3.9: The Pink Bow

Pan’s best friend from childhood is back to help her solve her Bond of the Blade issue. She stands inside a vacuity of darkness, her person a translucent mass in a purple Arrowhead jersey and shorts. Just for fun, she imagines violet highlights into her light brown hair.

     Damn, I look cute there. Gotta remember for later.

     She steps forward into the darkness and with restored laser focus, she recreates a perfect replica of her class’s weapon rack. Next comes her recurve bow, Roy’s broad claws, Aven’s scythe, Rum’s buster sword, and lastly Shuri’s twin swords. Reconstructing the sparring stage takes a little longer, but she makes it with all the same attributes it has in reality, from its creaky bottom step to the sandbags underneath. She almost doesn’t include Tameri, but the professor gave a heartfelt apology to her class and offered Pan the chance at makeup work to keep her grades up.

     Pan imagines herself above them all to get a bird’s eye view of how the boys summoned their weapons. She wasn’t aware Aven did his and she missed Roy’s call, so she plays Shuri’s and Rum’s calls on repeat. She tones down the glow around Rum’s body so that his lightning doesn’t obscure any details. After a dozen replays, Pan scratches at her ghostly head furiously. This is getting me nowhere!

     She snaps her ethereal fingers and erases everything but herself, hew bow, and the weapon rack. She imagines a few rounds for laughs to clear her frustration; one with her bow slapping her in the face, one with it tripping her, and one with it sailing right past her.

     Okay, my mind is clear. My heart’s in it. My bow will recognize that. It’s time!

     Her childhood friend leaves when a blaze of white light resets Pan’s senses. When it fades, a woodsy area comes into focus. A cluster of trees with their roots partially exposed above ground surround the archer. She rises and looks at her recurve bow on the opposite end of the cluster, hanging off of a thin branch. She holds out both hands, wanting to avoid making her face smack imagination a reality, then whistles. Her hope lights up when her bow starts to slide along the branch, but then the branch snaps and her bow clatters on the ground beside it. She sighs gustily as she sinks onto her knees.

     Why can’t I do this?

     A hand falls on her shoulders as she hears, “Don’t–”

     Pan yelps, whirls, and slaps the intruder. She starts to crawl to her bow backward when she breaks out into soft laughter. Rum recovers from the slap slowly, facing her with an irked expression.

     “Hey, you shouldn’t sneak up on teenage girls alone in the woods. That’s on you.”

     “One, teenage girls shouldn’t be alone in the woods to begin with.”

     “Didn’t your sister run through woods and who knows what else to get to FHA last year?”

     Rum’s eyes twitch. “Two, I didn’t sneak up on you…technically speaking. I’ve been out here with you the whole time. I followed you after history class. I figured you wanted to be alone, so I hung back just in case I was right. The only reason I’m talking to you now is to say don’t give up.”

     Pan scoffs. “Easy for you to say. You mastered it first.”

     “Yeah, I nailed the connection, but I’m no master,” Rum says softly.

     “Great. That just means I’m defective. The only sophman in our class not to know what their connection is.”

     Rum, laughs softly. “You’re not defective.”

     “And how would you know?” Pan goes and grabs her recurve bow off the ground. She thrusts it closer to Rum with a scowl. “What color is my bow?”

     Rum looks at the bow and inspects the dark silver paint on the wood, as well as the bright nylon drawstring. “Is that a trick question?”

     Pan groans. “Just answer the question.”

     “It’s silver.”

     Pan scoffs and rolls her eyes. “Yep. Defective.”

     “Why? What color do you see?”

     Pan leers at Rum warily. She could explain it easily, but once the story is out there, she worries her family history will drive a wedge between her and Rum. He values the idea of family so highly. When he learns I don’t, will he no longer value me?

     Rum smiles warmly. “Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter what color I see, anyway. Whatever color you see is the right one. It’s your bow, after all.”

     Pan lets out a reluctant sigh. “I had my Bond of the Blade moment when I was eight years old.”


