by Eleanor R. Wood
When I was little, I never thought about where the sweets came from. Daddy would leave me on board with a packet of sugary delights while he, Jeb, and Callum left for work. Sometimes they'd only be moments, sometimes hours, sometimes they'd come back with injuries. We always departed in a hurry. But I still had the flavors of fruits and spices and fizz on my tongue. I knew they were precious, and I was lucky to have a daddy who got them for me. Once they came in a red velvet pouch with another girl's name embroidered on it in silver thread. I was sad he'd got me the wrong one; the pouch was so pretty. But my name was unusual and tricky to find.
I knew luxuries were rare even though I never went without. When we docked at Zircon Station, everyone would "ooh" and "aah" over the treasures Daddy's crew brought home. Fine-spun fabrics, feather cushions, glassware, jewelry, and, of course, sugar. He'd sell cut-price to the station's traders and save the essentials for us. It wasn't until I got older that I noticed he took nothing to trade in return.
"Where do my sweets come from?" I asked him when I was eleven. "No one on Zircon ever has any."
"They don't come from Zircon, love," he answered with a grin, handing me a bag of sparkling pink and yellow jellies. He disembarked with Jeb and Callum and I tried not to think about the disruptor pistol tucked into his waistband.
"Who do you steal those from?" I asked him when I was fourteen. "I know you aren't a trader."