blinking, she tried to focus on the rules and process for this particular experiment, but…well, it was boring and tedious. Glancing at the clock, Arianna calculated how long until the end of the class period. Releasing her braid, she tapped her fingers against the spiral coil of her notebook. Physics, she convinced herself. The tapping was gravity which was physics which was still a science. So her father couldn’t complain too much when she got a C on her next test because…well, she might not know what the formula for gravity was, but she was still experimenting with it.
At least, that’s the story she was going with when her father saw her chemistry grade.
When she noticed that there was only ten minutes more, she sighed with relief.
Sitting up, she gathered her books back into a nice, neat pile and waited, her eyes glancing from the teacher who was still putting some sort of sludge into a test tube, then back up at the analog clock that ticked so slowly, it almost felt as if the contraption were taunting her.
“What’s going on?” her friend Anna whispered, startled by Arianna’s abrupt movements.
Arianna leaned over slightly, not wanting to bring too much attention to herself from the teacher. He tended to ask questions when he realized one of his students wasn’t paying attention. Needless to say, Arianna got asked a lot of questions!
“Almost time for chemistry to end,” she whispered back, trying not to move her lips too much.
Anna covered her mouth, trying to stop the burst of laughter. “You’re bad!”
Arianna shrugged, slouching slightly as she glanced up at the clock, sighing when she realized that only fifteen seconds had passed since her last glance. “I hate this class. I’d rather have to take art or choir, anything other than chemistry.” And that was saying a lot because drawing stick figures was a challenge for Arianna and she only sang in the shower, causing her dog to howl as if he were in pain.
Anna propped her head up on her hand, her elbow resting on the table. “I like chemistry. It’s all about life,” Anna argued.
Arianna scoffed. “It’s all about the smallest parts of life. I don’t care about chemicals or reactions or interactions or any of this stupid stuff,” she groaned, falling dramatically forward onto her stack of books as she waited for the bell to ring. Why does the last ten minutes of chemistry class always feel as if every second were longer than the seconds in other classes?
Finally, the bell rang and the class stood up as if everyone had been waiting for the same thing. “Be sure to read chapter twelve for tomorrow’s test!” the teacher called out.
Arianna swung around, eyes wide and mouth hanging open in horror, looking directly at the teacher as if he’d just announced that they’d all be enduring torture tomorrow. Which, in a way, was true. A test in chemistry? Her father was going to love this! He loved quizzing her and telling her more about whatever subject he was quizzing her. As she made her way out of the room, she wondered if she’d be able to hide the test from her father.
Probably not. He wasn’t stupid. Was brilliant actually. Brilliant about chemistry, she silently groaned as she finally escaped the “torture chamber”, also known as chemistry class.
“Look out at the city,” Rhys’ father urged.
Rhys looked out at the glittering lights that were topped off by the sparkles of the night sky, surveying the capital city of Triar. Pride hit him hard as he took in the progress his father had created over the years of his reign.
“It’s a beautiful city, father.”
Even in the darkness, one could see the progress. Gone were the crumbled buildings leftover from the war or the post-war turf battles by factions trying to gain power. Everything looked clean and orderly now. Rhys’ father had re-established law and order in the country. Now people were gaining wealth, gaining knowledge in the new schools and universities. It had been a hard-fought struggle, but things were good now.
“You should be proud of what we have here,” his father said.
Rhys nodded, impressed with his father and his confidence. “I am, but I haven’t done any of it.” Rhys was only ten years old, but he’d learned a lot over the past few years. His father taught him by talking to him, showing Rhys how to handle the power struggles in the government – power struggles that would never completely go away. Rhys learned more from his father than any tutor ever could teach him.
Rhys’ father laughed softly, putting a hand on his sons shoulder. “You’ve done more than you know. But look out at everything. You will inherit the throne and all of its responsibilities. And believe me, there are more pressures from those responsibilities than there are pleasures. Ruling a country as divers as Triar is difficult and you should never forget that there is always someone waiting, ready to try and wrest control. They’ll do it by any means, legal or illegal. It will be up to you to ferret out the bad element and use the good power struggles for Triar’s growth.”
Rhys didn’t fully understand, but he didn’t want to disappoint his father. He tried to hide his confusion by looking out at the city. “I know this father.”
The older man shook his head, putting his arm around his son’s shoulders. “No, you don’t. But you will. And I wish I could shield you from many of those responsibilities that will fall on your shoulders, but I am confident that you will be able to handle all of them.” He sighed and patted his son’s head again. “But let’s go have dinner. I know that your mother and sisters are waiting for us. We can’t keep them waiting much longer or they’ll simply dine without us.”
Rhys knew this was true and he smiled up at his father, almost as if they shared a secret joke. Secretly, Rhys prayed that he would one day be as strong and confident as his father. But at ten years old, he still had trouble understanding all of the nuances of the government that he would some day control. It was daunting, but he would be ready.