     The storefront signage loomed closer as her father pulled into the handicap parking space at the front. She felt the tip of the bolt in the crossbow logo was aimed at her. Visiting these stores day in and out made her feel flawed. All over the state, she was failing to bond with every bow her father threw at her, sometimes literally.

     Her father got out, slammed his door, and ragged Pan out of the car before she could even get one word out. It had always impressed how fast he could still move, even with the leg brace and cane as necessary assistants. She looked to her mother for help, but all she received was a sympathetic look.

     The second she and her father entered the armory, he shouted, “Clear the store! No customers! No employees! Only us and the manager! Now!”

     It didn’t take very long for the armory to empty. The habit of his had become well-known, and only one manager argued- the first one. That city no longer has a Sanlow Snipers. As became custom, her father instantly dragged her to the archery section of the armory.

     “Ignore all this trash,” he told the manager while gesturing to the more expensive compound bows in glass cases. “Bring out the line we’re saving for next month.”

     “Yes, sir,” the young manager said.

     “Robin, you can let her go now. She’s not going anywhere,” her mother said.

     Robin turned to her sharply, but her even more vicious stare placated him. Pan knew she just had to bide her time silently. Her mother wins most of their private disputes. Her earlier plea wasn’t for naught after all.

     “Fine, whatever,” he said as he finally released Pan. “But you stay put right there.”

     Pan didn’t need his tern warning. She didn’t want another bow thrown at her back. She sat quietly on the floor and waited to be handed bow after bow. However, what her mother said next shocked her.

     “We need to revisit the possibility that maybe she isn’t destined for a bow.”

     “By Drijad, Marian, let it go! She hasn’t shown any hints of your little energy javelin power ever!”

     “Yes, and your bow hunt has proven so fruitful.”

     “It will. Today’s the day.”

     “No, today has to be the day. This is the last armory we have you refuse to let her bond with anything from a competitive armory,” Marian explained fiercely.

     “Have some faith.”

     “Accept reality.”

     Pan tuned out the rest of their argument. Complete nothingness was the only thing that kept her calm. Pan withdrew into that dark place now, but for the first time, it wasn’t entirely empty. A pink light was invading the vacuity. She looked over her shoulder at the light, but the vacuity obscured the source.

     Pan banished her dark place reluctantly, but the pink bow hanging on hooks at the bottom of the wall made her smile. Aside from black, pink’s her favorite color. The bow sparkled and shimmered like none other she’d seen before.

     She said, “Do you see that pink bow?”

     “Nonsense, Pan. I would never sell such effeminate products,” her father barked without even looking. “About time.”

     The manager returned, wheeling out a table with the latest compound bows and crossbows in production.

     “Pan, come.”

     Pan looked from his beckoning finger to the pink bow. She knew the moment he had her held down this time, that they would leave the moment none of them bonded with her. She suspected this bow was calling her, and her only chance to end this battle with her father. She made her next choice despite the fear in her heart, and ran as fast as she could to the shimmering pink bow.

     “Robin, no!” Marian cried out.

     Pan leaped for the pink bow and yanked it off the wall, intending to use it as a shield against the crossbow coming her way. Fast as her heart was beating, she still felt one extra when raising the recurve bow. All of a sudden, a pink energy arrow fired. The force knocked Pan against the wall, but the energy arrow blew the crossbow to pieces.

     When Pan sat up and massaged her sore skull, she saw the stunned look on the manager, the jubilant look her mother had, and the extreme fury painted on her father’s face. She mirrored the latter, finally ready to go against him. His insipid search was over, and Pan now had a second friend to rely on.


     “And ever since, my father and I have never truly seen eye to eye. Hell, we don’t even look at each other half time. His precious daughter bonded with such a cheap product, the lowest tier bow there is. And to make it worse, not only did I also have my mother’s energy javelin power, but he thinks I’m crazy. Nobody ever confirms that my bow is pink but me. I’d given up on trying to convince him otherwise, and he’d given up on trying to be my father. He couldn’t stand the idea of what his legacy child had become. And honestly, it’s not as grandiose a life as the title would make you think. I hate being a legacy child.”

