The Porcelain Cup

She would have been there but for the funeral of the pedestrian chicken. As it was, no one knew how it had died: there was, however, a rumor of a hunter in the back woods of the Alps that had brought about its untimely demise. Everyone was saddened by the turn of events, especially since the gender of said chicken seemed unknown by all.
Although her absence was understood, most of the members were disappointed in her. Their club bore the classy name of Crazy Little Idiots Quietly Undergoing Education (C.L.I.Q.U.E.), and was quite proud of it. Astell Garcé was the very last accepted member. She had scratched and fought her way into their midst. Now, reclining gracefully on the centre table was a small, new, blue and white porcelain cup bearing her name. Each member received one upon acceptance.
She was nervous about her standing with them at present because of her absence during a key meeting, although she had explained until her tongue turned blue. So it was with a penitent air that she ascended the steps and entered the meeting room five minutes before its completion. A hush fell over the imposing crowd gathered there as she sat down. The president stood up icily.
"Astell, we have heard your excuse for missing this meeting, and are about to decide whether or not to let you remain here." The tall girl moved to the centre table and picked up Astell's cup. Holding it high in the air, she spoke to the entire gathering. "Let it be known that the membership of Astell Garcé is now in jeopardy. If we have two or more who will speak for her, her membership is safe. If not," the president looked hard at Astell, "she is gone from our society. Will anyone speak for her?"
A minute passed in edgedness. Slowly, two girls raised their hands and were motioned to the centre table. The president once again raised her voice. "We have two who have spoken for Astell. She stays." In one quick motion, the president put Astell's cup back on the table, precariously near the edge. The cup wobbled a bit, but the girls who had spoken for Astell stretched out their hands and steadied it.

* * *

one month later...

Astell twisted her hands together nervously, looking back and forth between two slips of paper. One was an announcement for another important meeting of the C.L.I.Q.U.E., the other a letter pleading that she come assist her grandmother, who had broken an ankle. She moved her gaze from one to the other, finally coming to rest on the letter. Astell picked up the phone and pecked at the numbers carefully. She held the phone to her ear and prepared herself for another bout of explanations.
That night Astell once again mounted the steps and entered the meeting hall. The president was already up by the centre table, pacing irritably. Astell sat down slowly, looking at her cup near the edge. It looked as if it would fall any minute.
"Astell!" Her head erked up immediately at the harshly spoken word. "This is the third time you have asked to skip an important meeting. I must seriously question your loyalty to our club."
Astell opened her mouth to speak but was cut off. "This time, I cannot grant your request. Either you come to the meeting," the president lifted the cup, "or you forfeit your membership." Gasps broke out among the members. Such a harsh punishment! Astell looked down at the dog-eared letter in her hand, then up at the tiny blue cup.
"I... my grandmother doesn't have any other help, and..." she trailed off unhappily. "I really do want to stay, but I just... I mean, she really needs me."
The president's mouth, like all others in the room, dropped open in astonishment at the unforseen occurance that a member would willingly give up membership to such an elite club as the C.L.I.Q.U.E. In her surprise, she loosed her hold on Astell's cup. Everyone watched it, frozen to their seats, as it fell for an eternity and finally broke on the hard floor, the goblet severed neatly from its stem. Astell stood quickly and went to pick it up, but the president regained her senses and slowly, deliberately, stepped on the cup. It shattered into thousands of pieces. And Astell left and never came back.

There you have it: my Chicken Trilogy. They are three completely separate stories, as you can see. Also, they were all written with my friend Grace during the study hall we had together (right before the period they were due). This explains why she figures into so many of my stories from that time period: however, my English teacher never once noticed. In this story, Astell (Stella) and Garcé (Grace) for instance. Grace Stella is her first and middle name. But he never made the connection. I told you the other connections in my other stories (i.e. in Sleeping, the wicked fairy godmother and the one-liner). Once, in a broad hint, I even put my teacher's name in a story backwards (Reyem), and mentioned that he had different ideas about disciplining children (a fact for which he was famous in our school: he didn't like to ever give out punishment). He never got it. If you're interested, that bit was put in my Epytoerets Chronicle, in the L.M. Montgomery section. We had so much fun doing stories like that... in the vague hopes that he would, one day, notice...
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