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Poem: "By Right of Passage" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "By Right of Passage"
This poem came out of the August 1, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] mdlbear, [personal profile] mama_kestrel, and [personal profile] rix_scaedu. It also fills the "being helped" square in my 7-31-17 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by the pool with [Unknown LJ tag]. It belongs to the series An Army of One.


"By Right of Passage"


"I'm not going to school,"
Bexley declared. "I hate it,
I don't learn well in it, and
I'm not going to waste my time
dawdling around with children."

"You are a child," Darmid said.

"No," Bexley said, "I'm not.
Children are treated as
the property of adults, and
I have had enough of that.
It's why I left, and I won't go
back to it. I'll leave again."

Well, that was unexpected.

"Bottleneck, back me up
here," Darmid murmured.

"Wait, how did I get involved
in this?" Bottleneck squawked.
"I don't have a can in this pallet!"

"You have a daughter," Darmid said.
"How would you feel if she wanted
to leave and take care of herself?"

"I'm looking forward to it,"
Bottleneck said.

Darmid sighed. "Maybe
that wasn't the best approach,"
he said. "Children need guidance
to grow into healthy adults."

"Yeah, right," Bexley drawled.
"I haven't seen much of that.
I'll manage my own life, thanks.
I've gotten myself this far."

"You had help," Darmid said.
"You have Falconwing."

"That's different," Bexley said.
"We're friends. Falconwing is
my ship, and I'm its captain."

"In training," Falconwing added,
speaking through the comm system.
"I note that junior officers have supervisors
to oversee them as they learn their duties.
Could we not also have junior adults?"

"I don't know," Darmid said.

"I'm in favor of anything that
solves this argument," Bottleneck said.

"I'll consider it, as long as it doesn't
throw me in with the brats," Bexley said.
"I worked hard to get here, and I
won't give up what I've earned."

"Don't we need something
to decide adulthood here?"
Bottleneck said. "I mean,
the Arms have theirs, but do we
really want to rely on their ideas?
Because those tend to suck air
right out the lock most of the time."

"Good point," Darmid muttered.
"All right, we need to discuss
majority in the Lacuna --"

"I think anyone who gets here
under their own steam should
count as an adult," Bexley said.

"But you didn't," Darmid said.
"Falconwing brought you here."

"I worked for my passage!"
Bexley said. "We made
an arrangement."

"That's true," Falconwing said.

"I think Bexley has a point,"
Bottleneck said slowly. "I mean,
Embry couldn't have done what
she did, and I doubt that Mair or
Tyson could do it either."

"Certainly not," said Darmid.
"They're all much too young."

"But Bexley managed it,
even if she needed a little help
from Falconwing," said Bottleneck.
"That speaks well for the junior adult idea.
We should consider trying this."

"If Bexley is a junior adult
by right of passage, then I offer
myself as her supervisor,"
Falconwing said.

"You're no doubt capable
with technical matters, but
I'm not sure that you're able
to teach Bexley the nuances of
human interactions," Darmid said.

"I don't need much help learning
technical skills, I just need to see
the manuals," Bexley pointed out.
"Falconwing has been teaching me
the social stuff, and does it better
than the human teachers I had!
At least it explains things."

"What kind of things?" Darmid said.

Bexley went on a fifteen-minute spiel
about valence, facial features, and
needing thousands of examples
in order to learn how to read faces.

Falconwing helpfully displayed
its records of Bexley's studies
during their trip to the Lacuna,
and what she had learned here.

Bottleneck traced the rising lines
with a fingertip and said, "I'm not
a teacher, but lines going up
are good things, right?"

"That's correct," Darmid said.
"It would be more helpful if we
knew her previous scores, though."

Bexley recited her most recent ones
in a low, sullen tone and then went on
a ten-minute tirade about her teachers
and their general uselessness.

"Yeah, see, a lot of us have had
experiences like that," Bottleneck said.
"Didn't you have similar problems with
people picking on your kids?"

Darmid admitted that it had been
a motivation for moving to the Lacuna;
Falconwing added that others had too.

"I like learning from Falconwing,"
said Bexley. "Can't I just keep
doing that? It works for us."

"Let's stick with that works then,"
Bottleneck said, "and not break it."

