First Printing January 2012
Published by Legion Printing, Birmingham, AL
Copyright Phil Geusz, 2012
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without explicit permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
“Hooray!” I cried, dancing across the fields after Frieda. “Hooray for Fire-Lily Day!”
“Yay!” my classmate agreed, maintaining an easy lead as she dashed through the endless rows of blossoms. We were in a special program together at school, and Mrs. Bozeman assigned us to work together all the time. Our projects were always the best, and everyone knew it. But that didn’t matter on Fire Lily Day—not much of anything did, except for running and playing and eating too much. The fire-lily was the Lordly Symbol of the House of Marcus, mostly because it grew like a weed on so much of his Lordship’s primary planet. All year long everyone had to let them grow and grow and grow—it was a crime to pick one, except out of a garden or farmer’s field. But this one day a year, all Lord Marcus’s serfs, yeomanry and slaves could pick all they liked. Frieda was carrying a whole armful of the things, yet was still outrunning me. That was mostly because she was bigger than me; according to our teacher we bucks always got our growth-spurts later.