Chapter 1 - Welcome to Bird Tower

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Mimmi sat staring once more around her bedroom. She’d packed a bag full of her most precious belongings, but it wasn’t much. She’d been told that she would be provided with clothing and everyday needs at the tower, but for now she wore her best dress. It was silvery with blue accents, and her dark brown hair fell down normally around her shoulders. She had done her eye makeup importantly, but she knew it would probably end up being ruined before the day ended. Still, she’d also been told that she could see visitors once a week, and she was sure she’d make friends since there were other teenagers among the dancers.

For a moment, she recalled the tryout in her mind. Her mother had driven her up to the next town where the officials from the Royal City were. She was judged on her health, her personality, and her ability to dance. Those were the requirements to be in the Royal Dance Teams. Mimmi had known how to clog since she’d known how to walk, so she had tried out for the Hummingbirds, which was the clogging team. The other team was the Swans, which was ballet. She’d gone from judge to judge, eventually tying on her battered white shoes and tearing through a fiery routine she’d put together.

A few days afterward, they had gone to check the messages and found that there was one addressed to Mimmi. “It’s for you. Maybe it’s from the Hummingbirds!” Her father had said in the type of tone fathers use to bring hope to their kids’ impossible dreams. She’d been telling herself not to get her hopes up, but part of her was crossing her fingers tightly. The small, silvery box nearby glowed to life, projecting words onto the wall:

“Congratulations, you have met the standards required of the Royal Hummingbirds. You will be picked up from your city by monorail train on the twentieth of April at exactly 4:00 pm and transported to Bird Tower in the Royal City.”

Now, it was April 20th, and she was almost ready to leave for the monorail station. Once more, she looked into the bag she held. Inside, there was a small scrapbook of photos of her friends and family, a tiny pair of clogging shoes that had been made for her by a metalworking friend before he moved away, and a book about what America was like before the limited monarchy. There was also a one inch tall stuffed dog that she had played with as a child, and now she used it for decoration. “Mimmi, are you ready?” Her mother called from downstairs. “Yes, I’m coming!” Swiftly, she descended the stairs and the three of them walked out to the car.

“We promise we’ll come to all the festivals, and we’ll visit you whenever we can!” Her mother exclaimed, half sad and half excited. “This is so amazing!” Mimmi replied. “I can’t believe I’m a Hummingbird.” “Well, you’ve been dancing for so long, and you’re so dedicated.” Her father replied. “What were the other requirements?” Her mother wondered aloud. “It was health, personality, and ability to dance.” Mimmi replied. Her parents smiled. “I’m sure you breezed through those!” Her mother said. “We’re here!” Her father exclaimed as if he knew about a surprise that Mimmi was clueless about.

As they all entered the monorail station, Mimmi saw a small crowd over by a bench. After a few moments, she realized she recognized those faces, and a few of them held signs saying things like “Good Luck!”, “We’ll Miss You!”, and “We’ll Be Watching You!” Silhouettes of dancing girls and hummingbirds decorated the signs. Her two little cousins ran out from the crowd and attacked her with hugs. “Mimmi, don’t leave!” Her youngest cousin, Samson whimpered. “Mimmi has to leave so she can dance in the festivals!” Samson’s sister, Frida replied. “Mimmi, I told him you’re going to be on TV but he doesn’t believe me!” “Well, Samson, maybe you can visit me someday in the Royal City, and yes, I am going to be on TV!”

The little boy was wide-eyed with amazement. Just then, Mimmi’s friend January ran to hug her. “I’m going to miss you! I’ll look for you on the next festival!” “I’ll miss you too!” Mimmi replied, tears finding their way into her blue-green eyes as she pulled away to be embraced by aunts, uncles, grandparents, and more friends. “Will you be in the Summer Solstice Festival? It’s already April.” Someone inquired. “We’ll have two months to practice. I think I’ll probably be in it.” She replied. “Look, the train’s here!” Her mother exclaimed. Sure enough, a short monorail train with the symbol of the Royal City on the side was pulling up.

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