     I hate being their legacy child.

     “I can’t believe he threw crossbows at you,” Rum says, his expression paling.

     Pan looks down at the ground and frowns. Here it comes. One more person to ignore what I’m saying and how I feel.

     “And what’s worse is how many people let him get away with it!”

     Pan blinks once and turns to Rum with wide eyes. Wait, what?

     “Okay, sure, the managers might’ve decided to mind their own business and keep their jobs, but your mother allowed him to get away with that!” Rum takes a deep breath when his hands spark up. “I’m sorry, but your parents are straight assholes.”

     Pan remains wide-eyed in the face of Rum’s infuriated demeanor. Just like with her bow, she sees him suddenly surrounded by pink light. That in combination with his furious countenance leads her to only one action.

     She falls over and laughs hysterically.

     “What’s so funny? What’d I say?” Rum asks, frazzled, which only makes her laugh harder. “It wasn’t a joke, Pan. I mean it. They’re assholes.”

     She holds her sides as she sits up, her shoulders still shaking from laughter. “I–” She lets a few chuckles slip. “I know, Rummy. That’s why I’m–” She stops to laugh a few more moments then clears her throat. “That’s why I laughed. And that’s why I’m happy.”

     “Happy that I don’t like your parents?”

     “Oh!” Pan leans forward and kisses him on the lips. “I’m ecstatic!”

     Rum raises his eyebrows and grins. “You’re a strange girl, Pan. That much is true.”

     “But? There is a but to that, right?”

     “But you are not defective. Our connections to our weapons are our own. It makes all the sense in the world that your bow is pink to you. I think if you accept that, it’ll come to you.” Rum holds out his hand. “May I?” Pan hands her bow over to him and Rum hangs it on a sturdier branch than before. “Let it rip, Pan!”

     The young archer forces herself to ignore her heated cheeks, and instead leans into the same feeling she had when she first touched her recurve bow.

     You are my ally. I answered your call that day. Now, please, answer mine!

     Her bow doesn’t budge.

     “Huh? I thought was gonna work,” she says plainly.

     “Yeah, me too,” Rum comments. He puts a thumb to his chin, and when he lights up a moment later, Pan locks in on the light bulb above his head.

     “You just thought of something better, didn’t you?”

     “Not entirely sure, but it’s worth a shot.’

     “Lay it on me.”

     Rum explains to Pan about how his vomiting was tied to his lightning and how he vomited the second he touched his buster sword the first time. “I don’t think it’s all about the heartbeat. My physical reaction was vomiting brought on by my lightning. I think yours was an emotional reaction. You wanted to end your torment at the hands of your asshole dad–”

     Pan fails to stop herself from snorting. “Sorry.”

     “–and your bow answered the call when you pumped on the adrenaline of the moment. I think adrenaline is your connection.”

     “Not an easy thing to recreate in a class session,” Pan replies.

     “I mean, maybe I could, um…chase you around with my buster sword.”

     Pan gives him an incredulous look. “And you think Tameri’s gonna let us do that?”

     “Only one way to find out.”


     Professor Tameri halts from drinking her tea upon hearing their ludicrous suggestion. “Absolutely not.”

     “Told you so.”

     “Oh, you so didn’t.”

     “Regardless of whose idea it was, I’ve already explained to you your makeup work, Pan. The new BOTB training will not count against you.”

     Rum states, “You know I won’t actually hit her, professor. It should–”

     “It’s okay, Rummy.” Pan shuts her eyes with a new peace of mind. She still yearns to nail the connection with her bow, but she won’t allow that desire to blind her to what else she’s felt today. She has one other connection to lockdown.

     “Are you sure?”

     “I am,” she says. She turns her back to Tameri to hide the amped-up look she gives Rum from her. “Challenge accepted?” she asks him.

     Rum grins and holds the door open for her.

     “See ya later, professor!” Pan shouts as she races out the teacher’s lounge. She looks over her shoulder the second Rum catches up to her.

     “You still have that “DO NOT DISTURB” sign?” Rum asks.

     “Oh, it’s always on standby!”

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