Setting: Pregame, nonspecific/various.
Theme + Number: #44, "Rations".
Warnings: Spoilers for That Thing You Should Know Already.
Summary: There's never enough of anything to waste it.
There’s never enough of anything to go around, so Dona measures it carefully to make it last. She does the shopping while her mother sleeps and puts the food away according to her own method: her mother’s half of each day’s portion goes in the cupboards, and everything else goes in Dona’s room, tucked in boxes salvaged from the wharves. Every day, her mother comes home and yells, “Is this all there is?” and Dona lies and says, “I’m going to the store tomorrow!”
The one good thing about being a fisher’s daughter is that, because her mother comes home exhausted at dawn and sleeps while the shops are open, Dona gets the money. She divides that up too: food money, which is most of it, into her pocket for market day; a handful of the smallest coins into the jar her mother knows about; a few under her mattress for sudden emergencies like her mother suddenly learning how to add up her wages and compare it with the price of food; and the rest into a carefully dug and concealed hole farther up the island, in case of Sin or some other serious loss. What goes into her secret cache isn’t much, but she makes sure to find a few gil every week. She can’t count on both of them being healthy all the time, and there’s always Sin. Every time she goes up there to bury her savings, she dreams about the time when there will be enough to spare that she can take it and go somewhere else, anywhere else.
She portions out everything else, too. After all these years, she doesn’t need much energy to deal with her mother; mostly her strength goes to studying at the tiny temple too small to have a faith where the children of the island get whatever learning they have time for. Dona makes the time, and the offerings, meager as they are, for the disgraced ex-summoner who ended up on their island because no one anywhere else would have anything to do with him. If she wants to get out of here, she has to be the best. She saves a little strength over for holding her head up high when she goes to and from the temple, no matter what anyone calls her. She doesn’t need other people, anyway.
The most important thing she has to ration carefully is happiness. If there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother that’s worth remembering, it’s that there’s only so much happiness to go around in a person’s life. There’s no use having days and days of it in a row and then none at all for months. So she controls how much she allows herself at a time.
Every day, she gets the calm contentment of watching the sun set over the sea, beyond the horizon where she’ll be going someday. Every week, she gets the satisfaction of seeing her precious cache of coins increase and the smug pleasure of proving herself the best in the class. Every month or so, she lets herself go, buys some small treat, and takes it with her dinner up to the wood where no one goes but the occasional carpenter or very occasional hunter. Every year on her birthday she takes a day all to herself when she doesn’t have to answer to anyone, buys herself a present, and does whatever she wants for the day no matter the looks she gets.
Being a summoner means taking her portion of the world all at once, in a lump sum, and running through it as fast as she can. It doesn’t mean she’s cheating, though; she gets all the happiness she would ever have had and less than six months to spend it.