War of Words
Joanne Faries
Everyone was a former something. It seemed they all dug deep to reinvent themselves, swap roles, and seek happiness and fulfillment. As a former barmaid, Tara now gathered peoples' stories while they were sober and generated the Planet Betty Blab, a bi-weekly collection of heroics, achievements, and positive news.  

However, as she moved amongst people on the farms or in the new factories, she had a dawning suspicion that there was negativity afoot. Taylor Summit, the young choreographer, whispered that his set designers met on Saturdays in Hubble Park to grumble. "They refuse to vet the latest light crew design, and they bicker with costume." He told Tara this was not at all what he expected from the new arts program. "I might have to quit and return to plumbing."   

Folks weren't pleased that Tara refused to print accusations and probable falsehoods. They approached her with gossip, but being the responsible and only member of the media, she chose to continue reporting good words. However, her output declined. Nobody had anything nice to say, and she feared for her job. One day, a new paper was shoved under her door - anonymous competition, and it was ugly. This page vomited all the news she declined to print.   

Tara was appalled by the power of muckraking. Sure enough, in the weeks to come, everyone discussed the dirt. No one applauded her sports coverage of the Holly twins' new jump rope record, the report on Kyle's perfect school attendance, or Mrs. Lu's new strain of tomatoes.   

Observing folks at events, Tara watched to see if anyone took notes. Who was this alleged writer? She refused to use the word journalist. Her sister, Tammy, commiserated over tea at the local cafe, but then pressed Tara. "Do you think this other writer could open a bookstore, publish small pamphlets for money?"   

"Tammy, is it you? Is that why you were asking me about Taylor and then poor Mrs. Rand?" Tara pushed back her chair. She loomed over her younger sister. "You even wrote about my illness. That was nobody's business." Throwing down some currency, she headed to the door. "Oh, Tammy, you'll be sorry."   

Word wars escalated. Tara printed the pleasant. Tammy spewed underbelly news. Now that pens were drawn, sales rose for both women and folks eagerly awaited a dénouement.   

Friday, spring day twenty, Planet Betty inhabitants arose to read their papers, before attending the funeral for Tammy and Tara's parents, who died Wednesday in a transport mishap.   

Tammy's headline story - Transport ship deaths: A daughter's journey to discover the truth.   

Tara's headline - Transport ship deaths: parents leave fortune to only biological daughter -Tara Malone.    

First published: May, 2012
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