Surrounded by a dingy, coarse, train-track, the city had a radius of roughly five miles. Every person who lived in this city was well dressed - though the people lived modest lives - and although most of the residents had perfect vision, all wore glasses: a mark of caution. The people had small, dainty hands and precision that was unknown to any other city. This city was a watch-making city and it was required by law that there be a watch-making machine in each room of each building. The buildings were small and modest and often, multiple families lived in the same house and shared their watch-making machines. Every child, from the young age of five, learned how to make a watch for themselves. The children started out with wooden watches and were known among the city as Woods. It took many children five years to master this art. Once a person had mastered the art of making wooden watches, they began to make plastic watches. They were known as Plastics. After the mastery of plastic watches, mastering plastic watches usually took between twenty and forty years of practice, the person would begin to try to master metal watches. Those people would be known as Metals. For most of the city, the mastery of metal watches took the rest of that person’s life, but a small percentage of the town was able to master metal watches in their lifetime. Those people then began to try to master crystal watches. That small group of people was known as the Crystals, they were the highest, most respected people in the entire city. This watch-making city is called Tempest.
Kyron leaned out of his bedroom window and breathed in the morning air. The wind carried a damp scent of ocean mist and dewdrops. Kyron was thrilled: he had successfully mastered the art of making wooden watches and he, even though he was only seven years of age, he would be given his own personal watch-making machine and would begin to make his first plastic watch in front of the Crystals.
“Kyron, dear,” his mother, who was a Metal, called to him from the kitchen, “today’s your big day. Do come down so I can make sure you are well dressed.”
Smoothing down his naturally curly head of hairs, Kyron slid down the banister and entered the kitchen. Gathered around the table was his entire family. His father, a Crystal , his mother, a Metal, his older sister Adalaide, who was a Plastic, and his younger brother Casper, who was too young to learn how to make watches. His family was beaming. Even Adalaide, who was a very competitive sister, embraced him.
“I moved from being a Wood to being a Plastic when I was 10. You are only 7. You have so much talent and I am so proud of you.”
Kyron smiled up into her melted-caramel-like features and breathed in the scent of her perfume: lilies and mint.
Soon enough, Kyron and his family were out of the house and walking to the local museum, where he would get his first machine and begin making plastic watches in front of Crystals. Kyron knew he had a gift for making watches - he had mastered the art of making wooden watches in 2 years, while the other children in Tempest had taken almost 5 years - but he wondered if anyone in the city had ever mastered a certain style of watch-making on their first day of Practice. He doubted anyone had ever done it. When Kyron’s family reached the museum, Kyron began walking towards the Practice Room, his mother, Adalaide, and Casper walked towards the auditorium, and his father went to take his place among the 5 Crystals in Tempest.
As Kyron walked into the Practice Room he immediately noticed that he was the only person under 4½ft. He sighed, and took his seat near an empty machine. Over the loudspeakers, he could hear his father bragging wildly about Kyron’s watch-making talent. Kyron hid himself behind his machine and prayed that his father would stop talking. But eventually Kyron heard his father declare:
“I will bet you 25 crystal watches, that my son is a better watchmaker than any of you.”
Kyron shook behind his machine. He could feel the eyes of every other child in the Practice Room trained on him. It was highly disrespectful to make a bet, and even more disrespectful to make a bet towards one of the Crystals, no matter your rank. After a slight uproar among the Crystals, Aratha France, the eldest and most respected of the Crystals stood up. Silence fell immediately. With a voice softer than velvet, Crystal France asked every child, every child besides Kyron of course, to leave the Practice Room. Crystal France’s lightning grey eyes fixed themselves on Kyron and he stood, almost against his will.
“Because of your father’s disrespect and arrogance, he will be moved from Crystal to Plastic...”
A roar of dismay arose from the auditorium, which could both see and hear everything that was going on in the Practice Room. Kyron hoped that their disapproval might sway Crystal France’s decision. Being moved to a rank immediately lower than one’s current rank was dishonorable, but being moved from Crystal to Plastic was the highest dishonor an individual could could bestow. Kyron feared his father’s demotion. But Crystal France was not done speaking. Her almond-shaped-eyes narrowed as she finished her sentence:
“...unless you, Kyron Davis, son of Malcolm Davis, can master the art of crystal watch-making in less than three days.”
Confusion rushed into Kyron’s mind like a hot wave would rush onto a beach after a storm. But after the wave of confusion subsided, Kyron felt a ghostly ray of hope. There was still a chance that his father could remain a Crystal. Although Kyron was elated that his father still had a chance to stay respected, the more he thought of it, the more impossible the task of making a crystal watch appeared to Kyron. As soon as these thoughts crossed his mind, the door to the Practice Room opened and in walked Crystal France, carrying a block of scratched and scared crystal. Kyron glanced up at the remaining Crystals, looking for his father. When Kyron’s eyes locked on his father's, Kyron saw tears running his ashen face. Forgive me, his father mouthed.
“You may begin making your watch,” Crystal France said.
She handed Kyron the crystal and left the room. Kyron placed the crystal on the machine and bowed his head in prayer. Then, setting his jaw and picking up the necessary tools, he began to work.