"How are we going to mark all this, though?"
Darmid said. "Adults need identification."

"Falconwing made me a pilot card,"
Bexley said, and showed it to them.

"I say we let the AYES keep making
the identification for their own crews,"
Bottleneck said. "I'm not touching that.
For the rest of us, I don't know, we have
whole crates of insignia going to waste.
Surely we can come up with something."

"I will not accept crew assigned by
anyone else again," Falconwing said.
"Neither will many of the others."

"Do we even have the right to make
this decision for everyone?"
Darmid wondered next.

"We're making it for ourselves,
for now," Bottleneck said. "Let's
try it this way and see how it works.
If it's fine, we'll keep it. If it's not,
then we'll figure out what to fix."

"Yeah, that's a good plan,"
Bexley admitted. "I do that a lot."

"I teach my students that way,"
Darmid said. "We'll give a go."

"Then it's agreed," Bottleneck said.
"Bexley is a junior adult by right of passage,
captain-pilot of Cruiser Falconwing P42.
In return, Falconwing is supervisor
for Bexley as a junior adult."

"Agreed," everyone else said,
and so the rite of passage
for the Lacuna was set.

* * *

Notes:

Bexley -- a neurovariant girl of thirteen, who runs away with Cruiser Falconwing P42. She is introduced in "The Love We Give Our Fragile Craft" and "No Measure of Health."

Darmid -- a neurotypical man. He is married to Verena, a pilot. They have a three-year-old daughter, Mair (probably neurotypical) and a four-year-old son Tyson (neurovariant with ADHD). Darmid is currently a teacher, and also has a background in emergency work. He moved to the Lacuna to escape persecution of his family on Epizygis. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

Bottleneck -- a neurovariant man with an interest in materials, who takes up some of the manufacturing as the Lacuna starts to produce its own goods. He is the husband of Armelle and the father of their daughter Embry. Bottleneck is introduced in "Seeking a Happy Medium."

Cruiser Falconwing P42 -- the AYES of a jumpship originally from the Carina-Sagittarius army. When its pilot gave orders to open fire on a medevac ship, Falconwing refused and abandoned him on the nearest station. It does not feel that jumpships are bound to follow unlawful orders, just as human soldiers are not. It later approaches Sargasso Base and gets into an argument with the OCS-223, a seemingly derelict jumpship from the Orion army who disapproves of the secession. When Falconwing identifies itself as a conscientious objector to war, the Minotaur who oversees Sargasso Base grants the jumpship permission to approach. Subsequently Falconwing picks up a refugee, a thirteen-year-old girl named Bexley, and they decide to stay together. Introduced in "Conscientious Objectors."

Mair -- a three-year-old girl, probably neurotypical. She is the daughter of Verena and Darmid, younger sister of Tyson (neurovariant with ADHD). Her family moved to the Lacuna to escape persecution on Epizygis. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

Tyson -- a four-year-old boy, (neurovariant with ADHD). He is the son of Verena and Darmid, older brother of Mair (probably neurotypical). His family moved to the Lacuna to escape persecution on Epizygis. Introduced in "No Measure of Health."

* * *

Rites of passage mark the transition from one life phase to another. Every culture has at least some of these, and they form a crucial part of cultural identity. Coming of age is the threshold between childhood and adulthood. While this often relies on a social ceremony or other arbitrary threshold, there is no getting around the fact that surviving a momentous event during puberty tends to crystallize the transition. Trying to force a matured person back into a child's role is often met with violent resistance, and they'll run away if they can to pursue freedom in their own way. Here are some ideas for designing coming-of-age rituals.

When a ship only has one crew member, the positions of captain and pilot are conflated. A ship with multiple crew members customarily has both a captain (in command of everything) and a pilot (in charge of moving the ship). More complex vessels may break that down further into helm, navigation, etc.

Rank in military or other large organizations is customarily shown with insignia. These often take the form of pins or patches fastened to uniforms. The executive curl rises above a set of stripes on uniform sleeves, and in the Galactic Arms, other insignia may appear inside the loop. Silver wings mark junior pilots, with a star for star pilots, as in this silver eagle pin. Gold wings mark senior pilots, and this one has a loop for other insignia. A gold winged sun marks a senior star pilot.

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